We all like to call members of Congress a bunch of crooks. And while everyone loves his own State Rep, most of us consider Harrisburg hopelessly corrupt. Big cities like Philly? Terrible. So I was surprised to recently see an article in Governing claiming that county government has a spotty reputation. I'd disagree. County government has no reputation at all. Everyone who lives in Bethlehem can name the Mayor. But how many could identify the Phil Armstrong (Lehigh) or Lamont McClure (Northampton). County government is actually the forgotten government even though there are 3,143 of them across the country.
This article suggests that county governments are often corrupt, but that problem occurs mostly in counties that manage highways. In Pa, counties have nothing to do with roads. Governing concedes that counties handle the "messiest and most difficult problems in American local government." With that, I'd agree. It's just not sexy.
I'd also disagree with their elimination, as has happened in some New England states. I like the idea of there being a government that a farmer can visit in a day. I consider small government more responsive and closer to the people it serves. .