Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dems Rightly Call Foul on Young Bill; People Lose

Senator Mike Young
I've let it sit for a couple of days, and it's been like a stew overcooking in the crockpot.  Well, it's starting to bubble and percolate and get nasty over there. Tthat describes my attitude over Senate Bill 621, Senator Mike Young's bill that would make major and, in my opinion, destructive changes to city-county government.

I've already written on the bill once here, but I'm not done yet.  I've got a lot on my mind, so bear with me.

Yesterday, Democratic officials held a news conference that was highly critical of Young's bill that Mayor Greg Ballard didn't even ask for (but apparently participated in writing) that would give him a great deal more power as the city's executive.  Some of that power would be unchecked and unilateral power.  For example, he would get more appointments to the Metropolitan Development Commission.  He would be able to change the budget and have more freedom to use a line item veto.

Young's bill would also reduce the City-County Council from 29 to 25 members by eliminating the four At-Large Council seats.  Since the Republicans hold a 13-12 majority in the districts, the four At-Large seats currently give the Dems a 16-13 majority on the City-County Council.  As the At-Larges go, the control of the council seems to go recently.  Removing those At-Larges would sure make it easier for the Republicans to control the Council.

In the interest of full disclosure, I served as an honorary co-chair of Adamson for Indy, Zach Adamson's campaign committee when he ran for Council At-Large in 2011.  I did that because I believed in Zach, but I also did it because I believe in the idea of an At-Large Councillor.

City-County Building
With At-Large Councillors in addition to my district councillor, I have four councillors that have a more global view of the city and a more countywide outlook representing me along with the home district Councillor who is more attuned to the district.  I think that's important.  It's also something unique.  It's not a new concept, and it has been in place for over 40 years.  At various times, both parties have tried to eliminate the At-Large seats, but they have been maintained because someone saw value in them.  This, however, with all due respect to the four Councillors sitting in the At-Large seats isn't really about the At-Larges though.  That's just one small part of this bill.  Without this highly-controversial plank, it's still a REALLY BAD BILL.

Another portion I think is unacceptable is the removal of two appointments of the Marion County Board of Commissioners to the Metropolitan Development Commission. Under Unigov, the Marion County Commissioners consist of the Marion County Treasurer, the Marion County Auditor, and the Marion County Assessor. In most counties in Indiana, these are separately-elected offices. Due to Unigov, these offices make up that three person board. 

A few years back, Republicans handed over keys to most of the City-County Building to Democrats. That included the countywide offices that tend to trend with the way the County moves politically. Other than the Mayor’s Office, Democrats control every county office. Young’s bill, if passed, would move two crucial Metropolitan Development Commission appointments away from the County Commissioners and into the Mayor’s Office. If you don’t think that’s significant, then you just don’t understand government.

I fail to understand why these things are necessary now.  Is there really a call or a need for the reform of Marion County and Indianapolis government?  No.  Young just stuck his nose in where it really didn't belong.  After all, the measures Young wishes to overturn with his power grab bill have been in place since Unigov went into place over 40 years ago. It’s not like these are new issues that just recently popped up on the landscape.

Don't even get me started on my Senator, Mike Young, either.  Having lived in his district for many years, I strain to find someone I would consider a more partisan member of the 150 members of the Indiana General Assembly.  He may or may not be a member of the establishment all the time, but Mike Young is a REPUBLICAN.  I believe any chance he has to stick it to Democrats he would.  Now, he has that chance.

And, that's the real tragedy here.  This is going to become a Republican vs. Democrat issue.  It shouldn't be.

If we truly want to reform City-County government in a meaningful way, this is not the time nor the place nor the venue nor the manner.  It should be something that's done together with the input of the public.  Young has clearly already telegraphed his shot with this overbroad bill that will consolidate a great deal of power that should not be consolidated under the Office of the Mayor of Indianapolis.  No matter WHO is in that office...the Mayor of Indianapolis doesn't need any more power.  For this reason alone, this bill must be defeated.

I hope wiser folks than Mike Young prevail on this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What we need is taxpayer representation and the dissoltion of the CIB.