Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Committee Hearing Reveals Broad Bipartisan Opposition to SB621

According to State Rep. Robin Shackleford, 29 people testified on Senate Bill 621 today. Of those, 27 testified AGAINST the bill and only two testified for it.  I would say that the voters are watching, but I don't think it will make a difference.
Indianapolis Mayor Dictator-Elect Greg Ballard

The Republican-led state legislature is going to give the Republican Mayor of Indianapolis what he wants because they are stuck in the mentality of sticking it to the Democrats.  It has nothing to do with efficiency.  It has nothing to do with better government.  It has everything to do with local council committee appointments.

That seems to be the talking point that's emerging.  When the Democrats unfortunately decided, at the local level, to reduce the Republican representation on the City-County Council committees, the groundwork for what would become SB621 was likely beginning.  Republicans were upset, and they should have been.  I didn't like the idea of reducing R seats on the committees.

The response to that move, however, does not in my view fit the original act.  I'm now convinced that Senate Bill 621 is the payback.  Other than what Republicans seem to be hinting, I don't have any hard evidence, but I just can't imagine any other reason.

Unfortunately, the loser in all of this is not the Democrats on the Council.  In fact, the Democrats will eventually benefit from this bill if trends continue.  The losers in this bill are the citizens of Indianapolis.  Because Mike Young seems to have found a way to pay back the Democrats for their local level decision on the Council, powers granted to the Council over 40 years ago in the Unigov law must now go to the Mayor of Indianapolis.  

Committee representation...that's a party decision.  When you start fiddling with what powers governmental branches have, that's pretty much something that affects us all.  

In the end, it likely won't matter that a bipartisan group of elected officials and citizens overflowed a room to testify in grand numbers against a bill.  I predict that party politics will carry Senate Bill 621 the rest of the way through the process and into law.  It may be amended or changed slightly, but Ballard will get most of what he wants.

Sadly, Indianapolis residents will likely pay an old political debt by their elected Council losing its voice and oversight over the Mayor's Office.

UPDATE
Looks like the At-Large seats were removed from the bill per Jon Murray of the Indy Star, but Senate Bill 621, the most egregious power grab for an executive that I've seen in years, has passed the committee stage, 8-5.  It's going to be law, folks.

All hail Greg I.

5 comments:

Paul K. Ogden said...

It makes no sense to give the Mayor's office more power in relationship to the Council, when it's unlikely in the forseeable future that Republicans will continue to hold the Mayor's Office. Most likely the influence for Republicans in Marion County will be having a sizable minority on the Council. By giving more of the council's power away, Republican influence actually gets decreased.

Rick said...

I understand the controversy over the at large seats and I don’t know what the finished version of the bill will look like. If an objective observer, however, goes to the General Assembly website and reads the actual contents of SB621 he will see that the bill otherwise makes only minor changes in government. Ideally, a reform bill would have completely eliminated township government.

Anonymous said...

If we're gonna win the mayors office in 2015, what's the big deal? Seriously, they do the dirty work we could never get done...

IndyDem said...

Anonymous, Its a big deal because checks and balance is a big deal. And sometimes even more important within a single party. We have a division of power so no one branch of government (and in this case, a single person) has unchecked power over the people or their resources.
Zach

Rick said...

What check and balance is being changed?