I was positively shocked to learn that one Indianapolis City-County Councilor broke ranks with her party to ensure defeat for the otherwise partisan vote on the merger of IPD and the Marion County Sheriff's Office. From the Indy Star report:
A lone Democrat crossed party lines late Monday to defeat a merger between city and county police forces, leaving Mayor Bart Peterson to find another way to pay for public safety with dwindling resources.
City-County Councilwoman Sherron Franklin, a police officer, joined 14 Republicans to defeat the proposed consolidation 15-14, handing Peterson a significant political defeat on one of his most ambitious plans in two terms in office.
Franklin was placed in a trick-bag. She is a member of the FOP, which lobbied hard against the proposal. Her choices were: a) vote with her party and alienate her professional brethren, or b) vote with IPD and alienate her party. Lose your future backing from your party, or the endorsement of FOP? Not exactly a friendly set of choices.
When the vote registered on the Assembly Room board, a crowd made up largely of police officers from IPD and the Sheriff's Department broke into applause. Ron Gibson, a Democratic council member, said he was "shocked" by the outcome because his party has a majority in the council.
After the vote, Franklin said: "They asked me to vote against my family. I've been a police officer for 15 years and a council member for two."
I'm thinking this term will be Franklin's last term, if her party has anything to say about it. I'm looking for the Democrats to slate someone who will toe party line next time around.
Mayor Peterson put an awful lot of energy into this proposal. I liked how he took responsibility for the defeat.
"I didn't do enough to sell this proposal," he said. "We'll have to sit down in the morning and pick up the pieces and find what's best for public safety and how we can stretch public safety dollars as far as we can."
The merger would have created a single 1,500-officer department with the sheriff in charge, starting in 2007. Peterson said the merger would have saved an estimated $9 million. Without the merger, officials say enough funds will not be available for both departments, and by 2009 there would be a $40 million budget shortfall.
Now we have a problem. You can't tell me that it is impossible to fund the police and Sheriff fully. These are real-life priorities in government. Public safety always comes first. The task now before the Mayor and the Council is to trim non-safety fat and pet projects and plow that money into fully funding the police and Sheriff.
If the Mayor and the Council can't find the way to take available funding and spend it on a priority basis, stand aside and let Libertarians do it.