There is a word I would not choose to describe Mayor Peterson's sewer initiative: timely. The the letters to the Indy Star are full of praise for the mayor, despite the fact that this is an ages-old problem. I'll take just one of the recent ones, a glowing letter of praise from today's Star:
Improving Kids' Environment commends Mayor Bart Peterson for taking a crucial step toward reducing the threat to Indianapolis' children posed by overflows in the city sewer system. His plan would provide resources, through increased sewer fees, to pay for much-needed upgrades.True enough, the Mayor is doing the right thing. But, how long has he been Mayor? Since taking office on January 1, 2000. Five-and-three-quarters years is a long time to go between starting the job and identifying a major problem that affects the entire Central Indiana region.
The streams in our neighborhoods often contain human waste where the bacteria count can be more than 100 times the standard and kids are exposed to raw sewage. Whenever there's more than 0.1-inch of rain, these overflows of human waste threaten kids as well as the integrity of our neighborhoods. That's not what we want for our city or our children. You're doing the right thing, Mr. Mayor!
Janet G. McCabe
Improving Kids' Environment
Of course, the Peterson Administration shouldn't have had to deal with this at all. It should have been tackled by at least the two prior administrations- of Mayors Goldsmith and Hudnut. All this means is that no matter if we're talking Republicans or Democrats, we're talking about a lack of diligence in identifying and solving major problems.
The Libertarian Party had been talking about the third-world condition regarding Indianapolis sewers whereby any time more than a quarter-inch of rain fell over a short time span, the sanitary system would overflow and discharge raw sewage into the White River.
Although many Libertarian candidates made this an issue over the past several years, major media ignored them, as did mayors and city-county councilors.
So finally, Mayor Bart Peterson announced an initiative to fix the sewers, once his top priority- the Indianapolis Colts- was satisfied. Great, but let this be the start of a new day where actual priorities are identified and tackled first, not last.