Friday, January 19, 2007

Glad I Fled Marion County, Part 9

Pity Fred McCarthy, myself, and about 273 people or so who are actually concerned about the finances of Marion County. We were left shaking our heads, or trying to collect to skull fragments after heads exploded, when we learned that the City of Indianapolis is going to shovel a mountain of money at a hotel project.

Indianapolis is the city that has a murder every three days, and a carjacking every 30 hours or so. The crime is so bad that Mayor Peterson is talking about raising taxes, because there isn't enough money to put enough police on the streets, enough courtrooms, or jail space.

And yet, there is $48.5 million lying around to gift to a developer. Astonishing. I am so glad I fled Marion County. From the Indy Star report:
The city of Indianapolis is willing to spend as much as $48.5 million of taxpayer money to help build a mega-hotel of up to 1,000 rooms to service the expanding Indiana Convention Center.

It used to be that Republicans were guilty of giving away public money to developers. At least in other cities that's true, and Democrats cry foul, correctly, on the basis of corporate welfare. Do Indy Democrats give Mayor Peterson a pass because he's a Democrat, or because he's a developer? More from the Star:

Democratic council member, Jackie Nytes, said the city should gain from the hotel deal because it will create jobs and a larger tax base. "Whatever incentives we give them will be paid for by the increased taxes we get," Nytes said.
It just doesn't seem to matter who's in charge. Whether Republicans or Democrats are in charge, the taxpayers are robbed to benefit the politically connected.

Indeed, I was talking with Abdul Hakim-Shabazz the other day about whether or not things will change in Indy. My assertion is that they will not. Marion County's murder rate could increase to a daily occurance, and there would be no appreciable shift in policy. Will the voters of Marion County vote Peterson out? No way. The Democrats wouldn't dream of putting a primary challenger up, because it is more important to the Democratic Party to have 'D' in the Mayor's office than to have safe streets and otherwise sane policy. The voters who are glad that they have a 'D' in the Mayor's office are a majority of Marion County voters, and they too would rather have a 'D' in the office that safe streets, and all sooner than see an 'R' or an 'L' there. Not that the 'R' would make that great a difference either.

So, once again I sing the praises of my good decision to flee Marion County, for the temporarily safer streets of Hamilton County. As we reinvent Marion County north of 96th, I'm sure I will flee here some day too. Until then, I hum contentedly in my suburban home.
Review of Bills

I've been woefully behind in reviewing the bills legislators in my county have penned or backed. Coming soon!

In the meantime, check out Doug Masson's blog for reviews of many Indian House and Senate bills. I don't always agree with Doug's take, but then a) that's what makes the world an interesting place; b) he's been diligently tackling the stinking heap; and c) I haven't found a single human being I agree on everything with. (If you're on that trek, give it up. Utterly pointless.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

State of the State Review

Big thanks to Abdul Hakim-Shabazz for including me in the tri-partisan panel on WXNT 1430-am this evening. I was joined in studio in reviewing Governor Mitch Daniels' "State of the State Address" by the Executive Directors of the other parties- Mike Edmonson from the Dems and Jennifer Hollowell from the GOP. So, here are my thoughts:

This was The Kumbaya Speech. Governor Daniels repeatedly made clear overtures to the Democrats, urging bi-partisanship and cooperation. He could have sounded these themes before the Republicans lost their majority in the Indiana House this past November, but it wasn't necessary then as it is now if he wants his agenda advanced. Interestingly, Democrats had been calling for bi-partisanship, but here Daniels called for it and they played it cool, remaining seated while Republicans gave an ovation on the cooperation tone.

But that's not the substance. For me, it was impossible to miss the idea that Mitch Daniels, alleged arch-conservative, clearly believes in government as the best solution to so many of our problems.

While Dems snipe about 'selling' assets like the Toll Road, Daniels has really privatized very little and eliminated nothing. It's nice that state government is off the hook for a handful of employees on the Toll Road, and potentially at the Hoosier Lottery. It's a good start, but a very short list, and nowhere was he talking of eliminating departments or even cutting budgets.

Daniels could be at the fore of getting government out of the business of education, but instead works to expand the role of the state in calling for full day kindergarten. He could be at the fore of moving Hoosiers towards self-responsibility in the area of health care, but instead reinforces budding socialized medicine by working to impose another tax on cigarettes and earmarking the proceeds for providing care to those who choose to be uninsured. The speech was a complete abdication of the principle of self-responsibility, and typical of today's Republican.

Indeed, the worst thing is the predictable, badly misplaced invocation of Ronald Reagan. While the late President was more a smaller government man rhetorically than in reality, at least he had rhetoric. Daniels actually said that he is eager to"reinvest our bonanza". Both in word and deed, the man is about growing the size, scope, and expense of government. He may balance the budget, thereby claiming the phrase "fiscally responsible", but clearly Mitch Daniels is no "fiscal conservative".

"Investment," curiously enough, is the word Democrats currently use when they want to talk about spending, and Daniels is using their word. It apparently never crossed his mind to cut the budget and taxes, to return the money to the taxpayers.

It's time to retire Mitch's nickname, "The Blade", or at least modify it for some truth in advertising. Make we can call him "The Penkife", or "The Clippers". Many of us had hoped in 2004 that we would see "The Chainsaw" slashing through the budget behind a deep commitment to smaller government. Alas.

So, I expect the new era of cooperation and bi-partisanship to move full steam ahead. Democrats have long been in favor of more government. They have just the man to help them to that end.