Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Marion County Democrats' Hypocrisy On Consolidation

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz makes an excellent observation about Mayor Peterson's push for IndyWorks this legislative session--an effort to consolidate township government functions into Uni-Gov. It seems the Democrats have no problem doing away with the suburban township trustees' offices, but they oppose any effort to do away with the Center Township Trustee's office, long regarded as one of the most corrupt and inefficient township trustee offices in the state. Shabazz writes:

I honestly thought I would never live to see the day that a Lawrence Republican is for consolidation and a City Democrat opposed it. There are two proposals on the table to consolidate government in Marion County. Democrat Bill Crawford and Republican Jim Merritt both have ideas. The two big differences are a freeze in the tax levy and the elimination of the Center Township Trustee's office.

The levy freeze isn't what caught my attention as much as the Democrats are opposing the elimination of the Center Township Trustee. The logic is simple, if the other township trustees go away, why shouldn't the Center Township Trustee join them? Under Merritt's proposal the Health and Hospital Board would take over poor relief, which is the Trustee's main job, which it apparently doesn't do very well because it costs more than $2 to administer $1 of poor relief. It's sitting on more than $12 million in the bank and owns a lot of property that should be on the tax rolls.

That sounds to me like a model for the type of waste and inefficiency that Mayor Bart Peterson has rallied against and should be eliminated. However, House Democrats like Bill Crawford and Greg Porter say it's a non-starter and deal breaker. I say if it's good enough to eliminate the other township trustees (which I am all in favor) then the Center Township Trustee should go also.

It seems like a big exercise in intellectual dishonesty that the people who supported consolidation for the past two sessions for all the other townships in Marion County would oppose it when it comes to an office that by all objective accounts is the poster child for consolidation. And now that I've pointed out their inconsistency, hopefully they will see the error of their ways and not let their short-comings turn into blatant hypocrisy.

I couldn't agree more with Shabazz' point. I would only add that there might be a lot more public pressure to do away with this office had the Marion County prosecutor's office investigated the boxes of evidence dropped in its lap this past year concerning corruption with the Center Township Trustee's office courtesy of the reporting by the Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Business Journal and local blogs like this one. It's too bad we don't have a federal prosecutor like Chicago's Patrick Fitzgerald in Indianapolis. Otherwise, we would have seen a grand jury impaneled long ago.

16 comments:

Wilson46201 said...

In 1989, Goldsmith sent a forensic auditor into the Trustee's Office for a year to investigate "crime and corruption" - nothing illegal was found. Nobody was ever indicted. Julia Carson was elected Trustee and took office in 1991. She cut spending in half and reorganized financing - the Township was rescued from bankruptcy.

Republicans have fulminated for years against the Center Township Trustee's Office which for years was the only African-American headed governmental organization. The GOP and others are at it again ...

Disclaimer: I was the "Township Clerk" from 1991 to 2004 - part of my job was preparing budgets. All we did was audited regularly by the State Board of Accounts which also never found anything illegal despite the constant gossipmongering from a few...

As I remind people: the operation of Center Township is quite popular with the voters -- Drummer was re-elected bettern 3-to-1

Advance Indiana said...

"She cut spending in half and reorganized financing - the Township was rescued from bankruptcy."

Is that what you call a bond issue financed by property tax bills to pay operating expenses? That's what she did, Wilson.

Goldsmith also turned a blind eye towards the pea-shake houses. Is that why so many African-American Democrats like Carson wouldn't help out Louis Mahern's campaign against Goldsmith?

Wilson46201 said...

The bonds were issued for the huge debts incurred by the previous administration. This financing of operating expenses by bonds had been going on since the Bowen tax freeze. Julia ended that. She cut spending in half in her first 3 months and subsequently operated without need for further borrowing for operating expenses. A "rainy day fund" was created and accumulated.

Peashakes and Goldsmith? If you seriously imagine that caused Carson to back off supporting Louie Mahern, you are seriously deluded. It's no secret that Julia despised Goldsmith. She indeed supported Mahern - I was part of her "machine" that helped him. Without a serious campaign from all Democrats and a decent likelihood of winning, she wasn't going to knock herself out on a losing race though. Basic Politics 101.

Wilson46201 said...

Parenthetical remark: I am constantly amazed and amused the power of "peashakes" on the psyches of some white folk - it's kinda like the effect of Bill Clinton's you-know-what on otherwise sober and serious Republicans. Peashakes and the Clenis are never far from their minds.

A pseudonymous commenter online (Shorebreak) has postulated that the cash flow from 5 small illegal gambling joints in poor, innercity neighborhoods generate enough cashflow to corrupt and pollute the political and banking system of a million-population city. Conveniently, the massive and monstrous drug dealing system gets overlooked somehow...

Wolfrham Hart said...

"Goldsmith sent a forensic auditor into the Trustee's Office for a year to investigate "crime and corruption" - nothing illegal was found. Nobody was ever indicted."

This is not relevant. A lack of illegality or a lack of corruption is not the same as a lack of efficiency. If it takes $2 to administrate $1 in poor relief then something is significantly wrong.

Wilson, I thank you for your public service, but when the trustee's job can be done by other organizations for less money then the position needs to go.

Mr. Allen, if you can come up with some logical reasons for keeping a township trustee's office (any of them) then I'm willing to listen. Otherwise ALL of the trustee offices should be merged with Uni-Gov.

Anonymous said...

So are we to simply assume that because African-Americans are in th Center Township Trustee's office that township should not be part of township consolidation??? How frigging racist can it get?
Outside the Mile Square we see nothing but urban blight and crime in Center Township so let the African-American community keep their wasteland. In 10 to 15 years the inner ring black neighborhoods will be urban prairies anyway so what the hell diffeence does it make.
There was a reason while the township school boards were left out of the equation under UNIGOV and not consolidated and it had everything to do with Center Township. Leave Center Township alone and let it kill itself, literally.

Wilson46201 said...

The above anonymous nobody is letting its racial ignorance and hatred get in the way of sober analysis. Center Township is not now nor ever has been majority African-American. Ever!

But when one is burning a fiery cross online, why let reality, honesty and accuracy get in the way?

Anonymous said...

Segregating Center Township from integrating with the other Townships is segregation Wilson. It is not racist to note that the vast majority of poor relief in Center Township is black because that's a fact.
What better way to grease the wheel of the "machine" than to dole out relief money to people to vote for the "machine".

Wilson46201 said...

Sadly, people on welfare and poor relief hardly ever vote. Of all people, they are highly dependent on governmental decisions but unfortunately, they dont often participate in the process by voting. Believe me, I've been quite involved in trying to empower these "dependent" poor relief folk but in most cases, they've simply disconnected from the political process. It's a hoary story by perplexed Republicans that the GOP loses because welfare bums on the dole turn out to vote massively.

Sometimes, trying to assist the poor and needy is simply the good and/or Christian thing to do. Let others find Machiavellian or racist rationalizations ...

Wolfrham Hart said...

Umm...Wilson please ignore the comments you believe to be racist for the moment. I'm curious as to your insight as to way any township trustee office should not be consolidated into Uni-Gov. If you could answer that I would greatly appreciate it.

Wilson46201 said...

As a general rule, I am very concerned with the willy-nilly abolition of elective local government entities in favor of large, centralized, "efficient", technocratic government.

Township fire depts were grossly underfunded (cheap taxes) but relied on IFD to cover the slack (which central city folk paid for). I favor such consolidation of fire fighting organizations. Fire fighting was the primary purpose of the doughnut townships. None of them ever did much about poor relief - it was pathetic.

Center's main activity is "poor relief" and it is highly popular among its taxpayers. Folk feel it is the right thing to do, to help the poor and needy. It's a local decision. It's also quite cheap, costing less than 1.5% of a Center Twnshp tax bill.

We just had an election in which voters re-elected the Center Trustee better than 3-to-1. The naysayers had railed about corruption and inefficiency but the actual voters did not feel those were significant issues. People voted for the status quo here in Center, whether 'outsiders' like it or not.

Advance Indiana said...

The IBJ expose' on Carl Drummer could not have made it more clear that poor relief is the lowest of his priorities. He'd rather pretend he's a major real estate developer by buying up pricey properties all over Center Township on our dime and pretending he's Al Kite. The properties also serve as storage for his growing classic car collection. The Center Township Trustee is the biggest joke in Indiana government. Drummer laughs all the way to the bank at how stupid the taxpayers are to let him get by fleecing them the way he has for the past decade.

Wilson46201 said...

"Pricey propertieS"??? Fabricate much, AI ?

CT bought the historically-Black Fall Creek YMCA at the urging of community leaders after efforts to get the "Y" to keep it open failed. The Indiana Minority Health Coalition now operates the gym facility in a "wellness operation". The residential area was used for temporary Katrina shelter. It's to be used for longterm homeless shelter...

That is the single property acquired in the last ten years -- too bad you cant name any other "pricey properties" to substantiate your hysterical accusations...

The voters heard of the IBJ article and yawned. Same old, same old. It simply wasnt considered significant by much of anybody.

Anonymous said...

"The voters heard of the IBJ article and yawned."

Actually Wilson most of the people who voted for Drummer are likely IPS dropouts and cannot read. So reading the IBJ was not an option.

Anonymous said...

why do you all talk about poor relief. i have a simple solution for that. it is called " get a job ".

Wilson46201 said...

1. 75% of Center voters voted for Drummer -- demeaning such a massive voting base is why the GOP is so unsuccessful in Center Township.

2. "Poor relief" is what our Founding Fathers of this State called it - frugal and humane leaders have continued to do so. Decent folk have continued to heed Christ's call to "Clothe the naked and feed the hungry" -- that's "poor relief" in a nutshell!