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.