Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thousands Demonstrate At Black Sunday Protest







Thousands of angry homeowners gathered on the north side of Monument Circle to take part in the Black Sunday protest against skyrocketing property taxes. GOP mayoral candidate Greg Ballard, shown in the top photo, took advantage of the ready-made crowd to pledge his support for the elimination of the property taxes and ending the shell game the politicians keep playing with taxes and spending. I found only two elected officials brave enough to appear at the event. State Rep. David Orentlicher (D-Indianapolis), clad in a black Frankenstein t-shirt, worked the crowd. Orentlicher told me he supports using the local income tax as an immediate form of relief to offset property taxes by 50%. He thinks a special session is all but certain to occur. Orentlicher also assured me that a rumor spread on the blogosphere that his property tax assessment decreased this year is untrue. He said he and other people in his Washington Township neigbhorhood were over-assessed four years ago. Marion County Treasurer Mike Rodman (D), shown in the bottom picture, was also in attendance at today's protest dressed in black.
UPDATE: The Star has posted a story online here. As if to add insult to injury, police reported a number of car break-ins in the area of the protest. The Star reports that Orentlicher attempted to speak as the rally moved over to the State House, but he was shouted down. I can tell you that the crowd was not in the mood to hear from politicians today. When a libertarian candidate for the city-county council attempted to speak at Monument Circle this morning, the crowd reacted similarly. Greg Ballard wisely kept his comments very brief so the crowd could hear angry homeowners vent their frustration with the system.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

So those folks working in Marion county but living in a surrounding county should be forced to help Marion county homeowners pay their property taxes?

Doug said...

>>So those folks working in Marion county but living in a surrounding county should be forced to help Marion county homeowners pay their property taxes?<<

Why not? They take advantage of the jobs provided by Marion County. Why shouldn't they support some of the infrastructure.

Also, probably irrelevant, but it struck me that every person in those protest pictures was white. Marion County being only 70% white, I would've expected a more diverse composition. Maybe it was the name "Black" Sunday that made me think of it.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, those in attendance are the ones most able to pay the tax increase. All white, upper middle class from the trendy neighborhoods.
The real price will be paid by those the least able to afford it and as a result you will see more boarded up house in the not so trendy areas.
The same people at this protest are the same people who couldn't care less about crime............ until they personally become a victim.

Anonymous said...

"Orentlicher also assured me that a rumor spread on the blogosphere that his property tax assessment decreased this year is untrue. He said he and other people in his Meridian-Kessler neigbhorhood were over-assessed four years ago."

Orentlicher does NOT live in Meridian Kessler. He lives at 5200 Grandview. So if I was overassessed four years ago do I get a decrease? I live close to Orentlicher and my assessment and taxes have more than doubled TWICE.

Check out the Star's data base for Orentlicher's home. Read it for yourself. Here's the database from four years ago. http://www2.indystar.com/cgi-bin/propertytaxes/

What gives? Does he think we are complete fools?

Geez.

Anon 11:31 said...

Doug, the relevant infrastructure I can think of—road ways—are funded by State gasoline tax. What other infrastructure are you thinking of and I'm missing?

And, yes, I totally agree with your observation regarding the lack of visible diversity.

Anonymous said...

Just checked Orentlicher's next door neighbor (5202 Grandview). Assessed value went from $401,900 in '03 to $300,000 in '07.

We all live in the wrong block. We need to live near Orentlicher.

Somebody smarter than me needs to check the records and see if some appeal or other legal proceeding occurred to cause this very fortuitous result for those fortunate enough to live near David O.

Advance Indiana said...

I thought David lived in the Meridian-Kessler area. He actually said Washington Township.

Anonymous said...

If you had been there you would have seen a diverse crowd. Yes it was mostly white but unlike the last few protest that took place farther north of the circle ther people from all races, economic class and ages. These were hard working every day people. These were the ederly who are on fixed income. These were married couples with kids trying to get by.

The most striking thing I heard taht even I never had thought of was the fact that even after you pay off your mortgage you STILL are paying property taxes. While you had the mortage the bank really owned your house. AFter you pay it off the government owns you house if you do not pay your property taxes.

Pike Voter

Anonymous said...

If there was diversity in the crowd, AI's photos don't show it. Which raises the question, why hasn't this protest attracted support from Black homeowners. There are thousands of them. And plenty in upscale neighborhoods. For this protest to succeed, they must reach out to all parts of the community. The perception remains that this is a Meridian-Kessler, upper income driven protest. And AI's photos do nothing to allieviate that perception.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that a few years ago when people first started protested the Iraq war, they were told they were unpatriotic, didn’t support the troupes, and should either love America or leave it.

Well, where is the similar lambasting of these protesters? Isn’t it ones patriotic duty to support the government without question? Do they not support police officers and firefighters? Should they just love Indiana or leave it?

Well?

(Just trying to make a point.)

Anonymous said...

Why not? They take advantage of the jobs provided by Marion County. Why shouldn't they support some of the infrastructure.

If Marion Co. got the jobs with free land, parking space, and/or tax breaks, they shouldn't then turn around and cry when they don't have enough money. The Simon's HQ is the perfect example. All they had to do was say they were _thinking_ about moving to Carmel and Indy turned around and gave them a parking garage and land.

As far as the white crowd, your starting to sound like Wilson. Even though black wealth has increased over the decades, there is still a very small minority of wealthy blacks/black families. Most of your middle income folks, black and white, are not going to see the sticker shock that those in MK, BT, and Lockerbie are seeing. As such, they are not likely to be as motivated to protest. Also understand that a decent number of those folks at the protest have been complaining about property taxes for decades. Most are very conservative/libertarian when it comes to the issue of property taxes. These folks are more than likey to be white. Overall, I don't think the property tax bills are likely going to be that bad unless you live in a specific area. Those people are seeing 300% increases which is just really ugly. This is why instead of tens of thousands, you are only going to end up with "thousands." It is also why the only state elected official to show up is likely the only real official who could be in trouble when his term is up. Orentlicher's district is usually a close enough race. Considering that many liberal leaning folks will likely not forget their sky high property tax bills, he faces a serious problem. I do like his idea where he said they need to have caps in place. We need to cap property tax at 1-1.5% of the assessed value. In addition, we need caps that protect low income folks and only charge them a certain % based on income.

AFter you pay it off the government owns you house if you do not pay your property taxes.

I am ok with some property tax, but not the way they figure it now. Property tax should be based on your home's size, how many people live in the home, any kids in the local school, age of the home, etc. etc. Since we have awsome computer systems, I would not mind using past history such as police/fire/EMS runs as another measure. All those Section 8 companies where the cops get called every day would see a large spike in their taxes the following year. If your going to make your living off tax-payer money via government housing, your company needs to pay their fair share if you are unwilling to hire security and clean up your properties.

Which raises the question, why hasn't this protest attracted support from Black homeowners. There are thousands of them. And plenty in upscale neighborhoods.

What? Where are there thousands of blacks living in homes that costs around $300K in Marion Co.? Listening to Amos Brown, it sounds like most of the callers from the black community saw very small increases. Most of the middle class folks in the suburbs are going to see increases, but obviously not like that of MK, Lockerbie, etc..

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately, those in attendance are the ones most able to pay the tax increase. All white, upper middle class from the trendy neighborhoods."

I don't understand, so hispanics and african americans are NOT opposed to outrageous taxes because they weren't there? That is the most ridiculous thing said.

Also, this started at 10 am on Sunday morning, and there are still a lot of people who attend church at this time.

Doug said...

Re: Infrastructure -

Dense populations of people tend to create more job opportunities and a greater variety of job opportunities. Marion County has the densest population in Indiana, and that's probably why there are a lot of people who commute from other counties to take advantage of jobs they can only get in Indianapolis. (Try specializing in intellectual property law in Warren County, for example).

However, dense populations of people tend to create more expensive problems that have to be dealt with as well.

So, like I said, it doesn't strike me as all that unfair that people working in Marion County but living elsewhere would have to pay an income tax that benefits Marion County to some extent. (Just, for what it's worth -- not much, I used to live in White County and work in Tippecanoe County and didn't mind the idea of some of my county income tax going to Tippecanoe.)

Anonymous said...

However, dense populations of people tend to create more expensive problems that have to be dealt with as well.

I understand your logic, but not everything is that cut and dry. For starters, what about taxation w/o representation. Should the commuter tax have a limit? Should it be based on where you work?

I drive around 15 miles into Indy from my home county. Of that 15, maybe one mile is on local city or state roads. The rest is all federal interstate. Where I work they provide their own cops and pay money to IFD (so I heard) to provide fire service. I don't mind paying a small amount for the off chance I need a city cop for an accident report or fire/ems on the interstate. However, if I do pay more, I expect to at least see more. The city had best be there when the commuters need them. Using commuters because you are already short officers and the new officers will just be busy in the ghetto areas is not right. That is a local problem. If a shortage of police is the problem, force the businesses that locate here to share the burden with the commuters. Don't put it all on the commuters backs.

indyernie said...

"Also, probably irrelevant, but it struck me that every person in those protest pictures was white"

If you had attended you would have seen White, Black, Hispanic, and Hindus addressing the crowd. Very diverse group of folks and all were stating the same thing. Taxes are too high, spending needs cut and politicians need a wake up call.

Anonymous said...

Indyernie, We only have AI and the Star's on line photos to go by. The only speakers shown on AI were white. If the speakers were that diverse that diversity should have been shown.
1:30's post makes my concern that those organizing the protest, don't seem to understand how to reach out to other communities, including the minority community. And holding rallies at church time on Sundays is not a good way to have a racially undiverse crowd.

Advance Indiana said...

I would agree there was an absence of very many African-Americans at the protest to day. And yes, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz wasn't the only African-American there today. Having said that, the crowd was very diverse in the sense that it drew from a culturally diverse group. There was a fair mix of other minority groups there. Interestingly, I can tell you from personal observation there were a lot of gays and lesbians there protesting. Many of these people were pioneers in redeveloping the older, inner city neighborhoods. Others followed in their path. The white population was very diverse. I saw conservative, middle class Republicans, well-educated, upscale liberal Democrats and blue collar workers among the crowd. I think the Star's Tim Evans had it right yeterday in commenting about the strange bedfellows coming together on this issue. I think everyone would agree Rep. David Orentlicher is a liberal Democrat. He was there as a protestor like everyone else. He believes the property tax system we have now is unfair and needs a major overhaul.

Abdul-Hakim said...

Maybe a lot of Black folks didn't show because they've got nothing left for the government to take? :-)

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:31 - Local Income taxes are withheld based on your county of residence. If you county doesn't have a tax, and you work in Marion county, then yes - you would pay. But I doubt there are any counties with no tax rate anymore.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone can explain something to me, what does it matter what the racial mix of the crowd was?

That group was a diverse as you can get and definitely there were both Ds and Rs there speaking the same language!

Obviously, the anons who want to poke holes at racial diversity on this subject are doing someones dirty work. Viva la revolution, baby!

indyernie said...

The coverage on TV showed the diversity much better than the photos.
All races were present. Several African Americans spoke out against the taxation. One in particular was a woman who stated that she was 67 and was afraid of retirement. She stated that if she were to retire she couldn’t pay her taxes. Another was a small Philippine Lady who stated that she couldn’t pay the taxes because of limited income. Another African American woman asked that we contact our representatives. An African American man spoke his mind and was interviewed by a TV station. His interview was reported. Gary is right about the Gay and Lesbian community being out in force. This taxation is effecting everyone across Indiana, not just the white democrat and republicans of privilege. The only difference between Indy and the rest of the state is that we are going to get a second slap across the face when the CCC approves Peterson’s income tax increase.

Advance Indiana said...

Rep. Orentlicher has provided some pretty specific proposals he would like to see implemented. You can view them by going to this web address: http://www.in.gov:80/legislative/house_democrats/repsites/r86/ore_issue_propertytaxes.html

bobett said...

Thanks for shedding light on the
Property tax revolution.

I live in Fort Wayne, In and we are
going through the same thing. Yet,
there is no out-cry yet. TAX & SPEND.

With a little research, I found our
property tax card.. which states we have 4 fireplaces. Now we have only 2, but are being taxed over $4,300.00 because they think we have 4 fireplaces. There's more
errors as well on how our property like square footage and acerage that is incorrect.


I think what I'm going to do is get ahold of my
Assessor and ask her to hire me so
I can help their office.

Bobett Kelley
Fort Wayne

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Unfortunately, those in attendance are the ones most able to pay the tax increase. All white, upper middle class from the trendy neighborhoods"

You should be ashamed of yourself for trying to make this a race issue. This has nothing to do with race, status, of where you live.
NO ONE kept blacks, or hispanics, away from the rally but themselves!
There were 15,000+ in attendance for black expo, but less than 100 attended the rally to save their homes. WHO'S FAULT IS THAT?
Also, I don't believe that they would have been condemned to hell for missing church one day, in order to attend the rally.
I am not rich, or even close to it and I live on the east side.
I say that if your not willing to do anything to help the situation. THEN SHUT UP, AND STOP STIRRING UP TROUBLE.
Also the CCC is voting on giving themselves a raise today at 4:00pm and an income tax increase at 5:30pm today at the CC building Rm 260.
What will the excuse be today when they don't attend?

Doug said...

>>I can tell you from personal observation there were a lot of gays and lesbians there protesting. Many of these people were pioneers in redeveloping the older, inner city neighborhoods.<<

That makes a certain amount of sense, financially, I think. The older neighborhoods tended to have properties that were underassessed under the old system. If those houses are now in good neighborhoods (thanks in no small part to the efforts of these gay pioneers) then the market value of the properties, and therefore the assessed value under the new system, would be much higher and the tax impact dramatic.

Advance Indiana said...

The taxes on my home in Lockerbie went from $700 to $2,400 after the reassessment 4 years ago. They have gone up to over $4,000 after this reassessment. It is the same 2 bedroom, flat condo I purchased in 1994.

Anonymous said...

I own a two bedroom condo in Broad Ripple south of the Art League. $8000. I can no longer afford it.

How DID Orentlicher get his assessment reduced?

Anonymous said...

I drove by the rally at about 1 p.m. and there were not thousands. Maybe 300-400. Still a large crowd, on a hot Sunday afternoon And mostly white. Not that it makes any difference.

The organizers need to run this like a political campaign. A four-hour Sunday mid-day rally, organizationally, is just stupid. And they're confused about who's responsible. So they're firing their guns at everyone. Understandably, but some focus is appropriate. Otherwise all the politicians will just wait them out. They're getting their sea legs, and when they fire up effectively, they'll be powerful.

Taxes are too high, for one major reason: spending is too high. Those same crowds need to be marching on school board meetings...that's where the raises are coming. It's shameful.

The city, over the last two years, has enacted some pretty tough spending cuts. Not enough, but they've worked hard at it. They saw this coming, altho I think they were surprised at the increases. I shudder to think what the increases would've been without those cuts.

Cut Spending
Elimnnate township government.
Insist schools spend less on Admin.
Make schools justify EVERY debt

As for non-Marion County residents using our infrastructure: yes, the roads were paid for mostly with gas taxes. But not the sidewalks, police, sewers and parks. It's time for a commuter tax, but if it pushes more businesses toward Brainard, it'd be counter-productive.

Advance Indiana said...

Anon 8:15, the largest crowd arrived at Monument Circle between 10:00-11:00. Many people didn't go over to the State House. There were also a lot of people cycling through during the 4-hour period.

Anonymous said...

$225,000 house, $1000 per year in property taxes. No income tax. Tennessee looks better and better all the time!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Gary.

One more reason they ened to get better organized. A four-hour marathon rally on Sunday, mid-day, is bound to stretch out the crowd.

I saw a crowd of 30-40 protestors at 46th/Meridian this morning, holding up traffic. They were holding up southbound traffic because three of the protestors were parked on the west side of Meridian, just south of the intersection, unloading signs, etc., thus making the right lane impassable.

They were unloading those signs from (all late model): a Volvo station wagon, a Volvo SUV, and a Jag. Me putterin by in my cheap ltitle hybrid.

Just sayin'. Kinda hard to muster a lot of sympathy, even tho this tax system is a joke.

anon 11:31 said...

8:15: "As for non-Marion County residents using our infrastructure: yes, the roads were paid for mostly with gas taxes. But not the sidewalks, police, sewers and parks. It's time for a commuter tax, but if it pushes more businesses toward Brainard, it'd be counter-productive."

Is it possible that Indy employers need surrounding county commuters a lot more than these educated/skilled commuters need the Indy job market… or for that matter any job market in Indiana. If so, perhaps the appropriate entity for your suggested commuter tax should be on the employer—as a cost of doing business for overtaxing Indy’s dilapidated / insufficient infrastructure!? Speaking of dilapidated / insufficient infrastructure... isn’t that 30yr. stretch of GOP leadership proving… ah hell, never mind.

anon 11:31 said...

Gary, do I recall correctly, didn't you recently comment that property in your neighborhood couldn't be bought for less than $400,000.00 in today's market?

Advance Indiana said...

I said the new condos being built in our area couldn't be bought for less than $400,000. The condos in my building aren't selling for anything near that amount.

anon 11:31 said...

Wowza... I stand ever so slightly corrected.

Anonymous said...

It's time for a commuter tax, but if it pushes more businesses toward Brainard, it'd be counter-productive.

Hopefully you agree that a commuter tax should work both ways _and_ be passed on all 92 counties?

Anonymous said...

"The condos in my building aren't selling for anything near that amount."

On a personal note, what are they selling for?

Advance Indiana said...

Anywhere between $150,000 and $290,000 depending on which floor in the building you are located, which direction you are facing (city view or not), whether you have a 1, 2 or 3 bedroom.

anon 11:31 said...

For what it's worth... in order to afford a that $150,000. condo an individual needs an income in excess of $50,000. a year. At the $290.000. price tag an income of $100,000. a year (or better) is needed. Per capita income for Indianapolis is $21,640. a year.

Gary, I'll leave it to you and others to do the the rest of the math...

Advance Indiana said...

I should not I purchased my condo for considerably less than $150,000 in 1994.