Patronage and political self-interest have kept Indiana's government bloated, costly and inefficient. In fact, the only good thing you can say about our resistance to modernization is that the effort to keep state government mired in the late 1800s has been entirely bipartisan -- a lonely example of cooperation in our otherwise polarized politics.
It is understandable that people whose jobs are on the line would resist efforts to bring Indiana into the 21st century. But it was Bauer's snide dismissal of the Kernan-Shepard recommendations as "academic" that provided us with a perfect example of what is wrong with the General Assembly.
Leaving aside the use of the word "academic" to mean nonsensical (OK, I'm a bit sensitive there!), how many overlapping units of government does Bauer's "real world" need? Indiana has 3,100 units of government, run by 10,300 people paid for with our tax dollars. We have more counties than California. The reforms recommended by the commission have long characterized government in most other states.
Contrast the former ACLU director's views with talk radio's Amos Brown, who can always be counted on to stir up racial tensions on just about any given topic, or as he puts it, "a viewpoint that sometimes will be contrary to the views of the white power structure." To hear him explain it, Kernan-Shepard recommendations are nothing but a plot against black people:
That concentration of the state’s Black population in a handful of townships means that some of the Daniels/Kernan/Shepard reforms will negatively impact African-Americans.
These reforms, while well meaning, will abridge and abrogate voting rights of Black residents of townships in Indiana’s largest counties.
These reforms will drastically reduce the number of Black elected officials in this and several counties.
These reforms will greatly harm the poor, working poor and those suffering from the ravages of the recession.
These reforms will perpetuate the Ballard Administration’s abrogation of affirmative action by expanding the elimination of racial and gender diversity in Marion County fire departments.
Government reorganization, including gutting township government, is a big part of Governor Mitch Daniels’ 2009 agenda. On December 19, the governor’s office was packed with members of the Kernan/Shepard Commission, lobbyists, civic leaders, the heads of the state and local Chambers of Commerce, business leaders, firefighters’ union honchos, PR mavens readying to ram this down Hoosiers’ throats. They and others stood in a jammed phalanx behind the governor.
No Black people.
Biggest crowd in the governor’s office in years, at a major event, and not an African-American to be found. Just this columnist and another media pundit of color were present.
When I asked Governor Daniels why no Blacks were there showing their support, he turned “red” and said “Well, Adam Herbert (the former IU President) was on the Commission.”
True. But Herbert’s sunning himself in Florida, not here for the coming debates, leaving proponents with all whites.
White Hoosier voters are spread throughout those 1,008 townships. But with the vast majority of Black Hoosiers residing in a handful of townships, the Daniels/Kernan/Shepard proposals will have a severe negative impact on our African-American community.
The proposals mean: Black residents of these thirteen townships will have voting rights denied for choosing the government and candidates of their choice.
Opportunities for Blacks to elect candidates from their community will be drastically restricted.
There you have it. Who knew Sheila Kennedy wanted to strip blacks of their voting rights and do harm to poor relief efforts. After all, everyone should know that the right to continue electing Carl Drummer so he can spend more than $2 for every $1 of poor relief he delivers while juggling all those real estate deals for his portfolio of unused and under-used taxpayer-financed properties and keeping the doors of 300 East open so the Center Township gang has a place to hang that has white tablecloths is far more important than anything offered in Kernan-Shepard. Right?