Monday, March 25, 2013

Bosma Gives Green Light To Ballard Power Grab Bill

House Speaker Brian Bosma is giving the go-ahead to a Sen. Mike Young's bill to eliminate the Indianapolis city-county council's four at-large seats and shift more control of appointments and budget matters for the unified government to the mayor. The bill, which previously passed the Senate easily, has angered Democrats. Senate Democrats have threatened to team up with conservatives in the Senate to derail pending mass transit legislation, which is an attempt to hike local taxes 20% to fund a multi-billion dollar metropolitan mass transit authority that would be run by an unelected, unaccountable board.

Ironically, Republicans were the ones who insisted on having at-large council members elected when Uni-Gov was first established. Traditionally, the party which wins the mayor's office also carries the four at-large seats until 2011 when Ballard eked out a second term over Democrat Melina Kennedy but saw his party lose all four at-large seats. In his 2007 narrow election upset over former Mayor Bart Peterson, Republicans won three of the four at-large seats. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels explained in his college thesis at Princeton the rationale behind the at-large seats:
The basic argument presented for public consumption held that "This way at least some of the council representatives would be free of local special interest prejudices." A second rationale, used sparingly and with receptive audiences asserted that it was desirable that a mayor have a few of his own people on the council. The UniGov proponents weathered much criticism of their at-large plan, apparently believing it to be important enough to contest. 
Daniels' thesis observed that Republicans believed at the time they could safely count on winning 13 to 14 of the 29 council seats. Republicans believed that a Republican mayor would be assured of having control of the council if he won the election, carrying the four at-large council candidates with him.

In a separate bill, Ballard is pushing to eliminate any council role at all in the approval of city-sponsored charter schools. He also refuses to charge the schools any administrative fees for their oversight, which is draining general funds that can be used for basic city services as the mayor's office expands its role in running an ever-increasing number of charter schools. State law allows the city to charge an administrative fee payable from the state education dollars that flow to the charter schools.


Unigov said...

I'm all for eliminating the at-large seats. Like Unigov, at-large seats were invented to dillute the black vote, iirc. Which ain't fair...we don't have at-large members of Congress.

(though Barney Frank is kind of large, wocka wocka !)

Marv said...

Yes we do. They are called Senators.

Not that I disagree with the reason why Unigov was created. Bit the Republicans in the butt though when it came to school desegregation.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Will any of the time the legislators are spending for political purpose, help raise Marion County from being the 80th in healthy citizens of all the Indiana counties, while all our continguous counties (except Shelby) are the most healthy. Safety and health is what our citizens need more of.