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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Big spenders

So, the city is going to buy a building for $7 million and spend another $7 million to fix it up. We don't know yet if it's going to do it on its own or in conjunction with the county, and we don't know what the relationship will be between city and county in the City-County Building. Where are city and county police going to end up, and which government functions will be where?

And that's perfectly OK with six City Council members. Let's just name the heroes here -- Republicans Mitch Harper and Council President Tom Smith and Democrat John Shoaff -- the three who voted no. After Liz Brown made such a valiant effort to call for looking at retiree health benefits in the face of universal opposition, I was hoping she'd be on the "let's slow down and think this through" side, too, but she defected to the other side.

The council let itself be rushed into this by the mayor's announcement that property owner George Huber had set an Aug. 31 deadline. That's nice for him, but George Huber should not be given de facto control over such a big city-government decision. Harper had the right take:

Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th, called the deadline “artificial haste.”

This is one more indication that party labels mean less at the local level than they do in national politics. Instead of talking about Republicans and Democrats, it's more useful to consider who on the council is fiscally prudent and who is likely to be a big spender. Smith, Harper and Shoaff seem to be reliably conservative fiscally; Brown is usually in that group, but not this time. Tim Pape, Karen Goldner and Glynn Hines can usually be counted on for more government rather than less. Tom Didier and Marty Bender go in the toss-up category, just because I don't have a good read on them yet.

What that all means is that fiscal restraint should never be assumed in any given council decision, which is something the phrase "a 5-4 Republican majority" doesn't convey.


john b. kalb
Wed, 08/26/2009 - 9:41am

Leo - You can use "Republican- In- Name- Only" (RINO) to characterize three on the common council -

Tom Didier previously followed in lockstep with the ardent RINO Sam, Jr. when he was on council - that's the reason you can't get a read on him - he doesn't have anyone to follow anymore.

Marty Bender is a classic RINO - plus he is employed by the entity that he has been elected to govern. The city- administration- can- do- no- wrong Marty.

Liz Brown has become a RINO recently - it's hard to figure why. She attends most every Monday morning "Conservative Breakfast Club" meeting - yet she has become a "spend everything you can of tax revenue, big government, liberal-acting" council person we have had in years (with the exception of Sam,Jr.) The destruction of the two blocks of Calhoun Street with her staunch support will be remembered the next time she runs for any office.

Bob G.
Wed, 08/26/2009 - 9:45am

Guess the city hasn't EVEN thought of using PRISON LABOR to renovate that place...right?

(I mean who wants to disturb THOSE cable-watching people with something PRODUCTIVE?)
And while you're at it....how about those BRIDGES...and ROADS...and SEWERS.
Apparently, saving money has LEFT the building (along with Elvis), people.


tim zank
Wed, 08/26/2009 - 7:50pm

Hey, it's only money right? What's a few million here and there. It's not like ALL of Indiana is unemployed yet.