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

Moew power in fewer hands

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard says he isn't making a power grab, but others aren't so sure. Senate Bill 482, one of those limited-jurisdiction pieces of legislation that invite immediate suspicion, would eliminate townships and give the mayor control of many county government functions:

Opponents question the wisdom of putting too much power into the hands of a single office.

They point out that under Kernan-Shepard, the rest of the state's 91 counties would end up with a powerful county executive to balance the power of the mayor, while Indianapolis would have a mayor in charge of every government function except schools, jails, prosecutions and elections.

“Putting that kind of authority in one person ought to give the public concern,” said Councilwoman Joanne Sanders, minority leader of the City-County Council.

This shows in microcosm a problems area of Kernan-Shepard that needs much more discussion. That commission's streamlining plan, which Ballard based his proposal on, is about "efficiency." That is a valid government goal, which consolidation might improve, but so is the diffusion of power, which consolidation would frustrate. In the counties, under K-S, the power of a single executive would at least be balanced and checked by the elected leaders of cities in the county, and Ballard would have almost no checks and balances. But the overall goal of both plans is more power in fewer hands, which we should always be at least a little skeptical of.