State can learn from Detroit
Indiana can take a lesson from Detroit becoming the biggest city in American history to declare bankruptcy: Stick with your “red model” of governing based on restraint and fiscal discipline. Resist those who urge you to drift closer to the “blue model” of high taxation, profligate spending and unsustainable benefits.
Yes, there are many culprits in Detroit’s downfall, including the collapse of an auto industry that once dominated the world and the exodus of urban residents who made up the tax base. But let’s keep our eye on the ball.
For each of the last five years, the city has spent on average $100 million more than it took in. Its $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners.
BMV can't get the plates right
Boy, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to license plates.
First, it arouses the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana by going along with some lawmakers’ desires to yank the specialty plate used to raise money by the gay-counseling Indiana Youth Group. It finally agreed to give the group its plate back after an extensive legal battle it was in no danger of winning.
Now the BMV is tangling with the ACLU again, this time over vanity license plates, of all things. It is suspending the vanity-plate program pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed on behalf of Greenfield police officer Rodney Vawter. For three years, he had a vanity plate that read “OINK,” with a zero in place of the O. When he tried to renew it again in March, it was rejected.
Losing sight of their goals
Lafayette officials are providing a useful example for the rest of the state on how not to handle the problem of rowdy teens congregating.
The teens in question were hanging out at the basketball court in the city’s Columbian Park, yes, playing hoops, but also cursing so loudly it could be heard in nearby neighborhoods and, occasionally, halting play long enough for a hearty, old-fashioned brawl. After getting complaints from park visitors and neighbors, officials found a quick and simple solution. They removed the basketball hoops.
Tom Rankin, the city’s parks, safety and security director, said the removal has reduced loitering and rowdiness to a minimum. The problem, as a growing number of critics point out, is that this more of an “uneasy peace” than a real solution. The relative calm in the park might lead to problems elsewhere.
Making sure promises kept
The City Council’s decision to end property tax breaks for companies that don’t live up to the promises they made when getting the breaks may end up being little more than symbolic. There are some requirements in the state law – such as a written notice of the denial and a public hearing scheduled within 30 days of the notice – that may trip the council up.
But hooray for council members even having the vote this week, which was 8-0 in favor of keeping 11 projects from 10 companies off the tax-break list.
The move was unprecedented in the city’s history. The usual move is to grant the tax breaks to companies promising to make investments in building or equipment or hire a certain number of new employees, then completely ignore whether the promises are actually kept.
Pretty good for 'dysfunctional'
The Associated Press has created a lengthy analysis of state Republican parties “mired in dysfunction,” because they’re “plagued by infighting and deep ideological divisions.” All this disharmony raises questions, AP says, about the GOP’s “ability to coordinate political activities in key battleground states ahead of next year’s midterm congressional elections.”
Noticeably absent from the list of states with a dysfunctional GOP is Indiana. Wisconsin, Florida and New Jersey aren’t there, either. As it happens, the Republican governors of those states are at the Aspen Institute in Colorado this week for a discussion about “the important social issues facing their communities” and “what’s working in their states.”
Republican governors from a lot of other states could have been in Aspen, too.