An evening with the “Commish” candidates-poverty, crime and politics

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A few weeks ago, penning the lighter side of politics in an entry titled “Dis-FUNctional – Are we having fun in Delaware County or what!” outlined some of the fun things involved in a dis-FUNctional government.  Thursday evening, I had the opportunity, like 79 other residents, to listen to candidates who want to be the next commissioners.

Most of the evening was centered around poverty and what could be done in Delaware County to combat the growing problem.  Sherry Riggin, I believe best addressed the issue and was more  familiar  with Team Work for Quality Living.  So, I learned something new about Sherry Riggin.  James King grew up in poverty and at the age of 24 made a decision to break the cycle.  Steve Fields, current Yorktown Council, and Mt. Pleasant Trustee for eight years, spoke on the  increasing needs presented to him as the trustee.    Todd Donati said he believed education was the key factor and cited Vision 2016 and Early Child Development (a key component in Muncie Action Plan).

One issue facing our county is the offender re-entry back into our community.   Sherry Riggin discussed the amount of ex-prisoners returning to Delaware County.  I can’t remember the number she gave, perhaps 300 a year.   Todd Donati talked about programs  and businesses that would hire felons and  Steve Fields thought this could be something stipulated in the tax abatements.

In February 2011,  Attorney General, Joe Hogsett praised the City of Muncie for its local program and called it a national model.  The program which was in existence since 2009, was exactly what Riggin and Donati described.   30 houses  were deconstructed  utilizing the re-entry program.

He called the Muncie program “a national model that ought to be picked up elsewhere.” It gives a chance for ex-offenders to get back in society and learn skills.

Hogsett impressed with local home deconstruction program Muncie Star Press February 27, 2011 

The program, and I’m not sure where it is today, would be, as Mr. Hogsett said, a model for the programs Donati and Riggin mentioned.

A slightly tense moment when Riggin mentioned after the election the politics must end and working as a public servant must begin.  She explained  there are approximately 26 board appointments and encouraged people to get involved and consider serving on a board.  Riggin mentioned the Delaware County Airport Authority and how the board could really promote the “hidden” asset.

Mr. Donati said he didn’t play politics and was only concerned about working  for the community.  Let’s take a look at an example of board appointments.

The Airport Authority Board saw quite a bit of controversy over the 2011 appointments.  To put it bluntly, it was politics in all her glory.  At the Delaware County Commissioner’s meeting on February 7, 2011, the board took a turn.  Bob Jones, a  commercial pilot, was removed from the board, and replaced by Genetha Parr .

County Attorney Mike Quirk quoted a state agency legal opinion that indicated that, as a commercial pilot, Jones could not serve on the board.

In a previous meeting, airport board member Jerry Cook disagreed with that argument, which had been advanced by Joe Evans, a Democrat and local labor official who serves on the airport board.

Parr, a Yorktown resident, is an employee of Daleville-based Sater Electric. The company is owned by longtime Democrat Jack Sater, a political ally of Evans.

In Monday’s meeting, Donati produced a copy of a Jan. 4 letter from Parr in which the Yorktown woman asked about an appointment to the airport authority in hopes of creating “an even greater airport than we already have, and to make it one of the best economic development tools in the state of Indiana, the Great Delaware County Airport.  Muncie Star Press 2-8-11

At the July 2, 2012 Commissioner’s meeting, Donati read a letter of resignation from Parr.  In the same meeting her vacant spot was filled by Fred Martin who submitted a letter on June 27, 2012 asking for consideration of the appointment.  (See Commissioner’s minutes for the letters).

Last week, airport board members were surprised to hear that Parr had submitted a letter of resignation to the commissioners, who also happened to have a letter expressing interest in serving on the board from Fred Martin, who is also one of Mayor Dennis Tyler’s appointments to the city board of works. Resignation accepted, appointment made, heads scratched. Muncie Star Press 7-8-12

Let’s digress back to 2011 for more on the Airport Authority.  This time it was an agreement to contract with a private company against the federal government’s recommendation.

Jack Delaney, an FAA official from Chicago, also raised some red flags.

A provision of the agreement that prevents the airport authority from imposing fuel surcharges or landing fees “limits the authority’s ability to make decisions about the airport in the future,” Delaney wrote, adding that it might also be in violation of federal grant assurances, the agreements that airports make with the FAA.

Delaney also noted that the 10-to-20-year term of the contract “may be too long; would recommend a shorter length.”

“Also concerned that it doesn’t give the authority the right to decline an extension,” Delaney added. “The way it’s worded, it seems like (Muncie Aviation) has all the rights.”

An exclusive agreement for Muncie Aviation to serve as the sole fixed base operator of the Delaware County Airport is also prohibited by FAA grant assurances, Delaney noted.

WALKER/ROYSDON REPORT: Airport pact has even the FAA buzzing the tower 7-2-11

It was reported the airport authority had over $1 million in their cumulative fund bank account.  The proposal was submitted by Airport Authority president , Joe Evans.  Muncie Aviation Company markets airplanes, sells fuel and maintains airplanes.

No politics after the election….who they kiddin’?

7-2-12 Commissioner meeting minutes


One thought on “An evening with the “Commish” candidates-poverty, crime and politics

    Hallie Pena said:
    October 1, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    What a relief to read that Donati doesn’t play politics. I had been so concerned about that! 😀


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