The Conservative Tree House may be called a Last Refuge for each of us for different reasons. Whatever trail through the woods brought us here, we have shared the turmoil of storms as we have been finding our voices as individuals in this growing community. Read more by clicking on the link.
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The annual Property Tax Appeal Help Day on November 17, 2012 had an extraordinary turnout. With nearly 150 people in attendance and some with stories of increased assessment, we can’t call it a success until every property owner receives a fair assessment. Rest assured we are working diligently to get the ear of our legislatures to address this issue. It may be this year, or maybe not, it’s hard to say what the future holds.
As you all may know, Scott Alexander won the County Council At-Large seat. Scott has been attending county meetings for nearly seven years and brings to the table a wealth of information and practical experience. With that being said, welcome Scott!
District 2 Commissioner, Todd Donati, lost his re-election bid and his last day will be December 31, 2012. Prior to being commissioner he spent 12 years on county council. Unfortunately, most people ignored his performance on council and elected him in 2008. After four years of the most viral political games and outrageous spending, the people of Delaware County ousted him from office. I heard the day after the election, many of the county employees had a smile on their faces.
The Christmas Season is upon us and it looks like the downtown area will be decked out in lights. Muncie has come a long way since that cold winter night in 2009 when Council President, Sam Marshall, announced he was cutting the streetlight budget in half. Yes, 50% of the lights were scheduled to be shut off. No Christmas lights for us , bah humbug. And just about no streetlights in 2010 either. Yet, despite the not so bright future, Muncie was able to leave to the new administration $7,596,218.00 to take into 2012. Nobody got a bonus and only one person in the Tyler administration got a raise, but there were new copiers purchased and some other sundry things along the way. So, now Muncie is flush with money and the budget has been increased by $2 million. So much for Nora Powell, finance chairperson, getting the department heads to consider fiscal prudence. Hey, if you got it, might as well spend it.
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Public question: Shall Delaware County, Indiana and City of Muncie, Indiana, reorganize as a single political subdivision?
Supporting consolidation and modernization, vote Yes.
So, here we are at the brink of voting for reorganization and modernization in our county. After nearly five years, it’s on the ballot.
You might be asking, why do I support consolidation? I believe it will usher in a smaller and more transparent government. Currently, there are 47 separate taxing entities in the county. Most can’t recite even four. I can’t. Nevertheless, we have on the table a plan for reorganization.
To give you a little background. The reorganization began in 2007, when a group of citizens garnered over 2200 signatures to get the ball rolling. From there it was voted up, voted down, board disbanded and new appointments made, until the finished plan was completed in 2010. From there it sat gathering dust for nearly a year, as neither Muncie City Council or Delaware County Commissioners bothered to meet and modify the plan. One wonders if they even read the plan. I know members of City Council were asked their thoughts on the reorganization, and they sat looking blankly at the citizen. Where’s the Democrat handlers when you need them?
Finally, Linda Gregory spoke and defined the plan perfectly. She would as she spent time explaining the plan to citizens at her monthly meetings.
But today, we have a wealth of misinformation being circulated by those that have never even bothered to read the plan. You ask how I know this? I’ve been out and about listening to people explain why they are voting No. So, I wonder, are these elected people ignorant of the plan or does their agenda include spreading as much false information as possible? Don’t know. Either way, it does the citizens a disservice.
To make it fun, let’s discuss some of the things being said.
“Public safety is in danger and we won’t have a sheriff.” No, public safety won’t change. Muncie will still have MPD and the County will still have Sheriff Department The sheriff position is in the constitution, so this position is here to stay.
“Dennis Tyler will control the county.” No, the mayor position will be eliminated and Dennis Tyler isn’t qualified to be the county executive.
“Your taxes will go up.” That may be a possibility and really has nothing to do with reorganization. Remember, your property is capped, so you do have a level of insurance.
“They just want to get rid of the elected officials.” I’m not sure who “they” may be. Consider this, the reorganization began in 2007 and there has been a turn over of elected officials. Realizing the comment lacked credibility, it was continued to single out along-time city council member. Yep, we spend all our time on modernization and consolidation to rid ourselves of Mary Jo Barton?
Some of the reasons are comical, as the Barton one, some are serious accusations with no basis in fact. I would suggest you read the plan, if you haven’t already and decide for yourself.
I’ll leave you with this opinion piece from the local newspaper.
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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). Read the rest of this entry »
Delaware County is so political, it takes the fun out of being dis-FUNctional. It doesn’t matter what the topic, or flavor of the day, it’s political. Payback can be good or a detriment, depending on what side of the “dis-FUNction” you sit, stand or walk on. Sometimes you get a job, or your truck paid off or even a construction contract.
Case in point. The Muncie Sanitary District and Mayor Dennis Tyler. Mayor Tyler claimed at the mayoral debate, he was able to work across party lines, he just can’t seem to do it. Supporters of the mayor never said a word about Economic Development Income Tax funds going to pay for a law firm just so Mayor Tyler can gain the last bit of control over the $168 million dollar storm-water project. So, the political games continue and the taxpayers and citizens will be forking over more money. That’s the way it has always worked.
First we had the Justice Center, talk about the political football!
With the political appointments made to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) was filled to over-flowing with party supporters. By the time it was all said and done, Delaware County was on the hook for additional bonds (covering the cost overruns), purchased a boat-load of Bull computers…and even got to pay for storage of the dis-FUNctional pieces of modern technology and a lawsuit in which one attorney lost his license to practice. The County Commissioners, even gave the poor unemployed attorney a pass on his fines. Later he won his appeal on a technicality getting his license reinstated. Witnesses for the prosecution were placed in the same room…that’s a no-no. He was good to go.
We made national news on that one. Along with the lady who shot her toe off because she had a corn. No, I’m not making this stuff up.
Are we having fun yet? Read the rest of this entry »
In the local newspaper today August 19, 2012, an opinion letter titled “Grandma couldn’t vote” was published. The letter presents a scenario which isn’t applicable and designed to illicit a response of outrage rather than presenting of facts. If Grandma is over 65, disabled, etc., Grandma can vote Absentee. Grandma will not be required to show an ID or go to the polls. (The letter is available on-line for seven days.)
The Indiana voter law was passed in ’05. The Mid-Term election percentage in ’02 was 39%; ’06 was 40% and 2010 was 41%. Up 2% since the law was passed. The first Presidential election since the law was passed saw a 4% increase. I might want to add, the Presidential primary in ’04 was 21%, ’08 was 40% and ’12 was 22%. It doesn’t appear the voter law had any effect on the first Presidential primary after the law was passed. If people want to vote, the ID will not stand in their way.
Despite these modest increases, the real story is the decline in voting. In 1962 Mid-term election was 70.6% and 1964 Presidential was 79.6%. The 1966 Mid-term saw a 7% decrease and 1968 Presidential decrease was 10%.
The problem isn’t the voter ID law, if one looked at the election results over the past 43 years prior to the law being passed. People have lost interest in the voting process. A local candidate promoted the idea 2010 Delaware County primaries were raided by the Republicans. There was no truth to it, and in my opinion its intended purpose was to foster more voter apathy.
Although the increase in 2010 was small, the last thing you want to do is create an aura of mistrust. It’s encouraging the Mid-term saw an increase even if it was minimal. We want to inform and encourage people to vote, not give them false information designed to weaken the voting confidence.
We don’t purge our voting records, so we can’t be guaranteed the amount of registered voters are still active. So, we must use the data available even though it may be inaccurate or outdated.
Below is the results of the elections in Indiana from 1990-2012 Primary.
It may be true, that most election violations don’t happen at the polls. In Delaware County we have seen our share of shenanigans being played out.
In 1997 indictments were handed down to a former commissioner, Delaware County Democrat party chair and former county engineer. Allegations of county employees working at Democrat Headquarters (ghost employment) and linking government contracts with political contributions. The charges were dismissed. To show the arrogance of the elected officials, not but four years later, they did it again.
It was heard just minutes after their taking office (in January 2001) when they hired political friend Edward (Culpepper) Cooper to take charge of the county’s insurance, a program whose recent skyrocketing cost was sadly predictable.
Democrats’ approach is a citizen turn-off Star Press, The (Muncie, IN) – Sunday, August 25, 2002 Page: 2D
1998 the former Democrat Chair and his sister were indicted for forging papers to have a candidate removed from the ballot. The charges were dismissed against the party chair, the sister wasn’t so fortunate. She was convicted and her charges were changed from a felony to a misdemeanor. The Democrat chair resigned from his position, and the new Democrat chair (our current mayor), appointed him to the election board. Who’s on first?
1999 A Democrat Precinct committee person mailed out 10,000 flyers without a disclaimer. Her attorney argued it was an infringement on her 1st Amendment rights and the case was thrown out. Ten years later, the Democrat Delaware County prosecutor indicted and prosecuted a member of an organization for placing an ad in the local newspaper without a disclaimer. (You can find more on this case at the end of the blog.) The prosecutor in 2010 committed the same crime, lack of disclaimer, and the election board threw it out. It was a blanket immunity, so to speak.
2002 it was disclosed at the hearing (election recount) precinct officials drove unsecured ballot to the county building. A precinct official was found holding hundreds of ballots in his hand. The attorney appointed by the Democrat chairman testified he wasn’t overly concerned when he saw it on election night.
From there we had electioneering by a candidate’s mother, who admitted she did commit the crime. The case sat dormant until all of the witnesses moved or refused to testify. It was dropped.
2007 mayoral recount found AVB violations. One incident included the mailing without the appropriate initials. Seems the Republican failed to add their John Hancock. It could have been an honest mistake, or based on past history it may have been another election snafu. We will never know. That election lead to another indictment by Democrat council person, who was later found guilty and stepped down.
In 2008, late vote registrations were found shoved in a drawer and an anonymous call to the Secretary of State prompted an investigation. The handwriting was similar, nevertheless the registrations were processed but not in time for the election. The primary election of ’08 saw a “ghost” candidate on the ballot. That candidate lost, but garnered around 6,000 votes. Last year she sued the current mayor for unrelated charges, but did admit she was asked to be placed on the ballot.
2010 saw in an influx of candidates on the Republican ticket. They never campaigned and their filing applications had similar handwriting. 2011 a candidate was allowed to use a different name than filed, putting her first on the ballot.. Another candidate jumped through all the legal hoops when she was told it wasn’t acceptable. Go figure.