Modernization

2013 in review-Muncie Politics

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.  I am humbled and very grateful for your support.  Thank you very much!  Hope 2014 is even better.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,800 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

57 countries have visited the blog. Mostly from the United States, Canada and the UK.

The most widely read and shared post of 2013 was 6.5 Million dollar question with 235 views.

The busiest day of the year was November 6th with238 views. The most popular post that day was The $6.5 million question – Muncie Community Schools referendum-update.

Your most commented on post in 2013 was Seeking full-time Donkey Whisperers in Delaware County. Steady employment.

Again, a very big thank you to all the readers and visitors.  I can’t stress enough how humbled and grateful I am to you all.  Never expected this when I first began Muncie Politics, which really started from a pure desire to publish some type of record for posterity’s sake.  It was fun, too.

We are fortunate enough to have the tools available, for a minimal cost or even free.    Even more blessed to live where we can voice our thoughts unfettered.

Happy 2014 to all!  Wishing you all peace, health and prosperity.

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Detroit’s One Man Show – George Will

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Detroit’s One Man Show – George Will

I read with interest George Will’s current column on Detroit’s plight and couldn’t mistake the parallels to Delaware County.   Although Delaware County’s financial problems are minuscule compared to Motor City, the resemblance is striking.

In March, Detroit’s City Council agreed to 21 stipulations needed for reform.  The city council ignored it.

In June,  Delaware County was handed a $25,000 study with suggestions to bring the budget in line with revenue streams.  It has been largely ignored.  One item in the study was acted on,  a move towards additional taxes.  Fortunately, that was shut down quickly.

Detroit is also in a pickle with their pensions.  Delaware County has never really gotten a handle on the sheriff’s pensions.

Detroit has bonds, so does Delaware County.  We owe.  Will’s column touches on the cost of those bonds should Detroit’s creditors receive pennies on the dollar.  It’s possible that future bond issuances may come to municipalities at a higher financial cost.

Detroit has layers of bureaucracy, so does Delaware County.  Delaware County, has a population of 120,000 or the size of an average city.  Last year voters  soundly rejected an attempt to reorganize the county, decrease the layers of government.  A campaign of misinformation by both party headquarters was amazing in and of itself.  The current mayor donated $5,000.00 out of his campaign coffer to help defeat  modernization.  His position would have been eliminated.  $5,000 from donors is a small price to pay to retain $72,000 salary plus benefits and control over millions of dollars.

Kevyn Orr, appointed to oversee Detroit’s bankruptcy observed “the fact that people had gotten used to the city like this — people were tolerating the abnormal.”

So goes, Delaware County.

I would like to believe the voters would refuse to allow the county to continue in this financial decay, yet every council member retained their positions.  One exception, Commissioner Todd Donati was ousted from office, but quickly hired by the City of Muncie.  Within months of his appointment, he has indebted the city close to $10 million dollars.    When you vote, you’re are not just voting for the person.  You are also giving the elected official the power to place people in positions to oversee millions of dollars in spending.

Is it like this everywhere?  Possibly.  Our neighboring county, Henry, advertises  their appointments and interested parties must submit resumes.    Take that procedure for what it’s worth.

Public Question and Delaware County 2012 Ballot

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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.

Learning from Nashville Experience

Vote Yes For Reorganization

Somewhere over the rainbow…

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Coming up Wednesday May 30, 2012, there will be a special meeting of Delaware County Council.  Some of the topics and decisions to be had will be, returning the pay and hours back for the county workers,  bond issues and amending the salary ordinance.

Some of you may remember last fall when Delaware County  voted to close the County Building on Friday and decrease the pay by three hours as a cost saving measure.  I haven’t heard the savings and one wonders if the county has suddenly found itself solvent since last year. Read the rest of this entry »

Will Old Acquaintances Be Forgotten….

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Happy Old Year, Delaware County!  Behold, all things new are now all things old.

Most of us have read George Orwell’s famous novel 1984.  A fictional and futuristic book full of manipulation, one party control and from where the term Big Brother became a household name.  The story’s main character, Winston, holds a position  in the Ministry of History and his duty is to rewrite according to the Party.  Winston decides to keep a diary of historical fact.

Another key character is O’Brien, a powerful Party member.

Winston is summoned to  O’Brien’s beautiful apartment where Winston is convinced by O’Brien he is part of the Brotherhood and is working to overthrow the Party.

Unfortunately, Winston is arrested by the Thought Police and O’Brien spends months brainwashing the poor guy.

Winston is separated from his true love, Julia, and while he is being indoctrinated into the Party he finally snaps and gives her over to O’Brien. This was goal of O’Brien and the Party all along.  When Winston is finally reunited with Julia he is void of feeling for her.  He has completely given his life, mind, soul to Big Brother and the Party.

As is characteristic of all great novels written circa 1934, there is always a moral to the story.

So, you may be wondering what Mr. Orwell’s novel has to do with 2012 and the progress of our Nation, State, County and City.  Although George’s ideas seemed a little extreme, all extremists have a measure of truth.

Let’s take a look at Delaware County for example.

Of course, we aren’t actually living in Big Brotherville, for now, we still have the First Amendment and I would suggest you read it again if you have forgotten it.

A progressive move that makes Mr. Orwell’s Party characterization similar in nature to Delaware County, is the appointing of board members.  Appointments to the county fair board was required to be evenly distributed among the parties.  Since this didn’t happen, the next best thing is to just change the ordinance to fit the appointments.

This is progressive thinking, folks.  (Sorry there is no link.  The county link takes you to the EDIT fund ordinance.)

In the city of Muncie, we’re clipping right along.  How can you not vote for someone who worked so hard to get screens and bulletin boards in his work place?  The assurance Mayor Elect Tyler was able to work across party lines can’t be any more clear than this:

Asked if he expected to name any Republican department heads, Tyler laughed a little and said, “I doubt it. We have more than enough qualified Democrats.”

SP 11-28-11

For District 34 State Representative,  the Party precinct committee members chose Mike White over Lewis Coulter.  The only surprise  was that Mike White was even considered for the position.    Mike believes his work as a ’60’s activist will serve Delaware county well in Indianapolis.  He certainly has the look for it.

The City and County elected officials have their own consolidation going on.

Can’t find qualified Democrats in the city to fill  administration’s slots?  Let’s branch out to the county and pull from their pool of employees.  If the best of the best is being recruited to work for the city, where does that leave the county?

As we live precariously in the past, a letter to the editor imploring Mayor Elect Dennis Tyler to bring back Ron Bonham.  Certainly, the city can afford to pay an additional $140,000 to keep Prairie Creek reservoir open.  And why stop there, as soon as possible, let’s get Mr. Bonham back into the Commissioner’s seat.  We can always use a new sewer system.

The position has been filled, and it wasn’t with Ron Bonham.  Maybe now, he can finally retire in peace.

Of course, I hope most of you understand this is written in jest.  Nevertheless, we are totally represented by one party sect in the City, most of the County and State.  I hope you realize that every person appointed to positions of power and to boards are deeply vested in this same party.  Come January 1st, they own the good, the bad and the ugly.

If Mr. Orwell was alive today, perhaps he could write a sequel to 1984.  The perfect title?  2012.

Civic Manners, 2012 Election, Consolidation, Good Old Boys Club and 911

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A guest column by German Cruz titled “Vulgarity in our civil affairs”gets to the heart of what ails Delaware County.  As always, Mr. Cruz is elegant in his presentation of local events.  His words, no matter how majestic, no matter how true, will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears and blinded eyes.  

After the 2010 primary votes were tallied, the  local Democrat party ended the evening in a loss.   A clean sweep  by Team Democrat candidates found the Democrat Headquarters’ supported candidates not making it out of the gate. 

With the physical ejection of the media,  and the public forums lit up with the disdain for the winning candidates, one wonders…does it really matter if it is a victory or a defeat?  Vulgarity is displayed regardless if it is a win or lose election.

Then as now, there was no apology given to the press or the citizens for their behavior…there is no need, the actions are justified and even supported.

Now, before you say this is something new and civility and ethics have reigned supreme long before Lee Hamilton spoke at Minnetrista, I would like to take you back a decade when newly elected Republican Joe Russel introduced a code of ethics to the county council.

New council President Joe Russell proposed the code of ethics, which included pledges to represent the interests of taxpayers and ‘not use my service on county council for my own personal advantage or for the advantage of my friends or supporters.’

 Veteran council Democrat Todd Donati was more critical in his assessment.

‘I think it was uncalled for,’ Donati said. ‘All of us know what our job is; we don’t need it restated by some Republican thinking.’

SP 1-4-2001

As much as I would love to claim ethics and civility as Republican thinking, it would be in vain.   Ethics and civility is more an individual characteristic, and those which practice it in their personal lives normally carry it into the political arena.   They align themselves with others of like mind.  In the past four  years, having been introduced to several Democrat and Republican  political figures, it’s encouraging to find  ethics and civility isn’t just talk.  We need to support this these types of candidates and elected officials.  All parties.

Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.  ]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.  James A. Garfield

Moving on to another opinion piece,  Larry Riley’s regular column begins to address the 2012 election.  Specifically, the county race in Circuit Court 2.  Running with the Team Democrat is Kim Dowling which has been campaigning since the 2011 primary.  She will be one to watch.  Don Dunnuck, currently the county commissioner and a long-standing Democrat insider, has announced his intentions to run.  Mike Quirk, Democrat Party chair, announced his sister will seek the same office as Dowling and Dunnuck.    It’s still early, but Kim Dowling is the best of the three.

If you are interested in modernization and consolidation, Riley’s column is spot on.  A good read.

Moving on to the lead story, Tyler: No ‘good old boys club”, Mayor-elect Dennis Tyler promises Muncie will not be lead by the “good old boys”. 

 O.K. 

 But, what is far more interesting is his comments on the 911 lawsuit.  This lawsuit alleges the city has been over charged for 911 services by the county for at least a decade.  The suit cites an interlocal agreement from 1987 which spells out the costs the city is obligated to pay. 

Outgoing mayor, Sharon McShurley, believed the city should not bear the majority of expenses, and the county said we should. 

Mayor-elect Dennis Tyler and Democrats seemed a little more than perturbed the public was eyeing the 911 lawsuit with suspicion.  And why not? 

Immediately after Tyler’s win, the paper reported Delaware County council members talking about how they would spend the money.  The attorney for the county, Mike Quirk, which is also the Democrat party chair, and rumored to become the city’s attorney, said he wanted to spare the city the cost of a lawsuit.  Commissioner Todd Donati wants it gone, too.

These are all people very closely aligned to Tyler.  With all of this, it would be hard not to view it with suspicion.

And the county which is millions of dollars in debt, needs the money. 

It will barely make a dent.

Vulgarity in our civic affairs Star Press 11-27-11

Next year’s politics offer even more Star Press 11-27-11

Tyler: No ‘good old boys club” Star Press 11-27-11

911 dispute delayed again Star Press 11-29-11

A word on consolidation

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 COMMISSIONERS VOTE FOR MERGER: Vanderburgh County Commissioners have taken one of the final steps needed to place a question on merging city and county governments before for the voters next year (Gootee, Evansville Courier & Press). During their meeting Tuesday night, Commissioners Marsha Abell and Lloyd Winnecke supported the resolution which enables a referendum in November 2012, while Commissioner Stephen Melcher voted against it. Now for the plan officials have spent the last five months discussing to get onto the ballot, the Evansville City Council must approve the exact same resolution as the commissioners. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Sept. 26. Melcher’s lone dissenting vote came as no surprise after his own proposal adding a so-called voter threshold died without a vote after neither Abell or Winnekce seconded it. Under a threshold, city voters and those who live outside city limits would have had to give separate majority approval for the two governments to merge. The proposal being considered requires a simple countywide majority from voters at the polls for the new government structure to take effect in January 2015.

In Larry Riley’s column Sunday(11-20-11) he mentions a brief conversation with Delaware County Commissioner Todd Donati.  

Dismissively waiving his hand, Donati grinned and suggested, “We don’t need to vote on consolidation.”

The allusion would be to the referendum next November on completely reorganizing Muncie and Delaware County into one political unit, something Donati and fellow Democrats do not want to see

With both City and County under the control of one political party, the consolidation as alluded by President Donati will be one that will not include the voters or citizens of Delaware County.  In fact, the vote has already been tainted by the 67% threshold.

As with the proposed animal control in 2010, which combined services, it was not in the best interest of the city residents.  E911 is another interlocal agreement which has been fuzzy for at least a decade.  One that has not been favorable to…city residents.  I believe the law suit should go to the finish line.  If the city is favored, we can be assured the truth has been revealed.  If the city doesn’t prevail, we can be assured the truth has been revealed.  Let’s dispel any doubts and go into the new administration with a clean slate.

Can Delaware county do it?  Your guess is as good as mine.

Where the county imagines possibilities

Animal Control-What’s it all about?