Half Past the Month
“So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.” — Sen. Padme Amidala in Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of Sith
WOULD YOU SAY your district representative is reasonably conservative, that is, conversant with the founding principles of Indiana and the nation? If so, you would be wrong.
The proof is passage last week of a measure that traps citizens of two counties in a modern-day fiefdom, detached from either constitutional protections for the individual or the accountability of open democracy — a situation that could be duplicated anywhere in Indiana at political whim. And yes, the vote was unanimous, not a single Republican standing against it.
Earlier, acting on the same medieval assumption that government creates wealth, and big regional government creates even more wealth, GOP Mayor Scott Fadness of Fishers and other central Indiana mayors were lobbying for similar economic-development models. These, too, would make directly elected city councils fiscally superfluous statewide. They have plenty of GOP backing in the Legislature.
As a matter of policy we do not support or oppose specific pieces of legislation. We do, however, try to warn our membership of the debilitating, often terrifying, plans being hatched at the Statehouse. And as one of these measures heads to the Senate without a whimper of opposition, we can quote our friend Ken Davidson, editor of the Northwest Indiana Gazette:
“The Legislature is in session and that means state Rep. Ed Soliday is busy expanding the power of the unelected Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) at the expense of local government. Over the past several years, the RDA has been given authority to create ‘Super TIF’ transit development districts, to take property by eminent domain and to delegate all authority to act from the board to the staff, thus avoiding any transparency.”
Davidson, who holds a law degree, listed for us the new powers that he believes would be given to the authority::
- The power to delegate authority to an undisclosed not-for-profit, presumably including the power of eminent domain.
- Expand the RDA to force representation from LaPorte and St. Joseph counties.
- Creating a statewide “residential housing program,” basically a residential Tax Increment Finance district (TIF) within a transit development district without regard to the market studies required of other entities and without the input of affected school districts, which will lose funding to the TIF.
- Exempting RDA internal communications from disclosure under the Public Records Act.
“This bill has received little attention, and residents of LaPorte and St. Joseph Counties may have no idea that they are being dragged into the RDA,” Davidson says. “Both counties rejected RDA membership in the past and are now being forced into an institutionally corrupt organization.”
We wonder what will happen elsewhere in Indiana when a legislatively empowered, unelected private board decides that some rationale or another justifies taking your property, creating new taxes and generally finds it expedient to work around constitutional protections and democratic processes.
Clearly, you won’t be able to count on your legislator, flag pin in the lapel or not, to shield you from the travesty that this Super Majority has become.
— Craig Ladwig