Quotables from House Dems’ Road Trip

A nice article here from Eric Bradner of the Evansville Courier & Press on the Democratic border blitz yesterday. I’ll just defer to the article, which has some attention-getting quotes:

The 37 missing Democrats were holed up together Tuesday night at a hotel in Urbana, Ill., and would not say when they will return to Indiana.

“I don’t know when we’ll come back,” said Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville. “We’ve been pushed with our backs against the wall, and it’s time for them to listen to us.”

After Democrats sent back a list of 11 bills to which they object, though, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, did not sound interested in listening.

“This is the most ludicrous political stunt I have ever seen,” he said. “Let them stay in Illinois. They’ll fit right in. Maybe they can vote for a couple of tax increases while they’re over there.”

Democrats left the Statehouse as hundreds of labor union members rallied for the second straight day. They held signs, chanted and marched around the House and Senate chambers.

Drawing most of their ire was a measure that proponents call “right to work.” It would allow workers to opt out of paying union dues – a move, protesters said, that would undermine those unions’ funding and negotiating power.

They also objected to several other labor-related measures and to most of Daniels’ education reforms – especially one that would limit the scope of teachers’ collective bargaining rights.

Democrats cited those bills as well, saying they want them killed for the rest of the session, or else they might not return. And Nancy Guyott, the Indiana State AFL-CIO president, said the union protesters approve of Democrats’ tactics.

Late Tuesday night, Bosma learned that Democrats had left the state, and was handed the list of bills from House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, at the same time.

“Maybe voters need to go over there, drag them back here and get them to do their jobs,” Bosma said. “They need to get their butts back here.”

Or, he said, there is another option.

“They should step down. I mean it. If they’re not willing to do their work here and they’re leaving the state, they should vacate the office and let replacements who are willing to come here and do the people’s business be selected,” Bosma said.

Evansville Courier & Press: Township Reform is Needed

Mentioning the Indiana Chamber’s support of the movement, this Evansville Courier & Press editorial argues that townships simply aren’t very convincing when it comes to demonstrating their usefulness for Indiana:

Although the case for downsizing or eliminating township government remains a hard sell to the Indiana Legislature, the case for local government reform remains ever more compelling.

Yes, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce came out this past week in support of either the elimination of township government or of at least the elimination of advisory boards in each of Indiana’s townships. But that is no surprise. The organization that lobbies for issues favorable to businesses has long supported the downsizing of local government, particularly of township government, as a way of reducing local government costs.

Of more interest, we found news reports this past week of two more issues involving specific townships elsewhere, as reported in other news media. They stand as further evidence that townships have too much time and tax money on their hands.

Also, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, whose legislative agenda includes local government reform, will come to the January session armed with what we would call compelling information in support of ending township government in Indiana.

Of course, locally we had the case of former Knight Township Trustee Linda Durham, who allegedly misappropriated $70,000 in township funds. She awaits trial, and if the charges prove true, it will be one more indication that township government is woefully lacking in oversight.

Also, Eric Bradner of the Courier & Press Capital Bureau reported about a year ago that township governments statewide were sitting on $215 million in surpluses, much of it intended for emergency poor relief.

More recently, according to the Associated Press, via the Indianapolis Star newspaper, the Wayne Township trustee in Marion County earlier this month was found planning to give $200,000 in poor relief funds to the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library to allow for longer hours at four library branches.

The trustee, David Baird, said his plan fit in with the township’s mission for poor relief in that the poor use the libraries’ computers and other resources to look for jobs.

This is not the intended purpose of poor relief. It should be utilized to address urgent needs, such as preventing electricity from being turned off, or for filling urgently needed prescriptions. But township trustees seem to take tremendous latitude in deciding how to spend tax-financed poor relief.

The Indianapolis Star reports on a State Board of Accounts audit of Jefferson Township in Sullivan County, which resulted in the trustee and his wife, working as the office clerk, having to give back $42,366 to the township for payments they should not have received.

Townships are Blaming the Puppies

Thanks to a story by WRTV 6 News in Indianapolis, we now know why townships don’t always file their state-required reports on time — or at all in some cases. It’s because "the dog ate my homework" or "we can’t do that because we don’t know how to use a computer."

Elementary school teachers have heard the former for years, while the latter is no longer applicable as that computer and Internet thing appears to be here to say. Sure, I gave my own interpretations to township officials’ comments when questioned about their reports, but read for yourself and see if you don’t come away with the same impression.

It’s not just an Indianapolis problem, of course. It’s more than 1,000 trustees statewide and 3,000-4,000 advisory board members taking part in a form of government that features ineffectiveness, inefficiency, nepotism, fraud and the like. Just a few of those recent stories can be found here, here, here and here.

While the effort to find a better way to serve citizens and save taxpayer money continues, the results have unfortunately become a farce. The township system DOES NOT WORK, and maybe even worse, lawmakers won’t do anything about it. Those in office and those running for election this fall: When will you fix this mess?