Sheila Kennedy has a righteous rant about a good many things, but in particular the “imperial mayor” bill for Indianapolis going through the General Assembly. Traditionally, I have not paid much attention to Indianapolis-specific issues because: a) I’m not there; and b) The Indianapolis blogosphere has been pretty active. I’m not sure if “b” is as true as it once was.
In any event, Sheila describes part of the imperial mayor bill:
The imperial mayor bill is an invitation to corruption. While most of the media attention has been on the proposal to eliminate the at-large council seats, the most dangerous parts of the bill give the mayor control of the Development Commission and remove council oversight of many–if not most–spending decisions. It effectively removes important checks and balances on administrative behavior at a time when local media oversight is virtually non-existent. Actions by the Development Commission can move big money; for one thing, the Commission can ensure successful financing for a project that would otherwise be unable to secure such backing. The current appointment structure was intended to prevent decisions based upon cozy relationships and political connections rather than sound principles of land use. The imperial mayor bill will facilitate cronyism.
The refusal to allow Indianapolis citizens to decide for ourselves whether we want mass transit is the most infuriating action taken in a legislative session that has produced plenty that is infuriating. The notion that a study committee is needed is laughable–Central Indiana transportation organizations have studied the matter for the last twenty years. Let’s call it what it is: a giant “fuck you, Indianapolis” from the General Assembly to the region that generates the bulk of the state’s tax receipts.
This activity by the legislature makes the mayor’s office look almost like a regency on behalf of the General Assembly. The legislature grants extraordinary powers to officials it favors; and it legislates directly for the city where it fears the locals won’t make the correct decisions. The citizens of, say, Knightstown don’t receive anything like this level of attention or interference.
I’m not going to go crying for Indianapolis – I’ve seen one too many of its fine citizens oblivious to the existence of the rest of the state. But I can certainly appreciate why it’s citizens might feel that local affairs are being micromanaged by state government.