Thursday, March 27, 2014

Priorities: Apartments or Public Safety

I have often said that Public Safety is "Job #1" for any government, most especially local government.  And yet, the Town of Fishers is borrowing tens of millions of dollars to "redevelop" the downtown space, ignoring prior public input to preserve the character of the area.  These millions are going to developers who cannot build these projects on their own, and who in some cases, are contributors to a certain candidate or group who run the current town administration.

But this post is mostly NOT about that.  It is about the fact that Fishers' current government has its priorities wrong.

Large sections of Fishers do not have fire hydrants.  Most areas do. Some of the areas without hydrants are unincorporated areas in both Delaware and Fall Creek Townships where the Fishers Fire Department, by paid contract with the townships, has responsibility for fire protection.  You may have seen small red signs on the roadside with a red "1" or "2", which tells firefighters how far away the nearest hydrant is, in miles.  If a fire happens in that area, the FFD has to truck it in, or find another source for water, or pump it a long distance.

Given that current methods of residential construction can lead to a fire spreading VERY quickly, this can be a problem, hydrants or no. The August 2013 Sandstone fire (I am on the Sandstone HOA board) is an example of how fast a fire can spread, with 3 homes destroyed, and several others damaged, and around a million dollars of property damage. Not long ago, in an area of Delaware Township without hydrants, a fire got pretty serious.

Instead of corporate giveaways to friendly developers and contractors, I propose the Fishers invest in expanding the fire hydrant system.  This will give the fine men and women of the Fire Department one of the most important tools they need to effectively fight a fire, quick access to a water supply.  As we continue to expand east, this will become even more vitally important.  And we need to fill in the holes in our current territory where there are no hydrants.

In addition, I think we should study adding a new fire station ASAP in the northeast quadrant of Fall Creek Township.  No current fire station exists in this area, despite growth, especially in the Cyntheanne Road area. There is an ambulance with fire fighters in one of the hospitals, but no fire engine or crew for that area.  Any fire call would require FFD to respond from a distance, or require assistance from another department.

This is one of the most important things we can do as a community.  Public Safety IS Job #1.  Let's have that discussion now, and decide if our priorities lie with building apartments and shops downtown, or with Public Safety.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

20,000 PAGEVIEWS - THANK YOU!

Since I started this blog about 4 years ago, I have posted about all manner of things, from the writings of Thomas Jefferson, to the role of Democrats in Hamilton County, to residency issues of various politicians, but mostly about the political goings-on in my home of Fishers.

Today marks the 20,000th time one of my posts has been read.  That is more than a little humbling.  I have no idea how many regular readers I have, but I know I DO have them, from all walks of life, and all political points of view.  Whether you agree or disagree with my posts, thank you for being concerned enough about local affairs to take my perspective into account.

And suggestions are always welcome, whether I follow those suggestions or not.  And again, to all who read my little blog, thanks.

- Greg Purvis, Fishers, Indiana, February 12, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How to Kill Your City's Tax Base

Recently, the Fishers Town Council approved several economic development deals that show both how to do economic development in a positive way, and some other deals that not only do not grow the tax base, but may well put Fishers further in debt.

On February 3, 2014, the Fishers Town Council approved a 2-year tax abatement for Ossip Optometry to relocate its flagship store and operations to two buildings on Crosspoint that were largely vacant. In the first year, Ossip would get a complete property tax abatement, paying no property tax, and in the second year, there would be a 50% abatement.  This deal gets two mostly-vacant and unproductive buildings occupied, but also moves a thriving business to Fishers with their jobs, and room to grow.  This is a great example of exactly how to do economic development.  Fishers pays nothing out of pocket, and gets jobs and a great business, and future property tax income.  A fine IBJ article on this deal is here.

However, at the same meeting, and some other meetings, the Council approved other projects involving land giveaways and tax increment financing (TIFs) that could actually put Fishers further in debt. TIFs work by a government issuing bonds which are repaid by property taxes from the increased value added by the improvement.  In these cases, the revenue generated by the improvements using TIF financing appears to be LESS than the money needed to pay the annual principal and interest on the loans taken out.  This seems to be true even when you take into account Fishers' estimated share of County Option Income Tax (COIT) from the jobs estimated to exist in the new development.

Improvements in TIFs do not add to the general property tax base until the bonds are paid off in 20-30 years.  And in these cases associated with downtown development, not only is Fishers giving away this TIF money, they are contributing land owned by Fishers, either the open space in front of Town Hall where all the trees were cut down, or other land they have bought, such as the former KFC building at 116th and Lantern.

And this is Fishers' "best case" scenario.  If the developments are not successful, then the taxpayers are out even more money.  Many communities have run themselves into financial trouble by overuse of TIF financing. And Fishers has put virtually all land which could be developed into a TIF district, which makes it very, very difficult to grow the tax base.

Fishers is promoting projects which look very pretty on paper.  But we are killing our own tax base in the process, which can lead to grave trouble in the future.  If this makes me more "fiscally conservative" than the people on the council who claim to be "fiscal conservatives" but who are voting for more taxes to support this sort of thing, then I guess I am more fiscally conservative than they are.

There has to be a better way.  And they need someone on the council to say, "Wait just a minute."
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The author of this article, Greg Purvis, is a candidate for Fishers City Council in the 2014 election.  Visit his website at www.GregPurvis.com, or his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PurvisforFishers. Views expressed are those of Greg Purvis only.  Authorized by Purvis for Fishers Committee. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Eminent Domain and Fishers Downtown

As most people in Fishers know, town government is busily trying to redevelop downtown Fishers.  As part of this concept, they want to build a new street extending west from Lantern Road to Municipal Drive.  This would extend the east-west road that runs past Target and Fifth Third all the way west to the municipal complex.

Problem is, there are existing homes and businesses in the way.  The town has made deals with 3 property owners to pay them over $1 million total for their land.  But, they have not been able to reach a deal with one property owner who owns a home and business adjacent to the railroad track.  So what do they do?  Last night at the town council meeting, they authorized eminent domain legal action if necessary.

Now, this is a Very Big Deal in Fishers.  Prior downtown proposals pretty much expressly swore off using eminent domain (officially "condemnation proceedings") to acquire property, because if there is anything in Fishers more unpopular than forced annexation, it is eminent domain.  And the property owner has been there quite a while and doesn't see another place to move his home and small business and stay in Fishers.

To be clear, there are things I like about the downtown development, and things I don't like.  And this highlights one of the things I dislike most.  The downtown development threatens to displace a lot of small local businesses.  My insurance agent is one of those who has agreed to sell.  I have no idea where they are going. Some of the new business will be local, and some won't.  Still up in the air is what happens to the law offices, pizzeria, ice cream store, and more, in that area.

I opposed this in 2007 when a prior plan proposed to displace locals and replace them with chain stores in a box-formation of strip malls. Apparently the current council has not learned from that lesson. Growth and redevelopment must not come on the backs of local residents and businesses.  If they can't come up with a "win-win" scenario, they either need to think harder, negotiate better, or it is time for more new blood in Fishers government.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Do you want to help elect someone different in Fishers?

Friends, as many of you know, I am considering running for a seat on the Fishers City Council in the upcoming election.  I have not yet made a final decision about running, but filing opens next week.  

So, can you please email me back if you are interested in helping at some level?  I would like a small core of committed dedicated people who will plan and organize the campaign and coordinate the larger group of volunteers.  So if you are interested, at either level, let me know, as I would like to have an organizing meeting soon.  

And this is an effort where any and all types of help is welcome, whether you have graphics skills, public relations, financial and fundraising, or you just want to call neighbors and knock on doors.  A pledge of a later contribution, in any amount, is also most welcome.  

You all know that I have been a leader in many important issues in Fishers, from being the organizer and first chair of CityYes, to speaking out against unwise tax increases and other actions, to blogging on local issues, to revealing illegal acts of local politicians.  I listen to no one but the people of Fishers, not influential insiders.  

So, regardless of your own political affiliation, would you be willing to help?  If so, send me a personal email back to Greg@GregPurvis,com, and let me know what you want to do.  If you want to be included in the inner committee, let me know that and when you would be available for a meeting.  

Thanks for your support!  Happy New Year.

Greg Purvis

Thursday, December 26, 2013

CHARLIE WHITE LOSES AGAIN

In a ruling dated December 23, 2013, the judge of the Hamilton Superior Court No. 2 has issued a 26-page ruling on Charlie White's Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, denying all of White's claims. White, a former member of the Fishers Town Council, bought a home outside of his Town Council district prior to his nomination as Republican Party candidate for Indiana Secretary of State, but changed his voter registration to his ex-wife's house located in his council district rather than his new Saxony home near Olio Road in Fishers.

A September 2010 news conference was conducted by me, revealing these facts and calling for appointment of a special prosecutor. Following appointment of two special prosecutors, a Hamilton County Grand Jury indicted White, then in office as Secretary of State, on 7 felony counts, including false voter registration and voting in the wrong precinct. White was later convicted by a jury of 6 of those 7 counts.

The current ruling is after months of legal maneuvering and testimony.   Most of White's claims were dismissed by the court, being nothing but a rehash of arguments which had been presented before and failed.  But the meat of White's arguments, resulting in considerable court testimony, was White's claim that his defense lawyer, former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, committed "ineffective assistance of counsel" by not putting on certain witnesses.

The Judge, in reviewing the witnesses that White claims he wanted to put on, including both his current and former wives and a convicted felon as "expert", found that there were serious issues with the testimony of each of those witnesses and their credibility which made Brizzi's decision not to put them on the witness stand reasonable.

I will not rehash the entire decision, but here it is:  White PCR ruling

White now has to consider whether or not to appeal this ruling, or begin serving his sentence, which is home detention, probation, a fine, and 30 hours of community service.

Hopefully, this will put this story to an end.  But it continues to be an object lesson in the arrogance of some of those in power, particularly in one-party communities, where some feel that they can do whatever they wish with impunity.
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UPDATE 12/31/13:  White's attorney has filed a Notice of Appeal and a Motion to Stay Execution of Sentence.  The case will now return to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Friday, November 22, 2013

John F. Kennedy - a Remembrance from 50 years ago today

50 years ago today - November 22, 1963.  I was sitting in Miss McGowan's 6th grade class at Meridian School in Kokomo, Indiana.  Second row from the window, next to last seat, that is how well I remember this day.  Our principal, Mr. George Dunbar, came into the class looking white as a ghost.  He whispered something to Miss McGowan, who was visibly shaken.  He then announced "The President has been shot."  Gasps, but cheers from one boy a couple rows over, quickly subdued by threats of immediate violence from other students.  I was sent to a basement storage room to get an old radio and copper wire to use as a ground and antenna.  We set that up, and listed to Walter Cronkite.  I recall so clearly Cronkite's voice as he announced that the President had died.  Very few events in my life have moved me so strongly.  Rest in Peace, John F. Kennedy, you were taken from us far too soon.