Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Making of Enemies

This is a commentary about the Fishers Town Council, and how they seem to be generating, not just political opponents, but political enemies.  I draw a fairly sharp distinction between the two.  An "opponent" by my way of thinking, is someone with whom you have a reasonable, and respectful, difference of opinion.   An "enemy" by contrast, has gone beyond mere opposition, and is characterized by a determination to overcome the other side.

I think I have tended to be an "opponent" of much, but not all, that the Fishers Town Council has done and stands for.  As an example, I tend to be wary of throwing tax incentives and other taxpayer dollars (such as TIF districts) at future developments without some pretty firm evidence that the development is a "good thing" and will generate positive dollars for the community.  After all, it IS the taxpayer's money.  In this, I tend to differ in degree from the majority of the Town Council, but at least two members of the Council have recently shown a willingness to dissent somewhat along my lines of thinking. 

But the Town Council has so angered some people, over some issues, that they have made, and are making, rank enemies, not just opponents.  Indeed, many if not most of these enemies are within the ranks of the Republican Party, in areas which vote heavily Republican.   The first sign of this was when Scott Faultless backed a young challenger to council incumbent Art Levine in the 2007 Republican Primary, a primary fight which was surprisingly bitter.  Perhaps this cowed Mr. Levine, but he seems to follow the lead of Mr. Faultless since then. 

About the same time, the Battle of Geist was happening.  An area heavily Republican  and well-to-do, they were angered by the Council's blunt determination to forcibly annex them, a process over which Geist residents had little say.  The annexation went thru, and now those folks are Fishers voters.  They believe, with some merit, that their taxes will rise, and for little or no additional services.  Geist residents felt, and still feel, that they were wantonly put upon by the Town Council members, none of whom they could vote for ... then.  By the Geist belief, it was all about their taxes, period, which the Council coveted to cover a rising amount of bond debt.  They felt lied about, and lied to.  Many of them have become hardened opponents of the current Council, when they could have been allies.

But it seems the Town Council did not learn.  They are now proposing a "merger" with Fall Creek Township (the eastern part of Fishers and adjacent unincorporated area) which would eliminate township government (which is independently elected), give the township's tax money to Fishers, and in one stroke, incorporate ALL of the unincorporated area into Fishers.  Needless to say, many residents in the unincorporated area, who see no need for any of this, are not too pleased.  The large majority of those people are Republicans.  Of the 3 township appointees to the merger study committee, 2 voted against the merger plan. 

The merger is up for public hearing on November 29, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. at Hamilton Southeastern High School.  http://www.fishers.in.us/egov/docs/1290187430_1063.htm  I urge all interested citizens to attend.

Another way the merger has angered people, is that there is already a pending legal petition signed by 1700 Fishers voters to have a referendum on changing Fishers from a town form of government to a city.  The Town Council has refused to even discuss having this referendum, even tho they were legally required to approve it.  The CityYes committee which submitted it asked that it be set for a vote on November 2, 2010, which obviously has passed.  They show no signs of EVER letting it be voted on.  Indeed, this has led to speculation that the merger is just a way to try to prevent the "city-town" referendum and keep the same form of government, without an elected mayor, and other changes. 

Isn't this the height of political arrogance?  Has the Town Council forgotten that they are supposed to be the servants of the community, and not its masters?  Do they fear a public vote that much?  For better or worse, the people have ultimate power, and right, to determine their own form of government.  And that sort of arrogance makes people angry, and turns them into enemies, not just opponents.