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UPDATE: Chamber leaders clashed on transit strategy

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A turf battle over mass transit may have fueled Roland Dorson's apparent departure from the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.

Dorson, a longtime chamber executive who has been its president since 2006, is on a leave of absence, but neither he nor board leaders will explain why.

Roland Dorson Dorson

Dorson referred questions to his attorney Michael Blickman, a labor lawyer at Ice Miller. Blickman could not be reached for comment.

The chamber board's executive committee also has enlisted counsel. Board Chairman John Neighbours, a lawyer at Baker & Daniels who took the post at the first of the year, did not reply to multiple requests for comment.

Board member Brian Sullivan, managing partner at local contractor Shiel Sexton, said he expects the executive committee to clarify the situation with Dorson in a few days. "I'm trusting that there are reasonable people making good decisions," he said.

Others on the chamber board, which has more than 100 members, said they were notified several weeks ago that Dorson was on leave for health reasons. More recently they received an e-mail from the executive committee, followed by a letter from Blickman, indicating that there was a dispute with the president. 

People familiar with the chamber's work on a regional mass transit plan said Dorson was at odds with Neighbours and Mark Miles, CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.

Miles' group, the chamber and Central Indiana Community Foundation co-founded the Central Indiana Transit Task Force, a private-sector group that created a regional transit proposal. The release of the plan in February 2010 kicked off the Indy Connect public feedback campaign, which led to revisions unveiled in November. The task force is working with public-sector officials to produce a final proposal and will seek legislative and public approval in 2012.

Last month, CICP named ex-Indy Partnership CEO Ron Gifford executive director of the transit task force. Gifford, a former government affairs attorney with Baker & Daniels, oversaw the March 1 merger of regionally focused economic-development group Indy Partnership and Develop Indy, the city's economic-development arm.

Miles could not be reached for comment.

Dorson made $208,164 in salary and bonus pay in 2009, according to the most recent tax filings available. With benefits, his total compensation was valued at $238,370.

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  • It's a Shame
    So Roland "I Never Met a Tax Increase I Wouldn't Support" may have lost his job? Well the Indy business community certainly would be better off if he did.
  • Anti-brain Drain
    Today's college graduates want to live in cheap locations where they can easily walk and ride to and from home, work, entertainment, and esp bars. It is in Indy's and its local companies best interest to create these areas ad support them by mass transit in order to fight the brain drain and help keep up its new found entrepreneurial spirit. Dublin, Ohio is a great example of a place taking initiative to attract these young professionals.
  • mass transit-then/now
    When I took my lst newspaper job in Indy l943 (36.50 per week) my rented $l0 per week room 3100 N. Delaware permitted commuting in easy walk via Central Ave trackless trolley,plus slightly longer walks to bus route--it permitted me to work and pay taxes there and later 3500 N.Penn,-there were streetcars,buses,trackless trolleys that served all areas at minimal cost with minimal transfers. Fast forward to today and recent past: Day workers have disappeared as no public mass transit serves efficiently--and rising gas prices make low income auto travel out of question. Currently there are entry level/domestic jobs begging for applicants--try hiring a day worker at reasonable fee (as opposed to revoling door cleaning "services-more about that!)

    In short, Indy needs mass transit to get mass jobs for the lower untrained but willing to work niches such as yard,cleaning,sewing,ironing--the kind of jobs that help marginally skilled exist and in turn, enable their employers to have child,home,elder care permitting THEM to work without interruptions,sick days,school closure etc.

    Ironically,at a arecent cocktail party far North Side, discussion of need for mass transit produced liberals for it and the affluent conservatives shrilling "Yeah, well who's going to pay for it--YOU,WE Will have to!!) Can they understand that THEY,We already ARE PAYING for it, in welfare, food stamps,entitlements for people who would like to work if they could get to and from jobs!!! Taking a look back at what we had and how well it worked might induce the nay sayers to grasp that as long as we delay, we will pay in other ways.

    PS: About cleaning "services"--young moms with mops trying to do 2/3 houses a day at a "fee:(vs, by hr.or day) These services want to view houses for size for "estimates"--ridiculous! Like the water co. charging for number of tubs,toilets in house vs. water used! Many geriatrics like myself live alone,no pets,no children in large homes with neve-used dining rooms,upstairs etc....day workers used to be trained, you could call Employment Office for possible workers (with references)--Why Not Now? And, why cannot neighborhood churces do "bulletin" hiring opportunities for nearby/walk to work jobs. Why doesnt IBJ create a template like WISH LIST--letting minimum income jobs/workers find each other? Tell Mickey a great public service op.
  • Common Thread?
    Don't know who screwed it up, the the mass transit initiative is a complete mess.

    Mark Miles appears to be distancing himself from this as he did with the Indy Partnership disaster and Superbowl implosion.

    In fact what has he really accomplished since he took over the CICP?

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