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City or town? Confusing ballot to determine fate of Fishers

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A group of residents is crying foul over questions on the ballot in November that will determine whether Fishers remains a town, becomes a city with a council and city manager, or a city with an elected mayor.

The Nov. 6 vote represents a critical turning point for the fast growing suburb, whose population of about 80,000 people makes it the state's largest community with a "town" form of government.

There are three possible outcomes: Fishers continues as a town with seven council members and a professional town manager; Fishers reorganizes as a city in combination with Fall Creek Township and has nine at-large council members who elect from among their ranks a mayor and hire a city manager; or Fishers becomes a second-class city with six district councilors, three at-large councilors and an elected mayor.

Dueling lobbying groups City Yes and Reorganize Fishers are pushing the city options.

Reorganize Fishers, which has the endorsement of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, argues its preference would eliminate a layer of government and save the city $1 million per year.

City Yes, which argues an elected mayor and district councilors would provide independence along with checks and balances, filed a complaint this month with the state of Indiana alleging the Town of Fishers is pushing voters toward the appointed-mayor option via a letter to residents that fails to discuss the option that Fishers remain a town, and with confusing wording on the ballot questions.

The Office of the Indiana Attorney General has referred the complaint to the State Board of Accounts, a spokesman said.

"They have consistently provided a one-sided view in mailings and meetings with the full intent of staying in power," said Joe Weingarten, a spokesman for City Yes. "People have the right to vote and not have these kinds of shenanigans going on."

Weingarten takes issue with the town spending $28,000 with a public relations firm on what he sees as advocacy of a position. He also takes issue with the savings claim and says Fishers could still hire a professional manager even if it converts to a second-class city.

But Town Manager Scott Fadness said in a video on the town's Future of Fishers web page that his interest is making sure everyone has all the facts about their options.

"Fishers is engaging in an extensive public education campaign to equip residents with unbiased information concerning the upcoming referendum questions," Fadness said.

The ballot will have two questions:

— Shall the Town of Fishers and Fall Creek Township reorganize as a single political subdivision?

— Shall the Town of Fishers change into a city?

A vote of "no" on both is a vote for Fishers to remain a town.

From there, it gets tricky. For Fishers to change into a city with an elected mayor, voters must vote "no" to the first question and "yes" to the second. If voters say "yes" to the first, even if they say "no" to the second, Fishers would reorganize while keeping a council-manager form of government.

That's Weingarden's concern: "If you vote yes on the first question, the second question becomes null and void," he said.

If voters opt for the "reorganized" Fishers city option, the change would take effect in 2013. Becoming a second-class city would take a few years longer.

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  • Confusion Abounds
    Seems I'm a bit late to this party, but I want to point out that it is not accurate to say that your vote on #2 is a "non-factor" if you vote yes on #1. If you vote yes on #1 (reorganized city), you need to consider what outcome you would want if the result on #1 turns out to be no. In other words, if #1 fails do you want Fishers to remain a town (in which case you should vote no on #2) or do you want it to become a second-class city (in which case you should vote yes on #2)? I agree that it's confusing and could have been handled better, but your vote on #1 definitely does not make your vote on #2 irrelevant. Also, there is one thing that those who are howling about having an elected and supposedly accountable mayor are ignoring and that is JIM BRAINARD. Carmel can't seem to stop that elected official from running that city into bankruptcy. We've done pretty well as a town, so keeping a similar form of government makes sense to me.
  • Keep it Simple
    The ballot should read: If you want a mayor vote NO on 1 and YES on 2. If you want a city-township consolidation that is ran like a Town vote YES on 1 and ignore 2. Vote No to Both if you like things the way they are.
  • Wrong problem, wrong solution
    Maintaining anachronistic entities such as Fishers, Carmel, and Noblesville which essentially abut is the problem. Merge all three and other burgs in Hamilton Co. into one political entity. The result would still be less populous than Indianapolis. Imagine the redundancy of administration, services, etc. such a merger would eliminate. Never happen...too many public sector jobs at stake and too many contractors have purchased an "in" with local leaders. The excuse for not doing so will be "democracy close to the governed". That is a laugh for as we know, nearly nobody votes in local elections. Who voted to spend taxpayer money on a new outdoor music facility in Fishers? Government: reduce, eliminate, remove funding, redefine its purpose.
  • Time for change
    Until yesterday, I was neutral on this vote. Now that I have researched what is going on, I am very upset at the current town council for its role in attempting to deceive the residents of Fishers. Based on my current understanding, I will have a hard time ever supporting the current town council members again. The first question should have never been added to the ballet and I view attempts to justify it based on it being legal and compliant with state law as further attempts to confuse the voters. The previous comments resonate with me. The lack of business development in the past two decades in Fishers is obvious. I will vote "no" - "yes".
  • 2 Questions for 3 options?
    The first step is to determine if the residents of Fishers would like to change their form of Government. Since there are really 3 options for re-organization, there should only be ONE question on the ballot for this Year. The Should the Town of Fishers re-organize? If a majority say yes, next year vote on the 2 options. This is a very important decision for Fishers. There are 3 different options for Government. The questions on the ballot may be correct under Indiana State Law. Asking 2 questions for these 3 options limits the ability for the residents to clearly give direction in the form of government they would like. As a resident, I am embarrassed by this obvious intent to limit the decision process by voters.
  • Commercial Development
    I know you think that the Council is "so adroit" at pushing residential development instead of commercial/business, but lets look at the facts. A business tried to develop along Olio Road last year and there was a huge pushback from the adjacent neighborhood. Three years ago a day care tried to get approval to add a gymnasium to their business to expand; again, remonstrance by the adjacent neighborhood shot it down. This isn't the Council that is stopping commercial development, it is the residents. The Council wants those other sources as much as you do, but nobody wants it in their backyard.
  • elect your mayor
    i would like to applaud all sides for their efforts in communicating the form of government they prefer, as well as, what that looks like. The cost savings of $1 million is far from guaranteed! It simply comes from attempting to opt out of Social Security for public workers. What voters need to know is that if you vote yes to #1 your answer on #2 is a non-factor. that's great if that is what you want but i fear many residents don't understand and will vote yes to #1 thinking less government layers are a good thing. I would warn all voters that electing or replacing your Mayor is easier than changing a majority (it will be 9)of your council members who appoint a mayor. DON'T GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO ELECT YOUR MAYOR.
  • Vote No on Question 1!
    I wholeheartedly believe Fishers needs an elected mayor. If I remember right, I read somewhere that the whole town reorganization thing is brand new in Indiana and if Fishers went that way, it would be the first city to be a reorganized city. In other words, there's no proof that it works! I agree that it would be pretty much exactly what we have now, just on a bigger scale. A mayor needs to be elected so that he or she is accountable directly to the people! As for the wording of the questions, as I understand it the wording is done by Indiana state law. There isn't much choice there. But it is confusing how second-class city sounds worse than a reorganized city. Second-class city is just how the state of Indiana classifies any city between 20,000 and 599,999 residents. (I may have the first number slightly off.)
  • TIME FOR CHANGE/ REAL CITY / REAL MAYOR
    yeah ok lets keep the management that we currently have, and have no change that is despartly needed. They've done a GREAT JOB in getting developers in... aksa 96th and Allisonville, or how about the property on 37 or even the undevelopment by Salle Mae. Those currently in power want to run you over and don't care what you the citizens want. Hints that is why when the town city question came up they knew their impowerment would be in trouble so that is why they came up with this concoction of a fake city. 99% of the council is trying to FOOL the citizens. We've tried to get them out, and if the reorgaintion take place YOU'LL NEVER get the APPOINTED MAYOR our of office. Because you have to get 5 new council members in inorder to make that change. That mayor will most likely either be Fautless or Peterson. Currently if a council member listens to the citizens they are ridiculed, bullyed until their mind is changed. Fishers is broke, why do you think they wanted Giest area so badly? Now they want the townships, they will get all the buildings, assets which also includes a 2.4 million dollar rainy day fund. THE ONLY THING THAT STAYS CONSISTENT IS CHANGE! CONSISTENT CHANGE IS GOOD that is what has been missing in Fishers.
  • Simple Question
    In May 2010, 1700 people submitted a petition to place on the ballot a simple question- "Shall the Town of Fishers change into a city?" Nothing could be more simple and straight forward. The Town Council came up with this confusing and misleading question with one and only one aim to stay in power. That is the simple truth. I hope the voters of Fishers see what is going on and vote no to question 1. Question 1 takes away voting rights and maintains power in the hands of a few.
  • Vote No on 1. Yes on 2
    To get a city with a populace elected mayor. Anything else and we are misrepresented. The voting language was written by the Fishers Town Council (they'll deny it). Their purpose is obvious...to stay in power. Fishers MUST become a true city (called "second class" because of population size) with a mayor to fight for new business growth -- NOT more houses and strip malls (which is what this town council has proven year after year they are SOOOOO ADROIT at doing).
    • Referendums
      While voter referendums are a good idea in concept, they are always rigged through their wording. I have never seen one that is a simple answer to a simple question. If they aren't just plain misleading or only showing partial facts, they have so many double negatives in them you cannot tell what you are answering.
      • Vote NO to elect a Mayor
        Basically... Vote "NO" to Question #1 to be able to elect a Mayor is how I believe it is intended to be read. It is worded as terribly as you would expect from Lawyers, Lobbyists, and people who are supposed to be Governing us (elected or not). I've been rapidly losing any last shred of respect toward National, State, and Local politics (and both parties) but at the very least allow us to have the ability to elect a Mayor. A town of 70,000 needs at least the basic dignity of an election. Sadly, the chaotic wording of this issue may have a huge impact on the result of the referendum.
      • That's exactly what they were hoping
        Fisher's Mom, you have a right to be furious. Does anybody know how the wording and expected responses were developed and approved?
      • Totally agree!
        You are right. Why shouldn't we be given the full choices?
      • Here's your Answer, Now Vote for it
        The "Reorganized City" is simply the same organization as the "Town" . . . a distinction without a difference. What is disappointing is the manner in which the "vote" is being brought about. Someone please explain to me why I cannot have my cake and eat it too? Why can I not vote for consolidation of Fishers with Fall Creek Township in one vote . . . and then, in a completely separate vote . . . determine whether I want a "Town" a "Re-organized City" or a "Second-Class City"? Why does the good idea of the consolidation have to determine which of the other three options I choose? The only answer I can come up with is that the ballot reads the way the current administration of Fishers wants it to read . . . don't even tell me that the 2006 Law "requires" the ballot to read in this manner . . . I have read the law and it does not. Give me the full choices I should have or stop bothering me with the ability to "vote" on the issue.
        • Furious
          I am furious that I am just now getting a clear definition of each option. We voted early and unfortunately voted Yes and Yes which means we will continue to have the same cronyism that we've had for years.

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