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SCHELLINGER: Green delegation should work hard on influence

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SchellingerRoll Call reported several weeks ago that Indiana’s clout in Washington, D.C., has slipped in the rankings from 27th to 42nd. This is certainly no surprise in the wake of Sen. Richard Lugar’s departure, in addition to former Sen. Evan Bayh and former congressman and now Gov. Mike Pence.

Several Associated Press stories indicated in November 2012 that “Indiana lost 78 years of congressional experience among its senators and representatives.”

The loss of congressmen Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill in 2010 started the downward trend.

To break it down, Indiana boasted an average of 13-1/2 years of experience per member after the 2008 election. Just four years later, the Hoosier delegation averaged 3-1/2 years.

The wave of Republican freshmen and sophomores has taken a toll on the influence Indiana can muster in national policy matters on Capitol Hill. Clearly, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky carries some weight, but as a member of the minority, he will have difficulty affecting big outcomes for Indiana.

Sen. Dan Coats is the leader of the Indiana delegation, has the most significant committee assignments, and will be the most accountable when it comes to looking after Hoosier interests.

New Sen. Joe Donnelly can certainly be helpful to the president by forging coalitions of folks who are motivated to move important public policy initiatives forward, especially those that can be embraced by more moderate members of Congress interested in getting things done for the American people.

I think we can all agree that Congress needs more consensus-building and less political posturing. I remain hopeful that President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can advance job creation, debt reduction, retirement security, immigration policy, education transformation, college and health care affordability, and gun safety legislation in the next year or two.

The Hoosier delegation must stand together to protect our state’s interest when it comes to securing our fair share of federal dollars. But, we also must remember we are one of 50 states seeking to form a more perfect union. With that many cooks in the kitchen, I think we all understand the need to play nicely.

This is truly a moment for our newer members of Congress to work hard and distinguish themselves in particular areas of specialty. Energy, agriculture, technology, defense and transportation come to mind as important for Indiana.

Yes, we may have lost some juice in the halls of Washington, but now is the time to begin rebuilding and for some members to become leaders and consensus-builders for all of us. New faces should translate into new ideas, and better ways of doing business in the federal government.

Susan Brooks, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita are seasoned public servants, and many folks in central Indiana have tremendous confidence in Andre Carson, as well.

These days, the stakes are simply too high for partisan gridlock and unsophisticated approaches to some of the toughest economic problems America and the world have faced in over 30 years. We’re all in this together, and we had best start acting like it.•

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Schellinger, chairman and CEO of CSO Architects Inc., ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2008. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

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