IBJOpinion

MARCUS: Let's help keep legislators in check

Morton Marcus
September 26, 2009
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Morton Marcus

 The good news is that I will not become Spider-Man and then need to conquer my fear of heights. The bad news is that I will not become Spider-Man and be able to compel the foolish, thoughtless and greedy to behave differently.

But I get ahead of the story.

All last week, I felt good that Todd Rokita, Indiana’s secretary of state, is pushing for less partisan redistricting of political offices after the 2010 census. The fact that some in his own Republican party told him to keep his nose out of their affairs only reinforced my good feelings. This is a clear split between an appropriately ambitious politician (Rokita) and the indolent, selfish, anti-republican forces in the GOP. That’s the makings of a great political pudding.

Of the Democrats, incumbents with districts to defend are silent. David Orentlicher, former holder of a House of Representatives seat, now a candidate for Marion County prosecutor, has endorsed liberating redistricting from the grasp of the parties’ machinery. But what does that endorsement mean in the other 91 counties where David O is unknown? Does his voice carry weight even in Marion County, where political savagery normally dominates redistricting?

Who else will step forward to endorse the righteous cause of redistricting seats in Congress, in the General Assembly, and in local elections according to population only? State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, has been effective in getting the Census Data Adversary Committee to consider the issue. In the past, Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Ellettsville, introduced constitutional amendments to create a redistricting commission that would reduce the highly partisan nature of the present system, where each house draws its own lines by its own rules.

When the CDAC meets Sept. 29 (its agenda has not been announced as of this writing), it may choose to examine Indiana’s voting history and how other states draw their district lines. My own research shows that, in 2008, the last time we elected representatives to the House, only 11 of 100 seats were competitively contested (the winner getting less than 55 percent of the vote). Conversely, 26 of the 100 seats were uncontested: The winners got 100 percent of the vote. Does that mean voters in more than one-quarter of Hoosier districts were so satisfied with their representatives that no challenger could be found? Or does it mean the game is so rigged to favor one party or the other that it doesn’t encourage competition?

Without genuine support from BB&D (Speaker of the House Pat Bauer, Senate Majority Leader Brian Bosma and Gov. Mitch Daniels), little will happen. Little, that is, unless citizens fed up with legislative inertia and ineptitude rise up to demand that candidates in the May 2010 primaries and November 2010 general elections endorse changes in how we draw the lines in 2011.

However, all this was forgotten when I was bitten six times by one or more spiders. The results were startling. I began to feel more weird than usual. I became especially irritated by inconsistencies initiated by the Indiana Department of Transportation (For example: Why does southbound traffic on Meridian Street have unencumbered access to eastbound Interstate 465 while northbound traffic is halted by a stoplight before entering westbound I-465?). Also, I wanted to leap across the state using the network of mobile phone towers and weave complex patterns among the newly installed windmills in White County.

Fortunately, I have comprehensive health insurance and could use the urgent-care facilities of the Hammond Clinic where an ointment was prescribed and my sanity saved. Otherwise, I would be confined now to downtown Indianapolis, because there are not enough tall structures elsewhere in the state to satisfy a novice Spider-Man.•

__________

Marcus taught economics for more than 30 years at Indiana University and is the former director of IU’s Business Research Center. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mmarcus@ibj.com.


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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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