IBJOpinion

VAUGHN: Courts will decide basic election issues

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Julia VaughnAlthough voters in Marion County won’t cast ballots for City-County elections until 2015, two courts are considering cases that will have a major impact on local elections.

The Indiana Supreme Court will once again get the final say on how City-County Council districts are divided—a vital matter since where the lines fall affects who gets elected and which party controls the council.

And, the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana will decide if Marion County party bosses will continue to be the only votes that matter in county judicial elections.

The events of the past two years mirror what happened 10 years ago when the state Supreme Court was called in to settle partisan bickering over new maps.

While it is not at all surprising that we find ourselves back at the same place, what is disappointing is that this long, expensive and divisive argument could have been avoided if redistricting were about voters’ choosing their representatives instead of being about incumbent politicians trying to gain advantage.

While most agree that the maps drawn by the court in 2003 make sense and have served voters well, the problem with a court-driven redistricting process is that it gives the public no input.

That’s why the court should choose one of the maps submitted to the council in the public process conducted in 2012.

I am, of course, partial to the map created by the Common Cause Indiana board because I know it was created in a common-sense way that sought to protect communities of interest and the rights of minority voters while enhancing competition for council elections.

And while it’s the Supreme Court’s responsibility to finish the job our ultra-partisan council couldn’t get done, it’s time to make sure this doesn’t happen again. A bipartisan team of state legislators from Marion County should sponsor legislation to give the task of local redistricting to a nonpartisan commission of community representatives. A similar system works in Lake County.

While the Indiana Supreme Court is deciding who will run from what districts in 2015, federal Judge Richard L. Young has been asked to decide if Marion County voters will get a real say in county judicial elections.

The American Civil Liberties Union-Indiana and Common Cause Indiana are challenging the county’s unique judicial selection process that puts the major party bosses in control, making the public vote a meaningless exercise.

While I understand that the Marion County process was put into place decades ago to ensure this community would have a bipartisan bench, we are no longer a one-party county, so the law has outlived its usefulness.

Instead of guaranteeing political diversity, an undeniably important goal, the major impact has been to deny voters our constitutional right to cast a meaningful vote for Superior Court judge. Voting for judges in Marion County shouldn’t be reduced to ratifying the decisions of a handful of partisan honchos.

Our lawsuit has already survived several obstacles, including attempts by the state to have it thrown out, and we look forward to our day in court.

Unfortunately, this issue will not likely be resolved in time for the next round of local elections. And, the court will only answer the question of whether the current system is constitutional; it won’t put a new judicial selection process in place.

If the Marion County process is invalidated, state policymakers will decide if voters, or a judicial nominating commission, make these decisions. Either way is a big improvement over the status quo.•

__________

Vaughn is policy director for Common Cause/Indiana, a nonpartisan citizens lobbying organization that works for open, honest and accountable government. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Apologies for the wall of text. I promise I had this nicely formatted in paragraphs in Notepad before pasting here.

  2. I believe that is incorrect Sir, the people's tax-dollars are NOT paying for the companies investment. Without the tax-break the company would be paying an ADDITIONAL $11.1 million in taxes ON TOP of their $22.5 Million investment (Building + IT), for a total of $33.6M or a 50% tax rate. Also, the article does not specify what the total taxes were BEFORE the break. Usually such a corporate tax-break is a 'discount' not a 100% wavier of tax obligations. For sake of example lets say the original taxes added up to $30M over 10 years. $12.5M, New Building $10.0M, IT infrastructure $30.0M, Total Taxes (Example Number) == $52.5M ININ's Cost - $1.8M /10 years, Tax Break (Building) - $0.75M /10 years, Tax Break (IT Infrastructure) - $8.6M /2 years, Tax Breaks (against Hiring Commitment: 430 new jobs /2 years) == 11.5M Possible tax breaks. ININ TOTAL COST: $41M Even if you assume a 100% break, change the '30.0M' to '11.5M' and you can see the Company will be paying a minimum of $22.5, out-of-pocket for their capital-investment - NOT the tax-payers. Also note, much of this money is being spent locally in Indiana and it is creating 430 jobs in your city. I admit I'm a little unclear which tax-breaks are allocated to exactly which expenses. Clearly this is all oversimplified but I think we have both made our points! :) Sorry for the long post.

  3. Clearly, there is a lack of a basic understanding of economics. It is not up to the company to decide what to pay its workers. If companies were able to decide how much to pay their workers then why wouldn't they pay everyone minimum wage? Why choose to pay $10 or $14 when they could pay $7? The answer is that companies DO NOT decide how much to pay workers. It is the market that dictates what a worker is worth and how much they should get paid. If Lowe's chooses to pay a call center worker $7 an hour it will not be able to hire anyone for the job, because all those people will work for someone else paying the market rate of $10-$14 an hour. This forces Lowes to pay its workers that much. Not because it wants to pay them that much out of the goodness of their heart, but because it has to pay them that much in order to stay competitive and attract good workers.

  4. GOOD DAY to you I am Mr Howell Henry, a Reputable, Legitimate & an accredited money Lender. I loan money out to individuals in need of financial assistance. Do you have a bad credit or are you in need of money to pay bills? i want to use this medium to inform you that i render reliable beneficiary assistance as I'll be glad to offer you a loan at 2% interest rate to reliable individuals. Services Rendered include: *Refinance *Home Improvement *Inventor Loans *Auto Loans *Debt Consolidation *Horse Loans *Line of Credit *Second Mortgage *Business Loans *Personal Loans *International Loans. Please write back if interested. Upon Response, you'll be mailed a Loan application form to fill. (No social security and no credit check, 100% Guaranteed!) I Look forward permitting me to be of service to you. You can contact me via e-mail howellhenryloanfirm@gmail.com Yours Sincerely MR Howell Henry(MD)

  5. It is sad to see these races not have a full attendance. The Indy Car races are so much more exciting than Nascar. It seems to me the commenters here are still a little upset with Tony George from a move he made 20 years ago. It was his decision to make, not yours. He lost his position over it. But I believe the problem in all pro sports is the escalating price of admission. In todays economy, people have to pay much more for food and gas. The average fan cannot attend many events anymore. It's gotten priced out of most peoples budgets.

ADVERTISEMENT