Plato said, “The penalty good men pay for inattention to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” In Carmel, [Sept. 17 Styring column] we have chosen commerce over the constitution, the rule of man over the rule of law.
Indiana’s constitution is a framework to ensure a series of checks and balances. For example, if a mayor wants to borrow money, he must get approval of the council.
However, Attorney General Greg Zoeller in his 2010 non-binding opinion, requested by Carmel’s mayor, redefined debt to mean municipal bonds only. Any other borrowing escaped council scrutiny and was a green light for the mayor’s unelected redevelopment commission to incur massive public debt without any constitutional checks.
As a result, the mayor created a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) granting taxpayer funds to private business and introduced certificates of participation and lease-purchase agreements into our lexicon.
Carmel’s redevelopment commission then borrowed so much ($250 million to $345 million—no one really knows) it now finds itself unable to repay. These loans carry exorbitant interest and contain $20 million in prepayment penalties. The things the mayor’s redevelopment commission built or bought cannot be sold to pay the debt. All because of the AG’s opinion, profligate borrowing continued.
Now, without using Carmel’s credit to consolidate the debt, the commission is broke, and default is near and will directly affect every Carmel household and business since the commission obligated us to repay anything it could not. The mayor said this was his plan all along and that the refinance will allow him to continue to spend when it is complete.
Zoeller and Mayor Brainard choose to ignore the constitution they swore to uphold. This embodies the tenet of the rule of man rather than the rule of law.
Do we want legal or right?