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CROWN POINT | U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky is throwing a good government party, and he wants almost every elected official in Lake County to attend.

The Congressman has invited more than 160 county, township and municipal officials to a Jan. 26 Regional Opportunities Community Forum, a day-long exposition of findings and recommendations of local officials who have been brainstorming ways to trim local government.

The forum at the Calumet Conference Center, 2300 173rd Street, on the Purdue University Calumet campus was initially billed as a way to unveil the Good Government Initiative to the general public.

However, Visclosky's invitation indicates the forum is being targeted at the elected officials too.

The Good Government Initiative is an effort to reform local government. It is financed by BP, Mittal Steel, NiSource, U.S. Steel and Whiteco.

Their work has stirred controversy. Some officials initially resisted the studies. Some of those same officials are now being invited to attend.

The invitation list includes mayors, judges, town council presidents and school superintendents.

Schererville attorney James Wieser, project director for the regional overview of government reform, said the forum is less about painful job cutting than it is about how the dozens of school districts, cities, townships and other county government units can share the costs of common services.

"Some people are confusing the Jan. 26 regional conference on shared services with our (cost-cutting) analysis of county government," Wieser said. "That is not the case."

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