MARK KIESLING: The RBA — to be or not to be?

2012-08-10T00:00:00Z MARK KIESLING: The RBA — to be or not to be? nwitimes.com
August 10, 2012 12:00 am

Yep. William Shakespeare asked that question about 500 years ago, admittedly in a different context.

The question in Lake County remains whether the Regional Bus Authority actually needs to remain in existence.

Let's take a look: The case of whether to be — there are a number of folks who depend on local buses for their local transportation.

There is also an opposite question — with a Regional Development Authority, do we really need what appears to be an overlapping governmental taxing body?

Well, now, there is another question worth looking at. Although the RDA is the governing body, the RBA (sorry for the alphabet soup) has positioned itself as the funnel through which grants are given.

At least for the bus systems. But not everyone is buying into it. Valparaiso, for example, has declined to join the whole RBA thing, preferring to address transportation at a local level.

The whole thing kind of came to a head this week, as the Northwest Indiana RBA met Wednesday night and appeared to disband.

Then, unlike some who took three days to resurrect, the board was reformed within 20 minutes. That's not a comment on religious viability, by the way.

The question does hang out there, though, of whether we need a bus authority.

My take is that an area the size of Lake County does need some form of public transportation, and that it would be more cost efficient if done by a regional authority rather than individual multiple governments.

But.

Anyone familiar with the history of Lake County knows that the cities and towns are so Balkanized that no one really wants to cooperate with anyone else.

And so it goes with the RBA.

Board member Raymond Fletcher, of Hammond, protested the vote of RBA Chairman Richard Hardaway because he said Hardaway had a conflict of interest because he is a Merrillville town councilman.

Just as a passing note, Fletcher ran for the City Council in Hammond. Had he won, would he have passed up the chance to be on the RBA?

If this county, and Porter County for the sake of argument, are going to get their act together on public transportation, they are going to act as a unified board, not a bunch of cats who need to be herded.

That's not to say board members should not speak their mind. But come on, people, and get whatever you feel is best in the interest of the people together.

Or disband, as Fletcher motioned. And not unreasonably, given the circumstances.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

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