RICH JAMES: Cedar Lake council needs to widen horizons

2014-06-08T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Cedar Lake council needs to widen horizonsBy Rich James nwitimes.com
June 08, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Cedar Lake Councilman Greg Parker may be a decent guy, but he doesn’t belong in government.

The same can be said about Councilmen John Foreman and Greg Wornhoff. I’m not terribly sure about the other four councilmen.

Talk about the blind leading the blind. There just isn’t a whole lot of vision down Cedar Lake way.

As communities across Northwest Indiana are coming together in committing money for the extension of the South Shore to Dyer, the Cedar Lake Town Council seems to be saying it might be a good idea for another time.

U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky, D-Ind., has asked the communities to commit about 30 percent of their anticipated income from the new County Economic Development Income Tax. And he is asking for 30-year commitments.

Visclosky, on the other hand, will get the feds to commit half the money. That’s one heckuva deal.

So Cedar Lake last week voted 5-2 to chip in $15,000, which is a mere pittance given that the town will receive about $368,000 annually.

But that commitment is for just a year. Future councils could pull the plug anytime, which is a pretty sad way to run a railroad.

Wornhoff went so far as to say Cedar Lake should be given a seat on a commission that approves train station sites.

Talk about arrogant defiance. He wants a seat at the table, but will only commit $15,000, and only for one year. You can’t play much poker with that kind of money.

The thoughts of some of the other councilmen are fairly skewed as well.

Foreman said he would approve the South Shore funding only if part of the town’s CEDIT money was committed to dredging the lake. That’s between him and fellow councilmen.

It is what Parker had to say that was the most bizarre.

Parker said, “Spending money on what you don’t need is waste,” and a rail extension that may never even be extended to Cedar Lake is waste.

Waste?

Cedar Lake is one of the communities that would reap the greatest benefit from the South Shore running to Dyer, which is just up the road apiece.

I guess Parker and the others didn’t see the results of a study on the impact South Shore expansion will have on the economy and communities.

It talks about job creation in the thousands and economic impact in the billions.

Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority President Bill Hanna put it best, saying, “This is clearly a case where a rising tide lifts all boats.”

The problem with the Cedar Lake council — and a few others in the county — is that it hasn’t learned to think beyond its borders.

Some councilmen have the attitude of what’s in it for them as opposed to being part of the common good. It’s called regionalism, and it’s growing.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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