RICH JAMES: Gary has right to complain this time

2013-02-10T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Gary has right to complain this timeRich James
February 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I used to think Gary cried “wolf” at the drop of a hat.

The thinking in the Steel City was that everyone wanted a piece of what they had. And they had a lot at one time.

While most of the protests of old weren't justified, Gary has a right to fight what is about to happen to the city on two different fronts today.

And the outside interference borders on being criminal. In terms of the Gary/Chicago International Airport, extortion might be the operative word.

Now that the Gary airport has everything in place to allow it to become a bustling, viable operation, Gov. Mike Pence wants to seize control from the city.

Pence's front man is state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, a Valparaiso Republican, the sponsor of the airport bill.

Pence, Charbonneau and fellow Republicans have Gary between that proverbial rock and a hard place. Some say that is what politics is all about. It’s more like grand larceny.

Tucked into the airport bill are most of the things Gary hopes to gain from this Legislature – a land-based casino and studies that could lead to a trauma center and a deep-water port at the site of the two Majestic Star casinos.

All Gary has to do is give up the airport that its residents built and supported with their property taxes over these many years.

Gary would become the only airport in Indiana controlled by the state. What does that say to the people of Gary? It either says we don’t trust you, or you’re incompetent.

Charbonneau’s omnibus Gary bill is putting the squeeze on Gary legislators. The question is: How badly does Gary want a land-based casino and trauma center? And there’s no guarantee of either.

The other legislative attack on Gary is the bill to allow Griffith to pull out of Calumet Township. Because Griffith pays in much more for poor relief than it receives, the town wants out. Griffith would gain. Gary would lose.

Most disturbing about the Griffith secession move that is driven by Republicans is the support of Democratic Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon of Munster.

Reardon's support is largely political.

She started backing the Griffith move more than a year ago knowing she could face a tough primary challenge as a result of redistricting.

In some circles, they call that vote-buying.

Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Dwight Gardner put the attacks on Gary in perspective, saying, “Why is it that our community always has to give up something in order to get something from our state government as (if) we are an orphan or stepchild?”

I tell you, pastor, it’s enough to make you want to secede from Indiana.

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

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