RICH JAMES: Lake County running out of cheeks to turn

2013-02-27T00:00:00Z 2013-02-27T00:22:10Z RICH JAMES: Lake County running out of cheeks to turnBy Rich James nwitimes.com
February 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

If Lake County were a person, he’d probably be a punch-drunk fighter.

The county continues to take a pounding from downstate Republicans who show no indication of being ready to end the unrelenting barrage of blows.

I’m not terribly sure why there is such prejudice against the county.

Maybe it’s because we’re too Democratic.

Maybe it’s because we have what the rest of Indiana doesn't — miles of Lake Michigan shoreline with statuesque sand dunes and world-class steel mills.

Maybe it’s because we identify with Chicago and not Indianapolis.

Maybe it’s because many of our last names are so difficult to pronounce.

Whatever reason, it’s time it stopped. We’re getting tired of turning the other cheek.

Take the last couple of weeks, for example. There was a double whammy on the same day as the General Assembly continued its attack on the State of Lake.

First it was the Senate Appropriations Committee, where there was a bill to require counties, cities and towns, instead of state government, to bear the cost of a proposal to reduce gaming taxes on Indiana casinos.

The intent is to allow the casinos more money to improve their properties and be more competitive with other states.

Virtually every unit of government in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties shares in the taxes paid by the casinos locally.

If the bill is approved, it could cost our local government units about $12 million.

The casinos were formed to foster economic growth in the urban rust belt.

The anticipated growth around the casinos hasn't come to be, but thousands have found work and the taxes have paid for a host of capital improvements. We can’t afford to lose $12 million.

Seems to me the state — with a $2 billion surplus — could pick up the $12 million.

After all, as Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said, the state took in more than $600 million in gaming taxes last year. That’s more than pocket change.

As if that wasn't painful enough, the legislators told us to turn the other cheek.

Remember when the Cline Avenue Bridge was closed and Gov. Mitch Daniels refused to spend $30 million to have it replaced? Instead, Daniels engaged a private firm to build it and turn it into a toll road.

The Senate has approved $100 million in taxpayer money for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As Times Statehouse Bureau Chief Dan Carden aptly put it — the 1.2 mile span on Cline Avenue carried 35,000 cars a day. The 2.5 mile speedway carries a few cars just a couple of times a year.

Come on, legislators, we are running out of cheeks to turn.

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.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Latest Local Offers

Submit a Letter to Editor

We welcome letters from readers on any issue of public interest, and make every effort to publish as many as we can and in a timely manner. The Times will publish only one letter a month from a writer, and be sure to include your name, address and a telephone number for verification. Letters should be 150 words or less. They will be edited.

Letters may be submitted:
  • Via our submission form.
  • Via e-mail.
  • Via fax: (219) 933-3249 or (219) 465-7298
  • Via mail or by hand to our offices:
    • 601 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321
    • 2080 N. Main St., Crown Point, IN 46307
    • 1111 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso, IN 46383
    • 3410 Delta Dr., Portage, IN 46368
    • Please mark envelopes with "Attn: Letters"

Questions?

Email Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross or call (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357

Poll

Loading…

Should the Indiana attorney general's office compel all Lake County municipalities to merge E-911 dispatch services?

View Results