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
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 The opinions are the writer's.

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