Testimony in last week's trial over moving the Lake Juvenile Court's Gary child support operations to Crown Point discussed how accessible these services are to the poor. It is a symptom of a larger problem in Lake County.
East Chicago, Gary and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed suit when Lake Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura decided several weeks ago to close the Gary court and consolidate it with its Crown Point counterpart to save money.
Witnesses in the lawsuit testified last week before Lake Circuit Court Judge George Paras that low-income residents in north county find it difficult to travel to Crown Point because they don't have cars and rely on public transportation.
One young mother said she lost welfare benefits after she missed her Feb. 12 court date in Crown Point. The bus times meant she arrived an hour late for her 8:30 a.m. court hearing.
Testimony in the case has concluded; attorneys are now preparing their findings of fact for Paras.
Moving the child support courtroom to Crown Point, from Gary, wouldn't be a problem if Lake County would finally address the public transportation mess.
Saying the Gary courtroom is more accessible to north county ignores the problem of how people without their own cars are to traverse Hammond during this public transportation crisis.
The Lake County Council's failure to provide public transportation must not continue. As the testimony in this case shows once again, there is a definite need for reliable bus service.
Consolidating the courtrooms for more efficient — and cheaper — operations makes sense. But finally address the public transportation problem to make the court more accessible.