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Festival of the Lakes

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott shoots T-shirts to the crowd before the start of the LL Cool J concert at last year's Festival of the Lakes.

File, The Times

What Hammond Councilman Homero "Chico" Hinojosa is seeking ought to be readily available to the public, let alone a duly elected councilman.

Hinojosa is asking for financial information for the Festival of the Lakes for the last three years.

He's not satisfied with the report he received from the city controller. Hinojosa wanted Parks and Recreation Administrator Pat Moore, Port Authority Director Milan Kruszynski and City Controller Heather Garay to address festival finances at a council meeting.

His motion failed on a 5-3 vote, with Councilmen Anthony Higgs and Robert Markovich siding with Hinojosa and Council President Michael Opinker and council members Janet Venecz, Dan Spitale, William Emerson and Jack Uylaki shooting it down.

Why vote down the motion? What is there to hide?

Hinojosa has announced his intention to run for mayor. So what? Just because he might have political motives for seeking this information doesn't mean it shouldn't be freely given.

Among his questions are how security for the festival is funded.

Last week, Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said police officers working the festival last year were paid from the regular police overtime account, which added up to about $40,000 for five days. Paying overtime meant officers weren't taken off the streets to staff festival security.

Hinojosa wants festival revenue to fund festival expenses.

Opinker said the information Hinojosa is seeking is already public information. The Times plans to follow up on that with Freedom of Information Act requests for detailed financial accounting of festival revenue and expenses.

Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has promised transparency. Here's his chance to prove he means it.

Even though the council shot down Hinojosa's request, McDermott's administration should honor it anyway.


Porter/LaPorte County Editor

Porter/LaPorte Editor Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.