Marc is a veteran investigative reporter and editor of more than 15 years, including 10 years at The Times, where he is the investigative editor. He is also the founder of the Calumet Region Civil War Preservation Project.

New MonoSol plant

Portage Mayor James Snyder speaks during the the opening day celebration of the MonoSol plant in April 2016 in Portage.

The Times

Portage Mayor James Snyder seems to believe some leaders in his county aren't taking his plans — or even his stature as mayor — seriously.

He undoubtedly knows why but has yet to face the truth of the matter.

Three letters — FBI — sum it all up.

Few Region political leaders will say this outright, but the reason is clear:

Snyder is ensnared in the web of a felony bribery indictment spun by federal prosecutors, FBI agents and perhaps Snyder's own behavior — a jury must decide that last point — and is unlikely to be taken seriously by anyone.

Conventional wisdom dictates that folks don't forge alliances with those under the shadow of a federal criminal indictment. By now, most of us know Snyder faces felony charges in Hammond federal court for allegedly taking bribes to arrange for favorable towing contracts.

Indeed, he's presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Time and again, in the political corruption vortex that is Northwest Indiana, we've all seen how such federal indictments have ended.

Region federal prosecutors have a perfect record of conviction in the government corruption sphere, with more than 70 public officials or politically connected vendors being convicted of felonies against taxpayers since the 1980s.

But Snyder still seems to question why some folks won’t embrace his proposals.

In a public statement that ran as a guest commentary Friday in The Times, Snyder decried Porter County commissioners for turning their backs on his city's proposal to build a new county government annex building in downtown Portage.

He pointed to a study he says bolsters his city's position that a brand new downtown facility would be cheaper than renovating the county's existing Portage annex on Willowcreek Road south of U.S. 6 and would spur economic development.

"Instead of reading and debating the study, commissioners chose to call it names, threaten its author, refer to my federal indictment and disparage all Portage elected leadership," Snyder wrote.

The problem is the blame-game here can stop with Snyder.

Sure, commissioners have their own plan — a sensible one from what I can tell. They want to renovate the existing annex building, which has a sound, usable structure but needs to be modernized, including expanded courtroom space.

Good government dictates maintenance of viable buildings already within the holdings of a government unit. Commissioners have conducted their own study and dispute that a new building could be constructed, with all features they desire or need, more cheaply than a renovation of the existing structure.

The commissioners also have something else going for them.

Credibility.

None of the three commissioners — Jeff Good, Laura Blaney and Jim Biggs — are under federal indictment.

Snyder is.

So even if his study's numbers are correct, no legitimate government leaders are going to want to work with him or forge allegiances.

The smart ones won't want to be seen with him or associate with him, even if there's merit to the policies or plans he seeks.

Right or wrong, this is the reality Snyder refuses to face.

It's why several of my past columns and Times editorials have implored him to resign rather than dragging his city through the embarrassment and uncertainty of a mayoral felony indictment.

Snyder has made a conscious decision to remain in office pending trial, and that's his right.

But then he shouldn't act astonished when seeking dialogue with other government leaders who show him nothing but their backs.

Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marc.chase.9 or Twitter @nwi_MarcChase. The opinions are the writer's.

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