STOCK_Griffith Town Hall

Griffith Town Hall

John J. Watkins

Griffith residents have a prime opportunity to send a strong message against government mismanagement, public corruption and criminal behavior by elected officials.

They should seize this chance and sign a petition seeking a referendum to secede from Calumet Township.

Griffith town leaders have been pushing for secession for years, though previous attempts have been stalled by legal wrangling of the Calumet Township Trustee's office.

Now Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa has said about 200 residents — of some 1,300 signatures needed — have signed a petition seeking a ballot question on the matter.

An Indiana law, adopted by the Legislature in 2013, provides the perfect medium for Griffith residents to push back against government mismanagement, sometimes criminal in nature, perpetrated by township trustees over the years.

The trustee's office tax rate consistently has been upward of 12 times higher than the state average for other townships, triggering the possible use of the state's secession law.

Griffith leaders and its residents have plenty of motivation to push for secession beyond those figures.

Former Trustee Dozier Allen served time in federal prison for essentially stealing from the office, which primarily provides emergency poor relief for some of the Region's neediest citizens.

Previous Trustee Mary Elgin pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal felony charges of shaking down her government employees for campaign donations — threatening their jobs if they didn't play along.

Current Trustee Kimberly Robinson, who campaigned as a reformer to Elgin's tenure in office, hasn't been accused of breaking any laws. But she was embarrassed by a taxpayer-funded tropical junket she and one of her deputies took to Aruba for an indefensible conference on how to treat people of color.

Griffith residents now have the means to make their voices heard on this pattern of abuse.

The petition can be signed during working hours at the Griffith clerk's office in Town Hall, 111 N. Broad St.

Our Region must speak out loudly against government abuse and mismanagement whenever possible. Griffith residents have a golden opportunity to lead on this front.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase, Editor Bob Heisse, Politics/History Editor Doug Ross and Managing Editor Erin Orr.