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DOUG ROSS: Government dysfunction continues to erode trust

DOUG ROSS: Government dysfunction continues to erode trust

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Today's topic is government dysfunction, but this is not meant to be an exhaustive list. There's too much of it for that. Instead, let's look at three examples.

Red light district

I've been following the controversy with the red light cameras in Chicago because I have long opposed the use of those cameras, and my reasons are getting support by fresh evidence.

My family got one of those $100 tickets a month after we visited Chicago, and I'm not sure who was driving. The ticket was assigned to the vehicle, not the driver.

I'm pretty sure it was at the intersection where the light was flashing red after a storm, but a month later is too long a time to remember.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is under fire after a surge in tickets from red-light cameras. Was mine issued improperly? I think so, but I'm uncertain enough not to fight it.

Red light cameras aren't allowed in Indiana, and I'm glad. The cameras don't identify the offender, merely the vehicle. That's a big problem right there.

And what has happened in some other cities is that under pressure to increase revenue, the timing of the yellow light is reduced. So the cameras ostensibly put there for public safety improvements actually reduce safety.

I'm guessing the red light cameras in Chicago will spark a class action lawsuit soon. We'll see what happens to the cameras when that lawsuit works its way through the courts.

Schools rivalry

In Indianapolis, the battle to control education policy rages on. This time, the Republican-controlled shadow education agency — the Center for Education and Career Innovation — could have jeopardized the waiver exempting Indiana from the No Child Left Behind Act.

CECI is the agency set up by Gov. Mike Pence without the Indiana General Assembly's approval. Its supporters say the agency doesn't duplicate the Indiana Department of Education, but that's not the way it looks from this distance.

The Department of Education, controlled by Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, responded to the federal government's criticism of Indiana's failure to comply with all the terms of the NCLB waiver. CECI, controlled by the Republican-appointed State Board of Education, sent its own memo to the feds to poke holes in the response sent by Ritz's agency.

Great. So now the feds will see the tug of war being played with education and will have proof that Indiana doesn't have its act together.

Border scramble

Then there's the congressional inaction on the humanitarian crisis at the nation's border with Mexico.

Refugees have poured across the border, many of them unaccompanied minors. We have seen refugees flee oppression elsewhere. The United States has seen waves of immigrants from Cuba and southeast Asia, for example. And we've seen refugees flee other war-torn areas around the globe.

So what does Congress do about these refugees? Nothing.

Instead of reaching a compromise to address this crisis at the border, congressional leaders area doing what they have done on other major issues in recent years — give up and go home.

Is it any wonder that voters are starting to equate the congressional term "recess" with the same term for a playground visit by elementary school children?

Many of us bemoan the public's waning trust in government. But frankly, with government dysfunction so evident on so many issues, who can blame their disgust?

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/doug.ross1 and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinions are the writer's.

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