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Editor

Marc Chase is a veteran investigative reporter, columnist and editor of more than two decades. He currently leads The Times news staff as local news editor. He can be reached at 219-933-3327.

A good-government hammer rests at the fingertips of all Griffith voters.

Our Region's propensity for government corruption and waste demands that they wield that hammer.

Griffith residents are duty-bound to hit the polls for a Sept. 25 special election.

At the polls, they'll be given the option of seceding from Calumet Township, a local government haven of waste and corruption courtesy of past and present elected township trustees.

Voting to secede would send a resounding message to graft-prone officials in the Region and even statewide.

Taxpayer pocketbooks should be the first motivation.

Griffith continues to pay $2 million or more per year to the township for a paltry $15,000 in actual services returned to its residents.

In 2012, legislation championed by Griffith town leaders and sponsored, in part, by Indiana House Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, opened the door for any municipality to secede from a township with a poor-relief tax rate more than 12 times the state average.

Calumet Township's rate is 17.9 times over the limit on the conservative side and 29.7 times over the limit from the town's estimate.

So Griffith residents have a clear and present financial reason to cut legal ties with the township.

But there's a moral and good-government motivation that should resonate with all of Northwest Indiana.

Unscrupulous, even criminal, decisions by township leaders have undermined the public trust for decades, contributing to a black eye of public corruption in our Region.

By showing up at the polls and voting to secede on Sept. 25, Griffith residents can place their boot heels against the forehead of this corruption and thrust it away.

If residents need the motivators spelled out, here they are:

  • In 2017, then-Township Trustee Mary Elgin pleaded guilty to federal felony crimes for shaking down government employees for campaign donations as a condition of their employment. She did so with the help of her son and a co-indicted lieutenant within her office.
  • Another previous trustee, Dozier Allen, also served federal prison time for siphoning money off a federal grant — money that was supposed to be spent for accurate counts of the township residents receiving poor relief.
  • In 2016, current Township Trustee Kimberly Robinson took a tropical junket, along with her chief deputy, to Aruba on the backs of her taxpayers, who happen to be some of the most impoverished in the state. This wasn't a criminal act, but it's filled with moral and ethical repugnance.

The chief government mission of the Calumet Township Trustee's Office is administering emergency aid to some of the poorest people in Indiana.

That fact alone magnifies the past abuses by Calumet Township leaders.

Griffith voters have a clear path away from the madness.

They also have the ability to drop a hammer on bad government and say enough is enough.

If those residents choose to wield that hammer, as they should, others will take notice.

Perhaps more Region people would then be emboldened to pick up their own political hammers to strike out at corruption.

Local News Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 933-3327 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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