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Star Has It Wrong

The Indy Star published an opinion on annexation this morning. It's the usual Star brand of milquetoast, taking no solid position, aiming for some amorphous, gray, middle of the road.

Along the way, they said some stupid things:
But lawmakers should use caution in hobbling annexation efforts. Had Indianapolis been foreclosed from annexation, it could be a Byzantine collection of tiny communities. Resistance to annexation led to the passage of Uni-Gov, effectively a wholesale annexation that many credit with helping Indianapolis become the Cinderella of the Rust Belt.

Wow, that's chock full of stupid.

For instance, what's wrong with a Byzantine collection of tiny communities? Tiny communities tend to be tighter-knit, with more common ground from one side of town to the other, and better still, with a government small enough to be responsive.

When the whole region is one municipality, many decent areas suffer being dragged down by the worst areas in town. Consider: Why do people from Lawrence, Washington, and Pike townships flee for Hamilton County? To escape the higher Uni-Gov taxes, to escape higher sales tax rates, to escape the horrible IPS schools, to escape the higher auto insurance rates, to escape the higher home insurance rates, to escape the domination of Center Township politics... just for starters.

You might consider how Crows Nest, Beech Grove, and Speedway are pleasant oases within Marion County. Yes, it's those Byzantine tiny communities, with their sense of identity and pride- and of not being Indianapolis.

Cleveland is a good counterpoint to Indy. Yes, Cleveland is one dismal city, but people there tend more to flee the city, not all of Cuyahoga County. Sure, the lousy suburban communities suffer flight, but that's as it should be. For the most part, people still happily reside in most of Cuyahoga County's inner and outer ring suburbs, embracing their schools and their communities. If Strongsville or Bratenahl suddenly became incorporated into Cleveland, you would see for sale signs spring up and wholesale flight throughout the formerly independent towns, because the well-to-do would want to get their kids out and to protect their assets. Annex Beech Grove into Indy and you would see the same thing. On the other hand, offer the Broad Ripple area the opportunity to break away and become its own municipality and you would see an amazing flowering happen there, beyond the interesting things that are already there.

In fact, Marion County would be greatly served by dismantling Uni-Gov, and creating a Byzantine collection of tiny communities. You might start to see better schools, less government waste, and less flight as people have more reasons to choose to identify with their communities. I'm proof. I fled Indy after just two years. I removed my son forevermore from IPS schools after just one semester. There was absolutely no way I would permit my family to live within the city limits of Indianapolis so long as I had children.

Indianapolis, the Cinderella of the Rust Belt. Bwaahahaha! Just check out the murder rate for a reality check on that puffery. Then, the schools.

Then, let the people decide whether or not they want to be a part of a city. They chose to live where they are on the basis of what the place is. In Geist, Home Place, and Southwest Clay, it's township living. It should be almost impossibly hard for a city or town to annex. The burden of petitioning should be on the entity that wants to gobble its neighbor, not on the defenders.

Being annexed into Carmel or Fishers is obviously not as detrimental to one's bottom line or safety as is being annexed into Indianapolis. Still, the right to self-determination should be paramount. And no matter how good a government is, the smaller it is, the more responsive it is. Thus, the urge to annex should be curbed.

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posted by Mike Kole @ 11:48 AM,

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