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Government restructuring hits the airwaves


Fort Wayne Reader


It might not be the most riveting television, but it might be the most impactful. Anyone who thought the issue of local government restructuring was dead and forgotten should tune in for a series of programs discussing how city, county and township government might change in Indiana.

In 2007, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels formed the Indiana Commission for Local Government Reform to recommend reforms to the structure of local governments. The primary goals were to increase efficiency and effectiveness in operations and reduce the cost of government for Hoosiers.

In December 2007, the seven-member commission outlined 27-recommendations. Chief among them were reducing the number of county commissioners from three down to one; eliminating township government altogether; and consolidating school districts in some cases. While the recommendations were immediately deemed controversial, commission membersónone of whom represented any particular branch of local governmentósaid the ideas were designed to make elected officials more accountable.
While stressing that the vast majority of elected officials are hard-working and earnest, with more than 3,000 units of local government and some 11,000 elected officials across the state, commission members argued that rather than having representative government, Hoosiers were largely ill-served by a confusing government structure than hadnít changed in more than 150 years.

Despite the fact that the Indiana General Assembly took little action on the recommendation in its 2008 session, the issue of government restructuring is not going away.

Comcast Channel 58 and Verizon FiOS Chanel 28 will air a series of locally-produced programs outlining each of the commissionís recommendations, including debate and discussion with the governmental units most affected by the proposals. The first show, featuring commission members Ian Rolland and John Stafford, airs Tuesday, July 8 at 8:30 p.m. and repeats Friday, July 11 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 13 at 10:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Additional shows will follow. The programs are sponsored by the non-partisan Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at IPFW.

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