I thought about doing my usual top 10 list of stories I thought had the biggest impact in Indianapolis in 2013, but with a new year coming up, why not do something different and pontificate about the future as opposed to dwell on the past.So, for this column, I have decided what things Indianapolis should do for 2014 so it can, as my favorite Indiana Governor likes to say, go from good to great.
* Crime will always be part of life in any city, however in 2013 we saw the largest increase in homicides in five years. We're adding more police, but, if you dig deeper into the murder numbers, you'll find an interesting statistic.According to IMPD, as of December 2013, nearly 80 percent of the victims and perpetrators had violent felonies on their records.And the average age of the suspect was 26.This clearly says someone is not only breaking the law, but getting out early.Republican State Senator Jim Merritt is introducing legislation that would require mandatory minimums for violent crimes committed with guns.Maybe if some of these guys weren't getting back on the street early, a few more people might be alive.
* You can't address crime without addressing families.And as much as the individualistic conservative finds this thought offensive, if people aren't going to parent, unfortunately the community is going to have to.However, government can partner with the faith-based community to help reach young people so they don't become 26-year old murders with prior felony convictions.Churches and other not-for-profit faith based groups should have their doors open after school and on weekends to provide kids with a safe place.For funding, Indy should tap into the business community.
* Of course, a city can't function unless it has more taxpayers. And the only way you get more taxpayers is to create more jobs. One big problem is connecting individuals with the jobs that are there. You've heard of the skills gap, where people don't have either the technical skills to qualify for a position or the soft skills (interviewing, resume writing) to land the job. The city, Indy Chamber, Employ Indy and Ivy Tech should do "Township Roadshows" where they not only do job fairs in every township in Indianapolis, using employers who are hiring in those townships, but also have the resume writing and job interview seminars to go along with it.
Those are the three areas Indy really should focus on to take the city to the next level. Of course there are the other things we usually talk about, mass transit, roads and infrastructure, parks and green space, bike lanes, etc.I didn't go into any detail about them, not so much to ignore them, but those issues are always in the backdrop and it goes without saying the city needs to take a look at them.
But if Mayor Greg Ballard and the Indianapolis City-County Council can focus on those three areas in 2014, they'll both have plenty to brag about in 2015, which by the way is an election year.