Mayor brings consolidation back to Statehouse
Paul F. P. Pogue
Mayor Bart Peterson makes the pitch for Indianapolis Works during a press conference last week.
Someone at the press conference announcing the return of Indianapolis Works summed it up best with this comment to Mayor Bart Peterson: "Sequels never seem to be as popular as the originals."
"We're confident that this is one of those sequels that does better box office than the original," Peterson replied. He and his staff have four months to convince the state Legislature that Indy Works is more Return of the King than Grease 2.
Peterson and local civic leaders were at the Statehouse on the hectic opening day of the legislative session to resubmit the project that has become the cornerstone of Peterson's latter days as mayor: full city-county consolidation, including fire departments and township trustees.
The sequel comparison was quite apt, as Indy Works has gone through the political wringer more than once. It seemed all but dead eight months ago when it was stripped bare by the Legislature and left only with police and sheriff consolidation - the most controversial element of the entire proposal, with the Fraternal Order of Police voting strongly against it. When the matter came before the City-County Council last year, it was shot down in a close vote, and that appeared to be the end of Indianapolis Works. But a late-in-the-year switch by key council members made police consolidation a reality.
The most frequent complaint lodged against Indy Works last year was the lack of detail in the proposal. With a summer study committee behind it and eight more months of polish, it remains to be seen if the Legislature can be convinced. But with the added backing of the police merger success, Peterson believes he has a strong position.
"There is no intellectual defense against passing this bill," Peterson said. "None whatsoever. The Legislature gave the City-County Council the power to consolidate police, and they did so. Even Speaker Brian Bosma said, 'This decision is being made at the right level.' If it's the right level to decide police consolidation, it's also the right level to decide fire and township consolidation."
For more background on Indy Works, check out last year's cover story on the subject: www.nuvo.net/archive/2005/04/06/completing_the_work_of_unigov.html