Last Thursday, the people of Goshen gathered to celebrate the nearly 18 years Allan Kauffman spent as mayor. It was a joyous occasion recognizing a humble man of honor.
There may not be a more demanding job than mayor of an Indiana city. Starved of revenue and authority by an anti-urban state legislature, yet bearing all the responsibilities of maintaining a civil city, a Hoosier mayor is hard-pressed to sustain ongoing approval by the electorate.
Allan Kauffman achieved that approval as a city council member for 13 years before his appointment as mayor in 1997. He then was elected and re-elected mayor four times. Respected statewide, Kauffman focused, as mayors must, on the daily demands of streets, sanitation, and safety. But ever-present was his pragmatic vision of a better community in a more inclusive society.
Long after the warm memories and funny stories of the evening fade, Goshen residents will have the Allan Kauffman "Good for Goshen" Award to reflect his civic achievements and Kauffman Park to enjoy his enduring legacy.
On the same day, the Indiana General Assembly was irresponsibly bringing its latest session to a close — disgracing and disappointing the people of Indiana.
To understand the Legislature, let's take a moment to consider that, according to my research, no Hoosier mayor has ever been elected governor of the state. Mayors who became legislators over the past 200 years have been few, although I do not have the numbers.
If Indiana governors and legislators have not experienced leading a city, are they likely to understand the diverse and complex problems of our many localities? In addition, can those who revere the agricultural past, and persist in believing in the glory of those times, function successfully in the economy that has characterized Indiana for the past 100 years?
As they left the Statehouse last week, legislators once again failed to resolve pressing needs of the state, while embarrassing us in the eyes of the world, and proving their resistance to modern life.
They failed to provide a stable funding source for our many infrastructure needs. They did manage a patchwork, temporary fix for some local road and bridge projects. However, they failed to consider the status of our water and sewage systems, our local airports, and our 21st Century communication needs. They also voted to increase public intoxication in state parks while deferring minimal protection for our state forests.
Talk to them — these neighbors of ours — and they'll tell you about the short session, the election year, and the need to compromise. If we doubled the length of the session, if we had no elections, and they were not subjected to the bullying of the majority caucus, still nothing would be accomplished.
The predominant belief of the Legislature is the irreverent motto, "Ain't God good to Indiana?" What's good about Indiana more often is found in our city halls than in the corridors of the Statehouse.