Civil Discourse Now

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AMend the Indiana Constitution: no more 50-year contracts.

Amend the Indiana Constitution: no more 50-year contracts.

Politicians like to give the image of having successfully solved a problem, with little or no cost to the average citizen. The average citizen is happy with this fairy tale. After all, taxes are bad. Higher taxes are even worse. So if a mayor gets money into, for an example, his city, and shortfalls are met and little projects are built, things are marvy-poo for John Q. Public and his spouse Jane. Let us say, for our example, the money obtained was from a lease for, oh hell, the city’s parking meters. There is money up-front, but details are fuzzy and hidden into the fine print of a 155-page contract. Also, the contract is for 50 years.

This all sounds good—now—to the average citizen, but not so good in the long-term. The corporation that got the contract is in partnership with, amongst others, a company that runs private parking garages in the downtown of the same city. The parking rates rise. Meter monitors hired by the corporation—replacements of meter readers on public payroll who received full benefits; an additional plus to the city—are on those parking spaces like hawks on field mice. More tickets are written than were written before. Plus, the city only receives 70 percent of the revenue from the parking system. The corporation gets the rest.

A new administration enters office, in part because the public felt they were screwed by the parking meter contract. The new mayor’s hands are tied because THE CONTRACT IS FOR 50 YEARS! Sure, there are buy-out provisions, but they are expensive for the city if the city wants out of the contract. People realize they city has been treated like Ned Beatty’s character in "Deliverance," except the guy standing behind Ned does not end up with an arrow through his neck. The guy is a corporation. Its shareholders end up with nice homes on islands far away from the city.

The Indiana Constitution should be amended to prohibit cities, the State, and any other political subdivisions of the State, from entering into contracts greater than four (4) years. Otherwise, politicians will cut deals with nice pay days up front, but adverse consequences as the contracts play out, long after the politicians have moved on to higher office. The length of a contract can preclude government from getting out of a ridiculous deal, in this hypothetical, "negotiated" by people in an administration where those same people have ties to the corporation and the law firm that did the negotiating. Hell, once the administration has left office, those same people might even go to work for the corporation or the law firm.

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