Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sparks Fly at Manchester Civic Association Candidate Night

Sparks Fly at Manchester Area Civic Association Candidate Night

Two and a half sets of opposing candidates squared off at the Manchester Firehouse Tuesday evening October 24th. Questions of candidates went until 9:45 PM
There were approximately thirty citizens in attendance.

Assessor candidates Joan Seitz (D) and Gary Hensley (R) presented statements first.

Hensley was very brief in his comments- The audience smiled as he said the last time he was at the Firehouse he had died. (In a drill). He wants to move the office forward, get tax issues resolved, and get the staff certified.

Seitz went on in more detail about her background and about the reassessment law changes and problems with state orders and no rules to follow for a time. Her staff all takes classes. Only the assessor is required to be certified Level II and she is. She talked about sales disclosures and drew appreciative laughter when she said deeds used to have $1.00 on them as sales prices, “because this is Indiana and we feel like it’s nobody’s business what I sold it for.”
Seitz stressed there is a lot of waiting going on for what eventually will become a system where the state controls all the changes with the push of a button. County by county they are trying to certify sales analysis ratios and values. She handles new construction and inheritance taxes also. 86/92 counties are using the same company and yet she is sporadically told on some 6-month periods that we are out of compliance. State hasn’t told her why.

Hensley stated 8 are out of compliance and we are one of those 8. His web site is
He has gotten experience on the appeal boards in adjoining counties in our area and thinks we are slow compared to them. He says has the experience and knowledge to do this job. He thinks it’s time we put our best foot forward and noted staff now is not certified.

Seitz said the IAC, International County Assessor Ass’n and Assoc of IN Cities all have classes and it takes time to get experience with all these groups. She has been in office since 1976. This is NOT a policy- making office, so they can run continuously- there are no two term limits.
She said only 13 counties were certified for 2006. The general fund is subsidizing this problem and she doesn’t feel like the assessors office can be just learned in 4 years.
She ended with- I’ll be there as long as you want me there.

Commissioner D-3 Candidates Ralph Thompson ( R) and Tim Barrett who stood in for Frank Linkmeyer(D) presented next.

Linkmeyer who is “his own secretary” scheduled two things for the same night per Barrett.
Tim Barrett read Linkmeyer’s statement beginning with the statement that he knew Frank and his brother Bob for a long time and that they’d been in the Farmer’s Fair parade for years. Barrett read that Linkmeyer was “sending his good friend, Tim, to speak for him.”
gave an extended resume and background including his wife, Judy, and married children. He volunteered for military duty in 1962 but was turned down because of a disability. He started Links Fence Company, which his son –Steve- runs. He retired from Seagrams in 1995 and developed 3 subdivisions all within ¼ mile of Aurora or Lawrenceburg city limits and well within the master plan recommended areas.
After the primary he was approached by Democrats AND MEMBERS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY to run. It seemed like people were anti- this and anti- that and people wanted to stop or at least slow down the county growth. He wants to prioritize needs of the county and not run it by politics.
Economic development means kids can stay and work here. There is a great opportunity with Honda spin-offs down I-74. But we shouldn’t take away all the rural atmosphere. We can’t tell a farmer what to do with his land. Noted that L-bg is begging for more students but EC has problems.
Eminent domain has not happened in the county in a long time.
He has a great respect for volunteers, fire depts, etc.

Ralph Thompson - commented on the horse tie worn in the audience and it made him feel right at home. (as he raises horses)
He stressed that politicians should be open to the people and that hasn’t been happening. Smart growth is an effective way to manage and plan for a balanced tax base. We need meaningful jobs here. Not just GROW GROW GROW- we need a plan. US 50 needs to be solved – and they should include the biggest stakeholders there- the businesses. Local traffic is mixed with through traffic there and that needs to be addressed in the solution. He is against enforced sewer hook-ups and noted people being sued in the county over this. Development should bear the cost of sewer extension. Thompson helped Greendale up as a model for planned infrastructure extensions extending out from the core and ahead of development, based on our master plan. LMH is footing the bill for their expansion by increasing the rates of the current clients according to recent news and editorials.
Thompson said he is a great believer in the Comprehensive plan and has served on it for the last 2 years. It protects those who do and those who don’t want to sell. Zoning protects everyone in equal measure. Road improvements should be based on prioritized plan and he praised the efforts of Listerman, the newest county engineer, who is getting criteria and using them to formulate this rotating road improvement plan. It should be based on use and on condition. He talked about the Chamber’s web page, which also “sells” our rural and diverse lifestyle options.

Sparks flew during the question and answer period here:

Questions were raised regarding the Republican Party asking Frank Linkmeyer to run as reported by Linkmeyer in the paper. The questioner made the statement that it degrades the people of the Democratic Party when you say you have to be a Republican to be elected here.
Barrett- Linkmeyer’s spokesperson, said- “I’m a republican conservative, and I asked him to run.

It was then asked specifically- “Did Pickens or Beckley or Morris ask him to run?”
Cary Pickens – Republican Party Chairman and County Auditor- stood up in the back and answered: “I Did NOT ask Frank Linkmeyer to run.”

Another questions was- Why are we allowing so much residential development without industry? Who’s paying for all this?
Thompson answered. We are- the taxpayers. And we need quality jobs here- not warehouses and storage.

Another question- What is a reasonable amount of time to resolve US50?
Thompson said some short-term things could be done- he has been at the meetings on this with the consultants. He noted a huge set of options that are being narrowed down. If a grand scale solution is proposed, it could take 20-30 years to complete. Simpler solutions for short term fixes take less time. He estimates a big cost to fix this though.

Question- What about eminent domain? It has happened- to our land in Dillsboro 8 years ago- and that land is still not in public use- they did not use it for the sewer plant.
Barrett for Linkmeyer said he didn’t know that.

Question: what about forced hook-ups with people having working septic systems?
Cliff Eibeck introduced himself as he asked the question.
Tim Barrett for Linkmeyer said- I know you I’ve seen you at meetings and “if I had a kid who acted like you in a public meeting, I’d swat him!”
Moderators stepped in to say there was no need to get personal.

Question: Lots of problems with Carrie drive over the years trying to get grading and gravel. Seems like it’s never on the list.
Thompson repeated his comments on Listerman’s list and detailed how the priorities would work. He thinks Listerman is on the right track.

Question: You say you are for open government- I’ve seen well-informed citizens present their cases and they are NOT listened to. What will you do about this?
Thompson: The interchange needs to be respectful on BOTH sides. Communication may not always be perfect, but can be better than it is. He detailed the agenda issues where the agenda is out maybe 3-4 days ahead, but citizens have to sign up 1 week ahead. Certain citizens show up and get heard even if not on the agenda, they get decisions even, and there is no public notice. Thompson said the planning commission does the best job at getting timely agendas and hearing people.
Tim Barrett for Frank Linkmeyer said he never had trouble- they went down and got on the agenda for their road repairs and then again repeated his statement about Eibeck and wanting to swat him.

At this point I spoke up and explained a specific example for Barrett to demonstrate the kinds of problems that happen when commissioners forbid input. I used the DCRSD formation as a COUNTY WIDE sewer board where the item was NOT on the agenda, the commissioners approved a statement given to them to read into the record, and no public hearing was held.

Questions resumed: What kind of support have you received from the Republican Party?
Thompson said it was limited to the booths at the festivals, has had some support from the state, and Bill Ullrich helped him out at the festivals.
Cary Pickens Republican Chairman and County Auditor also answered at the questioner’s request: He said- we usually give money in the primary. Ralph didn’t run his campaign through the party and when he came to talk to me I told him that he was too late. Thompson said then that quite frankly he wasn’t sure he could trust the Republican party- so what was I to think- he lost my support. The booths were open to him at the fairs.
Pickens also asked Hensley- Did you get any money from us. Hensley said no.

[NOTE: I thought the purpose of a primary was for the rank and file of the party to decide, not for the Central Party Committee to pass out money to effectively endorse a candidate. I’m unaware of a POLICY of giving out money in the primary to candidates in past years. That defies logic.]

Thompson ended with the request that we all get out, vote, and “hire” the best person to do the job for the county.

State representative D 68 candidates - Bob Bischoff (D) and Bill Ullrich ( R) had a coin toss to see who went first. Bill won the toss and said Bob could go first.

Bob Bischoff- thanked everyone- said this was the greatest democracy in the world and thanked people for coming out to hear about what affects your quality of life in Dearborn county. And he thanked MACA for holding it.
Bischoff gave his family history and noted he had 26 years as Rep and 2 years filling a senate vacancy for a total of 28 years in INDY.
He said his greatest accomplishment was retaining the $70 million that the state wanted to capture from our riverboat revenue. He detailed the fight at the state level for that money. And the fight is not really over. He went on in detail about what was tied to that revenue that we use. He said 2 years ago he coauthored the bill to create the first state dept. of Ag. He helped get a 4-year degree program at IVY Tech and also regional sharing of tuition between colleges, a new superior court, and grants for our local fire depts. and rights to hunt and fish in Indiana. . He talked about Honda and the $10 million Lawrenceburg gave to them as a grant. He said that would escalate the value of our land and increase job opportunities, just like it did around Maryville OH.
He’s worked hand in hand with Nugent to serve all of us. He has experience and knowledge of the system. He listed the many groups that endorse him including farm Bureau, Right to Life, AFLCIO, NRA, AFT, and IN state teachers Ass’n etc.
He pledges that our voices will be heard.

Bill Ullrich- thanked Bob and MACA and said I am Bill Ullrich and I approve this message…
Ullrich will listen and be available. He will have town hall meetings like tonight in this fractured district to get people’s opinions.
We need to pull together- SE In was ignored until riverboat money came in. “And that sucking sound can still be heard coming from the state.” Ullrich said he was involved in the process to keep our money the 3 times the state came after it. He said the bulk of the state is largely rural and we have to stick together in the rural areas to keep the state off our money.
He thinks there has to be a fairer way to finance government than property taxes. He also thinks there are a lot of things that government pays for that they shouldn’t. He’s old school and thinks the churches and charities should handle some of this as they used to.
Immigration issues exist and people should come to our country the right way.
Economic development is a big way we can solve some of out tax issues – in the right areas like US 50 and the I-74 corridor- but with the least negative impact on residents.
Eminent domain is NOT for business to prosper; it’s for public use. And people have to be properly compensated.
He’s here for the future- wants to do it in an organized way- fair-balanced- and unafraid.
He wants to be the Chinese water torture in Indy to keep dripping until they do something about it. I’m good at listening and talking to people and I will seek information when I don’t have the answer.

Would either of you start real punitive measures for employers who hire illegals?
Ullrich said securing borders is a priority- there should be consequences.
Bischoff- said this is a federal issue- these people are gobbling up our jobs because they are good workers who work for small fee. At state level we could send a resolution to the feds to encourage this.
Ullrich- state has 10th amendment- states rights- and we have borders to protect also. We can regulate.

Question: what does a state rep do?
Bischoff -Represent people on every issue voted on in the house. 100 state reps with 61,100 constituents each. The 50 senators have twice that each.
We make the laws and get the budget done. Have to have good working relationship with others and trust each other. Can’t mislead people at the state level- they will not forget. Trade off and help each other with issues.

Chris Mueller- Question: There is a state law about sewer hook-ups that seems to be unfairly applied to people with working septic s or in largely rural areas. What can you do about this?
Bischoff- The statute on sewers is very difficult- geographically the soils change. When sewer districts form they have to be financed. I have not researched enough on this. Wants me to talk to him about it. I agreed.
Ullrich- How can these laws paint everyone with the same brush? We could have hook-up not be mandatory and deals available at the outset, with increased prices later if they hook-up after the fact.
Bischoff- It’s very difficult to address sewers.
I was given two ears and one mouth by God I try to represent the majority of my people. If my party is wrong on an issue I stand with the people of District 68.

Another sewer question- Perhaps the wording on the law can be changed to “as long as yours is functioning…”
The state law says MAY and that allows the local laws to say SHALL if they choose.
Bischoff said how hard it was to get a law changed and went through the process.
Eibeck said- then get 50 more of your friends.(laughter)
Bischoff- said it has to go through the Senate too and the governor has to sign it.
Thompson said- “The longest journey begins with the first step.”
Bischoff agreed to listen to more.

Question: What about tax abatements?
Bischoff- they are a tool form the state to entice business and every state is using them. Lawrenceburg’s $10 million grant is beneficial and it will escalate the value of our land. Marysville OH map had a lot of red dots in the region as spin-off industry due to their Honda. Honda picked Greensburg because of workforce. These economic development packages and Energize Indiana packages are good- they help our quality of life.
Ullrich- I’m glad to see you came around to this Bob.
Bischoff- I was on board with the governor that day.

Adjourned at 9:45 PM
Citizens and candidates talked further informally in groups for a while as MACA volunteers cleaned up the room and put away chairs and tables.

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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