Friday, May 02, 2008

Send Hughes a Message He Can Actually Hear

Send Hughes a Message He Can Actually Hear
published in Register Publications

Most people have responsibilities to their jobs and families that prevent them from following local Dearborn County politics very closely. But every once in a while, an election takes place that will gravely affect our community and should compel us to look more closely at the candidates.

On May 6, voters will have an opportunity to decide whether or not Jeff Hughes should continue in his role as a Dearborn County Commissioner. I’m writing to encourage you to look closely at Mr. Hughes’s record and help ensure this doesn’t happen.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Mr. Hughes is a genial man, and he’ll be more than happy to talk with you after a meeting or invite you to call him in his office. Just don’t expect your words to influence him.

He makes his decisions based on an earnest belief that you should be able to do whatever you want with your property—which sounds pretty inviting, doesn’t it? But, stated in another way, he believes your neighbor should be able to do absolutely anything with his property, too, regardless of the consequences to your property. No matter if your neighbor plans to sell his land to a developer to create a high density subdivision or an apartment complex or a commercial dump. And no matter how such development might affect your taxes, your lifestyle, or the value of your home.

In a recent guest column for this newspaper, Hughes stated that shifting “land use decisions from property owners to the government is a horrible idea,” and certainly, shifting all land use decisions from property owners to government is a horrible idea. But we pay Mr. Hughes our tax dollars precisely because our community, like every single other community in this country, recognizes that it needs a representative government to listen to voters and help us to negotiate where to build low and high density subdivisions, or if it’s OK to build a factory next door to your home, or an adult video store across from a school.

Mr. Hughes’ inability to comprehend this simple premise has made a lot of property owners uneasy, but, as many people who have talked with him know, he’s not going to let it bother him.

For the three and a half years Mr. Hughes has been a County Commissioner, he has demonstrated a constant disregard for the desires of the people of Dearborn County. Most recently, in November, he voted to table the Future Land Use Map, a proposed guideline to encourage smart growth in the county—a guideline to help build our economy without destroying the county’s rural character, creating more traffic nightmares, or greatly increasing our taxes. Concerned citizens throughout the county, including numerous developers and real estate agents, took part in nearly two years of workshops, hearings and negotiations, to formulate a plan that would be in the best interest of everyone in the county.

And yet Mr. Hughes refused to approve it. Why? Although people familiar with Hughes’s voting record might argue it was because a few wealthy developers in the area did not want to see it passed, Mr. Hughes lamely protested that he doubted “the efforts of the planning commission in informing the public about this map.”

There is good reason to doubt he is being honest. Those working on the Future Land Use Map held countless public workshops and hearings, sent postcards to every home in the county, and gave reason for innumerable stories about the subject in this paper. Assistant News Editor Denise Freitag Burdette remarked in a recent editorial that in the ten years she has covered county politics, she “has never seen more effort placed into making a process open to the public,” and that Hughes’s statement “was an insult to the planning and zoning department and to the advisory committee members who have worked hard to put the map together.”

The great irony of Mr. Hughes’ claim to care about community involvement in county politics is obvious to anyone who has stepped foot in a county commissioner’s meeting during his time in office. When he assumed office in 2005, Mr. Hughes and the two other commissioners instituted a new rule for commissioner’s meetings, which made it more difficult for community members to voice their opinions. No longer could you simply attend a meeting and raise your hand to speak. During the tenure of Jeff Hughes, citizens interested in speaking would have to sign up a week in advance. Oh, and if you disobey the new rule, there is now a deputy (not required by Indiana state law) who may be directed to escort you from the room.

The reason for this new rule is evidently that Commissioner Hughes considers it a needless interruption of his meeting to listen to what the community thinks about an issue when he already knows how he’s going to vote.

It doesn’t matter if the Dearborn County Planning Commission has reported that allowing more poorly planned high density subdivisions only results in higher property taxes. Mr. Hughes will continue to encourage them with sympathetic sewer board and planning commission appointments as well as his ultimate approval.

At the last Commissioner’s meeting, for example, without any timely public disclosure of the opening that would invite other candidates, Mr. Hughes joined Commissioner Fox in appointing an Ohio insurance salesman with no relevant education or work experience to the Dearborn County sewer board, to make decisions about our sewers. Citizens may wonder if appointees like this one will be more concerned with the community’s health or their own enrichment.

But such worries don’t influence Mr. Hughes. He evidently believes all he needs is his simple-minded views about property rights, and his own infallible judgment. On election day, Tuesday, May 6, please join me in sending him a message he can’t ignore.

Lawrenceburg Township


disinterested said...

Chris, you sapped the energy from your blog.

Unless you like the few old fogy posts about how great it is now that no one can post anonymously.

It is your blog.

Do what you may.

DCCitizen2 said...

The nasty "lawyer" who didn't want anonymous posts has won!!

How do we get back to a free expression of ideas?

disinterested said...

Name the lawyer.

If a post references such lawyer, in any way, delete it.

Just make sure that such expression of speech, no matter how tangentially, about such lawyer, was deleted on the express demands of such thin-skinned litigious lawyer.

That should do wonders for his/her word of mouth business in this county.

bingo said...

Our county devlopment bullies have grown so tiresome.

A. Dearborn Citizen said...

First, while this blog probably wouldn't be worth spit without Christines heroic efforts to keep folks informed about what is going on, it isn't her blog.

Second, the change wasn't made to protect any thin skinned lawyers or anybody else, it was made to protect the mechanism of the blog itself from abuse - comments burried in garbage are worthless (not that there was a great deal of worth to most of the comments anyway) I am hoping that this change will be the end of the avalanche of garbage.

Third, nobody is being prevented from posting comments anonymously. dccitizen2 is anonymous. disinterested is anonymous. Hell, I'M anonymous. Anybody that isn't posting isn't doing because they aren't anonymous, they aren't posting because they are too lazy to sign up for an account. Anybody that lazy probably hasn't got anything worth saying anyway, so good ridance.

For those who may be reading this and can't figure out how to get an account, stay tuned. It's easy, but I will be posting instructions on how to do it anyway. (or if you can't wait, just follow the "Sign up here" link at the bottom of the comment posting window - note: e-mail address is OPTIONAL - just don't forget your password if you choose that route.)

The Management

Edith said...

And the "smart growth" versions of Vera Benning show their ugly, anal and controlling heads.

Good luck with all your future endeavors...but while I will fight the good fight against those development interests that are doing their level best to force me to support their financial ends, I will no longer post here.

Get over over yourself...

A. Dearborn Citizen said...

Sorry to see you go, Edith. Come back anytime.

Edith said...

Not likely.

Enjoy your trip back to obscurity.

You had a good thing going.

But you got full of yourself.

May smart growth survive notwithstanding your head up "your" rump fastidiousness.

anonymous47025 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nwquad1 said...

I would think each account is associated with a IP address.

NorthWest said...

Everything anyone does on the web, account or no account, is associated with an IP address.

Fortitude said...

Edith what have you got to lose by staying in? By leaving you are helping the DCDEI, the C of C. the folks in the sewer, oops I mean the folks of DCRSD amd those geniuses on the Town Board of St. Leon and the St. leon Sewer Board.

If you will remember that film clip of one of the great leaders of St. Leon, demostrating that he has no self control as he shouted their their cop. "Throw him out before I know him out" AND YOU WILL SMILE. So don't go.

Actually the blog has done more to get our fellow citizens interested in reforminig the county governance
than has anything thing else.

Stay dammit!

Fortitude said...

A mispelled word. IT was Throuw him out before I KNOCK HIM OUT. Sorry