News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 1, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: July 1, 2013

The Tribune-Star

---- — Waste district plan deserves closer look

The June 26 editorial regarding Seelyville’s very public political dysfunction is hardly reason to be smug. Yes, it may well be an inefficient use of taxpayers’ money to pull five judges away from their normal bench to preside over the question of who has the authority to hire and fire. But if that is the due process, so be it. One thing that is not true is that lack of public political dysfunction is evidence of political functionality.

Case in point. Last month Vigo County announced that it was withdrawing from the Clay-Owen-Putnam Solid Waste district. This report was buried in the middle pages of the Trib-Star, with no explanation as to why this was deemed necessary or desirable.

“When something happens in politics, there is always a reason” is a quote FDR made famous. Good reporting of political events should encompass what the reason for that event might be. Que bono? (Who benefits?) is always a good place to start.

Let’s see — the local landfill owner is the current political boss of this county. Was this done to protect his interests? Could it be that such a person has no interest in seeing public money used to further something he might make money on? No monopolist likes competition. Or could it be that the rest of the district didn’t want to play by Vigo Rules? The other counties might have had their own ideas.

Did Vigo “just pick up its marbles and go home”? Is it just an accident that the tipping rates at the Vigo dump are the highest in the state?

One program the solid waste district did sponsor was a hazardous waste day — a time and place where the public could take old pesticides, old paint, and anything not environmentally safe to pour down the drain, and safely dispose of it at no cost to the individual. Is that not a proper function of government — to make the environment a little safer and cleaner? Withdrawing from the solid waste district puts that day in jeopardy.

Vigo County Commissioners used to meet once a month in a public meeting with a docket published in advance. This gave the public notice of what was scheduled for discussion. These “open meetings” proved to be too much for our sunshine challenged pols. A loophole in the law was found, allowing them to meet in “continuous session.” This means they can post their schedule on the door of their chamber the same day of their “meeting” and abide by the “open meetings” law. This allows them to act (like withdrawing from the solid waste district) with as little public input as possible.

Remember Cobblestone? That was accomplished in a similar manner.

The powers that be will always conspire against the public. Never forget that. As a newspaper, never forget the purpose of your existence is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Vigo County, in military parlance, is a “target rich” area for both.

— Matthew Alig

Terre Haute