As one of the Democrats for Duke Bennett, I feel it is important to comment on why I am not a crossover Democrat, but a Democrat who feels crossed by the Joe Etling-led Democratic Party. Their flyer with “Democrats vote for Democrats” is probably a mantra for some who won’t vote for anyone outside the party. Their clever vote for the widow of Chuck Miles put Mrs. Miles on the council. This act defeated Miles’ opponent, Dan Lockard, and made the party look bad. After a caucus meeting, John Mullican became the new Democrat name on the ballot. The case for failing to paste over Miles name on the ballot will be heard in a higher court, but not until after this election.

Margaret Lockard is now running as an Independent in the Sixth District and has my support. It is obvious that new leadership of our Democratic Party is needed, before confidence is renewed.

Real Democrats stand for social justice — a living wage, safe working conditions, and benefits, among other things. My father came here in 1950 to work as a union printer at the Tribune; My own career led me to a union job in Illinois where I could make a living, while still living in Terre Haute. The Eugene V. Debs Dinner is one highlight for me and other Democrats; we unite to honor someone who fights for the downtrodden and the exploited. It is my belief that to endorse Kevin Burke would be an insult to those who truly stand up for citizens and their rights.

Duke Bennett recognizes that our community has a number of low-income residents, about 80 percent of us, who want some of their taxes to come back to them, not to special interests. I attended every city budget meeting, including the first when Burke gave his “trust me” speech about delaying the budget until after the election. His ploy, endorsed by Dunkin and Lambert, was unlikely to be accepted by other council members.

I support Duke Bennett because he wants a more open and honest government, one that will repair the disconnect between citizens and City Hall. Some of us want to know more about lawsuits against the city, settlement costs and what our tax money is spent on. We pay, we should know. Why do we pay to subsidize golf courses? Granted, we can’t charge children to play in the park, but could golfers be charged more to make the courses solvent? Burke is fond of saying the council passes the budget, but I soon learned that what is done with the money is another story. Both the parks and the police departments have been moved out of City Hall into rented buildings. More unneeded cost.

The five-lane Margaret Avenue project came as a surprise to many who merely want to cross the tracks, not count train cars for an hour. On “Meet the Mayor”, Burke said the problem has always been on our radar. The underpass project was at the top of Mayor Anderson’s list. Where is the money she set aside locally for this project. When I raised the question at the council forum in April, Burke turned red. Maybe he should have. The Wal-Mart on Indiana 46 is on Gibson land and is a sore point and another concerns the tactics against Dresser residents. They are being harassed and intimidated out of their homes and businesses; their properties are now in a flood way, not a flood plain, so they are not allowed to make any improvements. We have a 17-mile trail now, do we have to destroy their community to walk or ride on a levy?

We want to bring businesses here, so how has businessman Bob Thompson, Thompson Toyota, been treated? Wanting to expand his business, he tried to buy the property across the street. He soon learned the property had already gone to Gibson — forget the bidding process. In order to expand, Thompson now has to move his business south; the city will then have an empty car lot to assess for taxes. Thompson is suing.

The Tribune-Star said the “Dems for Duke” group is held together by “a common disdain for Burke”. On a political, job-approval level, this is true. He came to an Animal Control Commission meeting his first month in office. It was obvious he had no intention of really going after our animal problem here; citizens continue to take in animals, and deal with animal-related problems. The issue has been brought up at most Council forums, and it is clear citizens want a place to take strays. For six months there was no animal pickup when the money ran out, yet Burke says, It’s never been about money.

Yes it is. Norm Loudermilk is currently working toward a solution; it begins with funding, strong enforcement, and a municipal shelter. Neutering is only a part of the solution, and strays don’t read books on abstinence.

Finally, there is the concern that an alternative press is needed here, as the Tribune-Star is often referred to as the Burke-Gibson Gazette. We all understand how media can feel pressured to represent those in power, but they aren’t the big subscribers, we are.

I challenge Jeremiah Turner, Max Jones and David Joyner of Community Newspaper Holdings (the owner) to turn this paper around. You had the journalistic honesty to report Burke’s former opponent’s bankruptcy, but lacked the journalistic integrity to report on the attack by Burke after the Channel 2 debate. The analysis of the “Burke Buck” made for provocative reading, but an analysis of Burke’s spending might have supported the paper’s purpose, which, according to the owners, said the paper is supposed to represent the citizens. It’s your call.

— Vicki Curts

Terre Haute

Editor’s Note: This is a Web-only letter — concerning the 2007 general election — that was received via e-mail after 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, when letters space had already filled for the Tribune-Star’s print edition through Monday, Nov. 5.

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