Sunday, September 06, 2015

Indiana Regional Cities Initiative: One Southern Indiana's math didn't help its case, did it?

Let's reduce this to the most simple component.

One Southern Indiana convenes a meeting of politicians and acolytes, which I attended, and introduces its grand plan (Our Southern Indiana) for how a quasi-lottery windfall of $434-odd million is to be spent within the framework of a "regional" cities initiative.

1Si takes the Goebbelsian gambit a step further by shrouding it with MBA-level, lower-case tagging: "imagine - empower - illuminate," reminding me that buffed and polished PR-speak tends to send me running in search of a bucket.

Forget all the major topics of discussion before and after the triumphal roll-out meeting, including concerns about the powers of the Regional Development Authority, the potential for eminent domain controversies, and whether or not any of this money actually would be real according to commonly accepted definitions of reality -- and whether any of it would benefit ordinary working people.

Just keep your eyes on the dollar-sign propaganda.

1Si's lottery winning disbursement committee produces proposals for regional unity over a projected five county area, because, yet again, the founding shtick of the whole plan is regional cooperation. One would think this might imply a semblance of proportionality, given the goal of universal participation.

Except that it gets predictable, and quickly.

Greenway expansion funding (can't we finish the 1990s model first?) omits Harrison, Scott and Washington Counties entirely from direct investment. Waterfront development excludes the latter two counties, which don't front on the Ohio. Workforce development spreads a few million farthings around, some of which might leach into the outer reaches of the five-county target area. A paltry 200K is proposed to study regional water resources,which arguably is the most important consideration of all in a time of climate change.

This leaves roughly $252 million to  -- that's right, incentivize River Ridge, which already has been enabled by the state as a regional economic development "winner" for two decades, and showered with every imaginable form of abatement, subsidy and happy ending potions known to corporate welfare fetishists hereabouts.

Proportionately dividing Greenway and Waterfront proposals between counties, it leaves us with $300 million out of $434 million earmarked for Clark County alone.

How exactly does one sell this notion to Washington County -- to Floyd County?

To repeat: I understand that the situation is more nuanced than this. What I'm trying to convey to the usual suspects in imaginary One Southern Indiana Land is that given the numbers you provide, there is almost no compelling reason for a politician sitting outside Clark County to vote in favor of ceding authority when so little of the benefit accrues to his or her home turf.

And, again: Had 1Si led with even the slightest recognition that River Ridge's ongoing "empowerment" suggests regional transit options of the sort that big-time state funding could help realize, I might have given the business-as-usual elites the benefit of the doubt.

There are numerous other reasons to be suspicious of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative, and Rep. Clere can paint it any way he likes, but until One Southern Indiana accepts a measure of responsibility for its ongoing institutionalized tone deafness, it's all moot.

New Albany state rep: Southern Indiana's regional funding bid derailed by 'misinformation', by Marty Finley (Louisville Business First)

When Indiana State Rep. Ed Clere co-authored legislation meant to inject major dollars into various regions of Indiana, he expected the largest hurdle to be getting that bill passed and funded.

What he didn't expect was for local Republican-led political bodies to shoot down a plan that was passed by a Republican-dominated legislature with support from a Republican governor.

But that's what happened ...

 ... And though competition for the funding was sure to be stiff, the Clark-Floyd county region was thought to be a strong contender, based on its size and proximity to the Louisville market.

But that's now moot for Southern Indiana, as the region has declined to submit an application, according to Wendy Dant Chesser, president and CEO of One Southern Indiana, the chamber of commerce for Clark and Floyd counties.

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