Rally Calls for Government Reform

(top) "Greg and Jackie" drove 50 miles from home to attend.

(bottom) Speedway business owner Joyce Bishop.

Photos by Linda Karn
(posted Mar 27)

Several hundred people gathered at the State House on Wednesday to express their grievances toward government abuse and practices that shove the average taxpayer onto the sidelines with little or no input on how their government is run. The Revolt at the Statehouse rally was designed to empower the average taxpayer with an opportunity to protest and voice concerns.

Jo Ellen Dotlich of SPEED (Speedway People Encouraging Equal Development) was one of eight speakers to state her obvious displeasure about the injustices of government by explaining her family's plight with the Speedway Redevelopment Commission. She emphatically told the public that "Speedway Industrial Park is not for sale", and that the Speedway Redevelopment Commission could threaten the industrial park's existence with the use of eminent domain.

She said the redevelopment plans not only affect the industrial park owners, but impact on the livelihood of Susan and Jim Bob Luebbert, Joyce Bishop and Wayne and Debra Wilcox. Dotlich pleaded for media help to combat the injustices of the redevelopment. Bishop said this was the first time they had been able to get their message out to the public and was appreciative of the forum.

Greg and Jackie, who did not want to use their last name, took a day off work to attend. Greg said Americans are "too passive" and would rather complain about government than to stand up to it. Americans are allowing the government to run over them because they prefer to "stay home to watch Oprah and eat." He was disappointed that thousands were not in attendance to stand up against government.

Activist Clarke Kahlo spoke about his experience with the lack of government transparency at the State House. He recently learned that HB 1001 contains language to build a new state archive building at the site where the citizens group The Indiana Lincoln Battalion for the Public Trust wants a park built on the canal.

He said $500,000 has been earmarked for the building's design work. He was annoyed with some legislators who did not want to give him information until after the session ended, preventing arguments against the bill.

Julia Vaughn of Common Cause raised the issue of lobbyists buying lunches and gifts for legislators. She said those practices have nothing to do with writing laws and should be stopped. "The lobbying and legislative ethic laws in Indiana make fools out of all of us."

Vaughn claimed millions of dollars are spent on lavish dinners, lunches and receptions for legislators each year. She said that legislators can't deny that meals and gifts influences them because "it is human nature to be nice to those who are nice to us." Vaughn emphasized that lobbyists should be a source information.

She said reform has occurred at the executive branch, including a one year period before a state employee can become a lobbyist, but legislators have refused to adopt the same ethical practices.