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Rich James: NWI waiting for Mitch to show some the love

Rich James

Rich James

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Updated: January 23, 2012 3:42AM



I don’t know, Mitch. You were kind of a lovable guy when you were first elected governor.

I even got on board with that “My Man Mitch” thing.

But, you’ve changed. I’ve seen it over the last couple of years.

Maybe that presidency thing did it to you. You know, the whole world asking you to run and your ego quietly slipping out of control.

And then, bam, for whatever reason, you decided to finish your term as governor and likely will fade from the political scene.

But, hey, if it hadn’t been for you, Mitch, the Republican Party never would have found itself embracing Rick Perry. I’ll tell you one thing, Mitch, what you did has the Barack Obama people smiling like Cheshire cats.

As usual, you’ve got me distracted, Mitch.

I really want to talk about Modern Forge Co., Merrillville and Cline Avenue.

You came to town last week to ballyhoo the move of Modern Forge Co. from Blue Island, Ill., to Merrillville.

That’s great, Mitch, and you deserve a good deal of credit for helping set a positive business climate in Indiana.

But the arrival of Modern Forge and its 250 employees won’t be of much help to Merrillville, which is trying to survive with a financial noose around its neck. Your noose, Mitch. Because of the state-imposed levy freeze on Lake County taxing districts, Merrillvillle won’t see a dime out of Modern Forge.

Then things got a little testy when Merrillville councilmen asked for your help in lifting the freeze — which you and the Legislature imposed four years ago because the county refused your order to adopt an income tax.

“You’ll have to ask the next governor. I’m not in favor of lifting the freeze,” is what you told Merrillville, Mitch.

I beg to differ. Less than a year ago, you told the Post-Tribune Editorial Board that you likely would sign a bill lifting the freeze if it landed on your desk. I guess that was then and this is now.

You went on to say that if Merrillville wanted additional money that it should ask the residents in a referendum.

Let’s clarify. Merrillville isn’t asking for extra money. It’s only asking for what’s rightfully theirs — the money that taxing districts in the state’s 91 other counties receive like clockwork.

Whatever happened to that compassionate conservatism thing?

While your cavalier attitude toward Merrillville was bad enough, the real kick in the pants was your announcement about the Cline Avenue bridge.

You said the state was talking to someone in the private sector about rebuilding the bridge and then operating it as a toll road.

Do you want us to turn the other cheek, Mitch?

Why do you suddenly want to tax steelworkers going to and from their jobs on a daily basis? That’s what it would amount to.

Steelworkers still make a decent buck, but I wouldn’t advise going after their beer money.

Is it because blue-collar workers travel Cline and generally vote Democratic? Just a thought.

You’ve said you’d like the Cline Avenue bridge rebuilt, but don’t want to have to pay for all of it.

I guess that’s one of the ways the state builds those surpluses that you travel the country talking about.

By the way, whatever happened to the billions that you got for Major Moves by leasing the Toll Road to those foreign fellas?

I think rebuilding the Cline Avenue bridge would be a perfect use for some of that Major Moves money.

Cline Avenue bisects one of the most complex industrial regions in the country.

We need to rebuild that bridge. But we shouldn’t be putting a toll on the cost of doing business. What say you, Mitch?

Or should we ask the next governor?

Rich James’ column appears on Fridays.



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