Involvement in politics and local government was never even close to being on my radar screen. However, one day that all changed. The reason it changed was because I realized that, as a resident of Carmel, I rarely got information about what was going on in local government until it was too late.
So I wasn’t really surprised about the secret deal concerning a $100,000 payment by the Carmel City Center Community Development Corp. to the former CEO of The Center for the Performing Arts that was exposed by City Council President Rick Sharp at a recent press conference.
Even as a city councilman, I found that a lot of information wasn’t available to me when I asked for it. There were always a lot of excuses and statute citations about why I could not get copies of documents. They even used the excuse that it cost too much money to copy documents that I requested. That’s interesting coming from Mayor Jim Brainard’s administration, which has spent billions.
Likewise, I often was criticized by appointed and elected officials for releasing information and/or documents that were public, in my opinion. Yes, I realize not all government information can be made public, but those items are few in number. When I tried to get help from Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office to get documents released, I just got a “Dear John Letter.” All this secrecy makes me feel that government doesn’t trust us.
During the last several years, government at all levels in the United States has created a large number of boards, corporations and commissions that spend taxpayer money, create debt and make decisions that affect our daily lives. These shadow governments just keep making it increasingly difficult to obtain information. Carmel is no different with the creation of the 4CDC by the mayor and the former Carmel Redevelopment Commission. It has to make you wonder what they don’t want you to know and why.
Yes, I do ask a lot of questions of government because I believe everyone has the right to know what our government is doing with our money and our city. The last time I looked, the elected and appointed officials of government work for us. I believe it is time to get some real transparency from them. Anything less than that has to make me believe that something is wrong in “Dodge.” Like the three branches of government, transparency in itself is a check and balance. It is about time Carmel residents get accurate and timely information about our City.