Making Democracy Work

Local Position Statements

Local Government

Downtown Indianapolis Position Statement (Adopted 1983; Revised 2009):

Support use of public funds and incentives, following adequate opportunity for public discussion and evaluation, using established criteria to develop and maintain downtown Indianapolis as a regional center.

The LWV-Indianapolis supports the expenditure of public funds to sustain downtown Indianapolis as a regional educational, economic, entertainment, and governmental center for Indiana.

While the balance of spending on human resources is important, the League supports some investment of public monies for development and maintenance of downtown Indianapolis, as long as the investment meets the following criteria:

  • Maintains or improves the quality of life in downtown Indianapolis
  • Maximizes both public benefits and cost effectiveness
  • Maintains or improves environmental quality
  • Promotes desirable social and economic impacts

Before public hearings for citizen comment on proposals are held, and before proposals are approved, public information on the proposals' objectives, costs, benefits, and market feasibility should be made easily available for citizen examination.

In order to evaluate the incentives used, the city should maintain and publish records regularly in those cases involving public-private partnership. A record of employment created also should be made public at established intervals.

In assessing whether or not to expend public funds, the incidence (who pays ultimately) of a tax, the effect on the tax base, and the fairness to various taxing districts should be considered.

While special bodies may be necessary to develop and administer particular projects, those bodies should not have the power to override the City-County Council.

Downtown development and maintenance goals should contribute to safely working, living, and visiting there:

Working

  • Create and maintain jobs
  • Expand the tax base
  • Bring money into the community from outside
  • Produce ripple or multiplier effects
  • Encourage public mass and rapid transportation

Living
  • Provide housing for a range of incomes
  • Rehabilitate distressed areas
  • Encourage energy efficiency
  • Increase efficiency of service
  • Improve physical conditions

Visiting
  • Bring people downtown
  • Provide cultural and educational opportunities
  • Provide a healthy natural environment, including green spaces
  • Preserve historic and architectural artifacts
  • Provide public facilities

Urban Region (Adopted April 1997)

Support of regional cooperation and government mechanisms to (1) eliminate fiscal disparities and (2) improve the economy and quality of life for all citizens as the region participates in a global marketplace.

Promote energy-efficient and environmentally sound regional transportation, especially mass transit systems, that improve the well-being of cities and other communities and afford better access to housing and jobs.

Metropolitan Government

The LWV-Indianapolis supports a metropolitan government which is representative of and responsive to all citizens.

Support of representative and responsive metropolitan government with a single legislative body and a "strong" Mayor system.

1. A single legislative body with a majority of its members elected from single-member districts, the remainder at large.

2. A "strong" mayor system. A deputy mayor or deputy mayors, who will be appointed by the mayor and serve at his/her pleasure, trained and experienced in management for efficient, productive government. (A "strong" mayor is elected separately on the ballot, has power of veto, power to appoint with approval of the Council, primary responsibility for preparation of the budget, and policy-making authority.)

Planned Community (Adopted January 1972)

Support of a planned community with stringent control of use variances.

If any variances are allowed, there should be: careful choice of and mandatory training for variance board members, and rules of procedure designed for maximum communication among all affected parties. The Director of Planning and Zoning should be able to appeal any decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals to the Metropolitan Development Commission.

Council Districting (Adopted October 1970; updated December 1984)

Support of Council districting plans that apply fairly the criteria of the Unigov law, protect representation from special service districts, and recognize neighborhoods.

1. All criteria specified in the Unigov law should be applied fairly in drawing of district lines, namely that, insofar as it is practicable, districts should be equal in population, compact in configuration, subject to natural boundaries, and lie entirely inside or entirely outside a special service district.

2. Every voter living inside a special service district should be represented on that special district's council.

3. High priority should be given to drawing council district lines so as to protect the integrity of special service districts and prevent substantial dilution of voting rights and political power of those within the special service districts.

4. Insofar as requirements of law permit, districts should be drawn in such a way as to permit neighborhoods to reflect their identities in their choice of councillors.

Schools

Optional Schools (Adopted April 1977)

Support educational options which are within the law, are educationally sound, and provide for involvement of parents, students, teachers, and administrators.

1. Within the limitations of state law and court orders, all parents, students, and teachers should have the opportunity to choose among educational options offered.

2. The offered options should be educationally sound and significantly different from each other. All children, no matter which option is chosen, should acquire basic skills and cover a normal range of subjects.

3. Options should not be distinguished by the amount of money spent. All schools should receive a fair, equitable amount of money for instructional purposes.

4. The options implemented should be those chosen by the community (including the professional educators) after an effective educational program describing possible programs.

5. There should be provision for considerable involvement of parents, students, teachers, and principals at all levels of planning, development, implementation, and evaluation.

6. Before initiation of an options program, staff training is essential, as are continuing regular opportunities in each school for teachers to plan and develop their programs.

7. In large school districts, an administratively decentralized structure with community participation should be developed to facilitate implementation of an options program.

Note: Charter schools are not included in or covered by this position.

Local Option Taxes for Schools (Adopted May 1985)

  • Support local fiscal control of schools.
  • Support equal educational opportunity.
  • Support ability of Marion county districts to raise taxes above the state foundation to improve local programs or meet special local needs.

Marion County school districts should be able to raise taxes above a state foundation in order to improve local programs or to meet needs unique to their district, as long as the standard of equity is maintained.

In order to compensate for the difference of wealth of school districts, the League believes the state should match additional local option tax funds above the foundation, but at a fixed percentage rate lower than the state support for foundation funding.

Public Schools (Adopted March 1999)

Support the common (public) school in its various functions: preparing students for participation in our democracy, helping students realize their individual potential, training students for the workplace, and supporting parental and community values.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Pre-TriaI Detention (Adopted November 1985 as an extension of the position on Juvenile Justice of LWV-IN)

  • Support secure pre-trial detention of only those juveniles who are determined to be dangerous to themselves or the community.
  • Support the establishment of guidelines and uniform administration of the guidelines to determine which juveniles are "dangerous."
  • Support alternative programs and housing.

Secure pre-trial detention of juveniles charged with criminal offenses is provided in the Indiana Code to protect both the juveniles and the community at large and not to punish the juveniles. The policies on assignment of juveniles to secure detention and on detention facilities in Marion County should insure that only potentially dangerous juveniles are housed in the secure detention facility.

Clear guidelines should be established to assist those persons charged with assigning accused juveniles to the secure detention facility (the Juvenile Center). These guidelines should assure uniform interpretation of that part of the Code which allows detention when it "is essential to protect the child or the community." The guidelines should address factors such as: seriousness of the charges, number of charges, previous cases pending, previous convictions, and failure to appear on previous charges.

The secure detention facility should be limited in size to house only those juveniles who must be held under provisions of the Code and those who have been judged in terms of the established guidelines to be potentially dangerous to themselves or the community . Alternate programs and/or less restrictive alternative housing should be available for juveniles who do not require secure detention but who should not be returned to their homes.