Indianapolis Star Editorial

Stop the Fighting and Get to Work

January 12, 2005
Our position is: The City-County Council must put aside squabbling and focus on crucial issues facing the city.

Expectations were high when Rozelle Boyd took over as president of the City-County Council a year ago.

Boyd, first elected to the old City Council in 1965, brought nearly 40 years of experience in city government to the job. He was leading a freshly energized Democratic team that had gained control of the council for the first time since Uni-Gov was adopted in 1971. And as the council's first black president, he promised to give a stronger voice to the city's minority communities.

A year later, however, Boyd was deposed, replaced as president by fellow Democrat Steve Talley, who gained votes Monday night from 14 Republicans and four Democrats.

What went wrong? Both Democrats and Republicans on the council, especially freshmen elected in 2003, say they were frustrated by Boyd's autocratic style of leadership. Democrat Angela Mansfeld, who voted for Talley, told The Star's Editorial Board Tuesday that Boyd didn't "share the wealth" in terms of committee assignments. Critics also said Boyd was not sufficiently independent of Mayor Bart Peterson's Democratic administration.

Now, Talley must bridge the personal divisions on the council. He must fulfill his promise to work effectively with the Republican minority. Most important, he must help council members quickly move past the internal squabbling to focus on issues of enormous importance to the city's future.

The council soon will need to address Peterson's plans to further consolidate city-county government and to build a new stadium. A proposed ban on smoking in restaurants and bars shortly will come before the council. With both city and county governments struggling to pay bills, writing next year's budget will be a daunting task.

Other issues such as jail overcrowding, an overburdened judicial system and a weak public transit system will need to be confronted as well.

The job that awaits all 29 members of the council -- Democrats and Republicans, veterans and rookies -- is both crucial and complex. It's time for the fighting to end and for the hard work to begin.