As a Hoosier, I’m proud of the way Noblesville responded to its recent tragic school shooting. The response brought out the best in us, and it is worth noting, Mayor John Ditslear. My admiration and prayers go out to a brave teacher and a student who was truly an innocent victim.
At the same time, I join other Hoosiers concerned that the Noblesville response to the Indiana Transportation Museum has brought out the worst in our legal system. Under the guise of environmental concern, the city has retained attorneys to figuratively “bleed the museum dry” with the excuse that they are merely paying more for a railyard clean-up at Forest Park. Countless other cities, including ours, have several environmental issues, but attempting to bankrupt a nonprofit organization is not the way to go about it. I can’t imagine Noblesville residents accepting similar legal action from the city to clean up the hospital grounds, Connor Prairie, the Hamilton County Community Foundation, the United Way or local schools or churches. This is a disturbing precedent in any city. Using high-powered Indianapolis attorneys who might be better serving their profession by doing pro bono work for nonprofits are pocketing unreported and untold fees instead. This isn’t Hoosier hospitality. Its legal brutality we can equate to bullying in our schools.
At a meeting with city officials earlier this year, I offered advice on a federal program to complete the Forrest Park clean-up at no cost to Noblesville. In a similar light, there are law firms interested in reaching into the deep pockets of insurance firms responsible for the property instead of the coffers of a nonprofit serving the public good.
Had city officials led an environmental crusade to plant trees, reduce carbon emissions, ban plastic straws from landfills or require remediation of meth labs and the construction of LEED-certified homes and offices in the community, I might appreciate the environmental work being done in the Hamilton County seat. I can’t because this long leash for lawyers doesn’t pass the smell test. I suspect there’s more wallet-hugging than tree hugging going on here.
A true public response can lead to a better response Noblesville citizens and all nonprofit supporters deserve. Some heroes emerge from tragedies. Others stand up when something has to be said and needs to be done.
-by Mayor Dave Kitchell, City of Logansport