It made all the sense in the world back in 1816, when Indiana became a state, and 1851, when its new constitution was enacted, to establish numerous layers of government. With the horse and buggy as the primary mode of local transportation, and difficulties with communications, Hoosiers needed their government close to them so they could be properly served.
But as virtually every aspect of our lives has changed in the ensuing years, one has not: Local government is still mired in numerous layers of bureaucracy, some overseen by officials with little to do and little training to do it.
The situation has troubled many regular citizens and elected officials, and it’s been studied and discussed for years. But few changes have resulted. Until now.
In 2007, the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform issued a report with 27 recommendations to streamline local government in Indiana. The commission, commonly known as the Kernan-Shepard Commission because it was led by former Gov. Joe Kernan and Chief Justice Randall Shepard, accepted the task of studying local government at the request of Gov. Mitch Daniels.
The 2008 General Assembly adopted some of the Kernan-Shepard recommendations, but there’s more work to be done.
MySmartgov.org was formed by civic-minded business, economic development and labor organizations to press for enactment of the recommendations.