Scott Tibbs
Printed in the Herald-Times 02-08-2002

Back to opinion page.

Fernandez media packets irresponsible

To the editor:

Bloomington Mayor John Fernandez just spent $6,000 of taxpayer money to send out a media packet to newspapers all over the state, under the pretenses of promoting Bloomington as an attractive place for business. While this goal is laudable, Fernandez is also the only declared candidate for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State. This packet appears to be a thinly veiled campaign ploy. Why was a full-page biography of the Mayor needed to promote the city as an attractive place for business? Many taxpayers in Bloomington are outraged, and all Hoosier voters should be wary of a Secretary of State candidate who would use tax money to finance what is effectively a campaign ad.

In addition, the packets are disingenuous. While Bloomington's property tax rate has gone down, the property tax levy (the actual amount of money collected) has increased significantly. Anyone who understands property taxes knows that the property tax rate is irrelevant without considering the property tax levy as well as assessed evaluation. Mayor Fernandez also publicly supported a referendum to drastically increase property taxes in 1999. Voters should not be fooled into thinking Fernandez is for reducing our property tax burden.

If this controversy teaches us anything, it is that limiting political contributions and political speech through "campaign finance reform" is a horrible idea. People already in elected office, like Fernandez, will always be able to use their office to promote themselves. Meanwhile, challengers and issue advocacy groups will have their free speech rights gutted.