Scott Tibbs
Hoosier Review,
October 27, 2003

Back to opinion page.

Fred Prall for Mayor

In May of 1999, I moved to Bloomington to work for the Monroe County Taxpayers Association, an organization that I would later serve as Executive Director. At the time, Bloomington accountant Fred Prall was the President of the MCTA. Prall and others had formed the MCTA in response to a proposal by Mayor John Fernandez to pass a storm water fee, better known as the "Rain Water Tax." The MCTA was a nonpartisan endeavor, including a Republican (Prall) a Democrat (Gary Kent), and a Libertarian (Jim Billingsley) on its board of directors.

When I arrived, a controversy was brewing over a fire that destroyed the Knightridge Manor apartments. Prall had recruited a few prominent local people to serve on the MCTA's Fire Safety Commission, including Rebecca Sink-Burris, Pete Dunn, Jim Dawson, Steve Hogan and FSC chairman John Shean. During our investigation into the city's treatment of the Fire Department, we discovered that the first three trucks on the scene at Knightridge could not pump water. Two trucks had mechanical problems and another truck had incorrect hose fittings. This was unacceptable.

Under Prall's leadership, the Fire Safety Commission perused hundreds of pages of documents and interviewed firefighters. The FSC found that there were problems with personnel, morale, training and equipment that needed to be addressed. The Fire Safety Commission issued a Final Report later that summer recommending measures to deal with these problems. Because of the problems with the Fire Department and the feeling that the city was not doing enough to meet fire safety needs in Bloomington, the Democrat-dominated City Council defeated Mayor Fernandez' proposed budget for the Fire Department. The Fernandez administration then came back with a five-year plan to invest in the Fire Department and alleviate the problems that Knightridge highlighted. Not surprisingly, the plan the city passed later mirrored many of the recommendations of the Fire Safety Commission.

Because of Fred Prall, you, your family, and your home are safer today than they were four years ago. Had it not been for the leadership shown by Prall and the FSC, the city may never have addressed the problems with the Fire Department. Indiana University Students should take note of Prall's accomplishments on fire safety because students lost their homes when Knightridge burned.

Prall has a commitment to pubic safety, not only on fire issues but in police protection as well. He has proposed that a new Westside police precinct be built to provide better coverage there. Prall was the only candidate from either party to attend the Take Back the Night march and rally.

In working with Prall, I saw how he was committed to making sure government maintained a wise fiscal stance and did not overly burden its citizens. Prall opposed the city's subsidy of the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre. Prall has also stressed the cost of the Miller-Showers park on the north side of town. In addition to making needed drainage improvements, Miller-Showers also presents an unnecessary cost to taxpayers in making the park (which few people visit because it is sandwiched between two busy streets, making it nearly inaccessible) a "scenic gateway". The Indiana Daily Student (not exactly a bastion of Republican thought) sympathized with some of Prall's points in a September 24 editorial.

When city government passed ordinances banning pole signs as well as temporary signage such as banners, Prall and MCTA were there to point out the hardship this places on local business. MCTA correctly pointed out that for the big chains like McDonalds, Bob Evans and Olive Garden, their building is a sign. Such cannot be said for locally owned businesses. The fact that the Cattle Ranch on Third Street was not allowed to keep their sign and that the restaurant went out of business is probably not a coincidence.

Another area of concern for Prall is traffic. He recognizes the need for an east-west thoroughfare in Bloomington, and has recommended upgrading 13th Street to relieve pressure on 10th Street (something anyone who drives through campus knows about) and improve traffic flow. Despite 32 years of Democratic control of city planning, these traffic issues have not been addressed.

Fred Prall is not a professional politician, nor is he a polished speaker, though he is improving in that regard. Prall is a small businessman and a community member who is running because he believes there are problems in this city that need to be addressed. He has already established a record of getting things done despite never having held elective office. When Bloomington voters go to the polls on November 4, the choice is clear: Fred Prall for Mayor.