Increase in pea shake, other illegal activity?

Dateline: Fri 27 Jul 2007

Two readers have reported concerns about possibly emerging pea shake operations in the Downtown and near Downtown area. Signs of the times: constant coming and going in so-called retail establishments where little or nothing is sold; odd hours; generally unsavory behavior; negative effects on other businesses. The targeted areas are along Mass Ave and Virginia Ave.

If it's true, most of us are not surprised. Crime certainly does not breed overnight, and a general lax attitude towards the city -- boarded up houses, crumbling sidewalks, a police force weakened by the merger -- all combine to provide fertile ground.

At the same time, residents are being asked to pay more. The arrogance of the City-County Council is ushering thru this week's 60 percent income tax hike for Marion County gets at the root of the problem. We need a massive overhaul in elected officials at the Indy level; we need a change of leadership in the front office. The Peterson administration has been too much talk and too little valid change. People will leave the core city, because it's beginning to crumble.

I've been working with a real estate agent regarding the possible purchase of property in Marion County, in one of the old neighborhoods. His candid advice to me yesterday: Steer clear. He regrets, he said, having sold so many properties to people in Meridian-Kessler and Butler-Tarkington, since so many of those home-owners are getting killed with property tax hikes. In other instances, home sales that were about to go thru collapsed with the arrival of property tax bills. Mortgage companies were forced to turn down potential buyers, on the grounds they couldn't pay the new taxes. Sellers were left holding the bag. In the real estate world, this is nothing short of disaster. Go to Southern Hamilton County, he suggested.

You think he's the only guy out there with that message? Here's a prophecy: unless we get responsible politicians in office, Indy will go from its period of great vibrancy into a long slow sad downward spiral. It won't happen overnight. Like crime, it takes time to breed. But all the elements are in place: loss of hope, anger, disgust, and back to despair again.

The only bright spot is the terrific ire of homeowners. Maureen Dobie has good info in NUVO this week about a property-tax revolt led by Linda Trout on Central Avenue. Add Trout's fire to all the outrage expressed by others in the old city, and maybe, just maybe, we'll see some change.


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