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Much ado about nothing

Regarding the contractor ordinance that fell to defeat this week at the Marion City Council, we have to say we are not all that disappointed.

Yes, we think that it would have been good to have some system that would prevent incompetent contractors from doing work on homes that could result in the houses catching fire or falling in. But we really don’t care for the government setting up impediments to any person wanting to work and, even with Ivy Tech administering the qualifying test, the city’s power to let some contractors do business and others not to do business is an invitation to corruption. We fear it might be irresistible to some adminstrations that might wait in our future.

Our problem is how the whole matter turned out to be such a thorough waste of everyone’s time.

Building Commissioner Jerry Foustnight worked on the ordinance for months, tuning and retuning language. A committee of local contractors was put together to help develop the ordinance late in the summer.

Foustnight worked hard doing research and putting an ordinance together with the Code Enforcement Committee of the council, which unanimously approved the ordinance in early December. Presentations and discussions at three City Council meetings, including one special meeting called just to discuss the ordinance, rambled on for hours.

And it all came to nothing.

“We felt like we had done our homework, we felt like we had brought before the council a proposed ordinance that would help the city of Marion, through this ordinance that would have required more accountability, and apparently council members thought it was something that wasn’t needed for the city,” Foustnight said.

Couldn’t we have tossed this aside a little earlier? On Tuesday, not a single Democrat voted for the ordinance, which was developed by a Democratic administration.

But we are making assumptions because, as far as we know, Mayor Jess Alumbaugh never spoke for or against the ordinance, at least not in public. His employee, Foustnight, carried the weight of trying to make the change happen.

As we have noted before, Alumbaugh doesn’t like to commit to positions, not where people can see him. That makes leading impossible.

If members of the council weren’t going to go through with this because their constituents habitually fear change, then we think that conclusion could have been known and reached much earlier.