March 6, 2017-While watching One Region push House Bill 1144, which would take money from the Town of Munster and give it to Visclosky’s Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, Munster Town Council members voted to provide $5,000 for an annual sponsorship of One Region. One Region is a 501(c)(3) organization admits to pushing a regional agenda, Leah Konrady, President and CEO of One Region, denied that they are pushing for a centralized “unigov” for Lake County Indiana. House Bill 1144 would strip cities and towns of all increases in local income tax and property tax for the next thirty years.
Several residents spoke out against the sponsorship. Council members also indicated they had received e-mail in opposition. Councilman Nellans stated “we have to have a table at the seat (sic)” and moved for passage of the $5,000 payment. While not a single resident spoke in favor of the payment, Councilman Nellans expressed the view that some are happy with the group. Council Member Dr. Andy Koultirides seconded the motion without commment. Council Member Lee Ann Mellon lobbed the softball, seemingly pre-arranged, question regarding the regional government before the motion was unanimously approved. Not a single Council member spoke out against the $5,000 payment.
Nearly every governmental organization in Lake County contributes at least $5,000 annually to One Region. One Region co-chairs are Times Publisher Chris White and Purdue Northwest Chancellor Thomas Keon. One Region has its office in the Times building. One Region meetings are secret and citizens have no way of knowing for certain what is discussed between Times officials, One Region and elected officials. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott and Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington have both publicly alleged that opposing the One Region agenda has resulted in bad press in the past. Other elected officials have made similar statements privately but are not yet willing to speak out publicly, presumably for fear of retribution by the powerful organization.
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