Will He or Won’t He?

I believe today is the last day Governor Pence can veto the “Imperial Mayor” bill.  (If he fails to either sign or veto it, it becomes law without his signature.)

Leaving aside the numerous problems with the bill itself (the provisions eliminating the At-Large Councilors have gotten most of the attention, but they are the least of it–as I’ve written previously, the provisions shifting powers to the Mayor are an invitation to serious corruption), the political calculus is interesting.

Pence has taken a lot of criticism for his less-than-vigorous performance in office thus far. In a number of situations, he’s done a pretty credible imitation of a potted plant. A veto of a bill sponsored and passed by his own party, accompanied by a defense of home rule and/or good-government principles, would begin to change the perception of indecision and floundering, and would look principled.

A veto would also take a potent issue off the table before the next Mayoral race. Indianapolis residents of both parties have expressed outrage over the legislature’s “we know better than you what’s good for you” attitude. The General Assembly’s refusal to let us decide for ourselves whether we want transit was bad enough, but most Indianapolis people I know–Republican or Democrat–see the Imperial Mayor bill as a giant “fuck you.” Paul Ogden has written what is probably the best analysis of why the bill is bad politically for the GOP. Indianapolis is getting bluer by the year, but resentment over this bill is likely to accelerate that process.

So a veto would make the Governor look statesmanlike, and would actually do his party a favor.

The question is: does he understand that? We’ll see today.


  1. Can’t say I would really disagree with your assessment. While I don’t see the bill as being horrible, it’s not a good bill either.

    Getting rid of the at-large positions has been the effort of both sides of the isle over the years, so I could see that issue coming up again if this bill is vetoed.

  2. With all due respect to my friends on the council, we could have a zillion councillors and it wouldn’t matter because SB621 gives the mayor so much power that the council is practically meaningless. They won’t have any say in approving appointments of department heads, boards, and deputies (almost all of whom make it out with unanimous or near-unanimous votes anyway), their budgets can be re-written by the mayor during budget season and even later by the comptroller, so what’s the point? If the council can’t threaten to vote against appointments or to vote against or decrease budgets for leverage, then they’re neutered as far as I’m concerned.

  3. I would be surprised if he vetoed it. He might not sign it, and use that excuse. It is a bad bill in every aspect but what can you expect from a Republican controlled legislature

  4. Well; Pence signed the bill. Any guesses what sport our Imperial Mayor will use our tax dollars for next? Sumo wrestling maybe to go against the fight to cure obesity, pro allegator wrestling? He won’t use tax dollars to improve pubic education, public safety or repair crumbling infrastructure.

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