Wondering if federally indicted Portage Mayor James Snyder is listening...
MARC CHASE: Portage needs clean break from Snyder
Marc Chase firstname.lastname@example.org, (219) 662-5330
Jul 2, 2017
Sometimes independence is all about a clean break from the smoldering wreckage of failed relationships.
Many of us have been in that very place in life, desperately attempting to salvage a deteriorating connection only to realize the relationship can't be saved.
Responsible adults move on, hopefully with some decorum. The delusional or selfish cling to the remnants of what was, continuing to perpetuate the chaos and venom of a bad union.
This is precisely the crossroads at which criminally indicted Portage Mayor James Snyder and his city seem to find themselves right now.
On this Independence Day weekend, Portage sure could use a clean break from Snyder, who's clearly determined to cling to his elected office while dragging his city's name and processes through the mud.
After a federal grand jury indicted Snyder on bribery charges related to his mayoral office and towing contracts in November, I implored him to resign.
So did The Times Editorial Board.
Though he's due a fair trial in court that's yet to occur, the strain of operating under the shadow of such felony allegations have made the business of leading a city an incredibly stifling environment.
Much like a failing marriage, it's manifested itself in all sorts of city administration chaos and incivility lately.
At recent public meetings, in the throes of a city debate regarding the mayor's proposed city employee salary ordinance, Snyder has exchanged verbal jabs with other city leaders unbecoming a municipal chief executive.
He's been quoted as calling one councilman a "fat liar," and there even were reports of physical chest bumping in the heat of some arguments.
Though the ordinance issues appear to have been finally ironed out last week, it took a couple of meetings with uncivil verbal sniping to get there.
The conflicts are symptoms of a greater illness.
The longer Snyder clings to his mayoral office to collect his municipal paycheck, the worse we can expect these outbursts to become.
Aside from the clear psychological strain a felony federal indictment can place on the human psyche is the shroud of mistrust any public official would face from their peers, employees and the public. In the case of the salary ordinance, how does a mayor retain credibility in setting the level of city employees' pay when he's accused of illegally enriching himself through public office.
Such mistrust would come naturally. By the time a federal indictment is handed down in Hammond federal court, a grand jury already has considered evidence which it believes warrants criminal charges.
We also know the track record of the local U.S. attorney. The office just doesn't lose public corruption cases. More than 70 Region public officials or their politically connected contractor friends have learned this in felony convictions since the mid-1980s.
His criminal charges notwithstanding, Snyder has exhibited in the past an affinity for Portage and its residents.
Many of the men and women of our nation's 13 original colonies also once held an affinity for their native host nation of England.
But irreconcilable differences emerged, and the biggest clean break in American history occurred when our nation declared independence from England on July 4, 1776.
It didn't stop King George from attempting to force a continued marriage with the colonists via war. We all know the king's side lost the Revolutionary War, and our great nation was born.
Loose historical metaphors aside — and Snyder is no king — the Portage mayor should spare his city the madness of King George and walk away.
But if he won't, Portage should keep its chin up, avoid as much chaotic contact with Snyder as possible and prepare for the inevitable day of independence when Snyder and his shroud of impropriety no longer hang over the city.