Region Rats to Regionnaires

How many of us are sick and tired of the term “Region Rat?”  It is a derogative term that paints us as a low class bumpkin living in pollution, political corruption and carrying guns to protect us from one another.  It is gleefully played up by those folks downstate and neighboring States to pigeon hole all of us and to impart a negative perception of all whom, unfortunately to them, have to live here.  Too many of us have bought into this image and some actually take pride in it.  That false pride is nothing more than a weak attempt to dispel the hurt and shame that others want to hand us.

We need you to become a Regionnaire.  Regionnaires are concerned and engaged citizens who love Northwest Indiana and aspire to be leaders in transforming the culture and perceptions of this Region for the 21st Century.

Northwest Indiana is unique and privileged in being the Steel Capital of the USA, hosting the largest private investment in State history at the BP Whiting Refinery, having both a State Park and National Park celebrating the Dunes and Lakeshore and being the true crossroads of the Midwest.  Of course we have challenges, who doesn’t in this global economy and evolving 21st century?  It is high time we stand up for ourselves and let Indiana and the neighboring States know that we are a true asset for the future.

Being the “right side of Chicago”, a global economic city presents more opportunity for us than any other region in the State.  Our Blueways and Greenways trail projects give us a place as a national destination for various sports such as paddling and cycling.  We have fine healthcare facilities and schools and the list goes on.

There is a downside.  We need to address legacy issues that continue to plague us.  Foremost among them are too many examples of political corruption.  We must show the world that we have had enough and demand change from our public officials.

As a first step in order to address the images of public corruption here, the NWI Quality of Life Council, the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission and the Lake County Advancement Committee have planned a special event for the early evening of Tuesday, October 18th from 6:30 pm to 8pm at Merrillville High School auditorium, 276 E. 68th Place, Merrillville. 

This evening’s theme is “Your Right To Know”, a public meeting where information will be shared about the necessity and how-to’s of gaining access to the details of local government political operations and decision making.

Guest speakers will include:

Bill Nangle—Executive Editor of The TIMES of Northwest Indiana, representing the Hoosier Press Association

David Hollenbeck—Attorney in Valparaiso, who represents numerous public entities

Joseph Hoage—Indiana Public Access Counselor

Following their introductory remarks and presentations, audience participation will be encouraged to commit to action by soliciting leaders and community groups to carry the message forward that we expect our elected officials to behave ethically and support adoption of ethics ordinances along with providing training of all municipal employees in ethical behavior.  Other public access opportunities will also be discussed.  We will share available resources and facilitate where appropriate the formation of these Regionnaire groups.

Please be aware that this meeting is not for malcontents, political activists or those harboring a personal agenda.  This meeting is for those concerned, average residents who are tired of the region being portrayed as corrupt, tired of the behind the scenes decision making and want to make a positive effort to change Northwest Indiana.  We can make a difference!

Regionnaires will also celebrate and honor those many elected officials and public servants who are exemplary and do not represent the exceptions that give all of Northwest Indiana a bad name.

Please RSVP to Dawn Williams, dwilliams@nwiqlc.org, to reserve a seat.

Thank you!

Jim Flannery
Executive Director
NWI Quality of Life Council, Inc.
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