Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley Responds To President Of Commerce Bank Luke Yaeger


    Dear Luke

    Thank you for email.

    Those of you who no longer reside in the city or never have, ask yourselves why.

    Some people for a variety of reasons, with the main reason being a high income, have almost infinite possibilities as to where they live and raise a family. Where these people live is a choice. For those that choose to locate in Vanderburgh County or another county, they often cite their reasoning to include better odds for the increase in value of their real property, newer infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines, better public schools, less crime, larger lots and the likelihood that their neighbors will share their values.

    When one opts for suburban flight, they should lose their ability through a board or commission to determine how city funds are spent to combat the very problems of which they have escaped. Suburban residents tend to favor policies that increase urban sprawl. They tend to support car friendly policies, such as strip malls and infrastructure improvements to the roads that bring them to the city in the morning and take them home at night. Suburban living is very different than urban living, and time in the suburbs can desensitize those residents to the trials and tribulations of their much lower income city counterparts.

    I suspect one would have a difficult time arguing that Evansville isn’t a victim of the very urban sprawl I describe which has made it very hard to promote infill development beyond our current rate of 5%. People who have chosen and enjoy suburban living are typically not the best participants in discussions related to increasing infill development to the 40% rate that we as a city seek to have sustainable development and property tax revenues that keep up with the cost of basic services. They often feel that resources are best spent in areas that have not already succumbed to crime and blight. However, these are the very areas that require the most attention under the theory that we are only as strong as our weakest link. And when these areas of declining property values are addressed by those without the life experience to understand poverty, it is often through regentrification, which leaves the original low income residents of the area out in the cold.

    I think ego tells us that we are not replaceable. I know mine does. However, we are all replaceable and probably fairly easily. I find it hard to believe that someone with an urban lifestyle could not perform just as well or better as anyone being replaced. In fact, it’s a great way to build talent within the city and is key to residents taking responsibility for their own destiny. These are not sheep who require a shepherd. This is an exercise in returning government to the people being governed.

    As to you specifically, I know that you are an intelligent, talented leader. However, the sheer number of boards and commissions that you serve on is a perfect example of just how shallow we have allowed the city’s talent pool to become. I believe very strongly that one does not have to be the president of a bank to participate in government or a not for profit entity. You may actually be surprised by the good ideas that come from those who have not yet given up and left. Additionally, there are many boards and commissions that have appointments that flow from the County Commissioners and County Council. There are still going to be plenty of opportunities for those who do not live in the city to serve the area. For those who live in other counties, perhaps those counties have a board or commission that could use new membership.

    Again, I appreciate the email and the opportunity to articulate my reasoning in supporting the measure. I hope to see more opportunities for city residents to solve problems that they live every day with truly grassroots approaches. What I have seen in my time in Evansville is episode after episode of top-down government, and it’s not working. Crime continues to go up, the infrastructure continues to crumble, the population continues to go down, and property values in big sections of the city continue to decline. Why not add some new blood to the mix? What do we truly have to lose?

    Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley

    3rd Ward City Councilwoman




    1. Post the letter from Yaeger and proofread the headline. I’d bet the letter is condescending elitist drivel.

    2. I have no desire to serve on any boards for the city. I volunteered way too much of my time in the past for the city/county. I’m too tired and too old to waste time on bailing water out of a fast sinking ship. I put on my life jacket and hoped ship years ago and swam over to Warrick County. 🙂

      But it’s still fun to watch the cat fights taking place in my former city. In the mean time I’m taking care of other business today.

      I can see SBR’s point. The other letter could very well be looked at as coming from an Elitist. But then again there really is nothing to be ashamed of in being an Elitist if you really are smart and brilliant and of good character.

      But being on a board means that you are there for the PEOPLE benefit not for yourself. That’s the key not where you live or bed down for the night. It’s about what’s in your heart. Something we should all keep in the back of our minds. Do what’s right for the majority of the people and you will be doing the best you can do. When one starts to do things to benefit just themselves that’s when things get out of wack.

      • “But being on a board means that you are there for the PEOPLE benefit not for yourself. That’s the key not where you live or bed down for the night. It’s about what’s in your heart. Something we should all keep in the back of our minds. Do what’s right for the majority of the people and you will be doing the best you can do. When one starts to do things to benefit just themselves that’s when things get out of whack.”

        “When everyone Boosts, everyone wins” – Benjamin Bosse

        You’re on it, Moveon!

    3. What a well-reasoned response, SBR! The City Limits encompass the homes of many bright, educated, and talented individuals who have “skin in the game” when it comes to the issues facing the city, and they should be the ones that the city’s elected officials choose to address the city’s challenges.

    4. So does that mean that the charities inside the city will stop fundraising outside the city limits?

      • Charities have no relationship to city/county government. They have no obligation to be representative, government does. You really missed the entire target with this failed analogy!

        • The elected officials are the representatives. Their duty is to be as effective as possible. If that is best done by reaching out to appoint a highly qualified individual who’s talents are not available inside the city limits, they are fully meeting their obligation to represent. If they choose a less qualified person for bad reasons, then they are failing as a representative. Not to mention, often these appointees own property and businesses inside the city limits.

          Well for now. Given the current arc of the city as shown by it’s city council… we won’t have to worry about appointing smart people who have businesses inside the city for long.

          • Absentee landlords from California also own (substandard) property inside the city limits. Should they be appointed because of their business interests?

            Should a fire truck manufacturer from Louisiana be appointed to a city board because they have a business relationship with the City of Evansville?

            Does anyone think that we can NOT find people as ‘smart’ or ‘successful’ as non-city residents inside the city limits? Having a high placed position at a business does no necessarily mean you are smart, it certainly does not necessarily mean you are ethical. Choosing not to live in a McMansion in McCutchanville or Newburgh does not mean you are not successful.

            • Don’t ever confuse work with success, its about the endeavor itself DB you know that, considering.
              The consortium thinks the cities limits aren’t or shouldn’t limited by property alone. However, as a test control its a good start point moving to tipping, those who are actually concerned about the city or the metro value will migrate the solutions to those whom they see count for the many. Its about natural progression vs total chaos. Both are apparent in social economics focus, and the facts as set, where chaos may roam.

              Real public concern will find a well balanced pathway to the ones inside the boundary , however, to keep the good stuff real, those boundaries must exist.

    5. C’mon Man?
      Nothing good can come from this. (Unless you happen to bill for the City’s legal services)
      Indiana Statutes have this territory covered. We should simply abide by established law.
      (IC 36-4-9-2 and IC 36-1-7)

      Further: it is beyond debate that the Evansville City Limits holds no monopoly on brilliance, talent or virtue. Why would we seek to restrict our options, narrowing our talent pool? Something personal?

      Our seemingly never-ending forays into “local ordinance fantasy-land” define and embarrass us as a Community.

      C’mon Man?
      Get it together! Abandon this fools errand NOW! …

      • Judging from the CCO poll, I think Councilwoman Robinson’s proposed ordinance is pretty popular. It would be awfully hard for anyone to establish “standing” in order to sue over it. A person would have to show they (and probably other county residents) were “injured” by the plaintiff not being appointed to a seat on a board or commission, I believe.

      • Fully agreed Buba. This goofy idea proposed by Connie Robinson and forwarded by SBR is right up there with other City Council gems like EarthCare, Johnson Controls “smart meters”, bridge to nowhere and the McCurdy luxury condos with the $600,000 parking lot. Putting this “political moat” around the City of Evansville is really dumb, even for the City Council.

        • By the way, wasn’t the City Council all in on Consolidated Government over the County? When did the folks in the County become undesirables (to serve on City Boards)? Is it true this is payback to the CORE group? The more you look at Connie Robinson’s proposal smelling of rotten sour grapes, the worse it gets.

        • City Council ultimately stopped Earthcare Energy. Johnson Controls was a contract signed by Weinzapfel and ultimately approved by the IURC under Winnecke. City Council does not control the water rates or bonding- that is the IURC. City Council controls sewer rates. The McCurdy debacle rests squarely on the ERC, which the Mayor’s office controls.

    6. How many board appointments does the city council control? Do all the city council appointments live in the city limits? When is the last time the city council didn’t reappoint one of their appointments, who was removed and replaced by who? Has this been a issue in the past?

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