Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

February 3, 2013

An unintended consequence

THE ISSUE: A bill calling for a purge of law enforcement personnel from online property records.

OUR VIEW: Anonymity for police threatens the transparency of public property records.

There are many good intentions at the start of every Indiana General Assembly, to be quickly followed by a host of unintended consequences.

Exhibit A would be state Rep. Mike Karickhoff’s well-intentioned attempt to bestow on law enforcement the ability to have members’ names purged from online, county-maintained property records.

As one legislative watcher put it, it’s a measure certain to gain a lot of sympathy. But as soon as we ran a story on the bill, we received email asking why the bill only covers law enforcement addresses.

After all, if law enforcement officials’ names are stricken from Howard County’s online property tax database, Beacon, why shouldn’t other people be able to have their names removed?

Going further, why should they have their names printed on the property cards at the auditor’s office? Shouldn’t they be able to own property in perfect anonymity?

Since time began, the good people at the auditor’s office have explained to those who plead privacy that “people have a right to know who owns property.”

That right has been sacrosanct. You have a right to know who owns the property you’re interested in purchasing. You have the right to know if your public officials are paying their property taxes. You have the right to know who owns the drug house down the street. You have the right to know who owns that property the government just purchased.

And the system works. Every day, Realtors, prospective homebuyers, government officials, bankers, concerned neighbors and a host of others take advantage of the public service the county provides through Beacon.

But now comes the camel’s nose under the tent, in the form of Karickhoff’s bill, followed by a bit more of the camel in the form of another legislator’s amendment to extend the anonymity privilege to anyone who asks.

One wonders how long it will be until the entire beast is inside the tent, the property records are a Swiss cheese of blank data fields, and your right to a transparent system of property records and tax information has been sacrificed to legislative good intentions.

We also wonder how those aforementioned auditor’s office employees will cope when they’re deluged with in-person information requests, if indeed Beacon is subjected to a legislative purge.

There’s a reason this bill went nowhere two years ago, and it’s the same reason it should die permanently this time around.

There’s next to no evidence Karickhoff’s proposal will make anyone safer, but it’s guaranteed to play havoc with one of the most useful and taxpayer-friendly services local government can offer.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • House of Burgess: Bush presents 'The Art of Leadership' On April 5, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” opened at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The display, which runs through June 3, boasts “portraits of more than

    April 16, 2014

  • Bohanon: ‘Economics is fun’ in Vegas or in Bible study

    I am writing this on an airplane to Las Vegas. I’ll be attending the annual conference of the Association of Private Enterprise Education along with two of my colleagues and six of my students.

    April 16, 2014

  • Letters to the Editor: April 16, 2014

    At the time the agenda for the April 7 commissioner meeting came out, I was happy to see that the neglected commissioner board appointments were finally going to be addressed. These appointments had been in limbo for months on end.

    April 16, 2014

  • Hayden: Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids

    The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards.
    That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation data were released last week.

    April 15, 2014

  • Letters to the Editor: April 15, 2014

    In a recent “public eye” article written by KT columnist Scott Smith about the proposed industrial wind turbine project; mention was made of the “new deal” brokered by Howard County Commissioners with E.ON.

    April 15, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Mike Pence for president in 2016? Stay tuned Mike Pence for president? The swirl of 2016 national ticket talk surrounding Gov. Pence intensified over the past few weeks. I sat down with the governor in his office on Tuesday to find out what he's really thinking. A few hours prior, the Weekly S

    April 14, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Such a thing as too much My wife and I went on a binge last week. If you think I'm talking about an eating binge, you've never seen how thin we both are. If you think I mean a shopping binge, you don't know how cheap we are. And if you think it was a cleaning binge, you've n

    April 14, 2014

  • April 14, 2014: Letters to the editor Watch for bicyclists on roadways, drivers When you ride a bike near a semi, there are at least four blind spots where the driver can't see you. We need to be careful when we ride near trucks. If we get hit by a semi, it's usually our fault. But we ne

    April 14, 2014

  • April 14, 2014: Weekly wrap FEMA no friend to hardship Many government officials ... across the state are likely asking themselves if the winter of 2014 will ever end. Sure, the snow has long since melted, but the bills from plowing snow, treating roads and hauling away the whi

    April 14, 2014

  • Immunize your child Pertussis is a communicable disease Americans just don't worry about today. Health professionals begin immunizing infants against pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus with the DTaP vaccine just two months after birth. But pertussis, better known as whoo

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge US Supports Ukraine's Efforts to Calm Tensions Suspect in Kansas Shootings Faces Murder Charges Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse Pistorius Cries During Final Cross-Examination The Boston Marathon Bombing: One Year Later Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement First Women Move to Army Platoon Artillery Jobs Sex Offenders Charged in Serial Killings Police: Woman Stored Dead Babies in Garage OC Serial Murder Suspects May Have More Victims Family: 2 Shot in Head at Kan. Jewish Center Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions ND Oil Boom Attracting Drug Traffickers
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll