Indianapolis’ Unigov Disaster

The Evansville Courier and Press has an interesting article investigating the Republican political power grab that was Indianapolis’ “Unigov” consolidation of Indianapolis with Marion County in the 1970s.

INDIANAPOLIS — Merging the city and county governments here helped improve what amounted to a scattershot set of public services, but it also diminished the political power of the Democratic Party, and traditionally Democratic African-American voters, in particular, for a generation.

The winners when the state Legislature combined Indianapolis and Marion County under one “Unigov” in 1970 were the city’s suburban Republicans — typically wealthier and typically white — who were enjoying their recent sweep into majority status.

The losers were Democrats who suddenly faced a vote-rich opposition party for the mayor’s office and control of the council.

In addition to removing the Democrats from power and consigning the black community to almost permanent poverty and crime through diminished services and terrible schools, it also set the stage for the slow death of the city itself, and the rise of Hamilton County as the wealthy leech feeding off the dying metropolis’ carcass.

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