BY PATRICK GUINANE, Times of Northwest Indiana
pguinane@nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | A business-backed local government reform group is taking its show on the road, but Northwest Indiana isn't on the first leg of the tour.

MySmartgov.org, an advocacy organization supported by state Realtors and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, on Friday announced a series of "meet-ups" scheduled to kick off Tuesday in Kokomo.

"We at MySmartgov have been asking our supporters to send letters and e-mails and to call their legislators in support of the Kernan-Shepard reforms," said Marilyn Schultz, the group's executive director. "They've been very responsive, but not many of them can afford to take a day away from work -- as county and township officials readily do on the taxpayer dime -- to come to the Statehouse to lobby."

The legislative proposals, which include abolishing townships, consolidating small school districts and structuring county government more a like a city, are among 27 recommendations issued in December 2007 by a bipartisan commission led by former Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan and Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard.

Daniels and Kernan will lead the first meeting in Kokomo and another March 3 in Fort Wayne. Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman will headline a Friday meeting in Terre Haute, and Shepard will attend a Feb. 25 gathering in Evansville.

Schultz said her group is working to schedule a stop in Northwest Indiana. The tour is geared toward giving tips to government reform advocates.

"By every measure, there is strong public support for this reform, but it will never happen if only the special interests are heard from," Daniels said. "These meet-ups will ensure that the voices of citizen activists are heard."

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