Friday, November 13, 2009
Ballard Tells Channel 13 He Will Veto Current Smoking Ban Proposal
Mayor Greg Ballard showed a rare bit of leadership yesterday morning as he was interviewed by WTHR Channel 13's Bruce Kopp. For the first time in public, Mayor Ballard said loud and clear that he will veto the current public smoking ban being considered by the City-County Council. This is a change of position from his campaign in 2007 when he promised to support a comprehensive smoking ban in workplaces. Channel 13's Mary Milz does an excellent report on Mayor Ballard's flip flop. It must have been a leftover from his luau.
Ballard is threatening to do something that Indianapolis Mayors rarely do...veto a ordinance passed by the City-County Council. According to WTHR, Bart Peterson used his veto power just once, and that was to veto the redistricting plan put forth by the Republican-led City-County Council following the 2000 census. Like President Bush, who first used his veto power to kill a bill aimed at covering children with health insurance, Ballard is picking the wrong issue to oppose.
Mr. Mayor was caught with his metaphorical pants down when fellow blogger Terry Burns broke the news on his Indianapolis Times Blog that Mayor Ballard met with the Republican caucus and urged them to vote against the ordinance the first time around. Now, he's clearly trying to send a shot across his own caucuses' bow by saying that no matter what they do when the ordinance is heard again he will veto the proposal if it passes.
All of this comes as he tries to hold his own caucus together. The balance of power hangs perilously on the Republican side of the Council aisle by a 15-13-1 margin. Councillor Benjamin Hunter, a Republican, is a co-sponsor of the proposal with Democrat Angela Mansfield. Hunter was very disappointed following his party's cold shoulder towards something that polls have shown the public supports when the proposal was tabled the first time around last month. Other bloggers have surmised that Hunter's anger may result in him switching parties to Libertarian or, more likely, Democrat. That would potentially throw the City-County Council into chaos with a 14-14-1 makeup. Mansfield says that Mayor Ballard has repeatedly refused to meet with the sponsors of the ban.
Also added into all of this is that the Libertarian Party is in the tank big time with the anti-smoke free crowd. To be fair, Chris Spangle, the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, denies that his party has done any more than just build a website for the group called Save Indianapolis Bars. This denial comes despite that the URL saveindianapolisbars.com links directly to the Libertarian Party of Marion County website. Spangle also says the Libertarians have nothing to do with the ads that have been running on local radio stations on the issue...yet the ads are displayed prominently on the party's website under the heading "Listen to our commercial."
Rarely have the Mayor and some of his City-County Council caucus been on different pages as much as they are here. It's definitely a black eye for the Marion County Republican Party and their highest elected city/county official, Greg Ballard.
Could it be that we had not had enough of experience? This brand of leadership just plain stinks!