Thursday, May 13, 2010

Democrats Grill Ballard

The Marion County Democratic Party is amping up its criticism of Mayor Greg Ballard and is calling him out on his pattern of ignoring Democratic leadership on the City-County Council and in the Indiana General Assembly.

Council Minority Leader Joanne Sanders and Indiana House Ways and Means Chair Bill Crawford added their voices to the growing number of Democrats frustrated with Mayor Ballard's poor communication skills.

The Marion County Democratic Party released this announcement this afternoon in summary of today's News Conference outside the City-County Building:

Repeated Requests for Information Have Gone Unanswered; Obstruction Makes Informed Decisions Impossible

Indianapolis -- Marion County Democratic legislative leaders in the Indiana General Assembly and the Indianapolis City-County Council today addressed a concerning pattern of obstruction in the Ballard administration. Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Dean of the Marion County Legislative Delegation, Representative Bill Crawford joined Councillor Joanne Sanders to call on the Mayor to end his pattern of partisan stonewalling and gimmickry.

“Our City faces tremendous challenges that will take enormous financial and human resources to address,” said Councillor Sanders. “As Democrats, we want to solve these problems for the good of all in our community. The Mayor ran on the promise of a transparent government and a promise of $70 million in annual budget savings. But the administration has a pattern of hoarding information instead of working together and the taxpayers are paying a $100 million more per year than when the Mayor took office.”

The city is facing critical issues, with a library threatening to close several popular branches, a water rate hike of 35%, the largest transfer of assets in the City’s history, a failing and nearly bankrupt transit system, a billion dollar infrastructure shortfall and the impossible choice between losing the Indiana Pacers and diverting additional public funds to operate Conseco Fieldhouse. On none of these issues, according to the Democrats, is the Mayor being open with the citizens and leaders of Indianapolis.

In prior Republican and Democratic administrations, Democrats and Republicans worked together to solve similar problems.

“Time after time, previous Republican Mayors came to me and shared information to lead our city to solutions to the issues of the day,” said Representative Crawford. “I was proud to work with Mayor Hudnut on the RCA Dome, Mayor Goldsmith on Circle Center Mall and Conseco Fieldhouse, and Mayor Peterson on Lucas Oil Stadium. This Mayor delays any communication to the last possible moment, and what communication there is is cursory and partial.”

Both Councillor Sanders and Representative Crawford have made good faith requests for information regarding the proposed transfer of the Indianapolis Water and Sewer utilities. The requests included specific financial documents detailing the financing, the list of proposed projects funded by the borrowing and rate increases, details regarding savings and other documents needed to fully understand this colossal and complicated deal. Representative Crawford received a cursory response to his letter, with partial and incomplete answers to direct questions just yesterday.

“We are ready to address these important needs in our city, but we can’t act without critical information from the Mayor,” said Councillor Joanne Sanders. “We asked for specific financial information about the water utility deal, including how the money will be spent, but we haven’t gotten any meaningful response. Without this information, any vote authorizing the largest asset transfer in Indianapolis history is irresponsible.”

“The Mayor promised transparency in government, but it seems pretty cloudy to us today,” said Representative Crawford. “Mr. Mayor, show us the details and show them to the general public so we can all understand and so we can all help to put our City on a course for the future where its citizens can have basic and important services in ways they can afford. It is time to lift the curtain.”

Crawford and Sanders aren't alone. I recently spoke with comprehensive air ordinance co-sponsor and Democrat Angela Mansfield at a political fundraiser, and she told me that she's still waiting to meet with Ballard on the ordinance that has come up in front of the City-County Council but has failed to get enough votes to pass on into law. It officially still sits in the hopper at the City-County Building while non-smoking bar customers and employees continue to breathe in smoke. Without speaking to the sponsors, Ballard unilaterally decided he would veto the proposal in November despite having been a proponent of the measure during the 2007 election campaign.

Yeah, I think Ballard likes to run from conflict or making a tough decision rather than face it. That seems to be the case anyway.

1 comment:

Marycatherine Barton said...

It is distressing that the public should have to work so hard to get these answers from the Mayor, when this is what the paid media should be valiantly attempting. Thanks, Jon.