By Jon E. Easter
Mayor Greg Ballard brought his traveling circus known as the "Mayor's Night Out" to Decatur Township on Thursday night as part of the Decatur Central Lions Club 4-H Fair (which continues through Saturday, by the way). While he did better than his first appearance in Decatur, it is still clear that the purpose of these events is more window-dressing than problem solving.
I do salute him for doing now 29 of these things, but I counted 10 times last night that the Mayor said, "I don't know." That doesn't count the times he gave an incorrect answer only to be corrected by one of the approximately 20 department heads behind him.
The organization was the same. The mayor kicked things off with a Powerpoint touting all the good things in Marion County and in the City of Indianapolis. Thrown in were a couple of slides reflecting neighborhood trends in crime and violence. The rape rate is up in Decatur Township. It went from 2 rapes to 5 rapes. Also assaults were up, but the stats showed crime down in other areas. The mayor falsely said there had been no murders in Decatur in two years. There was a double homicide in October 2008 of an elderly gay couple in Heartland Crossing.
When it came to Q&A time, I asked two questions. He punted one of them on promoting better mine blasting practices by those companies at work under the Southside Landfill. He said it was a function of the City-County Council to change ordinances of which the mining companies appear to be in compliance with. The second question I asked was on the safety of the new bike paths through the city. He totally changed that question. "I think what the questioner is talking about is greenways."
No, Mr. Mayor...it wasn't.
Anyway, he's a good sport and posed for a picture with me even though I was wearing Democratic campaign paraphernalia, and he is a nice guy. However, being a good sport and being a good mayor are two different things.
I question Mayor Ballard's wisdom in continuing these "Night Out" programs if the answers are so few and far between. He just comes off looking bad.