Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ballard's "Accomplishments" Unpopular or Someone Else's Work

By Jon E. Easter

An election with an incumbent is usually almost always a referendum on the incumbent, and the 2011 Mayoral Marathon is no exception.

Unfortunately, if you are working on a still prospective Mayor Ballard re-election campaign, you are going to have to do a lot of shining to make this body of work look good. Let's take a look at four resumé planks that the Mayor might claim as accomplishments in the 2011 re-election campaign.

Mayor Ballard can point to the 2012 Super Bowl deal as an accomplishment. Getting the NFL to look at Lucas Oil Stadium and to agree to bring one of the world's premiere events to the city is certainly a major coup. Unfortunately for Ballard, he essentially copied the homework of the Peterson Administration which would have won the 2011 Super Bowl for the city if Cowboys Stadium had not been built. 30,000 more seats made the NFL look at Big D over the Circle City as a host.

The new Wishard Hospital is something that Mayor Ballard advocated for and helped to get done, but every major elected official in town (save Indiana House District 92 Representative Phil Hinkle) was in favor of this getting through the 2009 referendum. Congressman André Carson's muscle was certainly felt on this project as well as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Mayor Ballard in getting this worthy project the support it needed. Ballard's support was certainly critical, but it was not the reason the voters bought in to the deal.

The utility transfer deal between the City of Indianapolis and Citizens Energy Group might be something Ballard tries to use as an accomplishment. He will be out and claiming such things as the deal got your streets and sidewalks fixed and your rates won't go up as much as they would have gone up if we had not done the deal. Of course, these are stretches at best. If you believe the Indianapolis Star's poll, 61 percent of poll voters believe the deal is not good for taxpayers.

Then, this past week, Mayor Ballard gave the Indiana Pacers a blue and gold parachute and pulled out the city's checkbook for a multi-million dollar deal to keep the Pacers in town for another mediocre three years. Again, the deal seems to be wildly unpopular according to an Indy Star poll, and while the Pacers do contribute much to the city, you have to wonder if the city could have used its leverage a bit more to get an even better deal for taxpayers than the three year band aid we got.

You take these four things and throw in that, after success early in his term, that murders are way up in this pre-election year. That it's now Mayor Ballard and not the elected Sheriff that is in charge of public safety in this town when there is a lot of controversy between IMPD and the black community (Ballard got control of IMPD back from the Sheriff as one of his first acts in office). And, finally, that the Mayor has raised a number of taxes and fees after claiming that he would not ask for more of our money, and that many of his supporters feel like they got something entirely different than what they voted for.

You take these things into account, and you wonder why anyone would want to work on Mayor Ballard's re-election campaign. "Leadership at Work" appears to be the slogan they will use. If this is the kind of leadership he will give us again for four more years, I think we can do better.

Jose Evans, Ron Gibson, and Melina Kennedy each provide a talented and intelligent alternative to Mayor Ballard's less-than-stellar record.


Had Enough Indy? said...

They'll try to paint Ballard as some kind of financial genius. They'll say the budget was a mess under Peterson, leave out the part where the pension obligations were taken over by the State and the part where Ballard and the Republican Council kept the part of the COIT increase that was meant to repay that pension obligation. Those changes gave Ballard more money to work with than Peterson had.

After the utility sale goes through, they will have a huge slush fund for reelection. The funds are highly leveraged through bonding so that they have the maximum cash on hand in the first two years. There is no limitation forcing them to spend the money on infrastruction - the only limitation is they cannot spend it on sports teams.

The terms of the utility sale require Citizens Energy to forego any rate increases for two years - getting it past the 2011 election. The ratepayers may not realize they will be paying the cost of the sale plus interest and fees on the bonds that Citizens will have to take out and that the City already approved for the sewer utility PILOT. The rate freeze will keep those folks in the dark until it is too late.

Meanwhile, the lead candidate for Mayor in the Democratic party, Melina Kennedy, remains silent on all important issues of the day. Maybe she agrees with Ballard's approach. Maybe not. Who knows?

One thing to watch is the FOP contract negotiations. Ballard has been saying there isn't enough money for raises. Then the CIB forks over $10 million a year to the Pacers. I can't imagine the FOP failed to notice that in the news. Maybe they can weedle some of the utility sale proceeds for their membership. With crime on the rise, Ballard will have to do something to satisfy the FOP.

Jobs with Justice said...

Would love some of the people responding to the Star polls to come out in public and take a stand against these financial decisions. The next Put Communities First community meeting on the misplaced priorities of elected officials is Tuesday, July 27th at 6:00 at AFSCME Council 62, 1424 N Pennsylvania. There just aren't enough every day people speaking out.

Stephen said...

Notice that Mayor Ballard had time to show up at the Art Museum for unveiling of the 2012 Indy car design -- but did not have time to meet with the African-American ministers on the concerns about the beating of a 15-year-old by IMPD. This unwillingness to even talk with black community leadership will do as much to energize that community as Obama did in the 2008 election.