By Jon E. Easter
Melina Kennedy has been criticized in the early going of the 2011 Mayoral Marathon for her silence on important issues. I think the criticism is warranted, but I also think it's a calculated risk by staying out of the way of the 2010 candidates. We await her official position on the water deal.
She has broken her silence on the Indiana Pacers deal. Just a few moments ago, she released a statement on the deal and raised a number of tough questions for Mayor Ballard. Here is a portion of the release.
Kennedy: Questions for Mayor Ballard about Pacers deal
In light of Mayor Ballard’s recent decision to give the Indiana Pacers over $30 million dollars to stay in Indianapolis for three more years, Melina Kennedy issued the following statement and accompanying questions.
‘Keeping the Indiana Pacers as part of the fabric of our City is important. But Mayor Ballard’s plan to provide more than $30 million to the Pacers comes at a time when the City is struggling to keep our libraries, parks and pools open and available for our families, many of whom cannot afford to go to Pacers games or other events held in Conseco Fieldhouse. In my view, finding money for the Pacers should only come after carefully reviewing these funding priorities and being completely transparent about the sources and uses of the money. So I ask the mayor to answer the following questions as part of any deal with the Pacers:
1. Will any accounting of the public funds - at least $10 million per year according to the mayor - be required so that taxpayers understand what their tax dollars go toward?
2. Will any property tax dollars, including any money from any Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, be used to fund the $33.5 million dollars Mayor Ballard is giving to the Pacers?
3. If the Pacers do not play next year due to an NBA lockout, has Mayor Ballard agreed to go ahead and give the Pacers $10 million dollars even though they won’t be playing?
4. The Mayor announced last year that he needed to cut CIB funding for initiatives such as the arts and Indiana Black Expo. Has his position changed on those funding cuts in light of the new found "savings" that the mayor says are now available to provide to the Pacers?
At a time when jobs are too few and taxes are high, City Hall should be reigning in spending. If new spending is to occur, we ought to demand that tough questions be answered before authorizing it – especially when that spending is only providing short-term solutions. To create a city of opportunity, we cannot keep kicking cans down the road.’
Incidentally, I contacted Kennedy, Ron Gibson and Jose Evans earlier this week for comment on the Pacers deal. No response from Gibson, and Evans said he would wait until Friday (today) to make further comment.