Friday, July 16, 2010

Melina Kennedy: Tough "Questions for Ballard about Pacers Deal"

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.


Indy Student said...

Do you have a link to the full press release, Jon?

Looking over the actual agreenment, I think some of the questions can be answered. The CCC has to approve the second and third year "loan", so there's a degree of public over site.

I don't think any property tax dollars are used to fund the CIB. That's probably why their funds aren't as tight as the municipal corporations that ARE funded through property taxes (schools, libraries, Indy Go). However, since it's funded through sales tax primarily, in a down economy, I still question how much money the CIB is REALLY brining in. Especially since they recently sold one of the parking lots/garages they manage.

#3 is an obvious yes.

#4 I don't know why the CIB is dolling out grants and funding for arts anyway. That really should be up to someone else

Jon E. Easter said...

Student, I do not. It was sent by e-mail. If you wish, can you send me another e-mail and I can forward you the release.

Anonymous said...

Getting thrown out of office by a person involved with giving the Colts a even more shockingly one sided deal is not enough.

Some folks should go to jail for this.

Guess public private partnerships only work if the private party gets all the profits and the public gets all the losses.

Jon E. Easter said...

I will have to check when the deal with the current deal with the Colts was inked. According to what I have found, it was in 2006. By that point, Melina Kennedy had been gone from the city and was running for Prosecutor.

You do bring up a good point for discussion although I'm not sure what is criminal about the Colts deal.

If you're referring to Lucas Oil Stadium, that deal was brokered more by Governor Daniels.

Anonymous said...

Here are just a few thoughts off of the top of my head that could put someone in jail if the evidence presented itself.

Political graft, breach of fiduary responsibility, misappropriation of public funds, conflict of interest, bribery, extortion, embezelment, lying to law enforcement, IRS & FEC violations..... Maybe Brin would help make the case.

Anonymous said...

I have on good authority Ms Kennedy was told to keep her trap shut on this and said "no thanks" to the establishment. i'd watch this one. She's got a mind of her own. Also, I think there is something to the property tax /TIF thing. Sources say the city plans to use the property tax based tif to fund the capital improvements like the signs for conseco. The Star assumes since CIB funding is hotel tax based, the city isn't using the property tax Tif, BUT NEVER ASKS THE CITY THE ACTUAL QUESTION!! Someone needs to ask the Mayor this question - do you promise NOT to use the downtown property tax TIF to fund ANY of this deal? He will squirm. watch.

Jon E. Easter said...

And, I'm sure you can prove all this, right...Anonymous 9:56. You have all the documentation. If so, please come out of the shadows.

Anonymous said...

Anon prove you know some legal let's hear some examples or proof from you. Until then, it is all just hot air.