After weeks of non-committalness (is that even a word?), it looks like Greg Ballard is ready to go for a run at re-election in 2011. The Indianapolis Star reported on Friday that Ballard is likely going to run and that he believes that his record is good enough to give him that second term.
If I'm Melina Kennedy or Jose Evans or Ron Gibson or even Yosemite Sam, I say, "If that's all ya got, Greg, then we're all good."
Ballard spent much of the first two years of his term doing nothing but living off the fumes of Mayor Bart Peterson's Administration. There were people that were saying, "Where's the agenda?"
Somewhere in the last two years, the Mayor has decided that he is going to hang his hat on selling off the assets of the city in order to make a quick buck to appear that he has a record for re-election. It's right out of the old Steve Goldsmith playbook. Goldsmith, now Deputy Mayor of New York City, was a smart politician. He knew when to step out of the Mayor's Office after he had lost the hearts and minds of the city. The result was Sue Anne Gilroy's failed run for Mayor and the election of Bart Peterson.
Peterson might be running for a fourth term had he been able to read the tea leaves that were thrown in front of him. Rather than taking the "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore" stance on property taxes, he misread the political landscape and pushed through an unpopular 0.65 percent income tax increase to dedicate to public safety. Ballard ran against that increase, but he has still yet to return that money to us. It was the first of many disappointments for Ballard's most ardent supporters.
Now, the residents of Marion County and the City of Indianapolis have watched Ballard not only sell off our assets, but they have watched the Mayor make mistakes in the realm of public safety by hiring a Public Safety Director that has pushed reform but lost the hearts and minds of his officers. Ballard has found money for multi-millionaire sports teams but cannot find money to keep libraries open. He has called our city parks a drain on the budget, and he has nearly killed funding for the arts.
Granted, it's been a tough four years to be Mayor of Indianapolis. The fact that the lights are still on and that the city is still afloat is a credit to the working spirit of the city. I acknowledge that Indianapolis is better off than many cities of similar size and bigger size in the Midwest. I'm not sure Ballard can take all the credit for that, but he could take some. Still, you get the feeling that things could be a lot better here. There is much right there under the surface that could blow up right in the face of the next mayor or Ballard.
Ballard's had his four years and would apparently like four more, but he's lost a tremendous amount of support from his original grassroots backers. He needs to somehow get them back if he wants to stay in office another four years, and he's become a different person than they supported since he's been in office. I think they are gone for good. Many of Ballard's supporters were Libertarians or had at least a Libertarian streak.
The Libertarian Party released this statement this weekend. Here is part of the release:
The Libertarian Party of Marion County (LPMC) is surprised to hear that Mayor Ballard will be making a campaign announcement on Saturday, since all signs point to the suggestion that he will be a candidate for Mayor again in 2011. As per his campaign promise back in 2007, then-candidate Greg Ballard informed the public that he would not run for re-election if he did not cut the budget by at least 10% by the third year (not including public safety). A quick comparison of the 2008 budget with the just-passed 2011 budget finds no such budget cut.
"I am very surprised that Ballard decided against honoring his campaign promise not to run again if he wasn't able to cut the budget by 10%," stated Timothy Maguire, LPMC Chairman, "especially since the budget cuts necessary would have been so easy to make. Even without the benefit of a full time team of lawyers and accountants, we were able to find at least $65 million that could have been cut off the top of the 2011 budget."
So, not only are the Democrats on Ballard's case, the Libertarians are now bringing up the fact that Ballard is not the same Ballard that ran for Mayor in 2007.
For all of these factors, I think Ballard will go down in defeat in November of 2011 to the Democrats and will fade into obscurity. Unfortunately, his bad business deals over the last two years have saddled the next umpteen Mayors with some challenges.