Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why is the Mayor Throwing Hail Marys?

Mayor Greg Ballard has apparently quietly set aside 10 percent of city jobs for individuals with criminal records.

While part of me wants to praise the Mayor for coming up with an innovative idea that will help a group of people that really need help, another part of me is saying, "What the hell is he thinking?" It's not even May yet, and Greg Ballard is firing Hail Mary passes at the end zone.

Again, it's an odd choice for a Republican Mayor of Indianapolis who wants to appear tough on crime, and it just can't resonate well with his base. That's what Paul Ogden and Gary Welsh, two conservative bloggers in town, have said as they have both weighed in on the Ballard plan. Ogden's take is here. Welsh's take is here.

It's another risky and undisciplined move in an election year by a man that clearly is not in campaign trim. This is the kind of plan you uncork next year at this time if you win re-election. It's not the kind of plan a Republican puts forth now. You might expect this out of a Democrat that is not the Sam Carson, but it's not something you expect out of the sitting Mayor.

I guess this underscores how concerned Mayor Ballard is about Melina Kennedy right now. He's going for broke in April.


stAllio! said...

why are you assuming this is a new program? ballard has been talking about ex-offender re-entry programs for his entire term. for example, here's a story from 2008.

your first impulse was right. mayor ballard deserves to be applauded for implementing a progressive program that will help our community. and that's not something i saw very often.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of this program and hope it keeps working....I am not sure about a quota but .....the city also needs to encourage the private sector to do the same thing....I am more worried about the corporate criminals that are taking millions from the city.

Paul K. Ogden said...

There's a huge difference between a program to help offenders re-enter the job market and 10% quota program. There is nothing "progressive" about the later. We should be looking at everyone's history and not absolutely excluding people from employment because of criminal history. That's quite another thing than to give someone an advantage because they have a criminal history.

Erin said...

I have to agree with stAllio on this. Mayor Ballard has been incredibly active on re-entry programs and he's always been very upfront about it. This is an article about his re-entry pilot program that was funded by the Stimulus in 2009-

And this is a story from 2008 about his original re-entry program under Khadijah Mohammed-

If the City wants to encourage private companies to hire ex-felons, they need to lead by example. 10% of the city workforce is not a problem at all to me, in fact, I find it commendable. I'm also not seeing why this is being described as a 10% set-aside or even a quota, though perhaps that was said explicitly somewhere else. The quote from AI says that the Mayor talked about the city hiring ex-felons and, in 2010, 10% of the hires were ex-felons which fits exactly what the Mayor has been doing since 2008 (in the linked 2008 article) in reworking the hiring manuals so ex-felons are not screened out automatically and are eligible to be hired by the city, not necessarily that positions are 'set aside' for them.

Whether or not people agree with Mayor Ballard on this program, I don't think it's fair to say it is inconsistent or new on his part.