Not only is Melina Kennedy proving to be the better, more informed, and more ready candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis, she's also running a better campaign, and every time Greg Ballard releases a new ad, it just underlines that assessment even more.
Ballard's latest bit of comedy stars another "real person" critic of Melina Kennedy. Almost everything that comes out of this, presumably, paid (female) actor's mouth is easily rebuttable. Certainly not the kind of tactics you might expect from a man that has a "double digit" lead as Marion County GOP Chair Kyle Walker wants you to believe the Mayor has over Kennedy.
Here's the ad.
Let's go point-by-point.
The ad is correct. Property taxes are indeed lower now than they were when Melina Kennedy was Mayor Bart Peterson's Deputy Mayor. That has NOTHING to do with the Mayor of Indianapolis. Ballard hopped aboard the Tea Party express on property taxes, and that angst carried him to the Mayor's Office. The fact is the Mayor has no control over property taxes and what happens in the Indiana General Assembly. The ball had begun to roll long before anyone knew who Greg Ballard was. And, furthermore, Bart Peterson knew the issue in 2007. He knew what a problem property taxes were then. I sat in a closed-door strategy meeting in 2007 where, for the first time, a politician explained the issue to me and the other Ward Chairs in Marion County. That was Bart Peterson. Many of us urged him to take his explanation to the airwaves and to YouTube, but his campaign chose unwisely to continue to run from ahead. It's one of the reasons he lost.
If Ballard wants to take credit for someone else's homework and over something he had no control, then he has to drop the criticism of Melina Kennedy for her stance on education. The Mayor, beyond the granting and supervision of the city's charter schools, has little direct control over education. Kennedy has been unfairly criticized, as Matt Tully points out in an excellent Sunday column, for wanting to make the Office of the Mayor a leader in education in this city. Unless he's willing to drop the campaign tactic of criticizing Kennedy's view, he needs to stop taking credit for something he did little more than advocate for at, frankly, the end of the third quarter (to use a sports metaphor).
Pushing that issue aside, the other two issues in the ad are Kennedy's support of a tax increase and the cutting of police officer positions during the Peterson Administration.
Kennedy, when she ran for Prosecutor, supported a tax increase to ease jail overcrowding at the Marion County Jail. The problem was that offenders were waiting too long for trial and they were not moving through the jail fast enough. The tax increase that was passed gave more revenue to the courts and to the Marion County Prosecutor to speed up the wheels of justice. As a result, the Marion County Jail went from being compared to a jail in Tijuana, Mexico to being one of the only accredited jails in the country. Of course, Mayor Ballard, trying to win a political campaign, won't tell you that he has supported over 140 tax and fee increases. He doesn't even try to rebut that in this ad. Instead, he puts a laser light focus on Kennedy's support of a worthy tax increase and makes it a focus of this campaign ad.
Another "don't go there" moment should have been this idea that somehow Mayor Peterson (and by extension, Kennedy) cut police officers. Let's go back to this post I wrote earlier this year after Ryan Vaughn penned what appeared to be a whopping lie in an Indy Star op/ed. He was apparently, like a good and loyal foot soldier, trying out this claim that the Peterson Administration cut officers. Peterson, in fact, added 200 officers which is more than the 44 officers I can come up with that Mayor Ballard has added. It's also well short of the 750 officers candidate Ballard promised us in 2007. So, again, he's opening up a dangerous battlefield for himself.
Ronald Reagan always used to say, "Shine a lantern on your problem," as a candidate. I'm not sure these are the problems Greg Ballard wants to shine a lantern on. He's definitely not fighting like a confident, battle-tested, front-runner. He's trying to land sloppy haymakers, and he's leaving himself open for the jab that's going to knock him to the canvass.
That comes on November 8.