Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Ballard's Next Four Years Figure to Be More Challenging Than First Four
Greg Ballard won reelection last Tuesday because people chose the status quo over a vision of the future, but that status quo was shaken a bit with the Republicans losing control of the City-County Council.
It's just the second time in the city's Unigov history that there has not been harmony between the Mayor and the Council. From 2000-2004, Mayor Bart Peterson served with a Republican Council. Now, starting in 2012, Greg Ballard will see just how tough it can be to govern when simply telling the Council President to make it happen isn't an option. It's going to be tougher sledding, and the challenges are going to be immense.
First of all, Indy's budget problems aren't going anywhere. The Mayor has benefited over the last few years from little scrutiny of his "honestly balanced budget" claim. With a Democratic Council, you can expect that Democrats might have a few different priorities than the Mayor. The Democrats will now scrutinize every page of the Mayor's proposed budget. Perhaps pulling money from TIFs to balance things may not be as easy as it used to be.
The Mayor had a few loyal Democrats that were willing to cross over to the Republican side to get things passed. Mary Moriarty Adams was returned to the Council, but Jackie Nytes is gone. This Democratic Council would seem to be more caucus minded, but you never know. Herding Democrats is like herding cats. Remember, Ballard will need two Democrats to join the Republicans to pass any part of his agenda. He can do it, but, without Nytes, it will be more difficult.
Finally, the Mayor's plan may not be the Council's plan any longer. I touched on this earlier, but the City-County Council can set a different course than the Mayor, and they can portray the Mayor as an obstructionist. Of course, Ballard can do the same thing, but, if the Democrats choose wise leadership, then the Mayor will come out on the losing end of that argument.
Of course, this is all speculation, and I hope that the Council and the Mayor find a way to work together without gridlock. Sometimes the best government can come out of a split in party between the legislative and executive branches. One side needs the other to get things done.
Therefore, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, it's a good time to be a blogger in Marion County because it's going to get really interesting around here.