Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Smith's Straub Defense Misses Point

Erika Smith, a columnist from the Indianapolis Star, wrote an opinion piece on Tuesday morning that Indianapolis is making a mistake by running Frank Straub out of town.  I disagree.
Dr. Frank Straub
Public Safety Director

Straub was hired to make a difference.  He was hired to make a change.  Despite this fact and the changes that he made, Straub has presided over a Public Safety Department that is now deep in debt and still has serious issues.  He made little difference in the end.

Paul Ciesielski's resignation was not enough to cover Straub's shadow mismanagement of IMPD.  In the end, it had to be the Mayor or the Ballard Administration that got tired of the mess.  You see, the person with his name on the top line when it comes to public safety here in this community continues to be Greg Ballard, and Ballard did it to himself.  When he was elected in 2007, law enforcement in Marion County was the responsibility of the elected Sheriff, Frank Anderson.  Ballard wanted the mantle back, and he got it when he made a deal with the Sheriff and took back control of IMPD.

Even though he's the one ultimately responsible, Ballard wasn't going to resign over this mess even though public safety is supposedly job one for the Mayor.  Ciesieleski was likely asked to resign to save Straub's hide, and, after shaky Staub action in the wake of that resignation, the doctor himself was probably next.

I called for Straub to step aside after his appointee to take the place of Ciesielski was found to not even be eligible to be a police chief in Indiana.  It was a huge hit to his credibility that a person he handpicked for that job and hired on to the department was not certified appropriately.

On Friday, Dr. Straub did the right thing, and he resigned effective in August.  This isn't about an out-of-control City-County Council or people against reform as Smith would have you believe.  Everyone wants a police department that they can be proud of and can trust.  For the most part, I think we have that here in Indianapolis.  Smith pretty much glossed over that fact in her column on Tuesday.  She has oversimplified the situation.

Smith is apparently not aware that Indianapolis has a long history of change agents in its past.  People like Dick Lugar, Bill Hudnut, Tom Taggart, Julia Carson, and Andy Jacobs.  There is a long history of people of change in this community.  We have seen Indy change from Naptown to Super City in many of our lifetimes.

Ms. Smith, it's not that we don't like change; it's just that we don't like to be embarrassed.

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