Friday, March 29, 2013

Abdul Running Defense for Ballard on SB 621

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
I read Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Star column in defense of Senate Bill 621 this morning, and it's a well-written piece of political opinion.  That is...except all the parts he left out.

My friend Abdul's piece focuses pretty much on how Democrats have overreacted to Senate Bill 621 and how it has harmed their case.  It, like many Abdul pieces, goes pretty easy on Mayor Ballard portraying him as the benevolent dictator that will soon inherit all the powers sent down from Mount Mike Young to him.

Like many bill supporters, including Young himself, Shabazz brings up things that happened 10-15-25 years ago when talking about the possible elimination of the At-Large seats, and, like Young, proves he's incapable of looking at this in any other way than Democrat vs. Republican.

The fact is that neighborhood group leaders from Nora to MCANA to Decatur Township have all spoken out against many provisions of the bill.  I sat at a Town Hall on Saturday morning for Senator Young where, in the town of Speedway, NOT ONE of the 40 or so persons in attendance spoke in favor of the bill except for the Senator.

Abdul BFF and Indpls Mayor
Greg Ballard
Young directly argued to me that this is not a power grab bill because of the changing political landscape of Marion County and that Ballard may be the last Republican mayor for a while.  I couldn't get him to answer whether he would pursue changing the legislation when the Democrats take office or not.

What I have heard from neighborhood leaders and citizens at that Town Hall was that the At-Large Councillors are sometimes more responsive than the district councillors.  I have seen that in action.  I have also seen, for example, Democrat Zach Adamson work in a bipartisan manner with Republican Jason Holliday to try to make things happen that would benefit Decatur Township, and they've had success.

Republicans from Richard Lugar to current Councillor Christine Scales have spoken out loudly and in public against provisions of the bill.  Scales even was rebuked by her own caucus for stepping out of line.  Somehow Abdul missed all of that.

That leads me to two conclusions.  First, this should be Abdul's theme song every time you see him praise or write about Mayor Ballard.

Second, Abdul fails to see that Democrats are arguing against their own eventual interest.  I can't wait to see all he will write when a Democrat is in the Mayor's Office about his or her appointments.  Maybe the way that future mayor handles the budget.  Just remember all of this.

I will say it again, this is not about Republicans vs. Democrats.  This is about the voice of the people being overturned by legislation at the Statehouse.  Removing Council power and handing it to the Mayor of Indianapolis is harmful no matter who sits in the chair on the 25th floor of the City-County Building.

Finally, Abdul's character that he plays on TV and his blogs is funny quite often.  Sometimes I agree with him and find his opinions insightful sometimes I laugh at the hub-bub around him because he freely admits he's a "political arms dealer."  People take him way too seriously.

It's at times like this, when he tries to play journalist, I find him rather maddening.  He's smarter than this and knows exactly what's going on.  The only thing he's trying to do is push buttons, and this bill really isn't the one to be pushing buttons on.  This is the kind of bill that, changing the characters to Congress and President Obama, would have people crowding town halls and protesting on Lafayette Square.

"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  --Lord Acton

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