Going in, I expected maybe 10 or 15 people. Actually, about 40 or so showed up taking all the available seats. Young sat in a chair and took questions the entire two hours of the event.
Young is good at retail politics. He's good at talking to voters and telling them what they want to hear. Of course, he's likely going to vote however he wants to vote. That said, he did listen to the constituents in the audience intently often telling his staff to take notes on questions he couldn't answer or had not researched.
The topics ranged from mass transit to the 10 percent tax cut to the IMS tax breaks to Senate Bill 621 and lots of things in between. His answers, if you listened carefully, were pretty non-committal. For example, on the issue of mass transit, Young never really took a position. He kind of came down on both sides a bit. He agreed something had to be done, but he didn't exactly provide answers about what.
|Senator R. Michael Young|
Young said he supported the Pence tax cut and explained that the deal with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was only done once IMS put some of their money in the game. It's a $2 million required investment for IMS before any money flows their direction.
On Senate Bill 621, I took a moment at the microphone to tell him my concerns. Again, he listened. After the event ended, he came up to me on the sidewalk and we continued our conversation. Young seemed to be unable to understand that this looks like a power grab for the mayor...whatever person is in the office...and not necessarily just a power grab for the Republicans. I had to tell him again and again that my concern wasn't rooted in party interest but in the interest of what's best for the citizens of Indianapolis.
SB 621 would take many duties now under the Council or the County Commissioners of Marion County and place those responsibilities under the Mayor of Indianapolis.
In true skilled politician fashion, Young said he shared some of my concerns (about the bill he wrote).
To be honest, I left with a higher personal opinion of Young than I had going in. I think he's a person that does care about what his constituents think and have to say. That said, I'm not sure that he's going to take any of it into account. Young is going to do what he wishes to do with his power.
Probably the most telling moment of the entire two-hour event was the moment when Young said that SB 621 wasn't a power grab. A loud moan rose from the audience, and I laughed out loud. He continued to explain all the various forms of research that he had done and how Mayor Ballard had come to him and had proposed a few things once he made it known the bill was something he was interested in writing.
A tall union member seated in the front row said that Mayor Ballard had not asked for the elimination of the four At-Large City County Council seats. Instead of answering yes or no, Young laughed. It has been reported that Ballard says he didn't request the elimination of the At-Larges. When Young was pressed on what his laugh meant he said, "I didn't say that he requested them or not; I just laughed."
I suppose we should read between the lines on that one.