Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Justice Center Proposal Gets Death Penalty

The Ballard Administration suffered yet another agenda setback Monday night when the City-County Council refused to revive the failed Justice Center proposal.

The proposal technically never reached the full council because the Ballard Administration could not twist enough arms and promise enough alleged kickbacks...I mean...incentives for the Council to put another huge city property or project on the city's credit card for taxpayers to pay back over some long period of time.

There's no question that Indy needs a new jail and needs it sooner rather than later.  The current jail is falling apart and maintenance costs are on the rise.  Marion County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Katie Carlson has said in public meetings that I've attended that when things break that at times parts have to be specially made to fix them due to the age of the facility.  The old parts just aren't stocked anymore.  She said that the safety of the Sheriff's Deputies and the inmates could be at risk if things continue to decline.

Ballard's plan unraveled over concerns the way the new justice center was bid out and how it would be financed.  WMB Heartland Justice Properties was chosen by the Ballard Admin to construct and operate the new facility leasing it back to the city for 35 years.  Disagreements over the cost of that plan and the location of the facility were also at the forefront.

Council President Maggie Lewis summed up the frustrations of the Council and many taxpayers in a statement.
“While there is widespread agreement on the pressing need to address our city’s outdated, inefficient criminal justice facilities, it is clear that there is no confidence that this proposal is affordable for taxpayers and its time has passed. 
Despite the concerns over this particular plan, however, we must not allow ourselves to ignore these critical criminal justice issues. That is why tonight, I call on all key stakeholders to join with the Council and participate in a renewed, bipartisan process to find a fiscally-responsible solution for our city‘s public safety needs. 
I again want to thank Mayor Greg Ballard, Sheriff John Layton, and all of the county officials who are working to address the systemic problems with our criminal justice facilities.”
In essence, it's time to hit the reset button and get a better deal for the entire city.  It's something the Council has done on Pre-K, infrastructure improvements, and public safety.  It's why the Council Democrats along with the promise of a new mayor seems to be the best option for the city in this case.

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