Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mayor Ballard Takes Stand Against City Taxpayers

I was extremely surprised to see city lawyers filing to dismiss the lawsuit my law firm filed on behalf of Indianapolis taxpayers’ lawsuit to obtain a return of millions of dollars that Sports Corporation should have paid to the City pursuant to the terms of the original 1985 agreement. It would have been one thing for the Sports Corporation to have filed such a motion on its own. But for City Legal, with attorneys paid for with taxpayer dollars, to spend countless hours at taxpayer expense working with the Sports Corporation to prepare and file such a motion against Indianapolis taxpayers, is rubbing the salt in the wounds of people already overtaxed due to this city's giveaways.

I would point out that this action comes at the very same time when the city is desperate for money because another public-private partnership, Lucas Oil Stadium, is “bleeding cash.” This was an easy political issue for the Mayor. The decision to do this deal was made at the 11th hour by Mayor Peterson’s people. The City-County Council was kept completely in the dark. While I’m sure Mayor Ballard is telling the truth that he was told of the deal, I highly doubt they told Mayor Ballard the deal to reduce the plaza requirement had a $6 million fiscal impact. After all, the Peterson people did not even bother to include that little fact in the resolution introduced at the Metropolitan Development Commission.

One thing that is missed in all this is why the City and the Sports Corporation would attempt to dismiss the case at this stage, a very unusual move. I would suggest the obvious: the City and the Sports Corporation are taking this action now because they want to avoid going through the discovery process which will likely lead to full disclosure of all the facts behind the deal, including the people who profited. Instead of doing the right thing now and lean on the Sports Corporation to cough up the money, Mayor Ballard has chosen to take a political bullet for the former Mayor by taking, at taxpayer expense no less, a stand against city taxpayers and in favor of corporate welfare.

I can only guess that such extremely foolish political advice comes from some of Mayor Ballard’s close advisors who also were eating from the City’s corporate welfare trough before Mayor Ballard was elected, quite possibly people who profited directly or indirectly from the Pan Am deal, or perhaps who sit on the board of the Sports Corporation. It’s a shame because those conflicted advisors he leans on have little, if any, interest in the Mayor's political future, certainly less than Republicans like myself who are left in a position of sharply criticizing a Mayor we so want to support. If Mayor Ballard had any idea how angry members of his own party are at him, including most of the very people who helped him get elected, perhaps he would choose a wiser political course.

4 comments:

Diana Vice said...

Are these Barnes & Thornburg Attorneys? Sarah Palin is right about the fact that lobbyists/lawyers are corrupting Washington! I've seen this lobbying monster up-close-and-personal at the statehouse. An out-of-state roofing vendor paid Indy attorneys from big Indy law firms to lobby high ranking government officials to protect their corporate interests at the expense of overburdened taxpayers. We must do what Palin did. Stand up to the cronyism and politicians and tell them enough is enough! I love this blog. Keep up the good work.

http://diana-vice.blogspot.com/

Paul Ogden said...

Thanks, Diana. It's tough to tell who made this foolish political decision. But behind the scenes Mayor Ballad's top political advisors are Bob Grand, managing partner at Barnes & Thornburg, and Joe Loftus, also a partner at Barnes & Thornburg. The head of city legal, Chris Cotterill, is a former Barnes & Thornburg attorney.

In addition to Bob Grand being chairman of the Capital Improvement Board, he also serves on the board of the Sports Corporation. His firm makes a lot of money on city legal work that's been directed to that law firm since Mayor Ballard took over. Grand also represented John Bales of Venture Real Estate in "negotiating" a no-bid contract with the City so that Venture would have the exclusive right to sell city property.

I must assume that Mayor Ballard has no idea how angry many Republicans are at him. He needs to retake control of his administration by cleaning house. The people advising him need to be people who put him No. 1. That's obviously not going on now. No political advisor truly interested in the Mayor's welfare would have suggested making many of the decisions he's made thus far.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised at all Paul. Barnes & Thornburg took over the Mayors office immediately after they election. They plan to rape and pilfer the city until Ballard loses his office in 2012, afterall B&T is not accountable to the city, Ballard is and they didn't and still don't like him. He just a sucker and is too naiive to understand what's really going on. I will be working for the other guy/girl this time. You think we beat up on Peterson, we're going to have a lot of fun with Ballard. He's giving us SO much to work for, but this time we're going to insist on some indictments.

Paul Ogden said...

Anon,

I am not going to give up hope yet on Mayor. He is a retired Marine after all. I just think he's being kept isolated from what is really going on.

My hope is that when he realizes what is going on, he'll take charge and clean house in his administration. (Maybe I'm the one who is naive.) I talk to a lot of media types and they to a man or woman, do not think the Mayor is running the show, that his conflicted advisors (AI's term for advisors who have conflicts of interest) used the Mayor's newness to politics/government as an opportunity to jump in and run things. That would explain why the Mayor passes up political opportunities to stand up for taxpayers and instead defends corporate giveaways made under the previous adminstration. While it may be in the Mayor and the taxpayers interest to take a stand, it's not in the advisors' interests because they have a stake in those decisions.

As far as B&T influence on this administration, my guess is the media soon will be looking into it if they are not already.