Friday, January 30, 2009

Indianapolis' Snowplowing Problems; Is Privatization Around the Corner?

There is little I hate more than the issue of snow removal in local elections. So much of what happens, or doesn't happen, is outside the Mayor's control, yet the Mayor gets the blame when things go wrong. It is sort of like the President being blamed for the economy, when in fact he is only one of many whose decisions impact the economy.

Nonetheless, it is hard to give the City a passing grade on the latest snowfall. Everyone knew the storm was going to hit and it was not so cold that salt would not have worked to melt the snow. As a side note, whatever happened to the rubber-tipped plows they used to put directly on the surface of the road when they plowed?

At about 3 p.m. on Wednesday, six hours after the snow had stopped, I finally got out of my neighborhood to the city's streets. (I, in fact, live very close to Mayor Ballard on the northwest side of the City.) I headed down to 38th Street. I missed my exit for the interstate and continued on 38th Street for awhile long to get another exit. The road was in horrible shape, even though it is a major thoroughfare through the city. I didn't think too much about it though. I knew when I got downtown the city's streets would be clear as they always are.

Wrong. The city's streets were clogged with snow, almost as if they had never been plowed. I got stuck twice on downtown streets, trying to get to my office. When I came back the next morning, it looked like the streets still had not been touched. It was only on the afternoon of the next day that apparently salt was applied and the snow on the streets melted. It was yesterday evening, traveling home after teaching at the University of Indianapolis, that I saw my first snowplow. The truck's blades were not down however.

Being a conspiracist, let me throw out this possibility. The City, after taking substantial criticism for its snowplowing efforts during the 2008-09 snow season, decides to privatize snow removal. Potential contractors kick a bunch of money to the politicians in the hopes of getting the lucrative contract. The City awards a 10 year, exclusive contract for snow removal, generating more political contributions from the tax revenue flowing from the contractor. The following years, with a 10 year monopoly contract in hand, the private company cuts corners to make more profit. Residents complain but to no avail. After all, the private company has a long-term, exclusive contract and the politicians, wanting to keep the kickbacks, whoops, I mean "contributions," coming, do not want to take on the private company.

Okay, even I don't believe the City would privatize snow removal by giving a contractor a long-term, exclusive contract. At least I hope not.


Leslie Sourwine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie Sourwine said...

I am curious; the streets weren't touched for 2 days? Doesn't the city have duty to attempt to remove the snow? If someone died on those streets would a tort claim be in order? Even, supposing the plowing was privatized. It would still be the city's responsibility to oversee the contract, correct? Or would it be another case of out of sight out of mind?

Leslie Sourwine quoting Ben Franklin; “A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats.”

Mary Jo said...

Snow or no Snow, Why Does Paul Ogden trust Doris Minton-McNeill more than Mayor Greg Ballard?

Find out at

Leslie Sourwine said...

Hey Mary Jo, it will cost you ten dollars each time you want to advertise your website on this blog. We need to collect back some of the taxpayer's money so we can feed our poor instead of big law firms and mayors who are lead around by the nose ring.

Leslie Sourwine says Ben Franklin hit the nail on the head when he said "Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn."

Anonymous said...

Man, these Republicans are vicious, sniping, little brats.

Abdul went undetected with IndyUndercover, and he's back at it with his new blog.

Remember, IndyU claimed to be issue-specific, but it was really just a GOP front group. There is no issue that finds Ogden an enemy of the people, so this new blog shows who was really behind IndyU - Republican hacks who hate free speech and will whatever means they can to destroy ideas and criticism.

Ogden is the future of the GOP, if it has one. Let Ballard resign and endorse Ogden, so Ogden can clean up the town and whip the GOP leadership and B&T into shape.

Leslie Sourwine said...


I second the motion, with Paul Ogden as Mayor the people will have a voice and ears without extra attached arms and legs following him around.

Leslie Sourwine

Anonymous said...

This is the same thing that's happening on a national level, and Rush was talking about it on the radio. There's an effort to destroy the credibility of those who are telling the truth about Obama's real agenda. Paul's effectiveness must really be scaring the hell out of them for them to resort to these vicious tactics.

Anonymous said...

Mary Jo, maybe because Ballard pooped on his supporters who spent thousands of their own dollars supporting his broke campaign, including his loyal driver.

Mayor dumb-dumb doesn't realize you don't poop on your drivers...they know FAR too much info, like who what when where and why. I can't wait for the next election to will be a DARK beginning.