Saturday, February 14, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Saturday Morning

1. There is a backlash coming against corporate welfare in Indianapolis that is going to make the 2007 tax revolt against property taxes look like a picnic.

2. A good idea - privatization and its cousin public-private partnerships - have been horribly bungled in practice. They have become vehicles by which taxpayer money can be funneled to private companies which kick back that money to politicians. The whole concept of privatization was to bring competition into the delivery of services has long been forgotten. Instead these companies that are supposed to be competing to provide quality services are shielded from competition by making large campaign contributions and long term contracts. The money flowing into campaign coffers from these private businesses wanting taxpayer money has terribly corrupted our politics.

3. Don't forget the other revolving door - the one that exists between executive branch officials and companies that have privatization contracts. Unlike with the General Assembly, the problem is not people leaving government and going to work in the private sector. The problem is people coming from the private companies into key positions at government agencies and then that private company getting favorable contracts with that agency. Examples are Roy Templeton at Workforce Development and Mitch Roob at FSSA.

4. We have a real ethics problem in government that needs to be addressed. Conflicts of interest are rampant. People are using their position to personally profit. Taxpayer money is being channelled to private companies.

5. We need more openness in government. So much of what is wrong with government today happens because the players know their conduct is not going to be subject to public scrutiny.

6. We need a newspaper that will actually cover what is going on at the General Assembly. The Star's coverage is skimpy at best. Look at the newspaper coverage of the Indiana General Assembly 20 years ago as compared to today. Huge difference.

7. The Republican council members need to get some intestinal fortitude and confront the problems in the Mayor's office now. If not, they are going to pay the price with the loss of several seats and their majority in 2011.

8. I am a few months away from giving up hope completely on Mayor Ballard. He seems to have no idea how his populist ideas during his campaign have been completely thrown aside by the country club Republicans who he has let take over his administration. He also seems to have no idea that he can't win in a 44% Republican county running as anything but a populist.

9. I don't want to hear people say any more how it would be a good idea to elect someone to a high level office with no political experience. See No. 8. That has not worked out well.

10. After Mayor Ballard loses in 2011 and the Republicans lose the majority on the council, which election losses come after the Republicans lose all the county-wide races in 2010, the elitist Republican wing of the Marion County Republican Party needs to finally stepping aside. It is bad enough that that wing did nothing to help the Republicans win in 2007, yet claimed took over the administration after the election. In short, 2012 better see Tom John's resignation and Joe Loftus and Bob Grand booted from dominating local Republican politics. They had a chance to capitalize on the fortunate events of 2007 and led Republicans down the same old road of more corporate welfare and lining the pockets of insiders.

11. We need trial judges who will actually follow the law. I originally come from an appellate court background, having clerked for a judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals. Doing litigation what is shocking is that so many trial judges will blatantly ignore the law in their rulings knowing that litigants on the wrong side do not have the money to appeal their decisions.

12. We need a new selection process for Marion County judges. The current system where essentially party bosses pick the judges, is terrible for everyone except those party bosses. I am not a big fan of the Missouri Plan used for state appellate judges, but surely there has to be better alternatives.

13. If the Colts are smart they will agree to some changes in the sweetheart deal the team received and then use the concessions to garner positive PR. The Colts' positive image in the community is built almost completely on their winning record. They start losing and this community is going to want to run them out on the rail.

14. The Pacers would be wise to drop the idea of the community giving them $15 million more dollars in the form of picking up additional expenses at Conseco.. There is going to be a backlash against the team if that money comes from the community in the form of higher taxes, of any kind.

15. Someone should investigate why the Capital Improvement Board, would at the outset of negotiations, concede taking on $15 million more of the cost of running the Conseco Fieldhouse from the Pacers and built that into their budget assumptions. That's not the way you do a negotiation.

I'll add more thoughts later.


Downtown Indy said...

We live in a 21st century world with an 18th century election process. This is an age of instant communication, yet campaigning lasts for 2 years in many cases.

There are two problems with this:

1. Politicians are nearly always campaigning and their elected office becomes a secondary job.

2. Campaigning is a ridiculously expensive process.

Elections need to come into the 21st century and be wrapped up in at most a couple of months. If a candidate cannot make their case in that amount of time, they never will. In fact, given more time than that only allows them create a fake personae to reel in those who are have short memories and are easily fooled.

Lengthy campaigns also serve to defeat '3rd party' candidates, which usually start strong with a popular message but who fade before the election gets here. They seem to never morph into one of those fake personalities like the 'Big 2' do, and while their principles are intact their campaign winds up in shambles.

Ballard's come-from-behind is an exception to the rule where the one with the most money wins. But even in that case, the election was run on credit and the payback has been a b**ch, as it will continue to be.

There are millions donated to election campaigns and there's 100 times that expected back in favors. Until that is dealt with and taken out of the decision to run for office, politicians will be mostly crooks.

The way to start down that road is to have quick and concise campaigns so the honest and non-wealthy can have a fair shot at winning.

Patriot Paul said...

Wow, Paul,
I agree with your broad brush this morning, but next time, remind me to read it before breakfast;not after. I just lost the pancakes and coffee.
What is nice is that you offer suggestions; not just the chronic, vitriolic and self destructive diatribes obsessed in other blogs.
Both you and Advance Indiana have a handle on the conversations that the populace cannot investigate or articulate. Grassroots Hoosiers are tired of the Star News satires and local talk show airheads ocupying a warm seat with a cold heart and a microphone buried where the sun doesn't shine.
Keep up the good work.

Doug said...

Just one data point, but I recall the battle to take printing of bills for the General Assembly in-house. I forget the name of the private vendor, but they were charging a hefty price-per-page to print the bills. I think at one time this was justified since they had to modify the bills based on the printer's instructions in the various amendments which can be complicated business. But, eventually, LSA took over that job, but the printing price never really came down.

Anyway, Senator Harrison, in particular, was a vocal opponent of taking the printing in-house; with dire warnings that heads would roll if he found mistakes in the printing. But, eventually, the printing was taken over by LSA with the end result being that the General Assembly saved a good chunk of money.

I'm not sure if private vendors could do the job any more efficiently and cheaply than LSA did it for the General Assembly. But, regardless of whether it was possible, it seemed to be set up so that even if possible, it wasn't going to happen -- probably for the reasons you suggest privatization has gone astray.

Anonymous said...

I assume that you are aware of Ballard's next foray into creating government efficiency. They are proposing to create a new department and hire new employees (CFO) etc. for this separate department. Instead of keeping the Division of Compliance within the Department of Metropolitan Development, they are proposing to create the Office of Code Enforcement, with the current administrator of Compliance becoming the new director (can you say power play -supposedly he wanted to be DMD Director)and bringing in enforcement and permitting activities from other agencies under one roof. Unfortunately, details are lacking. By the way, they are already supported by fees; nothing new here. I can't imagine what the purposed of creating another board will be. See below.

Mayor Ballard creates Office of Code Enforcement
Agency Designed to Support City Departments in Efforts to Make Indianapolis More Livable

INDIANAPOLIS – Mayor Greg Ballard announced today the creation of the Office of Code enforcement as part of a comprehensive effort to make the City safer and more livable. The Office is charged with strategically and efficiently enforcing environmental and other quality of life laws and maintaining a clean environment for our community.

“From the outset, I’ve been a champion of the theory that broken windows left in disrepair lead to crime,” explained Mayor Ballard. “Since the beginning of my administration, we have worked to improve our ability to help people comply with our quality of life standards and to prosecute those who refuse to comply. Now, as our public safety personnel proactively work to prevent and fight crime, we will have an entire team alongside them whose sole purpose, by focusing on civil code enforcement, is to keep our city beautiful and prevent areas from slipping into crime.”

The Office of Code Enforcement streamlines the City’s licensing, permitting, inspection, and abatement functions into one entity. Prior to the Mayor’s Executive Order creating the Office, the departments of Metropolitan Development (DMD), Parks and Recreation, Public Safety, and Public Works and the Office of Finance and Management each had related but separate, functions relating to code enforcement.

Rick Powers, who has served the City since 2001 as the Administrator of the Division of Compliance within DMD, will lead the new office.

“In the past, citizens seeking City licensing, permitting, or inspection services relied upon processes and laws embedded in several different agencies of government,” said Powers. “Creation of this new Office brings us closer to one-stop shopping for a myriad of services and provides an agency that is accountable to the Mayor, the Council, and citizens for all civil code enforcement matters.”

In the coming weeks, the Mayor will submit a proposal to the City-County Council to make the Office a permanent city department, effective with the next budget. That proposal will create a Board of Code Enforcement made up of members of the public to oversee this new entity. Additionally, the proposal will require the department to be funded through fees charged to those who violate laws. Self-funding will free up property tax dollars to support other city services.

The Office will coordinate closely with the departments that will be transferring agencies and functions to its purview, and it will continue to work in concert with DMD, strengthening its ability to redevelop abandoned housing as its highest priority. The Office of Corporation Counsel, which doubled the size of its City Prosecutor staff in 2008, will continue to prosecute civil code violations.

Unigov said...

Ballard is even less into code enforcement any more than Peterson was. It's like pulling teeth to get violations cleaned up.

A mayor who would appoint Bob Grand to head the CIB is no longer the mayor, he is a puppet. To me the Grand appointment is the end of Ballard, he might as well resign and go back to whatever it was he did before.

M Theory said...

U...Before Ballard was Mayor he hung out at property tax protests and fought alongside the people.

Anonymous said...

You forgot a few Paul:

16) Will Tom John learn that referring to African-American Republicans as animals is not a good thing for his future even if he does have the chairmanship locked up.

17) Will Brizzi undertand that no matter how many birthday fundraisers he holds his political career is over. Remember "voters have a choice, lapdancers don't"

18) Will Abdul recover from his SpectorProgate spy virus issue with Beth White's office?

19) Will Ryan Vaughn realize that he is the Jon Elrod of the Council, like the old platex bra commerical trying to look appealing with no visible means of support.

20) What will Barb Malone do after she finds out what Tom John said about her after she called to complain about a planned Committee change. Hmmm "pushy b___k b___ch" is so pro diversity. Yep that's the Bulen way right Tom?

Anonymous said...

Hey anon 2:44 you have stirred up a hornets nest. Tom is furious making apologetic "that's not what I meant" phone calls right now and get this - has asked Abdul to help him smooth this over...I'm sure he's trying to reach Barb tonight as well with is nasal whining apology.

Anonymous said...

It'd be Grand to dump Grand.

Anonymous said...

Well, it looks like Abdul is doing all he can to help ole Tom John out. He has certainly damaged his credibility for being a shill for these Indianapolis mafia-type bosses. These people are no better than Blago.

M Theory said...

Anon 2:44...good work. This blog is turning out as good as the old Indy Undercover, but better.

Anonymous said...

What I find hilarous is the fact that the Marion County GOP are the laughstock at the Statehouse. No one is buying Grand's lobbying efforts, a few elected officals are quietly hoping "Mayor Mumbles" testifies again, for a few cheap laughs, Abdul has no credibilty in EITHER party. Most think he's a pandering minstral, Tom John is a DUI waiting to happen. And the funny part these guys think they have the respect of their peers. Personally I can't wait until March 1st. The jokes in the crowd about these guys will be priceless

Anonymous said...

Your point about Indiana judges is naive. They aren't merely ignoring the law, they're taking orders from people in government and in private power and deliberately ruling against the law for personal enrichment or advancement.

We have no law. We're governed by thugs in robes crafting ad hoc rules that dissolve as soon as the next case is filed that would rely on the ruling.

America has failed. Our judges are liars, and the law is only upheld when it benefits the state. It's time to closely read the Second Amendment and the Declaration of Independence.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."