Thursday, March 12, 2009

Forecasting Republican Council Primary Battles in 2011

"When you stray, you have to take the results." Those were the words of Indianapolis City-County Council President Bob Cockrum in explaining the decision to retaliate against Libertarian Ed Coleman who left the Republican Party after frustration with the council leadership. Coleman had been asking questions about the Capital Improvement Board and requesting full disclosure of the records of the often-secretive Board. That did not sit well with Republican leadership of the council and Coleman found himself ostracized within his own party.

"When you stray, you have to take the results."

Council President Bob Cockrum may well find his words used against him. Across town, the Indiana General Assembly next month will be entering the final stage of this long legislative session. There has been no bailout provision even offered for public consideration. Yet Mayor Greg Ballard and key leaders are talking as if the CIB shortfall will be dealt with this session. For those who know the legislature, that translates into an 11th hour insertion of the provision in a bill (most likely the budget bill) during a conference committee, where public testimony is not allowed. So at the legislature, the public will not be allowed to even raise concerns about higher taxes going for the city's sports teams.

"When you stray, you have to take the results."

The legislation on the CIB bailout will most likely take the form of giving the authority for the Indianapolis City-County Council to raise taxes. Quite possibly those taxes will include raising the food and beverage tax to 3%, and raising hospitality taxes such as hotel and rental car taxes. The tax increases would make Indianapolis' food and beverage taxes and hotel taxes some of the highest, if not the highest, in the country.

"When you stray, you have to take the results."

It is clear that the Mayor Ballard's administration will push hard for these tax increases, hoping to solve all of CIB's financial problems (at least for now) in one fell swoop, like quickly tearing off the proverbial band-aid. Given the penchance for arm-twisting shown by those like Joe Loftus and Bob Grand, you can expect that Republican council members to be under enormous pressure to support the Ballard administration's tax increases. Expect Cockrum, and council leaders Lincoln Plowman and Ryan Vaughn, to carry the administration's agenda of higher taxes to bail out the CIB. It is quite possible, that Democrats, sensing a golden opportunity to label Republicans with unpopular tax increases going into the 2011 election, will let the matter become a party line vote.

"When you stray, you have to take the results."

I'm sorry, but my Republican philosophy does not involve raising taxes on people in order to hand the money over to wealthy sports owners and other corporate interests. Yet that is exactly what has been happening under both Republican and Democratic administrations for the past several decades. In years past, the parties were able to get away with corporate welfare schemes that have dominated local politics. But if council members haven't noticed, the people are angry about the CIB and the sports teams. If Council members think they can pass additional tax increases to give more money to sports teams in the middle of what will likely turn out to be the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, they are in for a surprise.

"When you stray, you have to take the results."

In the past, city politicians have almost always been shielded by the consequences of their actions by Marion County's slating system, found virtually nowhere else in the State of Indiana, or the country for that matter. That system, on paper at least, was originally designed so that precinct committemen who do the grunt work in the party can make recommendations to the party's primary voters. In practice, the slating system is easily manipulated by party bosses who fill scores and scores of vacancies with "mummy dummy" PCs whose only job is to attend the slating convention and vote "the right way," i.e. the way party leaders want them to vote.

"When you stray, you have to take the results."

In my crystal ball, I can clearly see that a vote by Republican councilors to raise taxes to bail out the CIB will likely trigger a movement to unseat those councilors who strayed from Republican philosophy in 2011. I think most likely that challenge will involve candidates running against those Republican councilors in open primaries, not rigged slating conventions. I can't speak for the Democratic Party, but since this issue of raising taxes to give more money to wealthy billionaire sports owners crosses party lines, I expect Democrats who vote to raise those taxes for the CIB to also face opposition to being renominated.

"When you stray, you have to take the results."

Yep, Bob Cockrum, there will be consequences for straying for straying from Republican philsophy and shafting city taxpayers. You can count on it.

6 comments:

Patriot Paul said...

There WILL be taxes, but targeted to those who closest to benefit from the entertainment. The city may feel it has no choice since we simply cannot walk away from these white elephants. Marion and donut counties are already paying an unfair burden by virture of nothing except living in close proximity to these horribly indebted structures. Penalizing Hoosiers each time they eat out or use a rental car or attend a play is a sad economic tool to use for the CIB's colossal ineptitude. Big Brother has come to a theatre near you.

Paul K. Ogden said...

The gap is way too large to close with something like ticket taxes. It will have to be a lot more than that or the gap doesn't get closed. I get the impression they're going to try to close it in one fell swoop instead of piecemealing it.

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

Ogden sounds just like a Libertarian to me!

Abdul said if you want a Libertarian Mayor in Indianapolis...

Cockrum's stepping right in it!

The Facebook advertising running now for the Revolt directly targets sports billionaire funding.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Sorry, Melyssa, I still believe the best way to beat these elitist, country club Republicans is by retaking my political party. The handwriting is on the wall. They couldn't begin to win an election on their own in Marion County pursuing the pro corporate welfare agenda they are on now. The 2007 election was won by Mayor Ballard running as a populist, not on the corporate welfare agenda he's on now.

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

And you know Paul, I don't mind helping out the liberty arm of the republican party. Although, I'm still bruised over what Ballard did to us.

And Paul, I'm convinced there are a lot of Libertarians operating within the Republican party. You don't have to call yourself one to act like one.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Melyssa,

Actually there are a ton of Libertarian-leaning Republicans. You see them come out of the woodwork when it comes to things like red light cameras and the requirement that arrestees provide DNA samples.