Friday, April 3, 2009

Matt Tully: Ballard Betrays His Common Man Roots

Indianapolis Star columnist Matt Tully this morning perfectly nails the frustration with Mayor Ballard and how he betrayed his former supporters and the populist beliefs he ran on in 2007.
Here's a guy who was elected against all odds in 2007 amid an anti-tax rage. Here's a guy who condemned the entrenched political system with a simple campaign slogan: "Had Enough?" Here's an average guy who became the darling of bloggers and activists who were furious with the way the city was being run.

Now, two years later, Ballard is spending his political capital on a massive bailout of the Indiana Pacers and the Capital Improvement Board, which runs the city's sports and convention facilities.
He was talking, of course, about a plan to raise tens of millions of dollars a year for the CIB through increased taxes on booze, sporting events and, once again, restaurant tabs and hotel rooms. A carefully crafted speech before the Senate Appropriations Committee was the latest sign that a mayor we all thought would focus on the nuts and bolts of the city is spending a good chunk of his second year in office worrying about our gleaming sports palaces.

The man who ran against the establishment in 2007 is now a card-carrying member of it. The guy who insisted that things had to be done differently now believes some things must be done the same old way.
Still, that doesn't excuse Ballard's unwillingness to use his bully pulpit to demand concessions from the Colts, to adamantly oppose another increase in the local restaurant tax or to demand that the state -- which actually built Lucas Oil Stadium -- do more to plug its operating deficit.
It's becoming clear that nobody in power is speaking out for the average taxpayer during these negotiations. City and state officials have huddled privately for months with the Pacers and the Colts in search of a deal. The public has been ignored.

As I listened to Mayor Ballard defer to lawmakers, I had a thought: What would Candidate Ballard -- you know, the outsider average guy -- have said about this process?
Tully's analysis, while terrific, only scratches the surface of the anger people feel towards him. The people who are the most angry are those who supported him thinking he would be different from the elitist, country club Republican types who lost the Mayor's office in 1999 and the majority on the council in 2003. Clearly they turned out to be wrong.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.