Me thinks Ed Treacy doth protest too much.
In 2007 Greg Ballard promised three things: lower taxes, more transparency, and more accessibility. Today, he failed on all three counts.
After being asked by Mayor Ballard to meet on issues regarding the Capital Improvement Board, the Indianapolis/Marion County Democratic City-County Council caucus sought to finally bring the Mayor into the public light by themselves asking Indianapolis’ media to join them at the meeting. Sadly, this effort at transparency, bi-partisanship and finding solutions in a open and accessible manner was thwarted by the Mayor when he kicked the media out of the meeting. Unsurprisingly, the Mayor also reiterated his desire for several tax increases.“
This represents yet another example of Mayor Ballard trying to increase our taxes in the shadows, beyond public scrutiny. Council Democrats sought to bring transparency to the Mayor’s office, and instead the public was yet again shut out,” said Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy.
“Not only does the Mayor want to increase our taxes, but he wants to do so in the dark,” Treacy added.
It's not that Treacy's remarks are not accurate. The Capital Improvement Board bailout has been bungled by Mayor Ballard from day one. He's backed out on his promise for lower taxes and the decision-making in his administration has been anything but transparent. But as Welsh notes in his Advance Indiana column, the Democrats have hardly had clean hands when it comes to the CIB matter or the issues of which Treacy complains. Let's examine the Democrats record with respect to the CIB:
- The CIB has run a deficit the last 10 years, eight of which have been under the Democrat administration of Bart Peterson.
- It was Democrat Fred Glass, then President of the CIB, who signed the sweetheart deal that resulted in the Lucas Oil Stadium giveaways that is responsible for at least $20 million of the CIB deficit.
- The CIB operations were extremely secretive under Fred Glass, who even at one point barred Channel 16 from covering their meetings. While the current moves toward CIB openness under President Bob Grand appear to nothing more than an effort to present a dog and pony show following deals cut in the backroom, at least it is a step in the right direction.
- The Council Democrats have not proposed an investigation of the CIB operations to find out how the Board ended up in such a large financial hole.
- The Council Democrats have have not demanded any sort of reform of the CIB operations so this problem doesn't happen again.
- The Council Democrats have not asked for the resignation of Bob Grand, who has an enormous conflict of interest representing the Simons who own the Pacers while at the same time being President of the CIB and presiding over the Pacers' fate.
- The Council Democrats have not asked for an investigation of how the CIB came to decide, without a public vote, to pick up $15 million in operating costs for the Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse.
- In fact, the Council Democrats have completely accepted the premise of picking up all $15 million in operating expenses at Conseco Fieldhouse, a building which the Pacers (i.e. the Simons...the Democrats' biggest campaign contributor) will get 100% of the revenue off of.
- Council Democrats have refused any option that would hold the Pacers and/or Colts accountable and make the teams primary responsible for closing the deficit instead of the taxpayers.
- Council Democrats have not proposed any option other than giving the CIB more taxpayer money.
While Mayor Ballard's claim that he inherited the CIB mess is accurate, he has bungled the solution to that mess so badly as to jeopardize the future of the Marion County Republicans for years to come. Still the Democrats should not get off the hook for their past mismanagement of the CIB, their unwillingness to investigate or reform the Board, and their failure to offer any proposal of their own except for giving the CIB more taxpayers money. Mayor Ballard has given the Democrats a chance to show real leadership and instead they demonstrate hypocrisy and a lack of interest in standing up for Marion County taxpayers. In other words, just more of the same elite, country club politics we've grown accustomed to from the two parties here in Indianapolis.