Friday, May 8, 2009

Yesterday's CIB Meetings - The Saga Continues

Over at one of my favorite Democrat blogs, Indianapolis Times' Terry Burns does an excellent job of reporting on the insider meeting that took place at the Skyline Club. According to Burns, this was a partial list of attendees which numbered around 20:
  • Mayor Greg Ballard
  • Paul Okeson, Ballard's chief of staff
  • Tamara Zahn, president, Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.
  • Ted Boehm, chairman, Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission
  • David Lewis, Eli Lilly
  • Jerry Semler, chairman emeritus, American United Mutual Insurance
  • Roland Dorson, Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce
  • Joe DeGroff, Chairman, Indianapolis Sport Corp.
  • John Griffin, executive director, Central Indiana Building Trades Council
  • Joe Loftus, mayoral influencer
  • Jeff Smulyan, chairman, president and CEO, Emmis Communications
  • State Senator Jim Merritt

Burns reports:

According to those who attended the meeting, Ballard offered no new plans and no new ideas. His only solution to the CIB fiasco? Raise taxes. Lots of taxes. Tens of millions of dollars worth of taxes. Taxes. Taxes. Taxes.

Couldn't agree more. My only problem with Burns is that he can be a partisan (which isn't surprising since he's a former executive director of the Marion County Democratic Party and former communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party), and overlooks the role Democrats former CIB President Fred Glass and former Mayor Bart Peterson had in getting us in this mess, and the failure of Council Democrats to challenge the $15 million giveaway to the Pacers, the failure to ask for reform of the CIB, and the failure to advocate any solution that challenges the underlying notion of corporate welfare in this city.

Burns though has an excellent blog and I would highly recommend it. Back to his account of yesterday's CIB meetings. He also reports on a meeting that Colts owner Jim Irsay had with Council President Bob Cockrum and Minority Leader Joanne Sanders:

Meantime, over at the Colts Complex, Colts owner Jim Irsay met on Thursday with City-County Council leaders Joanne Sanders and Bob Cockrum.

For more than hour, the two council leaders listened to Irsay extol the virtues of the Colts and discuss the team's commitment to the city.

Neither side offered any specific proposals to bailout the CIB, but the trio, along with Colts VP Pete Ward, did spent a brief time time discussing the proposed ticket tax increase and its potential impact on the Colts and other professional sports teams in town.

As for the plan to have Colts contribute $5 million a year to bailout the CIB, it wasn't part of the conversation.

Remember folks, this is an organization that just about three months ago, jacked up ticket prices. As reported on my blog on February 14, 2009:

On the sports pages today is the announcement that the Colts organization is raising ticket prices in the upper deck of both end zones by $10. One of the sections will experience a 42% increase in ticket prices from $24 to $34. Another section will see ticket prices jump from $64 to $74, a 15% increase.

Isn't the Colts organization opposing a $3 tax on Colts tickets to help the City, i.e the CIB, pay for the operating costs of Lucas Oil Stadium on the basis that it could hurt ticket sales? Yet the Colts have no problem raising ticket prices by $10 so the organization can make more money. Is there any limit to the
arrogance of Irsay and company?

So the Colts oppose a a ticket tax that will result result in a minuscule percent increase in the price of tickets (but will greatly help out with the CIB deficit), on the basis that this will hurt their attendance. However, the organization has no problem increasing ticket prices 15% to 42%? Why would a smaller ticket tax increase hurt the Colts' attendance but a much larger increase in ticket prices won't? The obvious answer is that the Colts get to keep 100% of the profit from increased ticket prices and 0% of the increase in ticket prices due to a ticket tax. In other words, this is about nothing more than the Irsay's greed and his complete lack of concern for the people who live and work in this community.

Let's hope Cockrum and Sanders asked some hard questions of Irsay and didn't go to the 56th Street Complex star struck and engage in the same love fest that the Senate Appropriations Committee engaged in during the committee meeting dealing with the CIB bailout. Not a single Senator asked Colts or Pacers representatives whether they would actually contribute $5 million apiece to the bailout as leaders wanted them to as part of the tax package. Later, leaders learned the answer was "no."

Meanwhile, Mary Beth Schneider of the Indianapolis Star reports that Governor Mitch Daniels wants the CIB bailout to be part of the budget discussions. Does Governor Daniels not know the anger Marion County voters have over the proposed tax increases to bail out the CIB for its sports giveaways and general mismanagement? Fortunate for him, he doesn't have to face Marion County voters in another election if he pushes these tax increases. Mayor Ballard does and, as a result of his continued mishandling of this mess, his political career is over once his term mercifully comes to an end on January 1, 2012.

1 comment:

M Theory said...

Paul, Once upon a time we (the tax activists) were Ballard's insiders.

We never got a seat at the table, although we're the ones that did the work to get him there, he serves those we fought against.

Ballard is such a loser these days.