Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ballard Administration Enlists Indianapolis Children's Choir To Fight Crime

At an anti-crime rally Monday at Wishard Hospital, Public Safety Director lauded the crime fighting efforts of the Ballard administration by bragging how the administration has given away $4.5 million in "community crime-prevention grants" to 60 organizations.

Front and center in the Star article on the rally is a $50,000 grant the administration gave to the Indianapolis Children's choir. The choir runs a program with Dance Kaleidoscope and the Madame Walker Theater Center. Dan Steffy, the choir's executive director conceded they don't spend time battling crime, but justified the grant saying, "[w]e help prevent crime just by the nature of what we do."

Or the money could go to the salaries the choir pays out. You would think an outfit called the "Children's Choir" would consist of interested local citizens contributing their time, right? Think again. This is Indianapolis. Henry Leck, founder and artistic director of the choir, makes $111,214 according to the organization's most recent tax return. Steffy hauls in $83,127, Janet Bishop, Managing Director, makes $57,228

The print version of the star lists the six top crime fighting grants given out by the Ballard administration this year:

  • United Neighborhood Centers: $440,000
  • Wishard Health Centers $257,000
  • Fathers and Families Center $200,000
  • Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition $170,000
  • Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. $160,000
  • Progress House, Inc. $160,000

I previously did an expose on Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. which has stashed away millions in investments, most of which originated as taxpayers dollars, while paying its officers lavish salaries.

If the administration insists on giving away taxpayer money on projects only indirectly associated with curbing crime, one wonders why fixing the pools for this summer's swim season did not rank as a higher priority.


Downtown Indy said...

A 2% drop in overall crime? They tout that as a 'decline?' I call it a statistically-insignificant 'bobble.' Show me the longer term trend, Scott.

Patriot Paul said...

Was the 4.5 million a pilot program, or has this been a yearly standard?
I can't imagine singing our way out of crime.

I know said...


A legal firm that does millions in business with the City, a Indianapolis Corporation or maybe the Pacers, Colts or Indians could each adopt a pool and be the sponsor. Any kid wold love to see a Colts logo, a Pacer logo or an Indians logo on the bottom of the pool.

The amount of money to fix and maintain a pool is far greater advertising than a bill board on the interstate.

Any legal firm could write off their contribution as risk management in fixing pools that might prevent an injury. Saving the City from a potential lawsuit.

Indianapolis needs to go back to the roots of public partnership and get rid of the private ventures.

Communities thrive when people work together to prevent crime and raise the quality of life in the entire community and not just in a district with an invisible line that benefits a few good old boys and lines some pockets.

Indianapolis, it is time to be civic minded and not self indulgent

Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm thinking maybe to fight gang violence they will encourage the gangs to sing and dance, sort of like West Side Story.

Baloo said...

Remember Public Safety is Job One.

Paul I sent you a time-line on the info you asked me about. It might have went to your junk mail again.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I will look for it.

Crossed said...

Is this part of the $25 million grant payout to the black ministers?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Crossed, I don't know. That $25 million figure seems too high.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I don't know if they have been doing these every year. I think this year they've gotten even more creative regarding who can qualify for a crime grant.

jabberdoodle said...

This is from Peterson's income tax hike. $10M per year was to go to hire 100 new cops. That never happened. $5M per year to grants to help prevent crime. Ballard spent the first year's $5M on something else and I'm not sure we'll ever see the grants again - I'll be looking. The City is taking $500K for operating expenses - not sure its warranted, but they are nonetheless. So, 100 new cops wasn't considered relevant to fighting crime, but the Children's Choir and IDI are.

I am sure there are programs that are particularly keyed on curbing crime - job training for ex-cons and at-risk youth programs -- that could benefit from the dollars and which would in turn benefit the City.

IDI shouldn't be anywhere on the list of recipients -- just another way of funneling money to a group who either duplicate the efforts of others or hire other firms to do the work they 'contract' for. As pointed out by Paul, the handling charges of IDI in fat salaries are real monies the City could be saving.

And, yes, this $5M was Peterson's effort to ease down the tensions created when the group of black ministers, backed by Olgen Williams, suggested the City should fund their efforts to the tune of $25M per year.

Patriot Paul said...

Jabber, one might infer a targeted shakedown, but I doubt it will translate into votes.