Sunday, June 7, 2009

Governor Daniels Trashes Mayor Ballard's Handling of CIB Crisis

Behind Closed Doors in today's Indianapolis Star takes note of Governor Mitch Daniels' not so subtle criticism of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's handling of the CIB crisis:
With friends and fellow party members like these, Republican Mayor Greg Ballard hardly needs to look out for the Democrats.

That adage was popular before the mayoral election, when Republicans didn't think Ballard had a chance and wouldn't give him the time of day. And it's making a comeback now, as Gov. Mitch Daniels rides in to save the Capital Improvement Board.

After Ballard has struggled for months to get anyone to side with him on tax increases to save the cash-strapped CIB, Daniels offered a hand that bites.

In exchange for help, the governor would take two seats on the new board. The mayor would get three, the Marion County Commissioners would get two, and
the City-County Council and the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association each would get one.

The moves would effectively end the mayor's control of a board that would run the stadiums, the Indiana Convention Center, and now, other city properties.

At a joint news conference Thursday, Daniels directed a number of barely veiled insults at the city and the CIB. He called the CIB operations "embarrassing" because the expenses per dollar of revenue at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center were two to three times that of comparison cities.

"In category after category, particularly on the personnel side," Daniels said, "there were lots and lots of people and lots of spending beyond what seems to be necessary when you look at any other comparable facility."

And Daniels implied that the mayor should have hired an outside analyst, which he called a "smart business move," to study the CIB before proposing a tax increase.

The CIB crisis was revealed in January, but the city didn't start looking for outside analysis until late April.Ballard responded to Daniels' barbs with thanks.

"The governor was very gracious in what he did for us today," Ballard said.
We were going to bring people in to look at the operations. With his connections, he was able to bring in an organization, SMG, early on."
I refer back to the start of the article. I have always said all along that Mayor Ballard's biggest problem is his continued alienation of Republicans. Republicans have a minority of the vote in the county, my guess is about 45%. You can't get to 45% to 50% by only subtracting. Yet that is what Ballard has been doing, turning his back on the very populist-types who helped him get elected. Take the money out of the equation, Ballard could not win re-nomination in the Republican Primary. But even the millions of dollars Mayor Ballard is currently feverishly extracting from those doing business with the city, will only go so far to allow a very tarnished image to be polished sufficiently to win renomination, much less re-election.

There is still one thing Mayor Ballard can do to help immensely. Under the Daniels plan the only reason for any tax increases at all is for the CIB to continue with its proposal to pick up $15 million in operating costs for the Pacers on Conseco. The CIB has never voted on that, and the money is not required by the contract. Mayor Ballard needs to drop the $15 million gift to the billionaire Simons and drop the tax increases in the plan.

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