Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Civil War Brewing In Marion County GOP?; Mayor, Council and GOP Chairman Tom John Align With City Elites and Repudiate Republican Philosophy

I never thought I would see the day when the Marion County GOP Chairman would actually issue a press release bragging about how a Republican Mayor and Republican-controlled City-County Council pushed through a tax increase, in particular one that is destined to end up in the pockets of the city's elites, including billionaire professional sports owners. Chairman Tom John speaks for the country club wing of the GOP:
Tonight, the City-County Council preserved 66,000 jobs, thanks to Republicans. In a near party-line vote, the Republican-led Council displayed courage and leadership when they voted to restructure the CIB. The hotel occupancy tax was increased from nine to ten percent.

Mayor Ballard and his Republican team continue to show their dedication to the citizens of Indianapolis. Not only did they save 66,000 jobs, but they protected Indianapolis homeowners from a broad-based tax increase and opened up millions of dollars in new funding sources for the city. Democrat Jackie Nytes also understood the gravity of the moment and voted for the future of our city.

The convention and hospitality industry fuels downtown Indianapolis, and Indianapolis is the economic engine of the state of Indiana.

Marion County Republican Chairman Tom John commented on the vote.

"Republicans are showing the people of Indianapolis what leadership looks like. Residents have been protected from any broad-based tax increases, and all of us can look forward to a vibrant city for years to come. Democrats, with the exception of Jackie Nytes, played political games with 66,000 jobs in Marion County. We passed the best solution to a problem created by the failed leadership of Democrats."

Not only did the administration and Council create a plan to save jobs, but the Mayor presented a balanced budget that turned a projected $200 million deficit in 2012 into an expected $50 million surplus - all without raising taxes on the citizens of Marion County.

This was a good night for good government.
The members of the newly-chartered Marion County chapter of the Indiana Republican Liberty Caucus certainly did not think the vote was one for "good government." In its inaugural meeting just eight days before last night's council vote, the local chapter of the ILRC voted unanimously in favor of a resolution asking fellow Republicans on the council to vote against the CIB bailout measure, which included a proposal that would give Indianapolis one of the highest hotel taxes in the country and sets into motion a plan for additional borrowing and tax increases.

The people who make up the ILRC are the very type of people who worked tirelessly to get Greg Ballard elected Mayor in 2007 and feel betrayed by his rejection of Republican philosophy and adoption of tax and spend policies reminiscent of the Democrats. These are also the same type of people who rejected the candidate of the country club wing of the Republican Party, Ryan Vaughn, endorsed by Mayor Ballard, in the Senate District 30 vacancy contest in favor of the more reform-minded Scott Schneider.

Council Republicans have foolishly convinced themselves that since these will be "visitor" taxes, there will be no political consequences to their voting to increase taxes despite the fact that many of them pledged not to do so when they were elected in 2007. This wishful thinking is akin to whistling while walking through a graveyard at night, oblivious to the graves that surround the pedestrian.

But those council Republicans might want to back up their election concerns from November 2007 to May 2007. By their vote last night, they sent the clear message that they have no problem casting aside Republican philosophy and election promises regarding taxes when the city's elites demand that they do so. While that might please the city's elites, it does not please rank and file Republicans who make up the majority of the Republican electorate.

Last night could end up being much more than a ill-advised Council Republican led vote to increase taxes to bail out the ill-managed CIB. It could have well been the first shot in the civil war that will take place for control of the Marion County Republican Party. While the elite wing got off the first shot last night, there is little doubt that the populist wing of the local GOP is well-armed with Republican ideas and people who actually believe in them. If the vacancy election of Senate District 30 proved anything, it would be that the Republican insiders ignore the populist wing of the GOP at its peril.


M Theory said...

Loyal Republicans need to start figuring out which side they are on.

Will they stand with the tax-and-spend Tom John who serves the city's elites?

Or will they stand with The People who want small, responsible government and join the resistance forming with the Republican Liberty Caucus?

As for me, I'll remain a Libertarian in support of my friends in the RLC.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

Personally, I think it quite amusing. Imagine what the Republicans would have said if Peterson were still mayor and had asked the C-C to approve such an inane tax increase....

Carlos F. Lam said...

Paul, I have to disagree with you on this one re: political fallout. Don't get me wrong, I think the CIB should've asked the General Assembly to allow it to go into Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Unlike the COIT increase, though, the hotel tax is viewed by the public-- rightly or wrongly -- as a tax on "outsiders" and not local citizens. This will temper any sort of anger the voting public has, particularly when they see new hotels going up downtown.

As for the plight of any specific councilor (ex-AL members), we will have to wait to see what the districts look like post-2010 census. If they draw the maps correctly, then the GOP can retain a 15-14 majority (even if the Dems take the AL seats).

M Theory said...

Catholics, I assure you that this will not temper anger. And I assure you that the bloggers will not drop this subject until the next election has passed.

I'm part of the public and I'm very angry. VERY angry.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You are exactly, 100%, correct. Republicans would have been screaming from the tops of their lungs if Peterson and the council D's were doing this...and rightfully so. Now they come across as looking like hypocrits for what they did in 2007 compared to what they did in 2009.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I have to strongly disagree. I have seeen positively no evidence that the public is making some sort of distinction between a tax on outsiders and a tax on residents. From what I've learned about politics over my life is that the public simply does not make those distinctions.

Although it's hardly scientific, I'd direct you to the comment section of every story about the hotel tax. About 90% of the comments are highly negative. Very, very few people commenting suggest the tax is somehow okay because it is on visitors and not on residents. The public perception is tha the Rs raised taxes and that's going to be the end of the story.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I would add that the hotel tax also triggers a loan that is going to be paid for with yet more tax increases. This is hardly about just the hotel tax increase, which I would point out gives us the highest hotel tax in the country.

I know said...

Is it time to drag some of the dirty "laundry" of some of the elite out into the street and let the taxpayers know of the other little contracts and gifts to the elite in Indiana that trigger multi hundreds of millions of dollars in loans that have defaulted and gone to foreclosure and the State of Indiana most likely will end up finding new contractors for the next 38 years?

Your last blog is correct. It is already happening and it has been proven. The sunshine can really shed light on the road to be traveled by the CIB and the wealthy elites. This can be prevented!

It is all right there on the table.