Friday, October 9, 2009

Mayor Ballard Uses City Email to Promote Wishard Referendum

Over at Advance Indiana, Gary Welsh has an excellent post about the Mayor using city resources to promote the Wishard referendum. The email in full states:

From: Administrator, Exchange

Sent: Thursday, October 08, 2009 11:56 AM

To: Administrator, Exchange

Subject: Please Consider Working the Polls for the Special Election on November 3

Importance: High

City-County Employees:

In less than 30 days, Marion County voters will go to the polls to participate in a countywide referendum election to vote on whether the Health and Hospital Corporation should improve Wishard at no cost to tax payers. Voters living in Beech Grove and Franklin and Perry Township school districts will also participate in separate referenda elections concerning funding for their schools.

Poll workers are still needed for this historic special election held on November 3, 2009. Though not a scheduled holiday, I encourage City-County employees to work the polls on Election Day. Attached is a letter outlining my poll worker program, allowing you to take the day off without using benefit leave as long as you commit to working the polls and have your supervisor’s permission. To work the polls, you must be a registered voter, live in Marion County and attend training.

Please consider being part of history this November. If you have questions about becoming a poll worker, you can reach the Marion County Election Board at (317) 327-5100.

Sincerely,Gregory A. Ballard
City of Indianapolis

P.S. If you’re looking for a more convenient way to vote, the Clerk’s Office is now open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for early voting. You do not need a reason to vote early, but you will need to bring a valid, photo ID issued by the State of Indiana or the federal government.

The Mayor's encouraging people to work the polls and to vote is undoubtedly okay. The problem is the emboldened language (which fails to mention that the bonds are backed by property taxes and thus taxpayers will indeed be on the hook) is nothing less than an endorsement of the referendum going out to thousands of city workers.

You have to wonder what genius on the 25th Floor approved this email. Did any attorneys for the Mayor or City Legal look at it? Any attorney worth his or her salt should have immediately recognized that the Mayor can't use public resources, like the City's email system, to promote a particular position at the polls.

I have long said that the Mayor has surrounded himself with people who have no interest in Republicans winning the Mayor's Office or Council in 2011 and are just using their insider positions to profit personally from the Mayor's four years in office. Here someone has apparently encouraged the Mayor to use the City's email to promote passage of the Wishard referendum. I'm not sure who would have encouraged the Mayor to do this, but Attorney Joe Loftus, who is a partner at Barnes & Thornburg, is special counsel to the Mayor and a lobbyist for Health and Hospital. One can do the math.

1 comment:

Carl E Moldthan said...

Fact or Fiction:

The following are reasons given by Wishard either for or against some things. You read and you decide.

Wishard says, the reason they don’t get a Revenue Bond, (revenue backed) interest rate is cheaper with a General Obligation Bond, (Taxpayer Backed).

Fact: If Wishard really cared about the taxpayers of Marion County they would get a Revenue Bond and NOT put the taxpayers in Jeopardy. With Indiana’s Unemployment rate at 9.9% and many people fighting to keep their homes, it would seem someone would care about them.

Wishard says, That Medicaid Upper Payment Limits (UPL), the money Wishard is going to use to pay off this NEW HOSPITAL will continue for 30 years.

Fact: There is NO evidence that this either has happened or will happen, in fact Medicaid only started 44 years ago, and it has changed enormously over the past 44 years. So, anyone with a half a brain would not make a prediction like that.

Wishard says the property tax money they received from Marion County taxpayers was only $24.9 so they only receive 5% of property tax dollars.

FACT: Let me take a part of the 2009 budget from a letter to the City County Councilors dated August 1, 2008 by Dan Sellers (HHC CFO) and it states in part, “The total HHC property tax for all funds is estimated to be $59 .0 million. HHC’s advertised budget and levy reflects a property tax levy of $108.4 million. The advertised property tax levy includes tax revenues that are not generated by local property taxes. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) advised HHC to advertise a property tax levy that includes : (1) property taxes ($59.0 million), (2) income taxes ($6.7 million), (3) state-funded property tax replacement revenues ($40 million) and (4) a growth factor ($2 .7 million).” This statement does not include the $126 million they received from Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funds, $51 million received from Medicaid UPL funds, Financial Institution Taxes of $1.2 million, Vehicle License Excise Tax of $7.2 million, Mental Health Tax and $1.2 million. From Marion County and the State of Indiana Health and Hospital received a Grand Total of $295 million in TAXES, and there may be more.

Wishard says their occupancy rate is very high and something needs to be done. In an article in the IBJ on May 18, 2009, it stated the following, “Occupancy at its hospital in downtown Indianapolis was 98 percent before the recession and is still that high. It's just as packed at its eight clinics in the county.” According to the Indiana State Board of Health Wishard is licenses on their Application License, 350 staffed beds excluding bassinets. That being the case it would mean that on May 18, 2009 Wishard had 343 patients and beds full.

Fact: If this is the case, why is the new hospital only going to have 315 beds? On 09/09/2009 07:23 PM EST I sent an Email to Dan Sellers, Wishard CFO. I asked “How many beds were going to be at the new hospital.” His answer was: “I just asked our VP of Nursing and she said 315. We currently have more than 350.”

One last point: If something happens and this bond money from Medicaid fails to come through why not have IUSOM pay the difference instead of Wishard paying them to use our hospital. Since IUSOM and Wishard are joined at the hip, why shouldn’t IUSOM belly up to the table and put their money where their mouth is? Let’s have IUSOM and Wishard make an amendment to their present contract stating that if Medicaid UPL money is not forthcoming; IUSOM will make up the difference. Problem solved.

If we are going to win this battle we need money. We have setup a PAC called Taxpayers of Indianapolis PAC and we need help to fight this bond issue. Wishard has all the money, the Indianapolis Star and others on their side and to fight this we need help. The address to our PAC is as follows:

Taxpayers of Indianapolis PAC
PO Box 0021
Beech Grove, IN 46107

Carl Moldthan