While Republicans Gary Welsh at "Advance Indiana" and I are obviously not happy with the elitist, anti-reform direction Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's administration has taken, we used to be able to count on our views on the local political scene being contradicted by Republican bloggers at "Circle City Pundit" and "Frugal Hoosiers." It's been a long, long time though since either blog has tried to defend our Republican Mayor.
The only Republican blogger who today seems to ever sing the praises of our Mayor is Abdul at Indiana Barrister." I'm not sure with Abdul though that his support is so much a belief in our Mayor as it is a desire to be on the side he thinks is at that moment winning.
Perhaps the Mayor may want his campaign people to start an Indianapolis Times-type blog. Over at IT, it does not matter what crime Democrats commit, it will be dutifully ignored. On the other hand, no matter what the Mayor does, it is cited as a "failure of leadership." (Which is of course the Democrats' 2011 theme if Ballard is re-nominated.) You'll notice that IT rarely attacks the substance of Mayor Ballard's policies. The reason why is that Mayor Ballard is duplicating the big-spending, tax-increasing, conflict of interest and ethics ignoring policies of his Democratic predecessor, Bart Peterson. That's why there are so many Republicans angry at Ballard. They thought they helped elect a reform-minded Republican in November 2007 only to find the Mayor committed to giving the old-Guard Republicans one last chance to loot the taxpayers before they are permanently put out of power in 2011.
Just some Friday afternoon observations. Talk amongst yourselves.
I think there is some balance somewhere between what we all hoped for the once new Mayor and how he is sometimes portrayed in the BLOGS.
While there are clearly things that need to be improved, there is also a learning process and maybe, some of the criticism will be taken to heart.
BUT, at the end of the day, he did inherit a huge *@!#)(@ mess from Peterson. While I do expect it to be fixed and for taxes to continue to go down...
(Republicans getting an "F" in that area - promises to eliminate Peterson tax increase and not raise other taxes still waiting to be met [or already violated])
...there are two more years to get it figured out.
I do get concerned with some in the supposedly small government/low tax Republican Party actually think sports stadiums for private, monopoly franchises and convention centers are "infrastructure".
Parks and roads, sure. Headquarters for private businesses definitely not. And "convention space", "warehouse space", "office space" ... at what point do we draw the line at the definition of "infrastructure" ???
Sean, the "blame it on the previous administration" only works for so long, in my view. It's not like Peterson's faults were secrets, and Ballard knew full well what he was inheriting.
Two years later, we still here about how "we inherited this mess."
And I'd give it just a tiny bit of credit if Ballard has done anything to pro actively fix the mistakes of Peterson and those before him. Rather he too often makes bad situations worse.
Paul, it really does seem like the local blogosphere is very light on those who defend or even promote his administration. Outside of a few die-hard workers who only do comments rather than their own entries, no one is thrilled with this administration.
Even Abdul's support isn't guaranteed, since he was very critical of the LOS and CIB earlier. Your assessment is something I can mostly agree with, that he shifts with the winds.
My main concern is the election for mayor. Even if a good candidate runs, what will stop them from shifting like Ballard did?
Sean, sorry old buddy, but I have to side with IS. The fact is this administration has repeatedly fallen on the sword for the Peterson adminstration for the mistakes it made then went right out and continued the exact same policies.
If you were to ask me five things this administration has done right, I'd be hard pressed to come up with five. Let me try though.
1) His support for charter schools.
2) His hiring of Doug Rae as Animal Control Director (I guess I can take that off the list now.)
3) His rejecting advice to shut down the City Market until 2013
4) His threatened smoking ban veto (though he could have handled it better and I wouldn't like it if he was breaking campaign promises)
Okay...that's all I can think of. I can't include things like "balanced budget" because every muni budget has to be balanced and they played with the numbers to get there. Plus, Mayor Ballard backed off their campaign promise to repeal the COI increase.
As far as any alleged crime decrease, I'm always very skeptical of any crime statistics. I don't know if crime is up or down, but I doubt who is sitting on the 25th Floor has much at all to do with it. There are about 10 other factors that have a bigger impact.
While it isn't pretty, as an issue, public works projects have moved forward. Way more money is being allocated for miles of road resurfacing-incredibly underfunded for years by Peterson. Turnaround time for pothole repair has improved dramatically. The combined sewer overflow situation is finally being addressed.
Police morale has increased-officers are more productive and buoyed about their chosen careers because they know the mayor respects and supports them, resulting in the public receiving better service.
Budget-balanced in a way that the previous administration never managed. The Peterson budgets not only were passed with missing pages, but even for those that appeared balanced when approved, it was known ahead of time that credit would need to be arranged six months into the budget year. Ballard is chipping away at those accumulated years of Peterson "budget shortfalls" and has not had to take out new loans to cover any "unanticipated" budget shortfalls during his tenure.
Smoking ban-perhaps if Hetrick hadn't conveniently left out the fact that Marion County was already 99% smoke free already, the mayor wouldn't have been misled to offer to the answer he did. Remember too, that candidate Ballard was virtually ignored during his campaign. There weren't many political pro's offering advice to him on issues at the time. During this smoking ban go-'round, maybe he could have said, while that sounded like a good idea at the time, I unfortunately didn't have all the facts. Now that I know, I find the current ordinance a reasonable one, and don't see the need to waste time and energy on this when we have other major issues demanding our attention.
I think he also was hoping that the proposal would die, without having to come out and take a stand that might be controversial. He gambled, and had to finally show his hand.
Doug Rae-a mistake in his selection, he needed to go, and the mayor took action. The real story of what was taking place behind the scenes couldn't be told. The mayor manned up and took the media's criticisms without being able to defend the decision the way it needed to be. The " tales" of Rae's incompetence will come out in dribs and drabs.
As to Jane's points:
My suspicion to DPW is the increasing amount of federal funding. The amount from the federal government in the city budget has increased drastically, even going back only 2 administrations.
I think it's shameful that you believe police do their jobs based on politics. Maybe I have too much trust in my fellow man, but I would hope that those who are hired to protect us will do their jobs regardless of partisan politics. I also don't exactly see why Peterson is often seen as anti-police, considering he pushed for a tax increase to fund them.
The irony in Ballard's "balanced" budgets is his budgets are built on the back of Peterson tax increases. What was originally passed as a Democratic temporary increase in COIT became a Republican permanent tax increase just a few months ago.
Regardless of his promises of his campaign, Ballard has fumbled on the smoking ordinance. Instead of bullying the Republican caucus into voting no, he should've acted as a leader and do what the executive branch does when the legislative branch passes a bill: sign it or veto it. Separation of powers is a cornerstone to our democratic-republic government.
I still can't believe the talking point that no one can disclose what Rae did that was so wrong. It's been said that his actions put the city and it's citizens in danger. It's complete bull that a government employee is protected by privacy laws if they put lives in danger.If we're talking about the safety of our city, his actions should be disclosed.
Jane, the Mayor's handling of the CIB bailout was horrendous. He never once demanded change in how the CIB did business before supporting more of our tax money going to that money pit. Mayor Ballard has broken virtually ever campaign promise he's made, including his pledge not to raise taxes. H
is administration is ethically-challenged to say the least - there is no conflict of interest that the Mayor will not ignore. For Pete's sake, he appointed the the Pacers' attorney to head the CIB whichch is deciding whether to give the Pacers $15 million of our tax money.
Bottom line is that very early on he turned his administration to a bunch of cronies who are busy stuffing their pockets with as much money as they can during Ballard's one term. Mayor Ballard's failures to reign in these types have sunk any chance we Republicans have of remaining a majority on the council after 2011. And certainly Mayor Ballard has no chance of winning re-election.
I keep hearing that the real reason Doug Rae was let go couldn't be told. After awhile, that explanation gets really, really old. It's like when McCarthy said there were Communists in the State Department but he couldn't ever identify any. Eventually you have to come forward with the proof.
It is clear that there is an animal welfare network here in the City and Rae stepped on their toes when he tried to change the old way of doing things. That in my book is a good thing.
As far as bad appointments, when exactly is Ballard going to "man up" and fire disasterous appointments like Renner, Bob Grand and Joe Loftus, just to name a few?
Paul, about Rae, what it is is condescending and arrogant. This talking point about how they can't say why they fired Rae due to privacy laws or whatever is complete bull and they know it.
Journalism 101 is the best defense against libel and slander is the truth. If you can prove your accusations, you're golden. But Ballard didn't even try to go into the court of public opinion, likely because he would lose. Just like he failed to make a case for the CIB, panhandling, COIT, etc...
Maybe you would know as a lawyer, Paul. Does Indiana have any whistleblower laws on the books?
Jane? I would take your credibility seriously if you posted your identity. Why no profile? Why are you hiding who you are?
My guess? You work for Ballard PR.
IS, there is a whistleblowing law for state employees. There is also one for employees of government contractors. My guess is there is one for local employees. I'm not sure certain the state employee one also applies to city and county employees. Regardless, I would imagine state and local employee whistleblowers are protected under some statute.
The FOP 'morale' will only stay high on Ballard if he gives them everything they want in their new contract - which I think begins negotiations soon, if not begun already.
They have learned that they can unseat any Mayor who doesn't not please them enough.
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