Monday, December 28, 2009

Mayor Ballard Reflects On City; Gets Facts Wrong

On Sunday, the Indianapois Star published an article by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard in which he discussed the City's "resilence." Even though it was authored as a puff piece patting himself on the back, the Mayor still misrepresented several facts.

Here's part of what the Mayor said:
Visitors to Indianapolis fly over a revitalized Downtown landscape and into a state-of-the-art airport (above). A stadium unlike any other in the world beckons hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to watch the team of the decade in the National Football League, and their sons and daughters, vie for tate championships.
The airport the Mayor brags about is presently not covering costs. It may only be a matter of time before taxpayers are asked to kick in to help subsidize it. The person Mayor Ballard appointed to run the new airport was ousted from Jacksonville after officials found him recklessly spending public funds. While that was a red flag to Jacksonville public officials and the media there, that kind of conduct is par for the course in Indianapolis. As far as the football stadium Ballard brags about, of course that's a facility paid for with tax dollars for which we give a renter, the Indianapolis Colts, half of the non-Colts revenue and 100% of the Colts revenue. The City entered into such a sweetheart deal with Colts owner Jim Irsay that Indianapolis taxpayers turned him from being a mere millionaire to a billionaire. When asked to help pick up some of the operating costs for the stadium this year, Irsay said "no" and Mayor Ballard successfully pushed through increased taxes and borrowing to bail out the Capital Improvement Board.

From there, Mayor Ballard brags about how he protected the hospitality industry:
This decade witnessed the culmination of more than 40 years' investment in the convention industry with the start of the convention center expansion. We've worked hard over the past four decades to create the 66,000 jobs connected to the tourism industry, and I will continue to work hard to protect them.
That 66,000 figure the Ballard administration continues to cite is as phony as a three dollar bill. The figure includes hospitality jobs in the Central Indiana area, not just Indianapolis. How does someone working at an Applebee's in Noblesville benefit from a Pacers game or the convention business? In fact, with regard to professional sports, it takes disposable spending out of the local economy and relocates it downtown. Of course, the suggestion that Ballard's actions earlier this year protected the convention business or the tourism industry, is complete malarkey. Mayor Ballard's bailout of the CIB was about sweetheart professional sports deals which nearly bankrupted the CIB. What Ballard further fails to mention is that his administration is already planning to give the wealthy Simons brothers $15 million more per year of taxpayer money so the Pacers can have the profits off of Conseco Fieldhouse free and clear, without having to pay to run the place as is currently the case. Now it appears that the administration, through the CIB, may try to bail out the Natatorium.

Mayor Ballard then begins bragging about his support for the parks:
Residents are proud of their city, but they live in their neighborhoods, and our neighborhoods are more vibrant than ever. They are connected by some of this decade's most important accomplishments: the growth of our greenways, the beautification of our parks, the creation of our bike lines and the addition of the Cultural Trail. More importantly, they are linked together by a shared sense of purpose by people whose combined dedication and talents are just as impressive as any structure.
Didn't the Mayor cut funding for the parks? Weren't there stories earlier in the year about overgrown grass at the parks and the Mayor's proposal to sell off park property? As far as the Cultural Trail, I think that preceded the Mayor's term in office. As to the bike lanes(I think the Mayor mean bike "lanes" not "lines"), I give the Mayor points for trying, but as a biker I know those lanes on Michigan and New York as drawn are extremely dangerous.

The Mayor concludes:
And we have every reason to believe the next decade -- one that will see us host a Super Bowl for the first time and open the spectacular JW Marriott hotel -- will be yet another chapter in the success story that is Indianapolis.
Time will tell if these public-private partnerships will work. Given the history of this City though, my guess is that the partnership will result in certain movers and shakers in the City becoming rich at taxpayer expense.

No comments: