Within hours, the term of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will be reaching the mid-point. Time for a mid-term report card on his performance:
Keeping Campaign Promises: D-
Note: Frankly, it was tough not giving him an "F." It is really difficult to pinpoint a campaign promise Mayor Ballard has not broken. Maybe public safety? After all, he did carry out his promise of consolidating IPD and the Sheriff's Department. Of course that happened the first few months on the job. It has been all downhill since.
Solidifying the Republican Base: D
Note: One of the first rule of campaign politics is that you do not alienate your base. This is especially true for a candidate whose party is the minority party in the area. Mayor Ballard's political people though seems to think you can get to 50% by starting at the 44% Republican vote in the county and subtracting. The Mayor seems on a mission to alienate every major Republican-leaning group of voters out there. He has angered and continues to anger anti-tax activists and gun rights supporters, two of the most loyal Republican-leaning groups out there. He hasn't done anything to upset pro-lifers - yet - so that saves him from flunking.
Note: While this administration has a very capable communications guy in Robert Vane, ultimately he is only as good as the person he is speaking for. This year featured one communications gaffe after another by the Mayor. As far as communications as part of governing, the Mayor seems to have no interest in reaching out to Democratic council members. Instead he seems to want to rely on strong-arming of the tiny Republican majority on the council. That's not really fair to Republican council members who are being asked to support things like unpopular tax increases.
Pursuing Government Reform: D-
Note: Those of us who supported Ballard thought we were getting a reformer, someone who would end country club politics in Indianapolis. On that front, it would be hard to be more disappointed. The Mayor has turned his administration over to developers, big money interests and a politically-connected law firm, none of which seem to have an interest beyond lining their own pockets during Mayor Ballard's only term in office. Conflicts of interest and insider self-dealing dominate this administration worse than any administration in my lifetime.
Note: This administration has been characterized by the appointment of young, inexperienced individuals who lack the clout necessary to stand up to the real powers in the administration, people like Joe Loftus, Bob Grand and (allegedly) Steve Goldsmith who are calling the shots behind the scenes and who don't seem particularly concerned about the welfare of the Mayor. There have been a few good appointees with some gravitas, such as former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman, but those appointments have been few and far between.
Political Advice: F
Note: I don't know who is giving political advice to the Mayor, but those advisers seem completely clueless about basic political strategy. I have never seen a politician flounder with more ineptitude when it comes to politics than Mayor Ballard. Heck, Candidate Ballard seems to have known more about politics than Mayor Ballard.
Note: I have been more disappointed, indeed disgusted, with Ballard than any other Republican elected official. Ballard seems to not know what it means to be a Republican and is simply replicating the insider deals and tax-increasing policies of his predecessor, Mayor Bart Peterson. While Ballard's policies are every bit as objectionable as Peterson's, fortunately for conservative and populist Republicans, Ballard is less competent in terms of achieving his goals than Peterson ever was.
Chance of Winning Re-election: 15%.
Note: As things stand now, to win re-election Ballard would probably need a major scandal involving the Democratic nominee for Mayor to have a legitimate chance at re-election. Without that scandal, Ballard's image is too tarnished, and he has alienated too many Republicans, to win, regardless of how much money he is able to raise.
Astonishing how different The Star's assessment is in this morning's paper, eh?
It's interesting that Cincinnati is reporting a significant drop in its homicides compared to last year, similar to that in Indianapolis. Multiple cities are showing this same trend. The local authorities, including prosecutor and mayor's office seek credit for a lower number this year, which apparently had effect crossing borders to other locales as well. Very impressive.
Those grades look like my report cards for higher math.
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