Thursday, March 11, 2010

Council President Vaughn Says that Republicans Will Be on Board on Selling Water Company - Before Council Republicans Have Reviewed Details of Deal

A lack of independence is one of my biggest gripe about the Republicans on the City-County Council. In the Indiana General Assembly, Republican legislators act as an independent voice in reviewing proposals by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels. While they usually go along with what Governor Daniels wants, they will ask tough questions, modify proposals, an even vote against those proposals. They do not believe their role is to simply rubber stamp the Governor's agenda because he is a member of their party.

On the other end of Market Street, you have a totally different situation. Council Republicans are expected to rubber stamp whatever the Republican Mayor Greg Ballard wants done, including his most recent proposal to sell the water company. Even expressing a word of dissent or asking a tough question, can set a councilor to be ostracized, even sanctioned. Former Republican Ed Coleman's "sin" was asking questions about the functioning of the Capital Improvement Board and wanting documentation to back up the numbers. One would think Coleman was simply doing his job as an elected member of the legislative branch. But to some in the party, his unwillingness to be a rubber stamp for Mayor Ballard was tantamount to treason.

The concept of the rubber stamp Republican majority was brought to mind when I heard Republican Council President Ryan Vaughn interviewed on the news. Even though the administration had not yet briefed members of the Council about the proposal, Vaughn was on the news declaring that all Council Republicans were going to support the plan.

If Republican councilors want to retain their seats in 2011, being a rubber stamp for an unpopular mayor who consistently betrays Republican principles is not a good way to do it.


Cato said...

Paul, the point you're missing is that the same people are behind the Council that are behind the Mayor. There is no space between the branches. The same people simultaneously told all the Republicans the new marching orders.

These people do not court, and they have not allowed, criticism or public review of their plans.

Of course, the Council will approve the sale, just like Ballard and the Council will approve whatever else their puppet masters conjure up next.

Sean Shepard said...

I don't know that the mayor is unpopular except in small government or pro-liberty circles. It is important to not succumb to echo box syndrome where our circle of friends have mostly similar opinions so we get our own reflected back frequently.

The anti-self defense positions have not helped, nor did tacit support for bailing out the CIB or handing out millions of taxpayer dollars to private organizations. But, overall, I don't know that the average person feels that roads, police, fire and other local government functions aren't operating well.

And, does anyone ever wonder if councilors worry if they oppose the mayor too much that their potholes or other little things might not get fixed as quickly? If you think that sounds petty, let me introduce you to politics. ;-)

varangianguard said...

I guess that's why they call them "parties", Paul. Toe the line, or no more party invites. Ask Councilor Coleman.

Sean, the Mayor seems really popular in just about any buffet line setting. It appears that he's invited to every buffet in town, at least.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Actually I know that...I'm just hoping against hope the councilors will do the election math and realize they need to save their own skin rather than simply jump off the political cliff every time this unpopular Mayor asks them too.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I disagree SS. The general public sees the mayor as a bumbling, weak leader and deservedly so. His CIB tax increase positions were not popular. There has been very little he's done in office that's been popular. It's exactly because he's unpopular that big name Democrats willingly line up to fight it out in the primary to run against him. Mayor Ballard is toast. He has no political future. Republicans would be smart to distance themselves.

Varan, trust me...that's not the way political parties operate most places.

varangianguard said...


While my hands-on political party experience is limited, I have to suggest that you are being:

1) naive

2) hopelessly idealisitic

3) in denial

4) a liar, liar, pants on fire.

While that may (or may not) be actually humorous, I will tell you that what I have seen of politics suggests that it most certainly is like that more often than not.

Sean Shepard said...

Paul. I don't presume that many people are actually paying attention relative to how many vote.

Cato said...

I tend to agree with Sean on this. Hoosiers love an authoritarian government that uses its taxing power and executive authority for the benefit of private corporations.

Hoosiers are also reflexive collectivists who view an uncompromising position on rights as selfish. Hoosiers exalt the group and despise the individual. Hoosiers see rights, like money, as something that must occasionally be sacrificed to further the greater good.

Ballard may indeed lose to a Democratic candidate who mobilizes his or her party, but I can't see many of the Republicans turning their backs on Ballard or the Republicans.

I firmly posit that the fundamentalist, pro-war, Country-Music Republican wouldn't be uncomfortable in a martial law government, as long as such a government kept the roads in order, crime low, people employed and the Colts winning.

A voting bloc that exalts respect for "authority" does not make many demands for Liberty on its government.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You are correct...however with a high profile person like a mayor, a perception can set it that no amount of money can change. Mayor Ballard's probably gone beyond the point of no return. His image of a weak, bumbling leader who isn't in control of things has set in.


I disagree with you on political parties. You're assuming political parties in other states operate pretty much like those in Marion County, Indianapolis. I teach this stuff and have done so for 23 years. How political parties operate in Indianapolis is different than virtually any place else.

Heck compare how our council operates versus the state legislature. You think the Republicans in the General Assembly rubber stamp things just because the Republican Governor proposes it? Absolutely not. They oppose the Governor all the time without fear of repercussions.

What I'm saying is that Indianapolis politics is very dysfunctinal. Only here is the party leadership strong enough to demand you forego the public and do whatever leadership demands. There is a reason for that - it's called slating. Slating exists virtually no place else in the country. Slating results in elected officials who are non-independent, not strong leaders and are of the rubber stamp mentality.

M Theory said...

Who is Veolia Water's law firm?

Who does Ryan Vaughn work for?

Is Ryan Vaughn's bread and butter coming from his job as city council president or from his day job?

varangianguard said...

I grew up in Terre Haute, and have experienced elections in several other states. I also hear about New York State from a friend who is much more political than I. And, don't even start me on Illinois.

While perhaps not an extensive list, I find it nearly the same (or worse) in all of those places. Call me "still unconvinced".

Had Enough Indy? said...

Lots of new Democrat faces out there looking to unseat tax and spend Republicans from the Council next year, too.

The CIB bailout, new taxes, support of water rate hikes, and it now looks like the sale of the City water company without going through bidding to ensure the best deal - not to mention new taxes for mass transit coming onto their plates soon. Not to mention slashed Parks budgets. Even though the Councillors don't get to go on the overseas trips with the Mayor, his trips will be an easy visual that can leak onto the Council races, as well.

And, lest we forget, Bart Peterson lost the election; Ballard didn't win it without disenchanted Democrats voting for him.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Varan, Let's just say I would take a verdict from primary voters over a Marion County slating any day. At least you walk away from the primary thinking you got a fair shot. I can't say the same for slating.