It was just a matter of time before Mayor Greg Ballard came clean on the real reason he is pushing a sale of the water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy. He now concedes that a major priority in his plan to spend money derived from the sale of the utilities will include economic development, which of course means the Capital Improvement Board. Yes, Ballard will use that money to give a $15 million a year subsidy to the billionaire Simons so they won't take their team to another city. Ballard is already likening his sale of the utilities to Gov. Mitch Daniels' Major Moves deal. The comparison pretty much ends right there. Daniels' Indiana Toll Road deal involved a lease, not a sale of a government asset. If the deal goes south, the taxpayers still own the toll road. The toll road deal netted the state $3.8 billion. If Ballard had bothered to read his MOU he signed with Citizens Energy, he would have figured out that the City of Indianapolis will net no money in the long run from the sale of the water and sewer utilities.I would point out that the penalties to cancel the contract and move the team would be in the neighborhood of $150 million dollars. Plus, under the contract, the Simons can't get out of the contract unless they are selling the team. The Simons have no leverage to claim an extra $15 million per year.
Nonetheless, Welsh raises a disturbing thought that Ballard will mortgage the future to hand millions to a billionaire. It never occurred to me that Ballard would do such an incredibly foolish thing. Now that Welsh raises the possibility, it occurs to me that it is indeed quite possible.