Like the agreement to give $10 million of taxpayer money to the Indiana Pacers, the public was outraged over this deal. Yet, despite political warning signs, Vaughn and the administration continued to push the highly questionable proposal. In the end, only one Republican councilor, Christine Scales, was willing to stand up and say it wasn't a good deal for the public.
What are the political ramifications of the vote? Over at Indianapolis Times, blogger Terry Burns published the results of a poll showing that 70% of the people opposed the deal, while only 20% supported it. Opposition to the proposal cuts across all demographic groups and was unpopular even in heavily Republican areas, like Franklin Township and Perry Township, where 71% of the residents were opposed to the measure. Republicans were the most supportive of the measure, but even Republicans opposed the plan by a 52% to 33% margin. Fully 23 of 23 subgroups in the poll opposed the ACS deal.
I have to wonder where this polling information came from. A line is redacted from the bottom of the document. Other pages of the document are not included, probably because they have identifying information on them. Unless I'm to believe the document was simply created out of thin air, which I don't believe, I have to wonder who was doing polling and then decided not to release the result.
The news media often polls. Obviously if the news media did this one it would have been released. So they're scratched from my list of suspects. That only leaves two suspects left: the Democrats and the Republicans. Democrats are a possible suspect, but it doesn't really explain why the poll wasn't shared until the day of the vote.
Burns in one line suggests where the poll came from:
The poll, which was conducted last month among more than 400 county voters, was given to the Indianapolis Times by a former supporter of Ballard's ill-conceived parking meter deal.Translation: The poll was done by the Ballard people and leaked to the Indianapolis Times. Undoubtedly part of the deal for publicizing the poll was that the source information be redacted and that Burns not reveal the source. That's typical media practice when you're protecting a source who has agreed to provide confidential information.
Why wasn't the poll made public? The obvious answer lies in the results. Supporters of the deal did not want Council Republicans to know how incredibly unpopular their vote would be. I have no doubt that Republicans like Council President Ryan Vaughn, Mayoral advisor and ACS lobbyist Joe Loftus, and Marion County Republican Chairman Tom John, were well aware of this polling information. They were more than willing to let Council Republicans go off the political cliff in order to help a politically-connected company make a billion dollars off taxpayers. As a reminder, Tom John was one of the Ice Miller attorneys that drafted the contract, netting the firm $500,000 of our tax dollars.
Back to the 70% to 20% poll result. The 50 year deal is unlikely to be a voting issue for that 20% who support that deal. That 70% though is plenty ticked off and they are unlikely to forget come election time. Certainly the Democrats won't hesitate to remind voters of Council Republicans' vote on this issue as well as the Pacer vote and other unpopular measures.
The way Council Republicans are proceeding reminds me so much of 2007 when Mayor Peterson and Council Democrats decided public opinion simply did not matter and there would be no political consequences whatsoever for pursuing unpopular measures. The Democrats were taught a lesson in 2007 about the folly of ignoring the wishes of the public. Is there any doubt that Mayor Ballard and Council Republicans will be bounced from power in 2011 because of their own arrogance and their decision to set aside the wishes of the public in order to make political insiders wealthy at the expense of taxpayers?