Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nuvo's Steve Hammer Officially Loses Mind, Praises Mayor Ballard as Outsider

I used to enjoy reading Steve Hammer's column in Nuvo. He had a smidgen of the cleverness of one of my favorite writers, Hunter S. Thompson. Hammer lost that cleverness 2-3 years ago, when his columns became simply loud, randam screeching about various issues. My guess is burnout. Sometimes his facts are so off base you wonder exactly where he's been living the last few years. Certainly not Indianapolis.

With today's column discussing whether Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard deserves a second term, it is official. Hammer has lost his mind. Here is a snippet of his observation about Ballard:
I liked Ballard from the start. Nobody in the Republican establishment worked very hard for his election because they assumed he wouldn't win. They didn't open their wallets for him either. It was only after his surprise win in 2007 that they came out of their ratholes and professed their allegiance to him.

That's a definite plus. Ballard entered office beholden to nobody except his wife and family. He found himself free to pursue a course of action that he thought was best for the city, as opposed to what the big-money Republicans thought was best.
It's like Hammer fell asleep on election night and is just now waking up, oblivious to everything that's happened the last three years. While what Hammer is saying is correct, he seems oblivious to the fact that Mayor Ballard has spent the past three years kow-towing to big-money political insiders (not all of which are Republican) handing over our tax money to them for various dubious projects while ignoring such things as libraries and parks. How about $98 million for Buckingham Companies for a development that no lender would touch because it was too risky? Buckingham Companies is represented by Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John who lobbies the City on their behalf. Or how about the East Market Street development where the City plans to hand a sweetheart deal to politically-connected players, including, it's rumored, Steve Goldsmith? Or how about the towing company monopoly the City is trying to establish, undoubtedly to make a well-connected political player wealthy?

Ballard has gone from an outsider who could have changed things, to the ultimate insider, taking pay to play politics to a new level. Hammer should look at Ballard's list of political contributors some time. In a non-election year - 2009 - he raised more than a million dollars, almost all of it from city contractors.

To Hammer's credit, he does mention the parking deal...but only to criticize it as "privatization." He doesn't mention that the problem is it is a 50 year sweetheart deal for a politically-connected company, ACS, which has already cost the state millions in the Medicaid privatization fiasco. Hammer also fails to mention that the chief counsel for the Mayor, Barnes & Thornburg partner Joe Loftus, is an ACS lobbyist and is the President of the Council, Ryan Vaughn, who pushed the measure through the council. One would think that Hammer would be concerned about the conflicts of interest and ethical lapses in the Ballard administration. But he never ever mention them.

Hammer praises the Mayor because he "found a way to save the Indiana Pacers from leaving town within few other politicians would have done so." The Pacers were never leaving town. The penalties in the contract for early termination would have been in excess of $150 million. Apparently Hammer has no problem with the administration lying to people that the Pacers could have moved as well as with his claim that the Pacers have a huge economic impact on the city.

Hammer goes on to praise the Mayor for addressing the problems with the City's police department. Really? How exactly is he doing that? He appointed Director, I mean "Doctor," Frank Straub who is an egomaniac, a person with no interpersonal skills and who has alienated virtually everyone around him. Straub has spent his entire time alienating everyone around him and now morale is at its lowest. Straub does spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on such things as redecorating his office, creating new highly-paid positions, and hiring outside consultants to give him advice on how to do his job.

Near the end of the column, Hammer says that Ballard can "win in a landslide" if he "takes on Republican bosses on the issues of transit and police reform."'s official. If Hammer actually thinks that, he's the worst political analyst of all time. can be a terrible thing.


Gary R. Welsh said...

Only one thing comes to mind every time I read one of Hammer's columns, Paul, and that's what Dean Wormer had to say to Flounder about his bad grades in the movie, "Animal House": "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

Ummm, I thought Hammer was a satirist, not a political analyst.

That said, Harrison Ullmann must be turning over in his grave to find that a NUVO columnist is praising such as Ballard!

Citizen Kane said...

"While what Hammer is saying is correct, he seems oblivious to the fact that Mayor Ballard has spent the past three years kow-towing to big-money political insiders (not all of which are Republican) handing over our tax money to them for various dubious projects while ignoring such things as libraries and parks."

My sentiments exactly. However, I frankly have enjoyed reading his columns lately, as the insanity within them makes me laugh; then I feel sorry for him and actually want to respond and help him understand.

While he rightly pointed out that Peterson and Goldsmith were horrible (though I am wondering if it is for the right reasons), he writes this column as if inhabiting some parallel Bizarro world. How anyone could not know that Ballard is nothing more than Goldsmith III - on steroids! Even Goldsmith did not obligate us to multiple 30-year loans and 50-year privatization deals. It appears that no one in this town can consistently analyze the issues, other than a few bloggers who do it in their spare time!