Monday, July 11, 2011

A Call for More Bipartisanship in Indianapolis City-County Government

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard
A couple years ago, a  few months after the Indiana legislature bailed out the Capital Improvement Board and authorized the Indianapolis City-County Council to raise money, I sat down to talk to an Indianapolis Republican legislator.

The legislator recounted the story of his encouraging Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard to reach out to Democratic legislators on the CIB and other issues affecting the city of Indianapolis.  In particular, the  legislator urged Ballard to sit down and meet with House Ways and Means Chairman Democrat Bill Crawford of Indianapolis, who obviously was a critical person to getting any bill passed in the Democratically-controlled House.

When the legislator found out weeks later Mayor Ballard had not made any efforts to reach out to Democrats, he called Mayor Ballard to ask why he didn't take his advice.  The Mayor's response?  He said certain big name advisers in his administration told him reaching out to Democrats would be a bad idea.  The legislator was stunned...he couldn't imagine anyone giving him that kind of political advice, especially given the Democrats had control of the House.

Such has been the story of the Ballard administration.  From what I've been told by several councilors, the Mayor in 3 1/2 years has made virtually no effort to reach out to Democratic councilors and often will not even return their calls.

With only 15 Republican councilors in the 29 city legislative body, one cannot help but note the foolishness of Ballard's approach to spurn the Democratic council caucus.  Whenever there appears to be a close vote upcoming in which a Republican defection or two might spell defeat, the Ballard approach is always the same - twist Republican arms to support the measure while adding some "sugar" to the deal to get a Democrat or two to cross over should a Republican defect.  Almost always this "sugar" is in the form of minority contract set-asides aimed at getting one or two African-American Democratic councilors to join the nearly unanimous Republican caucus.  That is not bipartisanship.

Ronald Reagan, someone most Republicans deeply respect, never missed an opportunity to schmooze Democrats and ask for their support for his measures.  Even Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neil admitted he couldn't help but like Reagan as he repeatedly won votes in the Democratically-controlled U.S. House.

The us v. them partisan approach of the Ballard administration is not at all smart politics or a healthy approach to deal with the issues faced by the City.  A Mayor who is unwillingly to pick up the phone to answer the call of a councilor from the opposite party, is someone who is not suited for the game of politics.  Let's hope 2012 brings a bipartisanship to Indianapolis city politics.


Nicolas Martin said...
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Nicolas Martin said...

The parties are two gangs fighting for the same turf, so why should they cooperate with each other? The "bipartisanship" nonsense assumes that politicians have more responsible goals than to keep and hold power, but rare are those who do.

Reagan is an excellent example, for despite his elevated rhetoric he attained no ideological goal that he claimed to cherish. Government increased on his watch. He said he would work to abolish the Department of Education, but he enlarged it. The overall tax burden increased when he was president. But conservatives are all talk and no principle, so Reagan is their demigod.

Cato said...

Paul, the problem is that there's too much bipartisanship.

The same agenda continues, regardless of who's at the CCB.

The commonalities of the parties grossly outnumber the too-much-publicized differences.

Bradley said...

I agree Paul about a call for working with the other party (and I don't care which party to which), but since I am by nature a guy who thinks we should be working together as often as possible, I constantly wish for more bipartisanship.

I was wondering what you thought of Richard Mourdock's statements when he announced he was running for the Senate against Lugar? He said "It is bipartisanship that has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy" and "I think there needs to be more partisanship and frankly it's based on principle."

Personally, I thought he sounded like an idiot (one of the stupidest things I've heard anyone running for office purposefully say in recent memory), and I will not be voting for Mourdock because of it (nor will I vote for Lugar after what you and Gary have brought-forth about him).

It's well and fine to have a strong political view, but if anyone so stalwartly holds to those views that they will refuse to even look for a middle ground, then we have a real problem. I mean that for ALL parties, and from one side of the political spectrum to the other. This country was built on compromise and it will die when we refuse to compromise any further between factions. Compromise isn't a bad word -- it's a necessity.

Nicolas Martin said...

Bradley, could we make a deal for them to work together using your money and not mine?

Bradley said...

Nicolas --

A question and then some thoughts:

1. If my money was used for them to work together and not yours, would that be considered a tax increase on me?

2. I think you might be on to something, and apprently this country's been doing it all wrong for 235 years -- we should be taxing and tolling everything. If you use the roads where I am from and I have partially paid for, then you should be taxed each time you use it, and the same for me when I drive on the roads in your city. Sounds like limited government to me. Oh wait, I thought we wanted no taxes!

You are right, I think, we should be completely ignoring each other politically in a spirit of "I'm not doing a damn thing you want because I completely oppose you idealogically on 3 issues and somewhat oppose you on another 10." Much more work will get done in government that way.

Nicolas Martin said...

Bradly, you don't get my ideology. In a nutshell, politics requires violence against and theft from peaceful people, and I oppose both. I care little whether the two gangs of thugs work together on their pillage, and I don't think "bipartisanship" transforms evil into good. Private violence and theft are trivial compared to the misdeeds of government, even in the least oppressive countries. But taken as an historical aggregate, governments -- both democratic and autocratic -- are without peer for the havoc and destruction they cause.

You can justify crimes perpetrated by governments, and I cannot. We are no more likely to resolve that disagreement than a slaveholder was to meet an abolitionist half-way.

The three-fifths compromise: bipartisanship in action.