|Mayor Ballard with front row seats at a Pacers game.|
As Yogi Berra said, "It's deja vu, all over again." This time it is not Democrats, but rather Republicans who are faced with having to make a highly unpopular vote on October 17th, just three weeks before the election. The Star reports:
The Capital Improvement Board on [August 22nd] approved a $77.5 million operating budget for 2012 -- but it comes with a $10 million asterisk.
The CIB had agreed to pay the Pacers that amount in January for operating expenses at Conseco Fieldhouse -- the third and final installment of $30 million the CIB had agreed to pay the National Basketball Association franchise as part of a contract negotiated last summer.
Although the 2012 budget contains that $10 million, it's unclear what will happen if all or part of the upcoming NBA season is canceled because of labor strife. Players and owners are negotiating a new collective-bargaining agreement.
CIB President Ann Lathrop said it's too early to speculate whether some or all of that $10 million would be paid, but she said the building would have operating expenses regardless of the NBA season's status.
Mayor Greg Ballard's office continues to communicate with the CIB as the NBA's labor talks progress, said his spokesman, Marc Lotter. But like Lathrop, Ballard, a Republican, has said the building will have operating expenses regardless of whether the Pacers play next season.Imagine the scene. It's mid-October and let's say the the Democrats employ the obvious political strategy of forcing a separate vote on whether to approve the $10 million in the CIB budget for the last installment of the $33.5 million taxpayer giveaway. The only way Ballard will be able to get that proposal through the council is to publicly advocate for the giveaway and demand that council Republicans vote as a block for the incredibly unpopular proposal.
The budget will be introduced to the Republican-controlled City-County Council on Sept. 19. A vote is scheduled for Oct. 17.
While it can be argued that the CIB is contractually obligated to give that money, that won't matter to voters. Giving $10 million in taxpayer money away to the billionaire Simons three weeks before the Election would be as bad as the political suicide Democrats committed in 2007. Will Mayor Ballard and Council Republicans do it anyway? Probably.
Let's call it Pacercide.