|Public Safety Director Frank Straub|
One though has to be careful of any claimed deficit. I remember the Capital Improvement Board a few years ago claiming publicly that it faced a terrible deficit. It turns out that the the CIB all along had a private set of books that showed the organization was in much better shape financially than what appeared in the set of books they were using for the public. The CIB claim of an overwhelming deficit was simply a ruse to increases its revenue by getting the legislature and council to approve additional tax increases.
Could the claim of a deficit could be a ruse by Public Safety Director Frank Straub and others to get their hands on that big pile of cash still sitting in the bank from the utility sale? If that were the case it would be a shame. That one time infusion of money, which was paid by a publicly-owned Citizen's Energy borrowing, a loan we the public will have to pay back, certainly should not be used to fund ongoing operating expenses.
Apparently though things are not just bad in public safety. Murray reported yesterday that the City is in 2013 is facing a preliminary deficit of $50 million to $70 million across all agencies. Of course, this isn't news if you've been following Pat Andrews' blog "Had Enough Indy" or Gary Welsh's blog "Advance Indiana." Both bloggers have been frequently taken Mayor Ballard to task for dishonest budgeting that appears now to come back to haunt the Mayor...conveniently after the Election.
With regard to public safety, it is time for Mayor Ballard to take drastic action and finally reign in big spending by Mr. Straub. While Straub was shorting IMPD such necessities as toilet paper, he had no problem engaging in reckless spending in his own office. Straub spent hundres of thousands of dollars to renovate his office. He added several high level, high paying staff jobs to the public safety payroll. He routinely spends thousands on out-of-town consultants to render reports on such issues as which fire stations in Indianapolis should be closed, an issue one would think better suited to the local folks who actually know the city.
Most appalling though is that Director Straub feels he needs to bill the tax payers for two bodyguards. Nobody who has been convicted of a crime is going to target the public safety director for revenge. That person may go after the judge, the prosecutor, even the police officer...but the public safety director? Absolutely not. As far as being so famous that he needs a bodyguard to protect him from the crazies, well someone needs to break the news to Mr. Straub - he is not that well-known. Mayor Ballard is a prominent person, as is the Prosecutor Terry Curry and Sheriff John Layton. The public safety director position, which is appointed by the Mayor, amounts to inside baseball. I bet 90% of the people on the street couldn't identify Frank Straub if presented with his photograph.
Mayor Ballard adopted a good idea from challenger Melanie Kennedy when he recently appointed a Deputy Mayor of Education. Mayor Ballard needs to adopt another Kennedy idea that was right on the mark - the elimination of the position of Public Safety Director and his lavishly furnished office. It is a needless layer of bureaucracy for a City that can't afford it.