|Karen Crotchfelt, Publisher, Indianapolis Star|
Smith have been afforded numerous opportunities to write about conflicts of interest and self-dealing in city government. Instead they chose to write nothing critical. In fact, both columnists have praised Indianapolis' pay-to-play culture that has resulted in so much corporate welfare and drained the city of resources to pay for basic services. Their answer to the latter is not to constrain corporate welfare, but to advocate raising taxes. With regard to Erika Smith, the Star's municipal columnist, her obsession with writing columns promoting mass transit has apparently impaired ability to notice anything else going on in the City.
Some specific examples. The City simply gave $6.35 million of the public's money to Keystone Construction, a major contributor to the Mayor, and which company employs a former Deputy Mayor, to build the Broad Ripple parking garage. Keystone and its corporate partners get 100% ownership, 100% of the parking revenue, and 100% of the commercial rents. We, the public, get nothing. Did Tully or Smith ever pen a column criticizing this deal? Nope.
Then you have the ACS parking meter contract which locks the city in for the next 50 years to giving away 70% of the parking meter and ticket revenue to ACS and its corporate allies, recast as "ParkIndy." The Mayor's attorney, Joe Loftus, and Council President Ryan Vaughn, were both lobbyists for ACS when the parking meter deal was proposed. Vaughn even cast the tie breaking vote. Did the Star report critically on those conflicts, as well as the important details of the deal, including the provision which made it impossible to ever exercise the every 10 year cancellation provision, a comprise city leaders claimed protected taxpayers? No. Tully, however, did discuss the ACS deal in his column. Of course, he didn't mention any of the conflicts or troubling details of the agreement. He said the deal, in which the City gives away an estimated $1 billion in revenue over the next 50 years to a private company all for the "risk" of fronting $8 million for new meters, "makes sense."
|Jeff Taylor, Editor, Indianapolis Star|
The "culture of corruption" is a direct consequence of the Indianapolis Star choosing to abdicate its watchdog role to become a cheerleader for city government. I reported on that troubling philosophy in February 2013 article I wrote:
In 2010, Star Media, owned by media giant Gannett, made what it claimed was a bold move
to shore up the falling circulation of the Indianapolis Star. Karen Crotchfelt was appointed as publisher. Earlier in the year, Jeff Taylor was appointed Editor in Chief. Crotchfelt replaced Michael Kane while Taylor replaced long-time Editor Dennis Ryerson.
Under Kane and Ryerson's leadership the quality of the Star had declined dramatically. In depth local reporting was dismissed. Most of the newspaper became AP articles seemingly published to fill out the every decreasing size of the newspaper. Instead of reporting critically, the newspaper had become a cheerleader for the local political and business establishment. As the Internet boomed in popularity, people increasingly turned to blogs and other online material to find the objective, critical content about Indianapolis politics they so craved.
Enter Crotchfelt and Taylor. From their opening comments it seemed they were oblivious to the Star's real problem - content. Crotchfelt concentrated on improving technology while promising (threatening?) to continue with the content that the Star had been providing since before she took over. She also talked about being a "partner" with the local community, a sign that she ascribed to the view that the role of the daily newspaper is to promote what the political and business interests of the City want, not to play the traditional role as a watchdog.
If the Star's leadership had allowed reporters to do critical stories on City Hall instead of using the paper to simply be a cheerleader for everything city leaders want to do, the environment that resulted in the Land Bank scandal might never have happened.