In a deal that is wrong on many levels, Ballard's office hired one of its former political appointees and the firm he now works for to market a proposed criminal justice complex west of Downtown. The contract is worth $750,000 to Bose Public Affairs Group, a figure that is both offensive to those of us who pay taxes in Marion County and, by any reasonable measure, horribly inflated.
Matt "Rip Van Winkle" Tully
The contract, [Indianapolis Star Reporter Tuohy reports, charges Bose with duties such as arranging public meetings, communicating with City-County Council members, particularly Democrats, and attracting positive news coverage.
Well, here's some news coverage for you, but I guarantee it's not going to be positive. Because this contract is as ridiculous as it is unjustifiably expensive. How bad is it? Let's count the ways.
First, it's another outrageous example of cashing in on political clout.Tully and his employer, the Indianapolis Star, bear an enormous responsibility for the political cronyism as reflected in the Cochran deal. For 6 1/2 years, they have steadfastly refused to carry out their obligation to be a watchdog and report critically on local government. Now, after 6 1/2 years, the Star's political columnist finally pens an article on Indianapolis political cronyism, a subject blogs and other media outlets have been reporting on for years? And we're supposed to be impressed?
Second, let's look at what the contract pays Bose to do. Cochran and his firm are supposed to organize community meetings focused on the criminal justice complex. You know, the type of meetings that typically attract about 20 people and could just as easily, and for free, be hosted and organized by the city's many neighborhood groups.
The contract also calls on Bose to talk with and answer questions from Democratic council members, which seems like something the mayor or his employees could do? And it seeks to have Bose create "a media messaging strategy to help inform and educate the general public of the project's benefits." It sure seems that one of the mayor's well-paid public-relations associates could handle that chore.
Isn't that their job?
Third, let's think about what this says about the dysfunction within the City-County Building. The mayor's office felt the need to hire a firm with Democratic ties to communicate with and lobby council members on that side of the aisle — on a proposal that has two decades of pent-up support from Democrats. It's a reminder of how tied up in ridiculous partisan politics things have gotten over there.
Finally, let's think about the real cost of this $750,000 contract. As a friend said Monday morning, "that's just way too many zeroes." How much is $750,000? Enough to eat up every penny of property taxes paid this year by the owners of roughly 400 homes worth $200,000 each.
Will someone explain to me why a struggling newspaper like the Star refuses to replace such a incredibly weak political columnist, like Matt Tully, while letting go numerous talented writers?