Thursday, June 25, 2015

Indianapolis Mayoral Candidate Joe Hogsett Pledges to End 34 Year Moratorium, Promises New Street Lights as Part of Crime Plan

In a speech to supporters inside the old city hall, former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett set out his public plans for public safety.  Hogsett provided a list of crime prevention measures, featuring most prominently a call for 150 more police officers.

Left: traditional street lights;  Right:  LED street lights
What unfortunately got second billing was Hogsett's call for an end to the 34 year old moratorium on putting up new street lights in Indianapolis.  It should have gotten top attention.  Probably nothing will  improve safety and reduce crime than to bring light to the darkened street corners all over the city.

It's an issue I've written about before.  In fact, I pondered whether Hogsett would pick up on the issue during his campaign.  He did that but unfortunately he didn't give it the attention I think the issue deserves.
It remains to be seen whether Republican candidate Chuck Brewer will also address this much needed issue. 

Below is the article I wrote in November of 2014 about Indianapolis street lights.
Fox59 broadcast this most interesting story last Thursday:
Marion County has not installed a new street light since 1981, when a moratorium was put in place under former Mayor William Hudnut.
The reason, says Stephanie Wilson with the Department of Public Works, was and remains funding. Marion County currently has 29,000 street lights, and their electric bills cost the city $5.1 million a year. Wilson says funding for street lights comes from the transportation budget.
That means adding more lights would result in less money for roads, sidewalks and bridges. When there is an area in need of more lighting, Wilson says existing lights are reallocated.  
“In conditions where there is either a dangerous area for pedestrians or for drivers, we work with public safety, with IMPD and IFD, and we listen to their recommendations. If it’s needed, we can repurpose existing street lights and place them in areas where they are more needed,” says Wilson.
If a new area is developed, street lights have to be paid for through private funds. 
The Mayor's Office admitted the importance of street lights to crime: 
Mark Lotter, Communications Director for Mayor Ballard’s office, says the city needs more street lights to cut down on crime rates and attract new residents as well.
“We understand that street lights and lighting of public streets and sidewalks is very important to making neighborhoods safer,” says Lotter. “It also makes them more inviting and better places to live.”
Lotter says that a "long term funding sources" have to be identified.  That's Ballard speak for residents needing to open up their wallet and pay higher taxes or fees if they want a city service funded.  That's been the history of Ballard's tenure as Mayor.  Existing revenue sources can always be found for corporate welfare for politically connected developers and  billionaire sports owners, but if residents want basic city services, they need to open their wallets and pay more. 
Let's do some basic month.  The current 29,000 in street lights use $5.1 million in electricity every year. That is $175.86 for every street light.  So if the city added a 1000 street lights, that is only an added cost of $175,860 a year. We can't find that in the budget without raising taxes? 
Further, the addition of new lights could be used to take advantage of new LED technology that would save on maintenance cost and offers substantial energy savings.  San Antonio converted its 20,000 street lights to LED in 2012.  Forbes last year reported on Los Angeles' retrofit of its street lights with LED illumination, the world's largest such project.  The Forbes article details not only savings, but has before and after pictures showing the LED lights providing much improved illumination.

A few weeks ago, the Ballard administration announced it was converting the city's fleet of cars over to alternative fuel vehicles by using a third party vendor from which the city would rent the vehicles.   As a result of this "green" initiative, the Ballard administration claimed taxpayers would save money, a claim that was easily refuted by anyone capable of doing sixth grade math.  But with LED conversion of street lights, the Ballard administration could actually adopt a green initiative that truly would save the taxpayers money.   Apparently though Mayor Ballard is only interested in things that make money for companies, not in proposals that save taxes. 
It will be interesting to see if f Democratic mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett picks up on this story. It's an ideal campaign issue.  It's easy to explain the connection between street lights and Hogsett's signature issue, crime.  It illustrates the misplaced priorities of the Ballard administration. Using the LED technology, the conversion of street lights could also be sold as saving the taxpayers money.  It's a win, win, win. 
Note:  A company named Leotek produces A Municipal Guide for Converting to LED Street Lighting that has useful information. 


Anonymous said...

Street lights are definitely needed and will be welcomed.
Why is Lotter commenting? Thought he left the administration months ago and Pittman was his replacement,

Anonymous said...

Paul, the posted pictures caught my attention and dramatically underpin the reasons LED lighting may often be an improvement over traditional street lamping. Thank you for another informative blog post. You would be a great Mayor, Sir, and a sea-change improvement over what we've been cursed with this last decade.

I believe police forces do not "create" public safety nor does a force really "reduce" crime; instead, our "now-militarized-almost-everywhere" policing units react to crimes and criminals after the fact. This LED lighting could be a benefit to automotive safety and an effective deterrent to criminal activity. THIS is the type of innovation I was hoping to come from our Marion County GOP politicians but with Dems and Repubs alike it seems it is more "business as usual" for the cronies than pursuing new frontiers that actually help the people who pay for everything the politicians promise and give away. When you are not working hard for the money it's a snap to be a generous City Counselor or State Legislator, isn't it?

As an active voting member of the Marion County GOP, I am embarrassed to concede that RINO Republican Greg Ballard, for every year in office, found himself habitually standing at the gate after the jet took off when it comes to effective, imaginative, ground-breaking ideas that would actually benefit Indianapolis and set
Her on a path other cities would admire and emulate. Instead, Greg Ballard's tenure proves he is low watt and often opts for the path of corruption and phony "green" deals that never save taxpayers money and do little but enrich corporations, long-time cronies and new to the money trough hopefuls.

The lists of corrupt scams Ballard has been able to get through and those he still pushes have been exhaustively published on the many local blogs.

I doubt Mr. Hogsett will be much different than Ballard. Aside from Hogsett's idea to end the street lighting moratorium others thought of first, both men seem to be able to offer only old ideas, they are of a time long gone and still stuck there. Lying Joe's talk about 1962 in his political video is evidence that he is still at King Park. Good Lord. Indianapolis has moved on but career politicians like Hogsett who've hardly had to maintain employment and income in what is left of the private sector are the types of people we do not "need" in government. We do need people who can be as innovative in developments your article highlights and we need persons who with real leadership ability. Indianapolis has not had a mayor who was leader of men and women for a long, long time.

Nicolas Martin said...

Don't end drug prohibition, just provide more lights, cops, and prisons. Spare no expense in maintaining chemical paternalism.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 7:12, it might not be clear but the last part of the above article is a long quote from an article I wrote on the subject last November that included the Lotter comment.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 8:33, thanks for your kind comments. Ballard would only have done street lights if it was a way of making money for some private company. He would have had the company put the lights up and then the city would lease them for 50 years paying much more for them than if the city simply bought the lights and installed them. That's the Ballard way. I'm actually shocked that they didn't try that.

Anonymous said...

Funny how he plans to get rid of Ten Point …guess he wants total control over everything..ya that will go over real well with the black community…Poor Joe,,,

Anonymous said...

He has made it clear that he intents to disband Ten Point …..

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 11:32, 4:55, how can Hogsett disband the Ten Point Coalition which is a private organization?

Anonymous said...

There's no correlation between street lights and safety. If there was, Chicago would be the safest city in the world.