The people of Marion County who reside within that political entity called Indianapolis formally are on notice as to what many suspected would occur for the past several months: Greg Ballard will not seek re-election as Mayor.
Ballard courageously announced his support for the Republican candidate for Marion County Sheriff a day or two before the election. Now, one foot almost on the jetway for a flight to Berlin for whatever purpose on the dime of the Indianapolis taxpayers, Mayor Ballard has announced he will not seek a third term.
There are songs of praise for Ballard—as well there should be. The average citizen in Indianapolis should be pleased with Ballard’s time on the 25th floor—if the average citizen is well-heeled, wealthy enough to drop big campaign contributions on Ballard, and thus has benefitted from the contracts Ballard has let to those who are in the “right” positions.
The Republican super-majorities in the General Assembly—not to be confused with super-heroes and to be seen as an example of gerrymandering at its nadir—bestowed upon Ballard super powers the people of Indianapolis had not conferred previously upon the occupant of the Office of Mayor. The General Assembly acted to diminish Democratic Party power through removal of at-large seats on the City-County Council. The General Assembly grabbed a few syringes of municipal power steroids, had Ballard drop trou for a shot in the hip, and infused him with the abilities move no-bid contracts faster than a speeding bullet, decimate local finances in ways more powerful than a locomotive, and leap public disclosure laws in a single bound.
People should be even more attentive, in the last year of the era given to Ballard, to what items are about that may be lifted and taken away.
George Santyana wrote that those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it. Mark Twain wrote that history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. The upshot is the same. Ballard has bestowed great giveaways to his pals. The parking meter fiasco was not original—the contract was copied from Chicago. The police operations center (“ROC”) Ballard said was required by the National Football League® for the Super Bowl®, only was a boondoggle for Ballard’s pals. After I read Gary Welsh’s blog about the e-mails about that imbroglio, Frank Straub, former Public Safety Director of Indianapolis, even looked like a good guy as he opposed a facility that was unnecessary and grossly overpriced. There are other examples of Ballard’s largesse to the average—again, “average” in the context of the Ballard administration—citizen of Indianapolis: the Broad Ripple parking garage, the cricket field, the parking garage of Circle Centre the walls of which were compromised in the rush to install things for the Super Bowl®, and all the no-bid contracts Ballard could dole out.
Whether Ballard had been a Democrat or Republican, such corruption as one has seen in his administration is abhorrent. Richie Daley, Chicago’s former mayor, stuffed his pockets as he went out the door. Daley strapped citizens of the Windy City with TIFs, against the bonds of which they struggle still today. Daley was a member of the Democratic Party. His successor, Rahm Emmanuel, seems to have picked up where Daley left off, and has done so in bi-partisan fashion. Daley backed the Republican Party’s candidate for Governor of Illinois. Maybe he felt the pool of possible candidates was thin. After all, was it four of the past seven occupants of the Office of Governor of Illinois were convicted and imprisoned on charges that sounded in corruption?
We should watch this last year Mayor Greg is in office. We should watch as he and his minions attempt to spread the largesse of the construction of a new Criminal Justice Center to pals. Ballard wanted to sell off—or, as he does things, give away—the City’s parks. We should watch to make sure nothing is lifted as he goes out the door. I would write that we should make sure the silver is secure, but I think Indianapolis’s leaders pawned all that a long time ago. All we can do is watch. There seem to be no real checks on his corruption.
After all, he has all that power given him by the super-majorities in the General Assembly. And there was no Kryptonite written into the laws enacted by the General Assembly. Perhaps that is because the authors of the legislation in question cannot spell “kryptonite.” Maybe those folks could, if they had gone to one of Greg Ballard’s pre-ks.