Civil Discourse Now

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Mayor Ballard has been legally corrupt and now has been given the power he needs to fully benefit his friends.

   In 1787, the Framers met in Philadelphia to draft what became the Constitution of the United States. We should get a couple of things straight about the Constitution.

   Only 36 delegates signed the final product. Three other delegates present on that day abstained. A total of 55 men attended the Convention, at one time or another, during that summer. There were some men, chosen as delegates, who refused to attend. Perhaps most famously, Patrick Henry said he would not attend because he "smelt a rat" in Philadelphia. Henry is improperly quoted for the phrase: "Give me liberty or give me death!" That phrase was quoted roughly 35 years later, in a biography of Henry. The phrase did not appear in news accounts contemporaneous with the speech he made. In fact, Henry was a slaveholder, who had written to a cousin how "convenient" slaves were. Perhaps, more accurately, Henry should have said: "Give me liberty, but give him death!" That doesn't have the same ring as the ultimate fictional product, though, written, as it was, in the lead-up to the War of 1812.

   There are calls for changes to be made to the Constitution. One outmoded concept, perhaps, that should be shed is this whole silly notion of checks and balances. We do not have to reach into the Constitution and rip out the provisions that establish checks and balances. We can start with lower levels of government and rid them of the silly notion checks and balances were meant for them.

   A good example is with local government. In Indianapolis, we have  City-County Council that acts as a legislative body. That is supposed to act as a check on the Mayor---the executive. As was said of Italy under Mussolini, a strong chief executive makes the trains run on time. If the Mayor of Indianapolis were to have such power, afflicted no more by the check of the City-County Council, he could build that railroad that would carry those trains. Perhaps the trains could run past a Chinatown theme park. The trains could run all the way out to the cricket fields, where people could watch their favorite teams compete for hours.

   Another good example in local government is give-aways to billionaire sports owners. Jim Irsay was made a billionaire by Indianapolis. The Simons, back when they purchased the Pacers, foresaw the day when their hold on the nation's malls would be less lucrative than their franchise in the NBA. The Hulman-George dynasty knew their IMS schedule had to be expanded from one annual race, the Indianapolis 500, to at least a couple more races. These private interests claimed to need public monies. The City-County Council did not block Irsay or the Simons when they sought funds, at the same time as monies were cut from police, schools, infrastructure, and other items less important than professional sports.

   The notion that checks and balances should be a dynamic never was meant to be applied to local politics. A single, power-mad executive should be the person best suited to decide matters for, as an example, a City. In "Advance Indiana," blogger Gary Welsh has called for Federal investigation of this City's present administration because it is corrupt. I say pish-posh.  While it is true that most definitions of "corrupt" include references to "bribery": "1.  dishonest; without integrity; guilty of dishonesty, esp. involving bribery...2.  debased in character; depraved; perverted; wicked; evil.  3. putrid. 4. infected; tainted. 5. made bad by errors or alterations as a text. ... 6. to destroy the integrity of; cause to be dishonest, disloyal, etc., esp. by bribery."  "The American College Dictionary," 1962 ed., p. 273. Not all of the definitions of "corruption" involve bribery. Bribery of a public official is illegal in most parts of Indiana---after all, in The Region, not only does it seem to be legal, it is sort of a spectator sport.

   Politicians can be corrupt right out in the open. Greg Ballard's term in elected office can be characterized as "putrid." There probably are no "bribes" involved. Campaign contributions appear to have been above-board. The parking garage he gave away to a contributor---ill-conceived for voters and taxpayers though it may be; an eyesore in Broad Ripple it well is---was not the result of a "bribe" that anyone has shown. The contribution or contributions were legal. And the parking meter deal? Sweet.

   Then we look at the monies given to the Colts and "your" Indiana Pacers: where was the opposition in the City-County Council?

   I understand why Greg Ballard does not want to be bothered by the fetters of a legislative branch. He can travel about the World and acquire ideas from other places. Look at the concept of TIFs. TIFs have done such a tremendous job in California and Chicago! 

   Ballard now has the power to lease on 50- or 75-year contracts, or sell outright, all the City's capital assets not already leased or sold. The next Administration can just try to sue and get those contract reversed.

   Checks and balances never were meant for local governments. One can ask former Mayor Daley. He now works for a firm in Chicago, not the people of Chicago. He was not indicted for anything (or has not been yet). He was corrupt right out there in the open. Now his friends have taken care of him. It's too bad the people of Chicago now suffer.   

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