Civil Discourse Now

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So taxpayers pay to build a justice center, the Mayor gives it to pals, and taxpayers pay rent for the same justice center? Will someone do the math, please?

   Indianapolis needs a new building for its courts, jail, and police.
   The Ballard administration has floated an idea. The City pays for construction, then hands over the keys to a foreign conglomerate and pays rent to that new landlord.
   Wait—why would be build a structure, give the structure away (i.e., “sell” it for an absurdly low price), and pay rent to the entity to which it was given?
   Here are possible reasons:
   1) The entity that will charge rent and make profit has solid political connections to the Ballard administration and contributes to his campaign.
   2) Well, I guess there is not a second reason.
   The math should explain the situation. If the cost of the City-County political entity running the buildings is less than what would be paid to the entity given the new “Justice Center,” then the building should stay in the hands of the people of Indianapolis-Marion County.
   Here is the problem with mathematics and the Ballard administration: we do not get to see the real numbers.
   There never has been a clear explanation of how much the 2012 Super Bowl® cost us. The City has done its best to dodge questions about the East side security center the City HAD to have for the Super Bowl®. That would be a number—something like $50K per month—we should put into the balance sheet to determine whether “we” made any money.
   What about Georgia Street? There was a last-minute “push” to prep Georgia Street for the Super Bowl.®  When construction is pushed, sometimes really heavy things are shoved into one another. It appears that the lower levels of the Circle Centre parking garage were damaged around the time work was done on adjacent Georgia Street. The City has yet to acknowledge the parking garage is dangerous.
   Those are a couple of examples of numerical values for dollars and obfuscation by the Ballard administration.
   What is the response to the need to tell people about the proposed “Justice Center”? One would think a candid outline of costs, benefits, plans, etc., would be the responsibility of elected officials of a City.
   Instead, as reported by the Indianapolis Star’s John Tuohy, the Ballard administration has hired a former Ballard administration official to do PR, via no-bid contract: “‘The ultimate goals of these efforts will be to gain Council approval of the contract,’ the contract’s scope of services says.”  I tip my hat to Mr. Tuohy. Rare is the occasion in this City that what once was a vibrant city newspaper criticizes the Ballard administration.
   When did our taxes start going to PR people hired by the executive branch to convince members of the legislative branch that we need to adopt a particular policy?  I thought convincing the opposition a particular idea should be enacted was the job for which people were elected to office.
   This is part of the “fire sale” now going on at your local City of Indianapolis. As Mayor Ballard sees further writing on the wall—“Get out you bum!”—and hears hoof beats (well, leather-soled footsteps) of Joe Hogsett behind him, we probably will see a lot more assets sold or leased out.     Then there always is the specter of professional sports. Every time there is money to be had, detectors are tripped in the offices of the Colts® and the Pacers® and they seem to swoop in for a cut—by their definition, from what we have seen the last decade or two, a “cut” is as much as they can grab.
   Who knows? Maybe they’ll have zip-lines at the new Justice Center.   

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