Civil Discourse Now

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What other red ink was omitted from the City's costs for its role as host of the 2012 Super Bowl(r)?

   A metaphor I learned at a young age was imparted by Wiley Coyote's purchase of the Acme Company's Rocket-propelled Darts. At the start of that cartoon, Coyote let loose a string of the rocket-propelled projectiles in his quest to dine on Road Runner. The darts missed their target. Throughout the rest of the cartoon, at some of the most inconvenient moments for Coyote, a dart would flutter down from the sky, its rocket fuel spent, jab Coyote in the butt and blow up. The metaphor was about "closure."   

   The City of Indianapolis, under Mayor Greg Ballard, has been (at best) coy or (at worst) downright untruthful about whether the Circle City made or lost money on the Super Bowl. In all the calculations that were run, I missed any mention of the Regional Operations Center ("ROC"---I' am sure a macho-sounding acronym only was coincidental) put into place at the former East Gate Consumer Mall. Gary Welsh, on his blog "Advance Indiana," has filled the void left by the traditional watchdog of local government---the daily newspaper. 

   As Mr. Welsh has pointed out, and has been made clear by a current attempt at investigation of a sweetheart deal put in place by former Director of Public Safety Frank Straub, the people of Indianapolis are on the hook to the tune of $57,000 per month for a facility unsafe for occupation. The "Rock"---again, you gotta love the name---was created to house police officials from IMPD, Homeland Security and other agencies for the Super Bowl(r). Afterward, the facility would be turned over to the City. Such edifices are held out as examples of how events like the Super Bowl(r), the Olympics(r), etc., financially benefit a host city.

   The word "host" has several meanings. One is "one who entertains guests in his own home or elsewhere." Another definition is "an animal or plant from which a parasite obtains nutrition."  "American College Dictionary," 1962 ed., p. 584. When the NFL(r) comes to town, much nutrition is sucked from the host city. The NFL either pays no local taxes or rakes in the taxes itself. Hotel rooms are given away---gratis. 

   In the case of the ROC---why could they not have called it Detection Investigation Control? Or Police Espionage Negation Intercept Services?---the buildout of the former mall, and lease of the premises, were the sugar of the deal. After Straub moved onward and upward to the position of Chief of Police of Spokane, Washington (a place that is, after all, north of Indianapolis), and Straub's replacement as Indianapolis Public Safety Director, Troy Riggs told everyone to move out of the unsafe ROC, That left $57,000 per month to be paid on the lease of uninhabitable premises.

   In most leases, a residential tenant is protected in such matters. Even Indiana's generally landlord-friendly statutes protect tenants from landlords who rent out uninhabitable apartments. A couple of things screw up those protections in the case of the ROC. First, this is not a lease that concerns residential premises. Second---and this is the most embarrassing---the lease is landlord-friendly AND was written by Indianapolis city attorneys. A party cannot complain of contractual terms under which that party suffers if that party was the author of the terms in question.

   A big, fat Acme Company Rocket-Propelled Dart(r) floated out of the sky, stuck the City in the butt and blew up. Now the City-County Council is being denied information and documents about the deal. Mr. Welsh's blog gives a lot more details.

   I think the City should have purchased, instead, the Acme Corporation(r) Rocket-Powered Tennis Shoes. People would have had more fun using those in conjunction with rides on the "zip-line"---the "zip-line," a line to which proponents of Indianapolis Super Bowls(r) past and future no doubt always shall retreat to justify their project.

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