Monday, March 19, 2007

Schellinger Joins Democratic Gubernatorial Field

Indianapolis architect Jim Schellinger has filed paperwork to run for the 2008 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The Star's Mary Beth Schneider reports he has the support of Mayor Bart Peterson, U.S. Rep. Julia Carson and former House Speaker John Gregg. Quoting Schellinger, Schneider writes:

I've given this a lot of thought," Schellinger told reporters after filing his candidacy. "I'd like to think this is a 46-year calling for me. ... I believe in Indiana we can do better. I believe that the citizens of Indiana deserve good leadership and I believe that I'm prepared to do that."

He said being president of CSO Architects in Indiana, a job he worked his way up to, gives him the experience needed to be the chief executive officer of Indiana.

Asked the biggest difference between himself and the man he hopes to replace, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, Schellinger said he will listen and build concensus among Hoosiers.

"I've spent a career focusing on listening to people and bringing diverse groups of people together and building concensus toward positive outcomes," he said.

But he said he did not want to focus now on Daniels.

"The govenror is a patriot. His heart is in the right place. He works hard to lead our state. I don't think that's what today's about," he said. But the next 21 months will be about drawining distinctions, and Schellinger said he will be campaign full-time to try to win the office.

It will be interesting to see how much Schellinger's business, CSO Architects, becomes an issue in this campaign. It appears most of the firm's work involves government contracts. His relationship with Mayor Peterson helped him win a contract to take over the troubled central library project in Indianapolis, as well as a plan to develop a new hotel at the new midfield air terminal for Indianapols International Airport. Kenn Gividen is already raising questions about the ties to Schellinger's government contracts and political contributions. Gividen writes:

If building binge equals tax and spend, Hoosiers need to grab their wallets and cringe.

IndyStar's Matt Tully notes, "Indianapolis architect Jim Schellinger has formally announced plans to run for governor as a Democrat. Many in the party have filed behind Schellinger and believe he is the party's best hope of defeating Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2008. Schellinger will file candidacy papers this afternoon."

What Tully didn't mention is the money trail that follows Schellinger. The architect made a fortune from property taxes by charging outrageous fees to design government school buildings. He then donated much of the money made from property taxes to his favorite Democratic candidates, greasing the rails along the road to the statehouse.

When Gov. Mitch Daniels took office, one of his first acts was to issue an executive order placing a moratorium on new school construction, which has been contributing to property owner's rising tax bills. There have been local news media reports in the past about the outrageous fees local architecture firms charge for these projects, which often utilize cookie-cutter plans. In Illinois, where I grew up, school districts typically couldn't raise taxes to pay for bond issues unless the voters first approved the project. In Indiana, the burden is on the taxpayers to petition for a referendum, but the constitutionality of that process has been thrown into doubt because only property owners can participate in that petitioning process. For more on the decision and pending legislation to address the issue, click here for the Indiana Law Blog's coverage.


Anonymous said...

Schneider's story says Schellinger is only 46.

That photograph you have displayed makes him look as though he is 66 or older.

That's the face of new, young leadership?

Anonymous said...

We tried "new young leadership" years ago, Bayh left Indiana bleeding.

I'll take Mitch's experience any day.

Anonymous said...

"I'll take Mitch's experience any day."

Oh yeah. Here's a guy who started at the top, as VP at Eli Lilly, and cost shareholders $2.5 billion through the acquisition of pharmacy services provider PCS. (paid $4B '94, sold for $1.5B '97)

Then he moved to D.C. as Director of the Office of Management and Budget for Dubbya and laid the foundation for the most irresponsible fiscal policy in history. ($2 trillion deficit or so and climbing)

Then he comes back to Indiana and leases the IN toll road without getting an independent financial assessment (trusting the banking firm representing the leasee to do an honest and impartial job) costing taxpayers $1.5-8 billion over the next 75 years.

We'd be better off looking for our next guv from the state employment service. I want a guv who has actually worked a real job at least once in his life, understands (more than intellectually) that his actions affect people's lives, and can actually do some arithmetic. Oh yeah, a decent dose of Christian humility would be nice.