Thursday, June 28, 2007

Peterson Plan III: Will He Fool Us A Third Time?

Mayor Bart Peterson (D) officially unveiled his plan to put 100 more police officers on the street, fund the criminal justice system and pay debt service on police and fire pensions. It requires a $90 million, 65% increase in city taxpayers' income taxes on top of the double-digit property tax increases which will hit homeowners mail boxes this weekend. Don't be fooled by the mayor's latest plan. Recall that Mayor Peterson promised 200 new police officers without a tax increase when he first ran for mayor 8 years ago. He never delivered on that promise, and he has no intention of delivering on this promise. Those 100 police officers are positions already funded in the current budget which have remained unfilled because the mayor had more important priorities on how to spend the money.

When I read the mayor's latest proposal, the only thing I could think to compare it to was a mafia shakedown. You want protection, pay up now, the mayor was telling us. There's an episode of the Sopranos where Tony's dying uncle and ex-mob boss is leaning on him for a bigger cut to pay his medical bills and attorneys fee, while Carmella is complaining they aren't setting aside enough money for their future. Tony calls his captains together to remind them who's in charge and to complain they weren't squeezing enough out of their underlings. He reminds them their organization is a pyramid and "shit runs downhill." Meanwhile, Tony is stashing away bucks nobody else knows about to take care of his own needs.

Did the mayor even give a second thought about our future when he decided to funnel $60 million more in borrowed funds to finance a billionaire's hotel project? Or when he plowed $25 million into the Simon's new corporate headquarters built on a public park? Or when he plowed $20 million into another friend's Conrad Hilton project? Or did the mayor stop to explain how we're going to pay for spiraling costs of a $700 million public stadium for the benefit of Jim Irsay? Or did he explain yesterday just how the hell he plans to fund the maintenance and operating costs on the new stadium when it opens next year, neither of which were funded under the one-sided agreement he negotiated with Irsay? And remember all the millions in savings Mayor Peterson promised taxpayers if the city police and sheriff's department were merged? Isn't true the merger hasn't yielded one net dime in savings to the city?

As with Tony Soprano, Peterson has entirely different plans for what this tax increase will allow him to do during the next 4 years. It's all a matter of priorities. Mayor Peterson's priority the past 8 years has been to conjure up as many schemes possible to use public funds to finance the private projects of his wealthy friends. If more police on the street was the priority he first claimed it was 8 years ago, he wouldn't be asking you to pay today for what he promised but never delivered during the past 8 years. Why should we believe him now? Had enough?

Side note: Today's Star article on the Mayor's tax increase proposal is accompanied by a photo of Mayor Peterson shaking hands with Deputy Police Chief Bart McAtee. Bart McAtee, of course, is the son of former Marion Co. Sheriff Joe McAtee (R). McAtee was once a golden boy in the Republican Party, who was supposed to be former Sheriff Jack Cottey's successor. When Cottey decided to throw his support behind Mayor Schneider of Lawrence instead, it set off a war in the county party. Joe McAtee re-entered politics and challenged Schneider in the primary. Cottey's office cooked county crime statistics to make McAtee look bad and help Schneider win the primary. That fact was later proven in a federal civil case involving a whistleblower in the sheriff's office who was fired for exposing the manipulation of the crime statistics by Cottey's office. The county was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the wrongfully discharged employee. Although Schneider won the primary that year, he was trounced by Frank Anderson with the full backing and support of the McAtee family. To return the favor, Frank Anderson has taken good care of Bart McAtee. I'm sure there are many rank and file Republicans who cringed when they saw the photo of the two Barts on the front page of the Star this morning.


Wilson46201 said...

I will never forget or forgive old Joe McAtee when he was forcefully advocating years ago for video surveillance cameras to be placed around the Main Library and other parks on North Meridian "to control prostitution". It was an obviously homophobic ploy and fortunately got shelved.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the Mayor's office make the distinction betweem "replacement" officers and "new" officers.

"Replacements" do not increase boots on the ground.

The Mayor consistently obfuscates the difference between the two.

Anonymous said...

7:43, you're wrong. The mayor has not blurred those lines. The crackpots at IndyU have, but not the mayor.

Not that he's blameless in this entire fiasco.

The single-biggest culprit, aside from all the political screaming from both sides, is the underfunded pension plan for pre-1977 officers.

For almost three decades, mayors and councils have dodged a tax increase to fund that sinking hole. Hudnut and Goldsmith would've rather kissed their sisters than increase any tax. That fed their right-wing base and kept the Republicans in control.

Just like the comined sewer overflow and the jail problems, the longer we delayed the real bottom line, the more it cost.

We had to float a bond, with special legislative intervention to allow it, last year, to pay for these pensions.

Over the long haul, as much as I detest it, this new tax should solve most of that problem.

Politicians left to their own devices, sooner or later, have to pay the piper. To be fair, Bart is paying about 7/30ths of it. The rest belongs to Republicans.

The timing sucks. But it cannot be ignored any longer. I don't think it's any accident that Bart, the city's first private-sector mayor in over 35 years, is the one to finally put the brakes on this budegtary nonsense. He actually helped preside over a family business that had to make a payroll regularly. His predecessors did not, and thus, I believe, lacked the real-world business experience to know the impact of their shameless sacrifices at the Altar Of No New Taxes.

Anonymous said...

7:54 AM EST

I disagree.

All along the mayors office has said we are at full strength and at authorized levels for the police department. The IMPD has daid they can not hire more people than they are authorized for ie total paid salary officers.

If he intends to ADD 100 new officers then the police department needs to INCREASE the authorized levels by 100. By my calculations by April 2008 with 100 NEW officers added we will still be at the same number of authorized officers that we are currently at today.

As far as the money from the tax increase, it seems most of what it is being spent for was paid for with no increase in taxes last years budget. If he gets 90 mill more in revenue did we lose 90 mill somewhere else ?

Anonymous said...

"Politicians left to their own devices, sooner or later, have to pay the piper. To be fair, Bart is paying about 7/30ths of it. The rest belongs to Republicans."

Doesn't the rest somewhat belong to the Simon's, Irsay, hotel owners, etc. who got various tax breaks and handouts? While Bart does not hold a lot of the blame, he is the one who has decide to help bailout private business when that money could have been used for other things.

Anonymous said...

This is just smoke and mirrors. The 85 million will be diverted to other pet projects.
Two years from now we will still be short officers and still living with escalading crime. Something needs to change, or someone needs to go.
Crying about Hudnut and Goldsmith isnt helping.
Peterson waited too long.

Anonymous said...

Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe Peterson does not know the difference between replacement and new recruits for the police force.

His advisors and speech writers are giving him the information, propping him up before the media, but he has no knowledge of what he's talking about without a script.

He can't explain it because he lacks the vision. These are not his ideas.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7;54
Is that why the Center Township Trustee earns $90,000.00, has over 10 employees, is a high school drop and was Julia Carson's handpicked successor. No formal education or business baccground.
Anything goes in Center Township.

The democrats are robbing the township taxypayers with $11 Million surplus in the bank, 4 buildings to maintain to adminster poor relief, 4 sets of utility bills, security guards, vehicles, etc. Take about waste!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7;54
Is that why the Center Township Trustee earns $90,000.00, has over 100 employees, is a high school drop and was Julia Carson's handpicked successor. No formal education or business baccground.
Anything goes in Center Township.

The democrats are robbing the township taxypayers with $11 Million surplus in the bank, 4 buildings to maintain to adminster poor relief, 4 sets of utility bills, security guards, vehicles, etc. Take about waste!

Anonymous said...

Hey Advance Indiana... Excellent post,this is why I read your blog

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:09,
The Mayor takes care of his white business buddies who donated the $3 mil for his reelection and the Center Township Trustee takes care of his African-American buddies who deal him in on a piece of the $$ action coming in from the 'hoods.
It really seems to be a marriage made at a pawn shop now that Center Township has a Democratic Mayor that they have been "deprived" of for so many long years.
Seems to me there are white race cards and black race cards that can be played now.
Corruption some might call it. It all depends how you look at it.

Anonymous said...

I'm no Carl Drummer fan, but he graduated from North Central HIgh School on a college prep program. It's one of the best college prep public high schools in the nation...just ask college counselors. So he's no dummy.

He's doubly no dummy because he saw a way to make a lot of money by doing basically nothing. I couldn't do it, but he evidently has no moral compass on issues like that. So be it.

7:54, and 8:18, you obviously don't understand public budgets.
The staffing levels are increased or decreased by administrative fiat. By annual Council budget action, they've effectively locked-in the staffing levels.

They could easily be changed, by council budget amendment.

As for the Irsays, Simons, etc.--I'm not a stadium proponent, but for the most part, both those deals, and others, involve use of city bonding authority, tax increment financing districts and other mechanisms. Few dollars are being directly given to those entities. Doesn't make it right, I know, but those are the facts.

Can we all take a breath and operate from the same set of facts, please?

The Mayor has succeeded in stepping all over himself on this issue. The nonsense some of his oponents spread, is pure gibberish. Why waste your breath on gibberish, when the facts are so damning?

Frankly, it shows a lack of depth and objectivity. Get out more. Learn your way around a city budget.

Then get back to us.

Anonymous said...

2:55 PM, You need a refresher course in TIF and Abatements. However, I do agree with you on Carl, he is MUST be smart because he has a high school diploma albeit from a pseudo prep school you might say.
Some of us do know our way around city budgets and are not impressed with the baffle 'em with bullshit coming from the CCB downtown and media lapdogs.
Please do educate yourself on TIFS and Abatements.

Anonymous said...

3:23, I've helped companies get TIFs, and helped dismantle them when they're in place too long. My knowledge is sufficient.

A TIF does, technically, involve a tax increase for others, because the property taxes paid by the TIF, allegedly for projects within the district, do not go to schools, police, libraries, etc. As long as the TIF is in place, the disproportionate share of taxes NOT paid by the TIF taxpayer, must be spread over the rest of us.

But the cost to all of us is nothing like writing a direct check. The implication by those who make these wild-ass charges, is that the city is directly writing multimillion dollar checks directly to the Irsays and Simons. Just not happenin. They're using connections, and existing tax vehicles, to fund their projects. Legal, albeit shady.

FYI, once the infrastructure for which the TIF is organized, is paid off, if the TIF ordinance is written properly, the TIF must be dissolved. And unless abatements are in place, the property owner (theoretically) starts paying "regular" property taxes.

But here's the rub: Goldsmith set up so many of these, with fuzzy enactment language, that the city and other entities argue about the abolishment of the TIFS once improvements are paid for.

The mayor's record on trying to undo these golden development contracts, is iffy. Ask those who know: the Precedent was in a TIF, to pay for infrastructure. That infrastructure was paid for years ago, yet the TIF continues, and schools, fire departments, police, libraries, etc. get zippo from that TIF district now.

It's an ugly little secret, and all mayors have done it.

Anonymous said...

Ref: Carl Drummer, Center Township Trustee; before you attack Carl Drummer you need to know that Drummer is not one of the Bart Peterson "Uncle Toms" holding public office in Marion County. Drummer realizes now that Peterson is a liar and a political manipulator. Bart Peterson has a group of Uncle Toms that he uses; First on the list is Glenn Howard. Gregg Porter is next, followed by William Oliver, Ron Gibson, and the idiot Steve Talley. Frank Anderson is a Life Member! Carl Drummer opposed consolidation and Bill Crawford finally woke up and realized that Peterson was simply using the Black Community to attain his personal political goals. So if you want to attack the real problem, start with Glenn "Pea Shake" Howard! Julia Carson knows what Bart Peterson is but is afraid to speak out! The Queen is Dead, long live the Queen!
Frank Anderson and his "Overseeers" McAtee, Forestal and Murray are a disgrace to law enforcement! He sold us all out for his 40 pieces of silver!

Anonymous said...

7:07 is wildly out of touch.

I don't know about Uncle Toms, who is one and who isn't. It's a racially-charged term and its use is often insensitive...rarely do you hear the word used in a flattering manner. So I avoid it.

I do know this:

Carl Drummer, though he may be personable, has managed to do the following:

1. Get a public job, whose benefits, salary and the like, total over $100K
2. Drive an unmarked, windows-darkened police cruiser, about whose speed he brags. Why a trustee needs an unmarked fast polcie cruiser, equipped with lights and radio, is a damned good question.
3. Get a deputy constable badge, which he's used at least twice in the last year to get out of speeding tickets.
4. Amass a collection of expensive private vehicles on that public salary...and support an ex-wife and family...
5. Store those vehicles in a publicly-owned building, for what we have to assume is zero annual rent
6. Rent public space in a public building to a bunch of cronies for a bar, at a rental rate not made public, with a lease document not made public.
7. Travel extensively. On whose dime, is your guess.

I have no idea how well the Mayor and Carl get along. I'm not friendly with either of them. But if the Mayor wants to truly lower my property taxes, he can keep on truckin' with his township elimination plan. It makes good sense.

But he'll never get it through...the Center crowd will stop it dead in its tracks.

Because the color of diversity, to them, is green.

Wilson46201 said...

Lest it be forgotten: Center Township is only 01.47% of the Center Township tax bill and has decreased every year (with one exception) under Carl Drummer. It aint Township taxes driving little old widow ladies to the Trustee for poor relief!

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true career government flak.

Whatever the percentage, what is the gross amount of DOLLARS rasied for this ridiculous layer of government? 1 or 2 percent of several million dolalrs is still a lot of money, and over time, evidently adds up to enough to buy multiple previously-taxable properties.

And those properties are off the tax rolls now, thereby spreading the remaining tax burden among the rest of us.

Why does he need that car, Wilson? And the free Corvette storage?

For that matter, why does it cost $1.67 to deliver every $1 of poor relief in Center?

Anonymous said...

If we let him; Bart is a liar. Goldsmith was a liar. They just lie about different things.