- Taxes and Spending: "One of the first things we will do is examine every budget item and find ways to cut costs without compromising service. We have a goal of cutting local spending by $70 million within three years, and I intend to reach that goal and, hopefully, exceed it."
- Transparency and Accountability: "The top department heads in my administration will solicit the advice of their employees, and we will hold public meetings on a quarterly basis so that taxpayers can see how their money is being spent." "The mayor of Indianapolis does not have direct control over many public entities that have separate authority to tax or spend public funds, but I will use the bully pulpit and mayoral appointments to protect the interests of the taxpayer." "I also intend to work with Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Indiana General Assembly as they look for ways to reduce the impact of property taxes on homeowners."
- Reducing Crime: "We will work to re-establish neighborhood efforts such as Mayor Goldsmith's Front Porch Alliance and take steps to restore the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's community policing efforts." "Let me be clear: I have no plans to "undo" the law enforcement merger, but I will ask the City-County Council to put the responsibility for law enforcement back under the office of the mayor." "It is my strongly held view that the ultimate responsibility for public safety should rest with the mayor." "To that end, all public safety agencies must be under the mayor's chain of command."
The $70 million goal he has set for reducing spending is a very aggressive goal. It will include some very tough decisions. What Ballard will learn is that you can't reach that goal unless you cut public safety spending. There is more wasteful spending in the police and fire departments than any other areas of city government for no other reason than the large percentage the two areas of spending make up in the budget. Cuts can be made in these areas without compromising public safety, but Ballard will face a lot of resistance to making those cuts from some of his most vocal supporters in this past election. If he is unable to resist that pressure, he will have a very difficult time of coming close to reaching that $70 million goal.
Ballard is correct in noting that he doesn't have direct control over many entities, such as the Capital Improvements Board of Managers, the Indianapolis Airport Authority, the Metropolitan Development Commission and the library board. That's why the people he appoints to these boards becomes so critical. I've lived in Indianapolis for 17 years now. Through Republican and Democratic mayors, its seems there are a few dozen people to whom these plum appointments are reserved. The same people who occupy all the board seats on certain local charities get all the plum appointments to city boards and commissions. They come from the same law firms, businesses and well-connected families, which have become accustomed to calling all the shots in this city. These people have interwoven ties which often leads them to make decisions based on achieving objectives unrelated to the public good. We'll soon learn whether Ballard can resist the pressure to keep power in this hands of this small group of elites by reaching out to people representing the public at large.