Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ballard Lays Out Priorities

Mayor-elect Greg Ballard lays out his top priorities in a guest column in today's Star. Let's take a look at what he has to say:

  • 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.

19 comments:

Doug said...

It might be fun to develop some kind of Indy-Wiki that lists all of these people and the boards that they're on and so forth.

Wilson46201 said...

During the campaign Ballard promised not to run again if he can't cut more than 10% in the non-public-safety budget. Are you planning to hold him to it? Or is that just another campaign promise to be blithely forgotten like his opposition to property taxes and his opposition to that COIT increase?

Anonymous said...

the word on the board appointments is already out.

Rumor has it Ballard's team demanded last week that the law firms contribute to him, before he takes office, the same amount they gave to Peterson.

Those that do presumably will get the nod. i.e. Republican partners at Ice Miller will replace the D.

Anonymous said...

Ignore the dumpster diver.

Wilson46201 said...

Ignore the anonymous nobody!

Anonymous said...

So Wilson admits to being a Dumpster Diver!!!

we can help said...

As a police officer for IMPD I can tell you that we as officers have talked about this subject also. Several officers have stated that they are willing to do what it takes to help Mayor Ballard fix problems.

Instead of hiring 100 officers in the next class, have a goal of 75 "quality officers" instead. A class of 100 is not easily doable at the academy without quality slipping to "get the numbers". Officers on the street will pick up the slack if they know we are not just getting a warm body. twenty five less officers in that one class will save at least one million next year.

Others areas were talked about to help the new Mayor cut costs but improve service.

If we have a good strong fair leadership in place, the officers will help out. Communications is key. Tell us what you want and give us a decent reason and we will make it happen.

Anonymous said...

LEOs, the people also feel that there is now hope for our city and CCs support you.

Advance Indiana said...

Doug, When I lived in Springfield, Illinois, someone put together a complex matrix which showed the interwoven ties between about a half-dozen people who essentially controlled the city. It was a real eye-opener.

Wilson46201 said...

Dr. A. J. Brown and the Indiana Christian Leadership Conference over 30 years ago put out a great pamphlet: "Wealth, Power and Poverty in Indianapolis". It had the matrix showing the interlocking local boards of directors as well as a fascinating map showing the clustered addresses of those Indianapolis movers and shakers...

Anonymous said...

"Rumor has it Ballard's team demanded last week that the law firms contribute to him, before he takes office, the same amount they gave to Peterson."

That is utter bull shit. And unless the writer wants to add that the "contributions" will be under the table (a felony), all one would have to do to verify it is to look at Colonel Ballard's next campaign report.

Anonymous said...

Ballard's post-election campaign report will tell the tale, and that ought to be that on that rumor. And I'm sure there will be plenty of bloggers or others who will make the report.

Except that it's just as easy to believe that players would voluntarily make large contributions to his campaign, without having a demand for it.

Wilson46201 said...

Actually, it makes perfect sense for the power-players to "suck up" now to the new Mayor and his crew. It doesn't hurt to become real friendly if only to erase any feelings of ill-will engendered by backing the other side.

Ed Angleton said...

With regard to the boards and commissions over which Mayor will have no direct control other than appointments, he should, once his team has settled in, examine the membership of each of these entities,and request resignations where appropriate.

Anonymous said...
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Melyssa said...

Anonyous 2:17...At least Wilson is extended first amendment freedom to respond on this blog, which is more than I am given on the TDW blog.

Further, the reason Wilson is loathed is for his hypocrisy and partisan politics. Also his ethic leaves a lot to be desired when he stoops to tactics involving citizens employers.

I commend Gary for allowing Wilson's voice to be heard...even though its influence is nil.

Advance Indiana said...

anon 2:17, If you should choose to level such personal and insulting attacks on me in the future, you will have to do it like a man and not cowardly hide your identity. All similar posts will be deleted.

Peter said...

An Indy-Wiki would be a great idea!

Anonymous said...

wilson why don't you list all the promises Bart made and didn't keep if you want to go there. Didn't think so.