Since Ballard's election, it has been hard not to see Ballard on local television news cameras without Ike Randolph standing within camera range. Today, Star conservative columnist Russ Pulliam as much as announced Randolph's high-profile standing in the new administration through the re-emergence of the Front Porch Alliance from the former Goldsmith administration. Randolph, a full-time firefighter, worked on the Front Porch Alliance during the Goldsmith administration while continuing on as a full-time firefighter. That dual role brought criticism that he was double-dipper, a status he has maintained throughout much of his public career. "Randolph, an Indianapolis firefighter, is winding up a term on the City-County Council and could be a candidate for a top spot in the Ballard administration," Pulliam writes. Quoting Randolph discussing his role, Pulliam writes:
He sees a renewed Front Porch Alliance as part of the new mayor's attempt to reduce crime. He also expects that the administration will closely coordinate its new organization with the Peterson administration's Greater Indianapolis Neighborhood Initiative. "We're not going to throw out the baby with the bathwater," Randolph said. "It's not about politics. We don't want to unravel things just because it wasn't our idea."
Like Goldsmith, Ballard and his transition team contend that government can't be as effective in fixing serious social issues as churches and other non-profit groups. Wheeler Mission, for example, is much more effective in helping the homeless than some sort of government program.
"It's a change in attitude," Randolph said. "It's government admitting it can't solve all the problems. We are good at fixing streets and addressing abandoned homes. But the infrastructure of the family is a matter of addressing the hearts and souls. That is best left to churches and other value-shaping institutions, and then you get behind them."
When it comes to self-promotion, Randolph will never be outdone. He became the darling of the Indiana Republican Party when he sought election to the city-county council four years ago. Party leaders from the state down to the local level helped him raise a record-setting $80,000 for his successful bid in District 1 in Pike Township. During that campaign, Randolph reached out to a diverse group of supporters. He signed a questionnaire with the Greater Indianapolis Fairness Alliance promising to support a human rights ordinance which prohibited discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. With the support of Indianapolis' GLBT community, Randolph won his race by a very narrow margin. When the measure came up for a vote before the council, however, Randolph turned on supporters without warning and voted against it. In the ensuing months, Randolph ignored phone calls and e-mails from supporters of the HRO demanding an explanation, including my own.
After the HRO eventually passed without his support on a second attempt and Randolph was preparing to run for mayor last year, he met with me and tried to explain his HRO vote. First, he blamed HRO supporters for his refusal to discuss the matter at the time. He explained that their e-mails to him were hate-filled, and that one high-profile HRO supporter, Bil Browning, had made racially-insensitve remarks on a local blog. Browning, in fact, publicly apologized for the remarks he had made, which were directed at City-County Council President Steve Talley and not Randolph. Talley personally accepted Browning's apology. Secondly, Randolph explained that he had attempted to get co-authors Jackie Nytes and Scott Keller to consider an amendment to the HRO pertaining to nonprofit organizations, and that they had ignored his request. Having attended numerous meetings throughout the HRO deliberations with Nytes and Keller, I can assure you no mention of Randolph requesting this amendment ever came up, and the record shows he didn't offer the amendment when the HRO was debated before the council. Both explanations to me simply rang hollow.
Another very telling moment in Randolph's public career came when State Sen. Murray Clark decided to step down from his seat to become a partner at Bakers & Daniels. At first, Clark said he supported Randolph as his replacement, but he quickly withdrew his endorsement, causing Randolph's support among precinct committeeepersons to erode to the point Randolph was forced to bow out of the race. As political commentator Ed Feigenbaum noted at the time, party leaders were still miffed at Randolph for failing to return any assistance to the party after it raised a record amount of money for his campaign. And Star political columnist Matt Tully raised questions about Randolph's shameless self-promoting. "Some, for instance, ask whether the 42-year-old Pike Township resident works as hard at policy and politicking as publicity."
It also shouldn't be overlooked that Randolph's name surfaced during the investigation of Heather Bolejack amid allegations she was trying to divert grant money to a friend of her's from New Orleans. That involved a $417,000 grant for the Saving Kids of Incarcerated Program (SKIP) being offered by a newly-formed business of Michael McKenna. During the investigation, it turned out that Randolph had hoped to partner with McKenna on the SKIP program. Randolph, who used to be the executive director of the Ten Points Coalition, had shared that organization's program with McKenna. As Randolph explained to the Star:
Randolph said he met with McKenna at the request of Bolejack, offered to work with McKenna to develop a similar program and e-mailed him details about Ten Point's SKIP program.
Randolph said he never heard from McKenna again, despite repeated calls.
He assumed McKenna dropped the idea -- until he learned from inspector general investigators that McKenna's SKIP program was to receive an original award of $417,000.
It came as quite a surprise to the Ten Points Coalition that McKenna was using their program for the grant. "That's our program," said the Rev. Charles Harrison, president of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition and a senior pastor at Barnes United Methodist Church. "He said investigators from the inspector general's office, which is examining the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and its top officials, interviewed Ten Point Coalition members about their ongoing Saving Kids of Incarcerated Parents program."
Despite his dissipating support within his political party, Randolph had the audacity to put himself forward as a mayoral candidate last year. His candidacy sparked little interest, and he eventually dropped out of the race, citing family and personal reasons. The truth was he had burned his bridges within the party so badly he didn't even dare an attempt at running for re-election to his own seat. That district switched to Democratic hands this past election. Most observers recall very little effort that Randolph put forward openly to support Ballard's election this past year. Many found it hypocritical when Randolph tried to grandstand his vote on Mayor Peterson's 65% increase on the county option income tax. Instead of voting no, Randolph for the first time in his council career decided he had a conflict of interest in voting on public safety matters coming before the council because he was a firefighter.
Even more serious questions about Randolph's veracity have been recently raised concerning his role in anonymously co-authoring the now-defunct IndyUndercover blog site with radio talk show host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz. In light of Randolph's recent interview with Ruth Holladay and my own past discussions with Randolph about his alleged involvement with the blog, I have concluded at least one point. When it comes to telling the truth, Randolph has a very difficult time.
If Mayor-elect Greg Ballard intends to place Randolph in a high position in his administration, he better understand that Randolph's appointment will send a very negative message about the kind of people he is entrusting with the management of our city over the next four years. I, for one, will never believe another word that comes out of Randolph's mouth. He's in it for himself, and he never lets the truth get in his way.
By way of disclosure, on the night of the Ballard's election, Randolph personally approached me and asked me if I was interested in serving on Ballard's transition team. Of course, I was, I told him as I handed him my business card. It struck me as very odd that he even asked me given my frequent criticism of him in the past. Not surprisingly, Randolph was not in the least bit sincere in his outreach to me. Randolph, in fact, endeavored to deny me any role in the transition team. As Joe Loftus later told me, my name was never brought up in any of the discussions in which he was involved. Randolph may be fooling the Mayor-elect for the moment, but he will learn soon enough who the real Ike Randolph is. Hopefully, that moment will come before he is allowed to do any significant damage to his new administration.