The Ballard administration, unhappy with the way the mayor was being depicted on WTLC, imposed a short-lived ban prohibiting city staff from providing information, appearing on the air or advertising with the Indianapolis radio station.
The ban against the city's oldest minority-owned radio station was announced to city department heads in a Jan. 30 e-mail from Marcus Barlow, press secretary for Mayor Greg Ballard.
Barlow said Friday that the ban was rescinded after a meeting between city and radio station officials.
"It was just a couple of days," Barlow said. "We decided to step back until we sat down and had a meeting," at which their differences were resolved.
Barlow said the administration was upset with how Ballard was being described in on-air discussions about last month's shift in control over the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department from Sheriff Frank Anderson to the mayor.
He declined, however, to go into further specifics on what prompted him to write the Jan. 30 e-mail to city department heads.
It said: "This is to inform you that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES is anyone to correspond with WTLC. You are not to appear on their shows or send them any materials. Furthermore, your departments are not to advertise with them or contract with them in any way."
It's my understanding that what upset the Ballard administration was a caller's depiction of Mayor Ballard as being a Ku Klux Klan member. The administration felt that Brown should have admonished the caller for spreading the untruth but Brown refused to do so. Evans writes, "Brown said Friday he believes the flap occurred because 'somebody heard something, repeated it to somebody else, and when it got to the 25th floor (where the mayor's office is located in the City-County Building), it was not representative of what was on the air.'"
Surprisingly, Brown reacted rather mildly to the dust up this past week, indicating that the two sides had put the matter behind him. He did, however, assert that what the Mayor's office was attempting to do was illegal. Brown writes in his column this week, "Just Tellin It":
The retaliatory action was illegal. It violated the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Indiana Constitution, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Communications Act of 1934 and the Code of Federal Regulations — Part 73 and various Indiana statutes.
After others pointed out to Mayor Ballard and his administration the outrageousness of their illegal directive, it was “rescinded.”
As a side note, I would note that this story was first broken by a blog run by the Indiana Democratic Party's spokesperson, Jen Wagner. The Accidental Mayor posted the e-mail directive the administration sent out concerning WTLC. Nowhere in Evans' story does it mention where the controversial e-mail was first reported.