Sunday, February 01, 2009

Mayor Ballard's Super Bowl Trip

On Friday, Mayor Greg Ballard's most outspoken critic, blogger Jennifer Wagner, posted a rumor on her WRTV blog that Ballard and his entire family were travelling to Tampa to attend the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime. Wagner wrote:

I just heard a tip that Greg Ballard took his whole family to Tampa at the expense of the Capital Improvement Board despite being told by advisers that it would be a bad move.

Ballard apparently didn’t listen and said he thought it was a family getaway that he deserved to take.

Later, she updated her post to say an administration spokesperson said that Ballard and his wife were travelling as guests of the Super Bowl host committee but that Ballard intended to reimburse the committee for his wife's travel. It sort of reminded me of her rumor about the father of Sarah Palin's daughter's baby which turned out to be completely untrue.

In today's Star, Brendan O'Shaughnessy reports that the Super Bowl 2012 Host Committee paid the way for Ballard and six other city officials and sports event professionals. "Three others, including Mayor Greg Ballard's wife, were paying their own way," O'Shaughnessy writes. "Winnie Ballard was planning to reimburse the Host Committee for plane and game tickets bought as part of the group." He notes that four public safety officials, including Public Safety Director Scott Newman, had their trips paid for out of taxpayer funds.

I can't help but wonder who would tell Jen Wagner that Ballard was taking his entire family on the trip at the taxpayers' expense against the advice of his advisers when that clearly was not the case. This isn't the first time she's claimed a tip on something happening in the Ballard administration that could generally only be sourced back to someone on the 25th floor. Ballard has enough problems on his hands without someone in his own office leaking damaging misinformation to his chief Democratic critic week after week.

On that Super Bowl 2012 Host Committee, I think it would be incumbent upon the organizers of that committee to provide complete transparency to the public, particularly when funds are being used to pay for the trips of our mayor and other city officials. That means providing full disclosure of all contributions and expenses incurred by the committee.


indyernie said...

Jen hears innuendos (or maybe its voices in her head) and runs with them.
For someone who calls herself a journalist her facts and contacts are wrong more than right. I still have people walking up to me and asking if I’m the indy chicken...This isn't the first time that Wagner has gotten a story wrong and I'm sure it won’t be the last.
I thought in journalism 101 Jen would have been taught that one of the first things a real journalist should do is "fact check".
Jen Wagner is a hack to the bones and not just a political hack.

Diana Vice said...

I'd like to know if Ballard's wife decided to reimburse the costs of her trip before or after someone raised the issue. I get so weary of of post facto damage control. It reminds me of Barak Obama's new cabinet picks who had every intention of paying those taxes that they "overlooked" prior to being nominated.

Downtown Indy said...

Diana, that was on my mind, too.

After the 'who's paying' flap about the trip to Asia, I'd have certainly made it known up front. I would have fully expected the same scrutiny on this trip.

M Theory said...

The best thing Ballard could have done is to issue a press release, flat out say he's going and how the trip was financed before anyone said anything.

And yes, the Mayor has snakes all around him.