Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ballard In Hot Water Over Pool Closings

Someone in the Ballard administration had a bright idea to close five public pools for the entire summer season this year for much-needed repairs. Ballard got blasted by residents in the Bethel Park area who are irate about the decision. WTHR's Mary Milz has a good story about what transpired. Crazy Larry (the guy who wears a paper bag on his head as a hat) brought Mayor Ballard to his feet when he accused the Mayor of being a racist. The Mayor shot back that the pools were being closed because the problem had been ignored for ten years and he's finally doing what needs to be done. Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams is caught on tape in a heated exchange with another resident in attendance at the meeting, which makes Williams look bad, not that looking bad is a hard thing for Williams to do.

Mayor Ballard is right about the problem with the pools being ignored for too long. Mayor Peterson allowed the parks to deteriorate during his eight years as mayor, choosing instead to spend the money awarding tax give-aways to his wealthy contributors, like the $20 million for the Conrad Hilton and the $25 million for Simon's corporate headquarters, to name a couple. Where the Ballard administration is dead wrong is its determination that five pools must be closed for the entire summer to make the needed repairs. I know enough about construction work to know that there are at least six months out of the year when repairs can be made to these pools other than the relatively short, 90-day period they are open during the summer. The administration is being disingenuous with the public about the need to close all of these pools at the same time for repairs. The repairs, which are estimated to cost $4 million, are being done in this fashion to save money, pure and simple. The closing of these pools, primarily in middle and lower-income neighborhoods, means the loss of summer jobs for the City's youth. Milz' reports notes that IPS is closing schools in some of these same neigbhorhoods.

The administration's decision to close the pools has nothing to do with race as suggested by Crazy Larry. It is, however, a reflection of this administration's priorities. You know that Conseco Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium would never be shut down during the season for repairs. While the Mayor is squeezing the park's budget, he is asking the legislature for additional taxing authority and funding to pay for the operating costs of Lucas Oil Stadium and Conseco Fieldhouse so the billionaire sports team owners don't have to absorb a dime of those expenses. Ballard already announced he is hiking fees to use the city's pools. As it always seems to be the case in this town, the common folks get the short end of the stick.


Paul K. Ogden said...

I agree, Gary, on all points. First, the pools should have been fixed a long time ago and, second, they could be fixed before or after the swimming season. The pools are only open three months in Indiana. You don't need to fix them during those three months.

I also agree this is a cost cutting move, not a move taken out of necessity. I highly doubt it has a thing to do with racism, but rather an administration that has extremely bad judgment.

Big Willy said...

Public pools aren't even open 90 days. They open Memorial Day weekend and close when IPS starts school. Last year they closed on August 11. I believe that's about 75 days. Take the weather into account, and, you've got something closer to 60 days. This is obviously a cost cutting plan that has a disparate impact on primarily black neighborhoods whether intentional or not.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the lousy hours that most public pools operate. If you work until 5pm forget trying to use a public pool during the week.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks for reminding us of that, Big Willy. I know Mayor Peterson shortened the pool season at one point to save money in the parks department's budget.

Anonymous said...

The Ballard and Peterson's like a Special Olympics Model United Nations summit.

This is obviously a cost cutting plan that has a disparate impact on primarily black neighborhoods whether intentional or not.

The same community that seems to want something for nothing. I find it hilarious that the one guy said the closing of the pools would put kids out on the street. Sorry, but if kids are out on the street, that is their _parents_ allowing/putting them out there. I grew up in a suburban county in a community that didn't have a high school pool nor a community pool. We drove to the old Boogie Mountain and Thunder Island and _paid_ what was needed to swim in a pool. Sometimes we went out to Greenfield. One aunt eventually had a pool built, so we could go over there if we wanted. Pools are just over rated. If you want a pool, go to the YMCA. Funny how Indy Parks had to offer a shuttle service, did any of the caring residents, especially those that can't, won't, and/or no longer work, offer to _volunteer_ their time to help care "FOR THE CHILDREN!!" Of course not. It is all about demanding someone else to provide: Provide us housing, provide us free food, provide us cheap/free daycare, provide us cheap/free health care, provide us cheap/free pools, blah blah blah.

This population is growing and the productive class is shrinking. I give the country 15 years, maybe 10???

The Amazing Abdul said...

When Larry and Rev. Solomon are becoming spokespeople for the "community" you know things are going to hell.

Cathy Sue said...

Hmmm...Parks and Recreation Budget-Pool closings vs. Arts Funding?
Pool closings vs. Arts Funding?
1 hour long after school arts programs to prevent juvenile crime?
Or..all day long in the heat of the summer with nothing for kids to do?
Millions in Crime Prevention Grants given for nebulous after school programs? Or, could a new non-profit called "Pool repairs against juvenile crime" been formed to receive a city crime prevention grant?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Spooknp, when you said, "The same community that seems to want something for nothing,"I thought you were talking Indy's professional sports community.

Downtown Indy said...

This is just another example of how things get done (er, NOT done) in this city.

Apparently fear of raising taxes or fees a smidgen causes the politicians to sit on their behinds and defer, delay and deny until one day a problem can no longer be ignored.

The end result? We get to the point were a massive increase is necessary all in one shot.

So we get lulled into a sense of well-being. We hear 'I won't raise your taxes' election after election, then one day all hell breaks loose.

That's what happened with the sewer system, it's what's happening with the parks.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I don't know, Attyabdul, I think that's signficantly better than the Carson cabal speaking for the "community."

Wilson46201 said...

Some people are self-appointed "spokespeople" for the community. Others actually are elected repeatedly by the citizens to be representatives and spokespersons for the community...

Concerned Taxpayer said...

"Others actually are elected repeatedly by the citizens to be representatives and spokespersons for the community..."

Wilson continued..."Because the "poor people" hope they will continue to get their FREE gravy train without having to work for it."

Paul K. Ogden said...

Wilson, you forgot to mention how if anyone dares to run against the Carson cabal in the Democratic Primary, they try to destroy their lives. Buy, hey, who's counting?

Unknown said...

Wilson continued..."Because the "poor people" hope they will continue to get their FREE gravy train without having to work for it."

I'm just wondering what the hel- uh heck poor people ever did to you. Has it ever occurred to you that there may be working poor people.

Public Pool for kids = Gravy Train?

What do you call Conseco or Lucas Oil Stadium then (that I don't use butpay for) Do you call it the Gravy Boat, Gravy Yacht...maybe Crazy Train?

Really, please respond to this so I can see if you are consistent or just have it out for poor people with no regard for hypocrisy (as in you practing the art of).