Friday, April 24, 2009

Don't Confuse Ballard With The Facts On CIB

I caught a report by WTHR's Kevin Rader this evening on the conference committee report hearing on the CIB bailout this afternoon at which Mayor Greg Ballard testified. Ballard seemed to be telling the committee that if they approved a bunch of tax increase options for the City, he would figure out a way to get it done with the City-County Council. Rep. Trent Van Haaften, according to Rader, asked Ballard if he had investigated the CIB to figure out what had gone wrong to prevent the same problem from occurring in the future. Ballard essentially told Van Haaften that he wouldn't look at the past and that he was only looking to the future. "This is about the future of Indianapolis' convention business," Ballard said. Rader said Van Haaften reacted by comparing Ballard's answer to Mark McGwire's when he was asked about his use of steroids as a major league baseball player. "I'm not here to talk about the past," McGwire said. This has been Ballard's attitude towards everything, including the CIB, the water company, the airport authority, etc. He refuses to authorize any investigations of questionable transactions that occurred under the Peterson administration that have left this city on the brink of bankruptcy. His answer to everything is not to lay blame. Don't investigate what happened. Just raise taxes and spend more money and hope the problems go away. If that was the solution the people who elected him wanted on these issues, they would have simply voted to re-elect Bart Peterson.

UPDATE: I just caught Norm Cox's story from WRTV on yesterday's conference committee meeting on the CIB bailout. Cox ran video footage of CIB Treasurer Ann Lathrop testifying before the committee and claiming that the CIB would soon be forced to contact convention organizers and cancelling scheduled conventions because of the CIB's financial woes, suggesting that the Indiana Convention Center might have to be closed due to lack of funds. A few weeks back, CIB President Bob Grand made a similar threat to close down Lucas Oil Stadium, a claim he backed off on when he testified before the Municipal Corporations Committee. Lathrop's scare tactics are completely out of line. How she can sleep at night making such an erroneous claim is beyond me. Lathrop, by the way, earns a living working for Crowe Horwath, the CPA firm which relies on government contracts as part of its local operations. The firm provides financial advice to the Indianapolis Water Company, among other government contracts.


Paul K. Ogden said...

That is what is so mystifying Gary. Time and time again, the Mayor's been contronted by problems created during the Peterson's administration and he's fallen on the sword. At first I thought it was because his key advisors had their hands dirty in the Peterson corporate giveaways and were giving the Mayor bad political advice to cover their own skins. But, you know, now I'm beginning to think maybe it's bigger than that.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's painful to hear him speak, Paul. He has been led so far astray. There is apparently not a single person in his admnistration that will stand up and tell him that he's being given bad advice and he needs to correct his course quickly. Dems like Jen Wagner beat up on him for his lack of vision when the reality is that he has the exact same vision as Bart Peterson. If Peterson was sitting in that committee room today instead of Ballard he would have been saying exactly the same things. The talking points he spouts are no different than the talking points Peterson spouted for eight years.

Jon said...

What part of due diligence doesn't our mayor understand? The CIB has been in the red 8-10 years and yet failed to note that salient fact when the discussions about building LOS were on going. Much like the water company the CIB had a shortfall due to 'risky' bonds. The amount of the deficit the CIB reports continues to escalate; from 5 million to 10 million to 20 million to 48 million plus. One would think that a resident member of the CIB who is a cpa could add. The Pacers had a whim for more money and the CIB not only automatically includes the money in the budget but doesn't discuss the fact they have acqueisced to the Pacers demand. Then there is the Colt's deal; all of the revenue all of the time. Wow, that's tough negotiating!

Seriously, he can't hide his head in the sand any longer. The lies, half-truths and conjecture of just how much revenue and jobs are created by the Pacers and the Colts just doesn't wash anymore. If this is such a great deal for the city then why must we keep priming the pump with tax dollars?

Per the CIB statute the members may be removed by the appointing authority; IC 36-10-9-4
(d) A board member may be removed for cause by the appointing authority who appointed the member.

The mayor of Indianapolis appoints six of the nine members. He has the authority to remove the members for cause; I believe that sufficient cause exists, particularly poor management. He has the responsibility to remove the members but it is increasingly apparent to all concerned he does not have the will.

What will happen to the CIB? The mayor won't act except to continue to push more taxes as the only solution to 'fix' the CIB, the legislature sees this as a Marion County problem and the Democrats in the City Council just laugh at the guy who wanted to cut Marion County taxes shilling for the CIB and more taxes.

Downtown Indy said...

If Ann is right, then it would be prudent to hit the brakes on that $250M expansion of the convention center. That's a big savings right there.

I don't believe you can manufacture a great city. Those evolve from the hard work and dedication of its inhabitants, and from a history full of tradition and culture.

But I guess the folks who make their living by buying influence and political favors figure that with enough money, you can get anything you want. Especially when it's someone else's money your using.

Patriot Paul said...

Sniping at the mayor won't solve anything. From the first day he was locked out of his office, he never wanted to go after bad people because bad people never solve anything. Perhaps finding good people in public office is rare. In any event, people who have been in local and state positions should have known about these secret transactions but claim they did not. How come? Here is a snipit of an email from Cindy Noe:
The CIB. "How do we shore up the finances of the capital improvement board so that the downtown we are so proud of is able to survive? How do we avoid taxing our already overtaxed neighbors? How do we peel back the onion on the CIB transactions over the last 15 years to figure out what has gone on behind the curtain?
The most frustrating part of this session has been the speaker’s lack of attention to these important issues. We spent more time debating how many hands you have to have on the handlebars when riding a bicycle than we did on the state budget!

At this point, with only three session days remaining, even if they manage to get something in the hands of legislators to vote on in the last three days, there will not be sufficient time to debate and carefully examine all of the provisions offered.

We’re headed for a train wreck! I will keep you posted as to the final outcome of these and other important issues facing our state."

Of several things obvious in her email, I find it disturbing that when the State took over, every member should have all the info available; not withstanding the news articles in the Star. Are our state legislators totally uncaring not to investigate or playing possum? Sickening.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Mayor Ballard hs made it clear he will make no effort to find out what went wrong with the CIB, will make no effort to reform the CIB so it doesn't happen again, refuses to hold the sports teams accountable and wants taxpayers to bail out the CIB.

PP, it's time to give up hope on this Mayor. He is a failure in his own right and is dragging down my Republican Party and the residents of Indianapolis with him. It's time to "snipe."

M Theory said...

Patriot Paul, your logic doesn't make sense to me. You go after bad people rabidly. Imagine if I had not decided I was going to do everything I could to end Peterson's career. We would still be stuck with him (however, granted Ballard is sounding more like Peterson everyday).

We deserve far more than we are getting from Ballard for all that we gave on his campaign trail.

That man deserted his troops! That shows a serious lack of class and integrity.