"The natural and appropriate thing to do?" Is that how Daniels felt when he and his fellow corporate insiders at IPL voted to sell the Indianapolis-based utility to Duke in 2000? The sale made millions for Daniels and his fellow corporate insiders. Long-time employees, retirees and investors in IPL didn't fare quite as well from that deal.
For us common folks, we just shake our heads in disbelief as one Indianapolis leader after another beats the drum in support of a bailout out of the CIB. Downtown is the economic engine of our city and our state. If the CIB fails, the whole state fails. Nuvo's David Hoppe touches on what the CIB represents to these people in his column this past week. He writes, in part:
The CIB, or Capital Improvement Board, is the politically appointed board of insiders who use tax dollars to run projects that Indianapolis' Business Party deems too important to put up for a public vote.
Did you vote to make Indianapolis a sports capital? To blow up Market Square Arena? Can you remember seeing a ballot with a box on it where you were asked to check whether or not you thought building a new football stadium (with retractable dome) was a good idea?
I didn't think so.
Voting can be a messy, unpredictable business. Bart Peterson will vouch for that. When the Business Party decides it wants something, it knows better than to leave the process up to mugs like you and me. It relies on the CIB.
This is called efficiency.
You might think of the CIB as the Business Party's enabler. The problem with enablers is that they sometimes help perpetuate bad habits. They don't know how to say "no."
So who cares whether the common folks like the idea of bailing out the CIB, again? The CIB insiders have one of their own in the governor's office. He's going to make damn sure that lawmakers have one up or down vote on the state's budget and that one vote includes a bailout of the CIB. That way your legislator can lament to you how much he or she hated that CIB bailout, but they couln't risk voting against funding for our schools that the budget bill also included.
House Speaker Pat Bauer told reporters after the budget failed to pass during the regular session that Gov. Daniels wanted to force a special session of the legislature to tackle the budget because he knew that was the only way he could get the bailout deal he wanted for the CIB. I don't often agree with Bauer but I think he hit the nail on the head this time.
Daniels' long-time friend is Jim Morris. The two date their friendship back to their days working together in the Lugar mayoral administration. Morris has become the quintessential rent-a-civic leader who has become a very wealthy man pretending to just be a good civic leader. The Simons wisely picked Morris to head up their efforts to sucker the CIB into giving their NBA franchise another $15 million a year in public subsidies. After all, Morris helped sell the City on the idea of buying the Indianapolis Water Company for more than twice what it was actually worth. Morris walked away from that deal with more than $6 million. You got more than $800 million in debt and double-digit water rate increases. Morris will no doubt earn a big bonus from the Simons if he succeeds in pulling off this feat.
This CIB bailout has nothing to do with the future of this city. It has everything to do with helping the same self-centered, self-absorbed and self-indulgent city leaders who cannot separate their personal gains from the public good.