Saturday, August 22, 2009

Budget Hearing Tales

Had Enough Indy blog has been providing some good reporting on recent budget hearings conducted by the Indianapolis City-County Council. Here are some items worthy of note:

  • At the August 12 budget hearing, CCC President Bob Cochrum asks City Controller David Reynolds if $16 million in rainy day funds (surplus COIT dollars) can be tapped for use by a municipal corporation (presumably the CIB).
  • The council's clerk, Melissa Thompson, put out a notice for the budget hearing on August 13 stating a start time of 5:30 p.m. The meeting actually started at 5:00 p.m. Councilor Ed Coleman's proposal concerning the potential sale of city golf courses was tabled indefinitely without any public testimony.
  • At the August 17 meeting of the Metropolitan Development Committee, Chairman Kent Smith neglects to allow time for public comment despite going out of his way to state the importance of public input at these meetings.
  • At the August 18 meeting of the Administration & Finance Committee, Chairman Marilyn Pfisterer took up Proposal 292 concerning the pay of township assessors, which had previously been tabled. The public notice of the meeting made no mention of Proposal 292 being an action item at the committee meeting.
  • At the August 19 meeting of the Public Safety Committee, local attorney and blogger Paul Ogden was rudely stalked by the Sheriff's counsel, Kevin Murray, while he attempted to ask questions about the Sheriff's budget. As described by the blog, "After Ogden's first couple of points were made, this fellow was asked to answer for the Sheriff." "He identified himself as Kevin Murray, also a lawyer." "He moved very, very close to Ogden." "Within inches. It was so close that it was, in animal behavior terms, a threatening distance." "Several times he tried to stop Ogden from continuing his comments." "He hovered just behind/beside Ogden while there was a second microphone just on the other side of where Sheriff Anderson was seated." "A person who tries to bring forward information during public comment time should not be dogged like this fellow dogged Ogden."
  • Chairman Benjamin Hunter rushed through the August 20 meeting of the Public Works Committee so City-County Councilors could attend the Colts pre-season game at Lucas Oil Stadium, no doubt free tickets given to them as a reward for their support of the $21 million a year tax, spend and borrow bailout scheme for the CIB.

Our City-County Council is not inspiring much public confidence, is it?


Indy4U2C said...

How about those motorcycles that Sheriff Frank Anderson requested? Just how does he explain them? Will he be serving civil process on them? What use will he make for them???

Remember Frank Anderson is not performing any police function, so the purchase of police motorcycles can only be described as abuse of authority, giving motorcycles paid for by TAXpayers to cronys! It's just wrong!

indyernie said...

Ben Hunter has a proposal pending that will cost Irsay hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years.
Somehow I don't see Hunter being rewarded for his vote on the CIB with Colts tickets. That said if I had tickets to a Colts game I would be tempted to get my business over in time to attend...why should we expect less of another?


Gary? I'd love to know why you remain a Republican.

If you are a battered wife, aren't you supposed to leave your husband and take yourself away from the abuse?

I see no hope for the Republican party to rescue America. Absolutely none.

Advance Indiana said...

Ernie, we have no contractual responsibility to provide police escorts for football players. We don't need an ordinance to make that change and I doubt the savings is as much as you suggest.

Melyssa, A political party isn't a spouse. I don't have to be in love with its leadership to belong to it.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I agree. I love my political party. I don't like some of the people who claim to be Republicans and what they are doing.

With all due respect to my Libertarian friends, the Republican establishment worries a lot more about Republicans who fight to take their party back as opposed to those who leave the party to become Libertarian. There is nothing a Tom John and the other establishment Republicans would like more than to see people like Gary and I leave the party and become Libertarians.

I understand it when Republicans go the Libertarian route because of frustration as well as those who are Libertarian because they deeply believe in the party's positions on the issues. And I think the Republicans would be smart to try to attract Libertarians given the fact that the Libertarian vote, while small, could be the deciding factor in various races. But as far as encouraging reform-minded Republicans to leave the GOP and become Libertarians, that's exactly what the establishment GOP wants. They don't care whether they win the election. They care about control. Getting reformers out of the party gives them more control, not less.

indyernie said...

"I see no hope for the Republican party to rescue America. Absolutely none."

Our only hope is the GOP.
The current democrat administration will break America's back and banks and I hope you aren't putting your money on the live and let live the time they get a candidate elected America WILL be bankrupt and speaking Chinese.

artfuggins said...

I saw the hearing on Channel 16 where Paul Ogden accused Sheriff Anderson of committing a felony. At that point, Ogden should have been ruled out of order and made to sit down. Ogden was the one who behaved boorishly and should be embarrassed about his behavior. I doubt that he is.

Advance Indiana said...

Paul used the word "kickback" in describing payments from the jail's telephone contractor being paid into the commissary fund. Payments into that fund are not appopriated by the council and are not calculated into the budget approved annually by the council.The sheriff has wide discretion over these funds. As I understand it, Anderson has spent millions out of that fund to pay legal bills racked up by Kevin Murray and his law firm. It is unclear to me why the sheriff is not utilizing the services of the corporation's counsel instead of pouring all of that money into outside legal fees, which would allow that money to be spent on more pressing needs. Ogden may have been guilty of poor word usage, but he did not accuse Anderson of commiting a felony.

artfuggins said...

Ogden accused Sheriff Anderson of taking kickbacks. Is that not a felony? [if it were true]

Advance Indiana said...

A commission is being paid to the commissary fund by the contractor on an outrageous telephone contract. The commissary fund has often been considered the sheriff's slush fund. The State Board of Accounts has complained for years about how sheriffs across the state use these funds for questionable purposes. Again, Paul's use of the work "kickback" may not have been the best term to describe what is happening, but he didn't accuse the sheriff of committing a criminal act.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Gary -- I need to insert a change on the Colts game connection with a comment Ben Hunter made during the public comment part of the Committee hearing. I did leap to the assumption that all the Councillors to which Hunter referred were actually going to the game. In a personal email to me, he clarified that to his knowledge he was the only Councillor to actually attend the game. I took my assumption too far and I apologize to you for not getting it corrected before you quoted me. As for rushing through the meeting, that isn't how I'd describe the 2 hour meeting. He was abrupt, but at that point I was actually done with my comments and questions and I was the last member of the public wanting to have time. My mention of it was because it reinforced the 8:00 comment he made.

Advance Indiana said...

Well, Hunter was chairing the meeting, he was the one in a hurry to wrap up the meeting when it came to public comments and he admits he attended the Colts' game. Can he truly vouch for the fact that none of the other councilors attended the game? I wouldn't expect someone to ask to leave early to attend a ballgame. I don't think your comments were much off the mark, if any.