Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sorry Kids, We Don't Have Enough Money To Open Our Pools This Weekend

I mentioned in one of my posts earlier this week a decison by the Ballard administration to open only one-third of IndyPark pools this weekend in order to save money. Since taking office, Ballard has slashed the park's budget, permanently closed two pools, shortened the season for the remaining fifteen pools and reduced the days of operation of other pools. The cuts impact working middle class and economically-disadvantaged families disproportionately, who don't have a pool in their back yard or a membership at a club to keep their children cool and entertained during the summer months. The Star's Jason Thomas has a story on the cuts today:

Only a third of Indianapolis' 15 outdoor pools will open today, as part of a cost-saving strategy of the Indy Parks aquatics department. The remainder open June 5.

Citywide budget cuts also mean that eight pools will close one day during the week and six will end the season Aug. 1 -- one week earlier than in previous years . . .

Staggering the openings has altered the time-honored tradition of visiting the pool on Memorial Day weekend at some locations and has upset neighborhood residents who will have to wait a week before taking a swim.

"We didn't know we were outcasts," said Jerry Thomas, 39, who enjoyed the shade of a shelter on Tuesday at Douglass Park on the Eastside, one of the facilities that will open June 5 and be closed on Mondays. "Who are you singling out?"

Despite the cuts, parks officials touted $6.5 million in improvements and upgrades over the past year as evidence of the city's commitment to aquatic centers.
IndyParks Foundation and not the City's budget made possible the improvements and upgrades to some city pools. The administration angered residents last year when they scheduled the renovations during the summer months so that the parks department could save money by not having to operate them for a whole year. With the shortened season, many pools will be open this summer less than 60 days, with most opening on June 5 and some closing as early as August 1. While average folks sweat out this long, hot Memorial Day weekend with their restless kids, Mayor Ballard will be attending swank parties attended by out-of-town celebrities and grazing at the buffet table at his suite during the running of the Indianapolis 500. He wouldn't have it any other way.

It could not be more clear that the Ballard administration doesn't give a damn about the City's parks and pools. The only reason Ballard made the improvements to the pools at all is because they were leaking so damn much water every year. The leaks may be plugged, but your water and sewer bills are going to continue going through the roof, in part so Ballard can reward the fat cat contractors who put more than $1 million in his campaign coffers with transportation contracts as a result of his so-called sale of the water and sewer utilities. Civic leaders with warped perspectives call him a visionary for doing this when it's really just more credit card financing.

I have a suggestion for the Mayor. Why doesn't he just let John Bales and his cronies sell off the parks and redevelop the land into a better use so he'll have more money to spend on his precious professional sports teams and downtown improvements to impress Super Bowl attendees as much as possible in 2012 and more money to spend on his overseas junkets for him and his wife? For a guy that claims to be proud of the fact that he grew up in a working class family on the City's eastside, he sure has a lot of contempt for average folks in this town.

20 comments:

interestedparty said...

Regarding your satiric suggestion about John Bales selling the parks for development, wasn't this the real plan at one time?

Advance Indiana said...

I believe the agreement pertained to "excess park land."

interestedparty said...

Who was to define and designate excess?

IndyDem said...

The bad thing is, I thought closing the pools in the middle of August never made sense. It takes until August for the water to get warm enough to get into. Speaking as a tax payer who doesnt have any kids, it'd be nice to have a week to enjoy the pool myself where there was actually room to swim.

Eclecticvibe said...

Not to be to snarky, but isn't this straight out of the Republican playbook? Cut government spending that helps the disadvantaged, in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy? I don't agree with this decision, but I am surprised anyone would find this out of the ordinary.

Advance Indiana said...

Ballard, the candidate, professed to be the candidate of the working people. I saw him being interviewed on one of the news shows last night at the Snake Pit Ball in a tuxedo with a gold vest and Winnie at his side wearing a complimentary gown attempting to be a glamour queen. Four years ago, the people they're now hanging with would have only invited Greg on to their estates to mow their lawns and while Winnie tended to their housekeeping needs. They'll find out what kind of friends they now have when he gets his ass kicked out of office next year. His old friends won't be there to help him and these new friends will be making their new bed with Melina Kennedy.

Citizen Kane said...

Picking at the Parks Budge and specifically the hours of pool operation is minor stuff that accomplishes nothing except pissing people off.

Meanwhile, he continues to honor the tradition of past administrations, by burdening us with more debt, more waste and more corruption.

interestedparty said...

Indy Dem-

The purported reason for closing the pools in August is that all the life guards are back in school, since most of them are students. However, I think with a little creative thinking this obstacle could be overcome. But I agree with you. And since the last few Septembers have been warmer, it's still nice enough to swim then as well.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Taking from the least of us and giving to the Bolsheviks, is not very Christian of you, Greg. Bronx cheer to him!

Advance Indiana said...

I have a difficult time believing you save money by being closed the busiest weekend of the summer. I think the real point of the shortened season and fewer days of operation is to make the schedule of operation sporadic enough that people will get tired of going to the pools to find them closed and stop going to them altogether. We'll then see studies showing exorbitant costs for operating the pools for the few people who continue using them, thereby justifying their permanent closure and conversion to another, less costly to maintain use.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Electvibe:

"Not to be to snarky, but isn't this straight out of the Republican playbook? Cut government spending that helps the disadvantaged, in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy?"

Uh, no, it's not straight out of the "Republican playbook." It's straight out of the elitist playbook of those who have run this city for the past several decades. That includes Republicans and Democrats. Local Democrats are every bit as bad as bad as local Republicans when it comes to corporate welfare, maybe even worse. (Not a single Democrat councilor has spoken out against giving the Simons more money.) Where does the money come from for that corporate welfare come from...working men and women.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Interestedparty, most colleges start late August. I would assume most lifeguards are college age. Thus the Aug. 1st closing date doesn't make much sensse.

interestedparty said...

The trend, elsewhere and possibly here, according to what I have heard, is to replace swimming pools with "splash parks" where kids can run in and out of the fountaining water plumes. I don't know what the adults are supposed to do. Stay hot and get diabetes from not enough exercise, I suppose. Of course, the kids won't learn how to swim this way, but who's looking ahead to a long term benefit?

artfuggins said...

Most colleges do start in early August....look at some scheduled starts........

Paul K. Ogden said...

Art, the university where I teach, University of Indianapolis, starts the very last week of August. IUPUI starts only a week earlier. You could be right, but I doubt it...I don't think colleges start early August.

Joe said...

I find it interesting that you point out the Indy Star's lack of comprehensive reporting on many other stories but are eager to believe everything they say when it fits your agenda. How come they are so believable on this report and how came you didn't take time to get a response from Indy Parks? It doesn't seem to provide both sides of the story like well researched story should be. I'm surprised you didn't take the time to research yourself, like you usually do.

Advance Indiana said...

Sorry, Joe, but I reported on the fact that only a third of the pools were opening this weekend before the Star's story appeared. The Star story isn't a comprehensive story. The paper rarely has such stories any more, which might explain why they had people at the 500 yesterday trying to sell new subscriptions with an offer of a free T-shirt. I'm not blogging here to write press releases for the Ballard administration. If you don't like it, start your own blog.

Indy Student said...

Joe, why wait for Indy Parks' side of the story? It's represented by the city. The city slashed their budget, and now they have to cut deep into their services. It's fairly simple.

Also, those of us who blog do so in our spare time. We are under no obligation to write in any balanced manner (though some of us would argue we can be quite objective, we all have our biases), and often don't have the luxury of time or resources to get multiple sources for all sides of a story.

Advance Indiana said...

I would add, Matt, that when I first started blogging, I would e-mail the appropriate persons in an attempt to get their side of the story. Only rarely would someone, including government officials, bother to respond. I once e-mailed Virginia Caine, the county's health department head, about 8 times asking the same question about a legitimate public health concern over a period of time. She responded to none of them. She wouldn't respond because she couldn't answer the question without looking like a complete fool. If someone from one of the TV stations or the Star e-mails her, she can't wait to respond to see her face on TV or her name in print. Occasionally, an elected official will contact me to dispute one of my blog postings. If I agree that I got it wrong, I make a correction.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Thanks for running with this Gary. When I read this article in the paper, the first thing that crossed my mind was that the Ballard re-election campaign had begun in earnest.

"Despite the cuts, parks officials touted $6.5 million in improvements and upgrades over the past year as evidence of the city's commitment to aquatic centers." Now, that is Robert Vane for sure - campaign speechwriter turned high paid City employee writing (sshh - don't tell anyone - campaign) speeches and trying to bring forward the small sliver of facts that, if taken alone, could lead to Ballard's re-election.