The city's newly formed public safety advisory committee already is raising some political eyebrows.Cocky and arrogant as usual, Shabazz continues to inflict more damage on Ballard every time he opens his mouth. The Star, like most of the mainstream media, tend to forget Shabazz' role in running the IndyUndercover blog during the last mayoral election under the alias Sgt. Joe Friday. IMPD initiated an investigation into the blog after it leaked the identity of a confidential police informant in an arson case, and in doing so, placed a pregnant woman's life in danger.
Public safety leaders from the city's Republican administration announced the group on Wednesday. Shortly thereafter, local Democrats began questioning why two Republican City-County Council members were in the group but council Democrats, were not represented.
They also criticized the choice to appoint Abdul Hakim-Shabazz--not because he's a media personality, who tends to support Republican viewpoints, but because he still has residency in Illinois, not Marion County.
"The whole thing is bothersome," said Joanne Sanders, the council's Democratic minority leader. "I want to be as supportive as possible of Public Safety Director Straub, but this flies in the face of my support when my caucus is ignored and we're appointing people who don't claim residency in Marion County."
The residency issue is particularly bothersome, Sanders said, because city code stipulates that some public safety boards, such as the merit board, have members who reside in the county.
Straub said the advisory group is not a board with binding authority, but an informal kitchen cabinet. He said he chose the members, not on the basis of politics or residency, but to get a diverse swath of the community to provide him with advice and challenge him on issues . . .
"This is me getting together with friends to get advice," Straub said. "In an effort to be tranparent and show the public that we understand there needs to be other people giving advice and counsel, we announced who this group was--that's what this is all about."
For unrelated reasons, Shabazz, who has lived here since 2004 but doesn't own a house, said he likely will establish Indiana residency in the next year. But he didn't take the criticism to heart.
"It would be a legitimate concern if I had just fallen off a turnip truck and had no clue," he said. "But I understand the city better than most of them do, so I don't feel so bad."
I think Straub hit the nail on the head when he said why people like Shabazz were appointed to the advisory board. They are "friends." He's not looking for advice from ordinary citizens who have been the victims of crimes or police misconduct. The Ballard campaign committee has no doubt promised both Shabazz and Amos Brown, another appointee, it will buy political ads for airing during their respective daily talk shows. Councilors Angel Rivera and Ben Hunter, who also serve on the board, are in Mayor Ballard's back pocket. Rivera works for a minority contractor that's always looking for government contracts. Melissa Proffitt Reese's law firm, Ice Miller, does legal work for the City, and she's traveled on overseas junkets with Ballard in the past. The other appointees to the board are typical obligatory pandering to racial and ethnic groups. It's a total farce and just another reason we must do everything we can to toss Ballard out on his ass in next year's election.