Monday, March 28, 2011

Kennedy's Batting Average Against Ballard Not So Hot

Mayor Greg Ballard essentially repudiated all of the public positions he took as a candidate for mayor four years ago. His core group of supporters from that campaign want no part of his re-election. There is much fertile ground for Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy to cultivate in making the case he doesn't deserve another four years. Yet the first two issues she has chosen to attack in her campaign against him have been complete strike outs.

Last week, Kennedy touted a plan to go after gun sales at gun shows as a way of getting illegal guns off the street to reduce Indianapolis' crime rate. Even the government acknowledges that very few illegal guns are purchased at gun shows at which there is typically a large law enforcement presence. Ballard has weakened his support among a key Republican constituency the past four years by advocating tougher gun laws and by appointing Frank Straub, a big proponent of gun control laws, as his Public Safety Director. Despite the fact that both President Obama and Gov. Daniels have supported laws allowing law-abiding citizens who are properly licensed to carry firearms into parks, Mayor Ballard supports barring gun-owning citizens from carrying licensed firearms into city parks. The only thing Kennedy presumably gains from her tougher position on firearms is to drive disenchanted Ballard voters back to him who might fear she will be as far out in left field on this issue as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has been. Daley enacted one of the toughest gun ownership laws in the country, which the Supreme Court struck down as violating the 2nd Amendment, and which proved totally useless in combating gun violence in Chicago. Nobody with any common sense believes tougher gun laws will keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Mayor Greg Ballard has recently come under tough questioning by the local news media on his claim that his adminstration created more jobs in 2010 than former Mayor Bart Peterson did during his entire tenure as mayor. Mayor Ballard defended his counting of jobs based upon his administration's use of the same formula used by the Peterson administration for calculating job growth. In his words, "it's the paradigm we inherited." The issue is particularly sensitive to Kennedy because she served as a deputy mayor in charge of economic development for Peterson. In a statement today, Kennedy said:

Ballard’s administration has touted the creation of 8,700 jobs, but experts say only about 20 percent of those commitments are solid. In an unprecedented move, Ballard has refused to provide information about jobs deals that have been negotiated and finalized.

“Once public dollars have been committed to a project or company, the public has a right to know what’s going on,” Kennedy said. “As mayor, I would make sure that taxpayers are notified when we commit their dollars to new jobs – and that they have access to updates as those jobs are being created. And if companies don’t follow through, we need to make sure taxpayers aren’t left footing the bill.”
If Kennedy truly means what she says, then she is opening up a big can of worms. The largest economic incentive offered in the history of the city was the one that happened on Peterson's watch. That would be the several hundred million dollars in economic incentives offered to Eli Lilly based upon job creation and investment promises made by Lilly. While Lilly made substantial investments locally, it has never fulfilled its job commitment promises. In fact,, the company has shedded thousands of local jobs over the past several years. So far the Ballard admnistration has shown no interest in clawing back any of the incentives provided to Lilly as it did when Navistar failed to fulfill its promises. Is Kennedy saying she intends to claw back incentives made to Lilly if she becomes mayor? Not surprisingly, Marion Co. Republican Chairman Kyle Walker struck out at Kennedy's statement today. Here's part of what he said in a press release in response to her statement today:
Melina Kennedy's campaign just sunk to a new low. Kennedy sent an email today that included lies about Mayor Ballard's record on job creation. Additionally, Kennedy's email demonstrates that she is either misrepresenting the Ballard administration's record or Kennedy doesn't understand the city's economic development work (which she touts she did for several years).

We all know why Melina Kennedy is launching false attacks...because Mayor Ballard's administration has produced a record number of job commitments for the city. In 2010, Indianapolis received commitments for 8,702 new jobs and $934 million in capital investment - both are record highs. And it is more job commitments than Melina Kennedy's economic development efforts yielded in 2003, 2004 and 2005 combined!

As the Indianapolis Business Journal noted, "The city's current procedures for reporting job commitments and tracking them are essentially the same as they were during Democratic Mayor Bart Peterson's administration, according to two Peterson-era economic development officials."

Melina Kennedy has previously promoted her "record" of economic development, compiled the same way by both administrations, but now she doesn't want to compare numbers.
I'm not sure who is advising Kennedy on the fights she needs to pick with Ballard, but she's batting 0 for 2 in her first two times to the plate.


Paul K. Ogden said...

I agree Kennedy' illegal gun policy announcement wasn't a particularly good move. It didn't really win her much in the way of votes, won't actually accomplish anything from a policy standpoint, and might let Ballard off the hook with some gun rights supporters who Ballard has spent three years alienating. Still you look at Ballard's gun policies and Kennedy's and Ballard is every bit as liberal on guns as Kennedy if not more so.

I think Ballard though has really been hurt by the job commitment fiasco. I'm a little surprised Walker went right back to that defense when the Kenney report blew it out of the water. You're right though that the Peterson record is just as bad in that area, but Peterson isn't on the ballot, Ballard is. And the election will be a referendum on Ballard and that's where he is in big trouble.

Why are we using job committments anyway? The whole thing is a reward who can lie the best.

The Navistar clawback, by the way, was a tiny fraction of what it could have been. The City settled it while living millions on the table they could have gotten. The reason they said is they didn't want to incur legal fees....but City Legal was doing the case.

Indy4u2c said...

All Kennedy has to do is tell us how she will eliminate the unnecessary layer of government currently called our "Public Safety Department", with the exit of the New Yorker, Frank Straub, and she has my vote!

Advance Indiana said...

Yeah, Paul, but she was in charge of economic development for Peterson. That's why it made sense to fire back. They had to do something after the Mayor's lousy way of explaining it to Kenney.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

"...The largest economic incentive offered in the history of the city was the one that happened on Peterson's watch."
I would argue that spending $$BILLIONS on a castle for Irsay, which has pipes rusting through after only 3 years, and GIVING a $$BILLIONAIRE $$MILLIONS of our taxdollars to keep his hoodlums playing in this city, rank at the top.
One Bart Peterson, and one Greg "Peterson."