Democrat Jennifer Wagner however, defended the raises on this past week’s edition of Indiana Week in Review.
"I actually have no problem with raising the pay in the mayor's office, because — and this is a personal issue for me — because I am married to someone who worked for Bart Peterson for six years, if you want top talent, you have to pay top talent,” Wagner said.
But council democrats are upset that they were never consulted about the raises or the new staff member. They found out about it a week ago, even though it was put into place three months ago. And the Democrats do have power this year that they haven't had in the past.So why is a paid spokesperson for the Democratic Party stepping on her own party's message? Well, it's all about money. You see, Gordon Hendry now works for CB Richard Ellis. The IBJ's Cory Schouten reported awhile back on eyebrows being raised by a contract the Ballard administration awarded to Hendry's firm that could net it a million-dollar plus brokerage fee. Real estate experts questioned whether the City was simply giving away taxpayer money to CB Richard Ellis for performing a role the city could have easily handled itself in the redevelopment of a prime block along Mass Avenue where an Indianapolis Fire Department station is currently located. The Ballard administration is currently reviewing proposals from three developers to redevelop the block, but it claims the redevelopment cannot occur unless a downtown TIF district is expanded to include the booming Mass Avenue commercial district, and it claimed the services of Hendry's firm was necessary to serve as a facilitator of any redevelopment efforts. Council Democrats are balking at the expansion of the TIF district because of concern that TIF districts are bleeding other taxing districts of much-needed tax revenues, and they question the rationale that putting an already booming area into a TIF district is necessary to ensure new development. As for Wagner, she just wants to make sure her husband's firm lands that million-dollar brokerage fee. Can you blame her? As they say, politics makes for strange bedfellows, and when in doubt, just follow the money.
UPDATE: A friendly reader noted the following Facebook comment Wagner posted praising an Indianapolis Star editorial in favor of fast-tracking the expansion of the downtown TIF district to include Mass Avenue:
It's frustrating that folks don't realize that most of the money from the TIF district will pay for new public safety needs, not private development on this parcel.
In other words, tax dollars going for a much-needed public use: better facilities for our firefighters.Does she really think we're that stupid to believe that TIF district revenues are not used to fund private development? TIFs drain property tax revenues that would have otherwise been used for public safety, libraries, schools, et al.