Monday, August 06, 2012

How To Get Your Political Nemesis To Sing Your Praises

Jennifer Wagner, a paid spokesperson for the Indiana Democratic Party, used to be Mayor Greg Ballard's biggest political detractor. She penned a blog, "The Accidental Mayor," to relentlessly poke fun of him when he first took office. Wagner's husband, Gordon Hendry, formerly served as a top adviser to Mayor Bart Peterson, who Ballard upset in the 2007 mayoral election. Some Indianapolis Democrats thought Wagner wasn't enthusiastically supportive of the party's 2011 Democratic candidate against Ballard, Melina Kennedy. Now they're less than pleased that she's stepping on their message of criticizing the recent double-digit pay raises Ballard handed out to 14 members of his staff at a time when he's asking other city agencies to do with less in order to close an estimated $50 to $60 million budget deficit. WISH-TV's David Barras mentions Wagner's defense of the pay raises for Ballard's staff during her appearance on "Indiana Week In Review" this past week:
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:
Great op-ed.
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.


Cato said...

Jen's disappeared since she bailed on the D.C. gig to be a mom. Not that she was ever an intellect, but she served as a clearinghouse for anti-Republican snarkiness.

Now, she just wants the mortgage paid and the kids to ride in nice cars.

As a mom, she'll say whatever needs to be said to keep her husband in cash.

Her influence has passed. The Dems will never let her back in the door after this bit of treachery.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I don't agree Cato. The Mahern message on TIFs and the pay increases is actually a contradiction of the approach taken by Democrats like Melina Kennedy who never criticized Ballard's taxpayer handouts because frankly the insiders who runs this City, regardless of which party controls the Mayor's Office, wouldn't have stood for it. There are still plenty of establishment D's out there like that, people who sees government as a way of getting rich. Those people would be very comfortable working with Jen Wagner.

CircleCityScribe said...

"Corruption is as Corruption does."

-The Democrat Machine

(Greg Ballard, Mayor, apparently following the Straub credo)

Citizen Kane said...

Top talent????

Citizen Kane said...

I was once told by one of the wives (democrat) of a political hack that I should get into politics to get some of that easy money - sometimes people make assumptions (stereotypes) about skin color and think that you are on their side.
She had no idea how much she and her ilk disgusted me (and those who gave her her sinecure).

Had Enough Indy? said...

Everyone has an angle, I guess. When I heard Wagner's comment on Indiana Week, I figured it was a spouse's perogative to think highly of their partner.

Now, it seems more like money talks.

By the way, Hendry is the poster child for lack of talent in high places. He didn't deserve the money he made.

The meme about 'got to pay for talent' is just something to say to the press that doesn't sound entirely greedy. It's not true.

artfuggins said...

Jen has deserted the Dem party for $$$$$$, She is a name dropper and an elitist. She wants more taxpayer money for Mass Ave which has developed and now should be able to carry the water itself.

M Theory said...

Duh, of course Wagner considers herself to be an elitist! When I entered the arena in 2007 as leader of the Indiana tea party movement against property taxes, she was the first to call us "teabaggers" and suggest that we didn't have ground to stand upon.

She was callous to the fact that people would lose their homes of 30years if no one did anything.

She doesn't care about real people. I never got the feeling she cared about anyone except herself and whatever snarky mission her masters set her upon.

I put her in the same bucket I put Matt Tulley. Neither have integrity and foolishly think of themselves somehow as better than everyone else, when they do nothing meaninful to serve humanity.

Ben said...

Jen is Parkers BFF so she is covered.But,M betting Jens wonderful sugary personality will win over her detractors.

How ever, in most peoples opinion, she jumped the shark a long time ago.She couldn't make it in DC so she came back to shill for Parker..

She does not carry the weight that she used to carry.

Marycatherine Barton said...

When I read reports like this one, Gary, I realize how much Indianapolis has submitted to the New World Order of globalized vulture capitalism.