Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Mayor Ballard this week called for further privatization efforts to find money to fund our crumbling city parks. The head of IndyVisit, formerly known as the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, whines in the IBJ that the lack of direct flights into Indianapolis' new billion-dollar airport terminal imperils his efforts to lure organizations to host their conventions in Indianapolis after a $200 million expansion of the city's convention center and a $60 million public subsidy for the construction of the new J.W. Marriott Hotel. It is suggested that public subsidies may be in order to fund direct flights to cities like San Francisco in order to entice more groups to host their conventions here and help fill up the downtown hotels. IndyVisit's CEO claims that the city has lost 10% of its potential tourism business due to the lack of non-stop flights. Apparently the fact that the city now has among the highest tax rates in the country for visitors is not a factor in attracting conventions to Indianapolis.
We are always told each time that we are asked to pony up more money to subsidize the business activities of downtown that such additional contributions will help grow city revenues that will benefit all of the city's residents. From where I'm sitting, these contributions are only draining city resources that are available to fund essential city services. Fellow blogger Fred McCarthy says it best in describing the contempt our city leaders have for our residents:
One does not know whether to laugh or cry when, simultaneously with this outcry about an attempt to fund public safety, the mayor is announcing that we can’t handle the public parks system and he is, hat in hand, asking taxpayers to put that system on an "alms" basis.
Now he wants citizens who are forced to subsidize professional sports with tax money, but who cannot afford to buy a ticket into the palaces built with that tax money, to come up with more money to use the only publicly financed recreation facility within their financial range.
It is difficult to imagine a more outrageous example of contempt for the residents of this city. One gets the impression that all would be well at city hall - and the editorial offices - if we didn’t have to waste so damned much money providing municipal services like police and fire protection for citizens outside the mile square!