Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Councilor Christine Scales Gives-em Hell
In an outrageous move, Democratic members of the Indianapolis City-County Council's Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee last night tabled a proposal to create a TIF district within the Avondale-Meadows neighborhoods on Indianapolis' northeastside. This is one of the city's poorest and most crime ridden areas and, by definition, qualifies as a blighted area in need of the TIF economic development tool. The rationale for the motion to table by the TIF's co-sponsor, Steve Talley, who supposedly represents part of the affected neighborhoods, along with Christine Scales, was that the City's finances were too uncertain at this time to risk the relatively small investment the proponents of the TIF were seeking to secure a grocery store/retail development project. The $3 million investment the TIF's proponents sought pales in comparison to the tens of millions of dollars the City has been throwing around for investment in some of the most developed and successful areas of the City, including downtown and Broad Ripple.
Incredibly, Talley's motion came just moments after the same Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee had approved a much larger and more costly TIF for Midtown, which includes some of the City's most upscale neighborhoods, such as Butler-Tarkington and Kessler-Meridian and the already over-developed Broad Ripple Village. Many neighborhood residents had earlier testified to the committee that it did)n't need an expansive TIF contained in Councilor John Barth's proposal and worried about the impact the TIF expansion would have on funding for other governmental entities dependent on property taxes as a primary source of funding. Councilor Barth was more worried that wealthy residents in his neighbood (hint, they're not black or Hispanic) would choose to move to the suburbs to the north in Hamilton or Boone County where the schools are better, taxes aren't as high and crime is lower.
In the video capture, Councilor Christine Scales unloads on Councilor Talley and other Democratic members of the committee who clearly were killing the Avondale-Meadows TIF for reasons other than what they were professing to the public. Talley has apparently provided little assistance in helping with the TIF proposal's passage and shunned Councilor Scales repeatedly when she sought information from him as to any concerns Democratic members might have in passing the TIF proposal after his party repeatedly delayed action on it. I think you will find that the answer lies in the fact that the proponents of the Avondale-Martindale TIF didn't have "private commitments" with the Democrats' leadership as Councilor Barth secured for them from developers who stand to make tens of millions of dollars from the expansive Midtown TIF they had no qualms about supporting. Follow the money, folks. Follow the money. It's all about personal greed over substance. After last night's performance, the council should consider renaming the Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee the Metropolitan & Economic Shakedown Committee. It's more fitting.