Friday, September 13, 2013
More On Mayor Ballard's Junket To Germany With 100 Of Indy Elites
After tracking down a copy of the itinerary for Mayor Greg Ballard's latest overseas junket to Germany with about 100 of Indianapolis' elites, it's no wonder his office has refused to publicly release the itinerary for any of his previous eight overseas junkets that accomplished absolutely nothing other than to show the world what a doofus we have for a mayor. The junket to Cologne, Germany will cover a 6-day span from September 21 to September 26 conveniently timed to coincide with the start of the city's world famous Rhineland Oktoberfest. Two days are spent in transit to and from Cologne, leaving just four days of planned activities. The Mayor and his 100-strong entourage will be treated to a five-star hotel treatment at Cologne's historic Excelsior Hotel Ernst, considered one of the top hotels in the world where rooms regularly go for $300 to $700 a night.
The first full day of the trip will be spent entirely on leisure activities, featuring a world-class dining buffet in the Wintergarten, a walking tour of the cathedral rooftop, visits to the Romano-Germanic and Ludwig museums and a welcome reception and dinner with the sister city host committee at an undisclosed location. A breakfast buffet kicks off each of the remaining days, which are sprinkled with filler events to give some appearance of legitimacy for the trip among daily time set aside for sight-seeing activities. They're going to hear some presentation on Cologne's business model for hosting trade shows and conventions. I'm wondering if their model includes tens of millions in annual taxpayer subsidies like Indy's. They'll hear lessons on how Cologne engaged and won back a creative class that Hitler's Nazis rubbed out during World War II. The attendees will visit plants for Bayer Healthcare and Ford in Cologne. Interestingly, Ballard's first job after being forced into retirement from Marine Corps was a very short-lived job working for the Bayer Corporation, which was followed by a string of business failures before he finally landed a low-paid job teaching at a third-rate university.
Some of the filler events are discussions of Indianapolis' future, in particular, Indianapolis International Airport, whose leaders must be crossing their fingers that their fortunes turn around real soon or else they'll be looking at more bond defaults like their earlier bond default on the failed massive investment in the now-closed United Airlines maintenance hub back in the 1990s. It seems Cologne's airport has a FedEx hub like Indy's airport so they're going to learn a little about the impact having that FedEx hub has on their airport, which is about the only thing keeping Indianapolis' airport operational as a going concern right now. They're going to take in a few more cultural events and go for cruise on the Rhine River before being led in a wrap-up session of their trip by Walker Research's Steve Walker where they will be briefed on talking points to use to convince the people back home that their European vacation really had a purpose. All in all, it looks like Ballard and company will spend about 14 hours at tops on "business" and the remaining 56 waking hours eating, drinking, shopping and sight-seeing. In other words, it's a bit of a stretch for any of these attendees to convince their employer that this trip is worthy of being counted as a legitimate business trip.
For a recap of the list of attendees, see my earlier post here. It looks like you're not going to be hearing much about this trip from the media, who have apparently been warned that the troops are getting a bit restless about the mayor's inattention to matters of importance and his alarming attention to crony capitalism to benefit only the select elites like those he's chosen to accompany him on this latest junket. Even the outspoken Amos Brown, one of the mayor's biggest critics, has been silenced. Apparently the inclusion of the Indianapolis Recorder's Shannon Williams and a few others from his community in this uppity affair was enough to keep him from speaking out.