Monday, June 16, 2014

Star Lies To Readers About Why Indianapolis' Potholes Aren't Being Repaired

Fellow blogger Pat Andrews has a spot-on analysis about the Indianapolis Star's continuing theme of misrepresenting to Indianapolis residents why street potholes aren't getting filled. If you believe the Star's meme, it's all because of political bickering between the Ballard administration and the Democrats on the council, with the Democrats largely to blame. The truth is far different than what you will read about in the Star.

As Andrews points out, the debate began long before the harsh weather this winter created thousands of potholes all over town. Ballard came up with a $350 million ReBuild Indy II plan, a euphemism for a political plan to borrow a bunch of money to spend on street projects right before the 2015 mayoral race so people can see big signs up all over town advertising to voters how much Ballard is committed to improving neighborhoods. What the Star doesn't tell its readers is that the City already has $215 million available for street repairs. Mayor Ballard has been holding all of that spending hostage until Democrats on the council go along with a plan to borrow an additional $135 million to push the total size of the spending to $350 million through the issuance of 30-year bonds. Of course, that means your children and grandchildren will be paying decades into the future for some street repairs that might last 10 years if we're lucky, along with the added $90 million in interest costs.

Has anyone from the Star bothered to go out and check the condition of many of those streets that were repaved only four years ago before the last election with ReBuild Indy money? It's an exercise worth undertaking to consider whether the manner in which the streets are being repaired are being performed wisely, or only in a manner that ensures that the road contractors who contribute so heavily to the Mayor's campaign committee have a perpetual steady stream of work to perform.

After this year's bad winter weather, Ballard went to the council and requested $8 million for emergency pothole repairs, even though the Department of Public Works estimated there were at least $24 million in emergency repairs that needed to be undertaken. The council passed the $8 million in funding after re-allocating the funds that were disproportionately allocated to the council members' districts most favored by the Mayor. The council also passed a second proposal that provides the additional $16 million in emergency repairs that DPW said were also needed. Somehow, this gets twisted as a fail on the part of the council by the Star: "But Department of Public Works Director Lori Miser described [the $24 million] as a 'drop in the bucket' of what's needed. Which means several more bumpy days ahead for residents, trapped in the political gridlock."

The Star's John Tuohy doubles down on his misrepresentation of the facts by blaming the failure to approve the $350 million ReBuild Indy II funds for the lack of funds to repair pothole-ridden streets. "A proposal by Republican Mayor Greg Ballard to invest $350 million in infrastructure has languished since last August when the Democrat-controlled City-County Council tabled the plan because of a disagreement about how it was to be funded," Tuohy writes. Again, notice that he pretends the $215 million already available to the Ballard administration for new street repairs without borrowing another dime is simply not there. Tuohy goes on about how Ballard has been holding town hall meetings all over town to garner support for his re-election spending bill, but the Democratic-controlled council just won't budge. Again, the Star is simply writing press releases for the 25th floor. Notice the Star never questions why Ballard wasted millions of ReBuild Indy money on an international sports park where cricket can be played, which was a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. If you want the facts, you will have to look elsewhere for your information because the Star is intent on doing everything it can to misrepresent most local issues of importance.


Flogger said...

Journalism at The Star has long been "Press Release Journalism." During the Gold$mith Administration, Gold$mith's claims or press releases were packaged up as News. Advertorials they are now called. Advertisements in this case Political ones masquerading as News for a politician.

I suspect the "fight" between the Republicans and Democrats is more about who gets the goodies to spread around.

I live in a residential neighborhood with potholes and crumbling streets and the same procedure is used on main streets for street repair. Fill the hole with some Brand X filler that has little cohesive or binding strength. The underlying problem of poor drainage or a crumbling base is just layered over by the Brand X fill.

The bigger issue is how to fund a proper repair of streets and maintenance. The repairs and/or repaving is not going to last 10 plus years.

The important point for The Star and the Local Mega-McMedia is to present us the fable of Good Honest Government.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Actually, the Pulliam-owned Star didn't cut Goldsmith much slack, even though he married into the family. They did story after story questioning his privatization deals, the role campaign contributions played in getting city work performed, stories about ghost employment and mismanagement of the police department, etc. Their coverage drove up his negatives so badly that he got blown out in his governor's race against O'Bannon in Marion County, contributing to his statewide election defeat. The newspaper did the same thing to Lugar when he was mayor, contributing to his 1974 defeat in his first bid for the Senate against Birch Bayh.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I stopped going to the Star for real news a long time ago. Sadly, the IBJ is headed in the direction of the Star with hit pieces like the trash the published about Christine Scales. If I want real news about what is going on in this city, I come to your blog along with a few others. And I am saying that as a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 1132 AM except I am not a Democrat.

Not being from Indy I can tell you I know what a good newspaper is, and the Star isn't one. Every time I walk in the store and they try to whore the Star to me I say "no, thank you". Thankfully no one can read my mind.

Anonymous said...

There is no reason to read the Star for any 'news'. Do they even have an investigative reporter on the staff at this point? I disagree with many of Mr. Welsh's conclusions, but at least his blog attempts to provide some background and context to many local issues. Perhaps the Star, WISH and WTHR should take note (don't bother with FOX)?

Marycatherine Barton said...

In Jan., a couple of days after being forced to drive over potholes on Sherman Dr. between Washington and Michigan Streets. we called the Mayor's Action (haha) Center to report them, and the 'lady' who took the call sounded very indifferent to learning same, only saying that they had received many reports about these very potholes and would be getting to them. Of course, in the meantime people were driving over them.

In the past, the employee always gave a report number to me, but not so this time. That is when I learned about the plans of Mayor Ballard to do little about repairing potholes.