. . . We have a hard time working together for the common good because all of those things get in the way.
For an example, look no further than Riggs’ current source of ire — churches.
In preparation for the long-hyped plan to create jobs for teens who otherwise would be running the streets this summer, Riggs spent weeks canvassing the community for donations to the Indy Public Safety Foundation. He ended up with about $35,000, mostly from large institutions.
“We didn’t get a dime from any church,” he said. Instead what he got was resistance.
That meant a few hundred kids who wanted a job this summer couldn’t get one.
Next up, Riggs wants to help the thousands of teenage mothers who are trying to break the cycle of poverty — and violent crime — by finishing school, becoming self-sufficient and being good parents. He needs donations. But he’s not optimistic about that one either.
“I’m not making any political statements here. It’s just the way the world is,” Riggs said. “We have a group of wealthy, predominantly suburban churches that are against abortion. We have young ladies in the inner city that have been sexually assaulted — had a child because of that sexual assault because they made a decision to keep that child because, morally, they thought that’s what they needed to do.
“Why in the world aren’t these churches helping these young mothers?”First of all, Riggs' job is to direct the various public safety agencies, not fundraising for a nonprofit foundation. Secondly, the foundation is trying to create entirely new programs that compete with existing government-funded and other nonprofit programs that have been around a lot longer than the past year, a number of which are administered by various church organizations. Only a few weeks ago the Indy Parks run by the administration in which Riggs serves complained that it was going to have to cut back hours of operations at the city's pools this summer because it couldn't find enough lifeguards to fill all of the summer job openings. Just who does Riggs think he is to demand that churches give money to a newly-created foundation with programs at cross-purposes with existing programs, and to seemingly blame them for the crime problems the city faces?
Riggs, by the way, gave an interview to radio talk show host Amos Brown. Ironically, Riggs had to call into the show from Texas where he was with his sons, who were attending a church-run sports camp in Texas where he formerly lived. He reiterated his concern that churches and businesses aren't doing enough to help combat the crime and violence in Indianapolis. If Riggs really gave a damn about public safety, he might ask one of his fellow board members, Pacers Sports & Entertainment's Jim Morris, to give back some of the tens of millions of dollars annually his billionaire boss is selfishly hogging for the Pacers before he criticizes others not on the public dole for not doing their fair share. Riggs might also stop wasting more taxpayers' money by creating a new high-paid position in his own office for retiring fire chief Brian Sanford, a position he said only a couple of years ago was not needed and spend that money instead on hiring more police officers. Interestingly, the $35,000 Riggs said the foundation raised was given to certain inner-city churches to run summer jobs programs, which might explain why some churches were reluctant in the first place to waste money on programs that have been exploited for personal use in the past by a few unscrupulous ministers who always seem to get their hands on this money.