Monday, January 26, 2015

Council Committee Keeps Digital Billboard Proposal Alive Despite Overwhelming Public Opposition

If you needed any further confirmation that members of the Indianapolis City-County Council auction off their votes on the council to the highest bidder, you need look no further than the action of the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee at tonight's meeting. No other issue before the council in recent years has drawn more public opposition than Proposal No. 250, a draft zoning ordinance governing digital billboards, which was drafted by the billboard industry to allow current billboard owners to swap out their static billboards for digital billboards.

The unprecedented action stands current zoning laws on their head by allowing the council to draft a proposed zoning ordinance it expects to be acted upon by the Metropolitan Development Commission, which is charged under Indiana law with drafting zoning laws through a drawn out public process and then sending it on to the council for approval. Lobbyists for the billboard industry had been meeting secretly with council members over the past three years before rolling out the proposal to the public last year. Their proposal would undo the City's zoning law, which currently bans digital boards, and allow billboard companies to erect more than 70 of the high-tech signs over the next three years alone.

Despite the overwhelming public opposition at tonight's meeting to the proposal and the inability of lobbyists for the industry to answer basic questions about the impact of the zoning law they are proposing, committee members voted to postpone action on Proposal No. 250 until April at the request of the billboard lobbyists by a 6-1 vote, the second such delay since an initial hearing last November. Only Councilor Jeff Miller (R) opposed the postponement, who has said he intends to vote against it. The proposal's sponsor, Mary Moriarty Adams (D), the committee chairman, Leroy Robinson (D), and Councilors Zach Adamson (D), John Barth (D), Vop Osili (D) and Will Gooden all voted against the overwhelming public opposition by keeping the proposal alive. The members expect the opponents to negotiate a zoning ordinance with the billboard industry rather than allowing the normal zoning process to play out.

Staff members for the Department of Metropolitan Development are still trying to wrap up work on Rezone Indy, a major undertaking to update the City's zoning laws. Although the original Rezone Indy project included signs within its scope, the Department pulled that component out and stated it planned to take up discussion of billboard zoning regulations only after it completed the larger Rezone Indy project. Proponents of Proposal No. 250 want to force the DMD staff to use the billboard-drafted ordinance as a starting point for their discussions. It is no secret that lobbyists for the billboard companies have been lavishing campaign contributions on council members over the past year, Clearly, these council members were more concerned about what their campaign contributors would think of them if they killed Proposal No. 250 than what the dozens of neighborhood residents throughout the City representing every council district think about them. I think it's time for neighborhood leaders to wake up and start bucking the system by drafting their own candidates to run for the council in the respective primaries and vote out of office council members produced through the respective parties' corrupt slating processes.


Anonymous said...

Good read for Gary:

Anonymous said...

everyone on that committee already has election problems, except Miller. All the At-Large's are going into contested primaries, either because their positions were eliminated by the legislature, or because of redistricting. Gooden is set up to be opposed by Tew, who took Adamson's At-Large when he moved to safer ground. If you noticed, they were asked who had received contributions from the industry, and there was a brief show of hands (probably not all responded) before the question was withdrawn. Postponing the vote till April means contributions will flow through the primaries. There's still, unfortunately, time to get it wrapped up and before the full Council, before November.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Actually, three of the members, Mary Moriarty Adams, John Barth and Will Gooden, aren't running for re-election to the council this year. Both Adamson and Osili face no opposition currently. Robinson has "moved" to Angela Mansfield's district to run against her in the primary, and the lobbyists for the billboard companies are pumping large campaign contributions into his race.

Anonymous said...

Barth is running, Gooden is running

Anonymous said...

Sad to hear that Mr.'s Osili and Adamson currently have no competition. Very sad to hear.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Check the Marion County Republican Party's website. Will Gooden did not file for slating. The only Republican candidate in District 2 is Colleen Fanning. Christine Scales didn't file for slating, but she filed with the board of elections to run against the party-backed candidate, Tim Craft, who was drafted to move into her district to take her out because she puts her constituents ahead of the corrupt machinations of the party's campaign contributors.

Anonymous said...

This meeting was ridiculous. The Councillors postponed this proposal despite the objection of 38 neighborhood organizations, Indiana Landmarks, and MCANA. The only supporters were three out of state ad companies. Shocking result.

Anonymous said...

What is so shocking that Councilors would vote against a tide of public sentiment disapproving this bill?

And look at who supports the fat cat moneybags on this issue! Democrats like Moriarty Adams, Robinson, Zach Adamson, and Osili long ago proved long ago they are no different from any other professional politician backing corporate-sponsored bills that could well result in large campaign "donations".

I agree it's time for neighborhood leaders to wake up and start drafting their own candidates to run for the council in the respective primaries because the Democrat and Republican machines sure do seem to be offering the voters nothing but candidates who are stooges for the wealthy interests.

Anonymous said...

I'll lay odds that Angie's List has employees writing positive reviews of Mr. Adamson's hair salon business. If you don't buy into their racket, their employees trash your business online at their site until you pay protection money to them. As far as I'm concerned, Angie's List is just a high tech version of a neighborhood mob racket shaking down local business owners for protection money.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:05 - Great point, great truth in humor, and a great point about what might happen to private business under liberal Democrat management.

The former "Just Hair" eventually "Just Failed" after liberal Democrat Zach Adamson purchased the once-thriving salon founded by Jeff Johnson.

Johnson worked hard and quickly established Just Hair as one of "the" local salons sought out for cutting edge styling and which enjoyed fierce client devotion among the City's most fashion forward citizens and those hoping to join those ranks.

One has to wonder how a hack liberal Democrat- known by his clients and his intimates for spouting off regularly about "tea party neo-cons"- took a once successful entrepreneurial enterprise to the point where empty chairs at mid-day led to the latest incarnation of this downtown business.

Could the hair-salon be a perfect metaphor for liberal Democrat performance when it comes to private enterprise and support of corporate porkers? The pig sty that is Angie's List does work the vendor base relentlessly and that is a proved fact.

With all the above said, I truly do hope that Adamson's rejuvenated business is successful and that the fairly recently empty rented stylist chairs and empty waiting area because full again.