UPDATED: The man who ran for mayor saying "public safety is job one" has sure moved to a different place. Despite raising income taxes this year for the supposed purpose of providing more money to hire additional police officers Ballard promised to hire when he was first elected in 2007, he vetoed a $4.7 million appropriation approved by the City-County Council to purchase 75 replacement police cars for an aging fleet, and to make repairs and capital improvements at the department's firing range and the police academy. Council members rebuked Ballard by overriding that veto by an astonishing 28-1 vote.
Ballard was then caught transferring $6 million from the parking meter fund to pay for his sweetheart exclusive electric car sharing deal with Blue Indy, a newly-formed company owned by the French company, Bollore. Ballard was also caught illegally transferring close to $300,000 from the storm water fund to pay for his illegal, 7-year, $32 million lease agreement with Vision Fleet to lease more than 400 electric and hybrid cars. The City-County Council has gone to court to void that lease agreement, and it's now raising questions about the legality of the Blue Indy car sharing program that utilizes French-made cars not approved for use on American highways and power charging stations that are not UL-certified as required by law.
Could it get any worse? Apparently the answer is yes. Council members have just learned that Ballard illegally transferred $6.8 million from the IMPD fund, effectively wiping out funds that would have otherwise been available to pay the appropriation approved by the council in April following its vote to override the mayor's veto and jeopardizing the ability to fully-fund a new class of police recruits. City-County Council President Maggie Lewis released the following statement this evening:
Very recently I was informed that Mayor Ballard unilaterally authorized a withdraw of $6.8 million dollars out of the IMPD general fund without consultation or approval from the Council. This is not how good municipal government works. The Council recently overrode the Mayor's veto to add appropriations to fund critically needed pursuit rated vehicles and necessary upgrades to IMPD facilities. His decision means many IMPD officers will continue to operate substandard vehicles and train at outdated facilities. We have too few officers on the street to begin with and this action by the administration may put at risk the city's ability to fund this Fall's final recruit class of 2015. I call on the Mayor to immediately reverse course and follow both the letter and spirit of Indiana law by returning the money to IMPD now."I warned folks last year that Ballard had no intention of using the money raised from the latest income tax increase for public safety as it was sold to the public. By his recent actions, Ballard has removed any doubt concerning the accuracy of my prediction. The man is convinced he's above the law and can do as he pleases without any consequences. He's Rod Blagojevich on steroids without any fear of a prosecutor holding him to account for his actions as would have long ago occurred in almost any other state in this country.
UPDATE: The City's controller is claiming the money was needed to restore the City's fiscal stability fund's balance to maintain the City's bond rating. There are other funds which could have been tapped--namely the downtown TIF fund the mayor uses as a slush fund to financially reward his big campaign contributors. There are some saying Ballard is tapping the money to pay for his pre-K initiative, which is not in any way a responsibility of municipal government to provide. Campaign contributors before public safety. That's the take-away from this action.