Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Incumbents Beware

Political pundits see an anti-incumbent fervor sweeping the Hoosier state unlike any they've witnessed in recent memory. Long-time Indiana political observer Brian Howey offers this bit of insight:

In the 13 years since The Howey Political Report has been publishing, we've never witnessed more Hoosiers protesting a wider array of issues at the same time. The anti-incumbency mood is at its most pronounced since our first year - 1994. On Monday, dozens of citizens vented before the Indiana Tax Commission hosted by State Sen. Luke Kenley prompted by high property taxes. Dozens of tax protesters were tossed out of the Indianapolis City-County Council meeting as it voted in $90 million in new income taxes . . . In Muncie, organizers are planning a noon "Jam In" designed to bottled up traffic in downtown to protest high property taxes. Gibson and LaPorte County officials are bracing for the kind of tax storm that has already taken place in Indianapolis and Elkhart. There have already been multiple property tax protests outside the Governor's Mansion, Monument Circle, the Indiana Statehouse and the Indianapolis City-County Building . . . It reminds us of a speech then U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton gave to the Indiana Democratic Editorial Association in August 1994 when he said "Sometimes when I'm standing at a public meeting I feel a curtain drop between me and the people I'm talking to. I'm a politician and therefore, they say, my word cannot be trusted." It was a precursor to the 1994 election that changed control of the U.S. and Indiana Houses of Representatives.

IUPUI Political Science Professor Bill Blomquist sees political implications here in Indianapolis for Mayor Peterson and city-county councilors who voted for his 65% increase in the county option income tax. "There are definitely political implications," he tells WTHR. "The council members are more vulnerable because they don't have the name recognition and financial resources of the mayor," Blomquist said, "So, if anyone's really on the line about [the vote] it's the individual councilors who voted for the increase." Blomquist notes the fallout is already helping the mayoral candidacy of Greg Ballard. "For Greg Ballard, lightning strikes and you get an opportunity, an opportunity to get a little more press coverage, to have people want your take on an issue," he said.

Of course, there are some incumbents sailing along on Cloud Nine without a care in the world. "I assure you many [in my district] were for it because they saw where the money was going. They hate the tax, but they like the result," Scott Keller (R) said. "I think people in those areas hit hardest, like Meridian-Kessler and Butler Tarkington, if they're not satisfied that there will be a reduction in their taxes (due to reassessment) the tendency will be to 'throw out the bums." I take it Keller hasn't bother to talk to his own constituents about this matter. As the Star's analysis of the property tax assessment increases in Marion Co. revealed, some of the hardest hit areas were in his own district. Councilor Dane Mahern's district abuts Keller's district. Mahern cited the disproportionate increases in his district as one of the reasons he voted against the mayor's tax increase plan.


Anonymous said...

Viva la revolution, baby!

Anonymous said...

Is Keller for real or has just simply lost touch with reality.
He's a liar. No one knows where this tax money will ultimately end up because it was simply passed as tax increase and nothing more.
There will not be additional officers on the street, only replacements for the 100 or more that will retire or quit. There was NOTHING in that tax bill that actually said where the money is going.
Keller can side step it until he falls on his ass but the near Eastside voters don't have the word STUPID written on there fore heads and Keller's place on the CCC is as good as gone.

Anonymous said...

Remember, Bart ORIGINALLY said this would aid property tax relief, but he quickly backed away from that when the Gov stepped up to get things back on track.

Anon 705 - you are absolutely right! SHOW US THE BUDGET BART! Line by line.

Anonymous said...

So now Howey's insights are pertinent? His batting average is suspect, at best.

Look, this radically sour climate will hurt all politicians this fall. Will it spill the mayor's applecart? No. Will it tilt the council? No.

There are different reasons I've come to this conclusion. The council as a unit deserves what it gets--it's a monument to political croynism and ineffectiveness. There are good councillors--Borst, Mansfield, Nytes, Vaughan.

But the tax issue doesn't make or break any of them.

Dane Mahern was a goof before the vote and he still is. Angela Mansfield is a great councillor and she voted for the tax. Dane voted against the tax, so we hoist him on a mantle and worship him? And we ignore three and a half years of excellent constituent service by Angela because she voted for it?

How about a little proportion? There have been probably 500 or 600 votes on all kinds of issues, some important, some mundane, during the last four years. One tax vote does not a councillor make. Look at their body of work.

Some of them will frighten you. And some, on each side of the aisle, will make you marvel at their ability to seek out public opinion and do their best.

Their behavior last night was a disgrace. When will King Ro just go away? And Ike finally gets it right, but get shouted down. But the public I saw on Ch. 16 didn't behave much better.

Anonymous said...

7:24 For two weeks I have tried to hold of the Mayor's 2007 budget without success.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's very offensive to sit at one of those council meeting and see smug-acting members of the administration like Steve Campbell deliver all kinds of information to members of the media and the council and completely ignore the public in attendance. The indygov website is atrocious when it comes to learning information about the budget. The information is all 3 or 4 years old. They pulled the web link for conflict of interest statements. This administration hides as much information as possible. Kobi Wright ignored a public records request I made over 7 months ago for the conflict of interest statements filed by Lacy Johnson, Lonnell Conley and Monroe Gray. Interestingly, Brendan O'Shaughnessy got Gray's statement about 3 weeks after I originally requested it and broke the story on Gray. I tried to get information on the budget on the phone one day and got passed from one office to another for about 30 minutes. I asked Scott Keller if he could get it for me. He said he would, but I'm still waiting. Apparently he never got the information before he voted on the tax increase either.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Damn, Gary, I had no idea.

I've tried similarly to get some state budget info for a year and a half.

It seems simple, but for some reason, public officials recoil at the public asking for information. They ought to embrace the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Most of the near east side residents fully support Brian Mahern. Wait and see, it's just a matter of months before Scott Keller moves into the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Keller won't move into the private sector, the Mayor has a position waiting for him. Don't forget that Keller co-sponsered the 65% tax increase.
I wonder how much they assessed Keller's downtown home for?

Anonymous said...

I suspected all along there was some dirty deal that Keller did in exchange for his vote.

Given my background (commission sales) I'm pretty good knowing when I'm being lied to. Keller's little speech on Monday's council vote night, was less than believeable.

Anyone know what position Keller is getting for being traitor to The People? Please don't tell me he's going to take over the city market debacle.