Sunday, July 20, 2008

John Criticizes Ballard For Transparency

The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy takes a look at Mayor Greg Ballard's performance half way through his first year. That outgoing Marion Co. Democratic Chairman Mike O'Connor and close advisor to former Mayor Bart Peterson directs criticism at Ballard's performance is no surprise. Criticism from the Mayor County GOP Chairman, though, is a different matter. Tom John, a newly-minted Ice Miller partner, thinks Mayor Ballard is making a mistake by allowing the public access to performance reviews prepared by his Administration and promising to hold public budget reviews. "Any time you wade into something you can't control, there's a risk someone could stand behind you and shoot arrows in your back," John said.

The public access to performance reviews, which John doesn't want open to the public, is the new IndyStat site on the Mayor's website, described as "Accountability In Action For The City Of Indianapolis." The Mayor's Office of Enterprise Development conducts regular performance evaluations of various agencies of city/county government to review spending and performance data and to determine areas for need of improvement or change. If you want to peek inside your government, this is the place to go. The site puts key data and critical analysis prepared by the Office's Mike Huber and Kristen Tusing at your fingertips. It's also all public information, so it's not like Mayor Ballard is giving us access to information to which we aren't entitled. And it's entirely in keeping with his promise to bring transparency to government. As I recall, John himself issued several press releases during last year's campaign touting transparency in government and, specifically, criticizing Mayor Peterson and the Democratic-controlled council for shutting the public out of the City's budget process. Why John chose to hit Ballard on this of all subjects is beyond me. I think he must have had his Ice Miller hat on instead of his county chairman's hat when O'Shaughnessy interviewed him for this story, although I suspect his partners wished he had worn the latter for this interview.

The criticism Mike O'Connor directs at Ballard is that he's acting too much like a "caretaker." "The mayor (should be) the community cheerleader, the clearinghouse when there is a crisis, the only person who can build consensus," O'Connor told O'Shaughnessy. The Star's editors picked up on this theme last week, suggesting that Ballard was missing in action on the City's continued crime problem and policing concerns. I have issues with his approach on a number of issues, but I think the Mayor has been very visible and highly-engaged on these and other issues. The "caretaker" description used by O'Connor is actually more descriptive of his former boss' management style. He showed up for a lot of photo-ops but otherwise seemed to leave it to others to do the heavy lifting. I think Robert Vane summarizes this point best with his comment. "Voters decided they wanted a workhorse, not a show horse, and that's what they got," Vane said.

Overall, I was somewhat disappointed in the story. The sidebar to the story contains more useful information than the story itself. Many of Ballard's supporters are disappointed in some of his actions to date, but this story really didn't touch on it. Turning to the same political insiders for key jobs in his administration has been a source of irritation to many. Providing such an enlarged role in his administration to Rev. Olgen Williams and his minister friends, who played absolutely no role in Mayor Ballard's election last year (and, theoretically, if not legally, should never play a role in politics), has been perplexing and alienating to his core supporters. And Ballard's slowness in implementing promised ethics reforms has signaled more business as usual. At the end of the day, however, Ballard's administration is a refreshing change from the corrupt and out of touch Peterson years. There's still plenty of time for Ballard to get his act together. Let's hope he's listening.


Unknown said...

Great comment, Gary. My major disapointment with Ballard thus far is that he appointed GOP political hack retread types to so many important positions. But John's complaint about Ballard's transparency? That's baffling. Of course, consistency hasn't been a strong suit for John. This is after all a guy who issued a press release calling for the the Democratic city county councilor to resign based on an allegation of a misdemanor while just months earlier supportinig the slating of a Republican candidate for judge who killed someone while driving drunk.

People expect county chairmen to be partisan, but they need to show some consistency or they won't have credibility with the media. I talk to a number of Star reporters. They really don't have a lot of respect for Tom John because he makes no effort to be consistent or fair in his comments.

Chandler said...

In terms of an evaluation from the Black Community, I am rather confused as to why Greg Ballard has judged the Black Community to be superficial and naive. He selected the least competent and most laughable people to represent us. The miscreant ministers who follow him around have a long history of corrupt and immoral behavior. They are nothing but pimps masquerading as religious leaders. Many of them have been involved in monetary deceptions in their church, many others have caused their church to file bankruptcy. How does Greg Ballard expect the severly underpaid and unemployed members of the Black Community to follow these slick preachers who spend both government and church monies on themselves,their expensive cars,their women and not to help the community or to keep young men in school and out of trouble. I understand that the very first thing that Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams did when he was pimped to be Deputy Mayor was to go out and buy himself a Lexis!!!! That is a great statement and demonstration of what he is about! Bling, Bling! Mumble, substance!
The Black Community continues to suffer from the consequences of poverty, mis-education, prejudice and exploitation. Massive drug markets are established in the Black Community by people who do not live there. Crime and violence continue to infect and desecrate our community, and in response we get Greg Ballard's token Olgen Williams with his profane initiative "Peace in the Streets".
You are so right Advance Indiana. Greg Ballard is very transparent! We can all see right through him!

artfuggins said...

Ballard told the black community what he thought of them when he appoointed Olgen Williams as a deputy mayor. As to Tom John, he is the chairman of a broken down organization that is in chaos. He needs to spend his time trying to put the pieces back together.

straight up said...

The idea of Tom John complaining about "arrows being shot into Ballards back" is ludicrous, in that John has been THE most prominent of that type of enemy Ballard has had to face since starting his odyysey into politics.

Then again, if one is smart, one doesnt appoint an enemy to a deputy director post, such as Ballard did with Kyle Walker. "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" may sound good, but is that really a good way to run government, when there are a lot more talented individuals who haven displayed any treachery to the boss?