Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ballard Throws Away $4.5 Million In Crime Prevention Grants

Mayor Greg Ballard announced the first round of crime prevention grants being awarded to approximately 50 local groups. The $4.5 million expenditure is being allocated in grants ranging in size from $15,000 to $440,000. This apparently will become an annual expenditure thanks to the income tax increase Mayor Bart Peterson gave us. Here's a sample of where the money is going:

  • 100 Black Men ($50,000)
  • Boys II Men ($15,000)
  • Emanuel Baptist Church ($80,000)
  • Great Commission Church of God ($71,352)
  • Indiana Black Expo ($80,000)
  • Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition ($170,000)
  • New Light Christian Church ($20,000)
  • Progress House ($160,000)
  • Tanniehill Wrestling ($40,000)
  • Use What You Got Prison Ministries ($50,000)

As you watch competing forces fight over limited budget resources in the coming months, take a look at how much money your city is pissing away on these useless grants. The grants should help stimulate some new car purchases for area automobile dealers and some clothing and jewelry purchases for area retailers if past experience is any indication. We may as well waste the money on grants to the arts organizations if we've got this much money to throw away. The cost of administering these grants will add another half million dollars to the tab, bringing the total annual cost to $5 million.

Flashback to remind you of the origins of these grants.


Downtown Indy said...

Okay... Then how would YOU have doled out the money?

I am not personally aware of what any of these groups do, but I presume it's in the realm of dealing with troubled youth, ex-offender counselling/outreach and/or providing activities for kids as a way to get them off the streetcorner where they may otherwise turn to crime.

artfuggins said...

I believe this is an attempt to secure support for his reelection campaign in 2011. Some of these groups contribute and are deserving but several are groups who do nothing positive and even some create more problems than they solve.

Paul K. Ogden said...

The trouble is Downtown that money rarely gets down to the people it's supposed to help. If it did that would be a completely different thing.

Setting up an organization to solicit grant money is one of the biggest scams around. Often the money is used to buy cars and other stuff for those who run the program. One prominent Indianapolis official uses grant money to pay for the cell phones of all the members of his family.

There are legitimate groups out there that really do try to help the community. Unfortunately the pols who dish out the money don't make enough of an effort to distinguish the legitimate organizations from those which are set up to get grant money to enrich the people who run the organizations.

Patriot Paul said...

Words cannot express the disgust. There is a lady named Sally Spiers who was appointed to head up the disbursements, and I hope she plays accounting watchdog. The idea of giving taxpayer $ to religious institutions raises a red flag, especially when some of these ministers are driving high-end vehicles. You have to wonder.
Thank you for your great reporting.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Inevitably, when you offer a pile of money like this, groups come out of the woodwork seeking funding. Because so many grants are ultimately awarded, most of the grants are relatively small. None are large enough to really establish any new, concentrated initiatives. For the most part, nothing more will happen than what was happening before. The groups treat the money as an unexpected windfall and spend it accordingly. The same is true with the art grants people complained were being cut. The total pool was only $2 million and the size of the average grant was quite small.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The constitutional restriction against giving public money to churches seems to have been forgotten.

artfuggins said...

Paul K and Patriot Paul, I am in agreement with both of you...there are some scam artists involved who use the money for cars, expensive suits, cell phones etc......I could name some but won't but they are the same ones who are always there with their hands out but rarely have anything to show what they have done....but they look good in their suits and travel well to the press conferences and to the poliltical gatherings of the Mayor.

Unknown said...

Article 1, section 6:

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution."

Where's the ACLU when you need them ?

Jason said...

Is this effectively the same group that was screaming like a bunch of harpies for millions of dollars a few years ago?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Wow, I agree with ArtFuggins twice in one thread. Hell must be freezing over. Heck, considering what it's like outside, Earth is freezing over too.

I don't agree though as to those comments that suggest it is a violation of Art I, Section 6 simply because the money goes to a program that may have some affiliation with a religious group. The Salvation Army and Wheeler Mission have religious underpinnings. Even AA is religious-based. The question is whether the money is given to benefit the religion institution or to benefit the program. In short, people are reading that provision too broadly.

M Theory said...

Doesn't the Bishop Benjamin drive a Rolls?

M Theory said...

Everyone here needs to be at the Mayor's Luau and we need to discuss these things loudly and make sure the Mayor (and everyone else) hears us.

Patriot Paul said...

To: Jason
I would use the words "Shakedown Artists"

Diana Vice said...

I'm not from Indy so I don't know all these players, but Jesse Jackson comes to my mind as I read through these comments.

Downtown Indy said...

I don't know about Rev Benjamin, but his TV cameraman drives a loaded full-sized Caddy.

Unknown said...

As for Section 6, usually a church sets up a separate non-profit to conduct the social mission.

Reading the city's PR thing, they're giving money to churches.

This happened several years ago when the city gave $1,000 directly to St Rita's for a "Khryst-Kwanzaa Celebration".

We can't have government writing checks directly to churches, this is nuts.

artfuggins said...

I think the term "shakedown artists' suggested by Patriot Paul hit the nail on the head.....the Rev. Benjamin has a very liberal monthly allowance at Brooks Brothers also.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'm disgusted that handouts are being given to a group of black racists, a band, and several churches.

Why don't they give the money to me? At least that wouldn't be barred under the First Amendment!

Citizen Kane said...

Don't forget that Indianapolis Downtown Inc. already sucks a lot of money from the taxpayers to dole out high salaries for a bunch of talking heads. I suspect that the $160,000 will go to another high salaried employee who will meet with city officials and demand that they do the work that they purportedly are doing themselves.