"As the world’s second-fastest growing economy, India presents significant opportunities for our city,” Ballard said in a prepared statement. “Every aspect of this trip has been planned to help us leverage our relationships with top business leaders and government officials in a continued effort to strengthen our ties with India and broaden business opportunities for Indianapolis-based companies.""Business opportunities for Indianapolis-based companies?" So he's taking along with him the chief information officer for ISTA, which manages the investment of retirement funds for the state's teachers. India, of course, is the favorite location where many U.S. companies outsource their IT work that would otherwise be performed by American workers because the pay for IT workers is cheaper. Ever watched the TV show "Outsourced", Greg. He's taking along with him a physician from St. Vincent Hospital, probably a personal physician. And he's taking someone with him who claims to be the head of the Indianapolis Hyderabad Sister City Committee. There's no indication of what business ties this person brings to the table. And then there's this guy Gregory Hancock who runs a dance theater in Carmel who is accompanying the Mayor on this "trade mission." What would a dance theater director in Carmel have to do with jobs in Indianapolis? According to Mr. Hancock's website, he has some tenuous tie to Mumbai, India:
Mr. Hancock also works in Mumbai, India with Expression Modern Dance Company. He has worked extensively with themes of India in his work and has created a unique fusion of Eastern and Western dance forms.Yeah, whatever. The other people going on the trip either work for the chamber or the city, including a senior project director of the Indy Chamber and the director of international and cultural affairs for the city. They'll likely spend most of their time shopping with Winnie.
When is the media going to call this clown out for this crap? No other occupant of the mayor's office has spent more time shaking down pay-to-play contractors for campaign contributions, money to pay for his overseas travel ventures and other handouts his heart desires, which total in the tens of thousand of dollars annually in value. He walks around with his hands out begging for freebies from everyone and then has the audacity to complain about panhandlers ruining people's visits to downtown. His entire "I'm just an ordinary guy who's going to end country club politics" meme he used to get elected was total bullshit. The guy even accepts free memberships to several country clubs. I'd take the downtown panhandlers over this clown any day.
UPDATE: Someone in the media is listening. WTHR's Mary Milz has a good story tonight questioning the benefit of all of these junkets Mayor Ballard is taking.
Mayor Greg Ballard left for a five-day trade mission to India Thursday afternoon, his eighth trade mission since 2008. Others have included trips to Australia, China, the UK and Brazil. It's left critics asking where the jobs are, and they're wondering when they'll see the pay-off.
"Hopefully he brings something back from this trip," said Marion County Democratic Chair Joel Miller.
The group will visit Hyderabad and New Delhi and focus on information technology, life sciences and research organizations. Indy Chamber is paying for the trip.
"We're doing different things over there. One is to strengthen the relationship with Hyderabad. We're talking with the American chamber over there. I think we're representing the city and country well with the conference in Delhi," said the mayor, speaking to Eyewitness News at the airport.
Ballard, joined by his wife Winne and six local leaders, said the goal of this and other trips is to "strengthen relationships" and build opportunities for economic development. A summary provided by the Indy Chamber shows over the course of the mayor's seven trips abroad, he's visited 25 separate cities and met with 55 companies.
"It's not 'am I bringing back jobs.' It's 'are we creating relationships that will lead to things in the future?'" he said . . .
The India trip, like the others is being led by Develop Indy, an arm of the Indy Chamber, which is "privately funding the trip."
When asked how much the trip cost, particularly the mayor's portion, a chamber spokesperson Molly Deuberry said, "We don't disclose that."
While Develop Indy does get $1.5 million a year from the city, Deuberry stressed money for the trips comes from a separate fund.
Tax documents filed by Develop Indy show it's spent increasingly more on international travel the last three years. In 2011, it spend nearly $89,000 on international travel, up from $60,000 in 2010 and $15,000 in 2009.
Those documents provide destinations but do not provide the names or number of people traveling, dates or specific expenses. They do describe the purpose of the travel as "marketing Indianapolis, In to foreign companies."I wish Milz had demanded the Mayor's office produce the cost of sending at least two IMPD officers with Ballard on each of these trips. Nobody in these countries know who the hell he is. It's not like he needs a taxpayer-paid security team accompanying him on these junkets. As an FBI agent told me, the armed security guards for low-profile government officials like Ballard only serves to draw attention to someone that nobody would otherwise even notice.