Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pence Signs Second Worst Bill Passed By Legislature This Year

Obviously Gov. Mike Pence's years of service as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives left him with little respect for the legislative branch and the importance of maintaining checks and balances in government. Today he signed the second worst bill passed by the legislature this year, SB 621, which strips the Indianapolis City-County Council of power in order to make the most corrupt mayor in the history of Uni-Gov more powerful and unaccountable to the public. Instead of doing what he knows is in the best interest of the people, he did what he was ordered to do by the forces of corruption in this state who have seized complete control of our local government and are using it merely as a profit center for their self-serving and corrupt purposes. Here's the statement he gave in support of signing SB 621 today, which is particularly insulting to our intelligence:
Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 621 came to my desk in the midst of no small amount of controversy. Given the competing views of this legislation, I have made a point to meet with supporters and opponents and have given careful consideration to their viewpoints. Hoosiers with differing views on this legislation have made thoughtful arguments, and I respect the opinions expressed by both sides.
“Unfortunately, what began as a serious effort to strengthen Indianapolis’ economic and fiscal condition got clouded by politics. In making my decision, I focused exclusively on the policy and what would be in the best interest of the people of Indiana.
“Despite my misgivings about certain aspects of SEA 621, I am signing this legislation because it serves the public interest by granting to the current Mayor of Indianapolis—and any future Mayor of either political party—the authority to manage the City’s finances in a manner that protects taxpayers and encourages economic development and job creation. 
“The Indiana General Assembly was responsible for creating the Unigov statute in 1969 and has the legal authority to revise that statute in 2013. It is important to remember that Indianapolis is our capital city and, as such, our state government has an obligation to ensure that it is fiscally strong and capable of operating like a world-class city. After 44 years without significant reform, it is certainly worthwhile for our state legislature to revisit that governance structure to ensure that the interests of Hoosiers who live in our capital city are being well-served.
“But this isn’t just about Indy. The economic vitality of our state depends to a great degree on how successfully our capital city serves as a center of commerce and entertainment and attracts visitors and businesses to Indiana. Our state government has an obligation to ensure that we continue to recruit and maintain top employers, attract more world-class events such as the Super Bowl and retain our outstanding professional sports franchises like the Pacers, the Colts, the Fever, the Ice and the Indians.
“In Indianapolis, the Mayor is responsible for achieving these objectives for the city. But to achieve them the Mayor must have sufficient authority to manage the finances of the city in a way that protects taxpayers, encourages economic development, creates jobs and provides for the public safety of the residents of Indianapolis. The Mayor needs the authority to manage the issues for which we hold him or her individually accountable.
“A careful examination makes it clear that the Mayor of Indianapolis does not currently possess the authority to advance these important goals for our capital city. For this reason, I decided to sign SEA 621 into law.
“There is ample evidence in the structure of Unigov and the fiscal condition of Indianapolis to demonstrate that the Mayor does not presently have the authority required to do his job. The City of Indianapolis is facing significant financial challenges. For example:
  • Despite attempts to adopt a fiscally balanced budget earlier this year, the City reports that the current budget will result in significant deficit spending in 2013 and a substantial reduction in the City’s budget reserves going forward.
  • At least one public agency in Indianapolis is reported to have exceeded its budgetary authority by more than $17 million over the last three years.
  • The City-County Council passed a resolution to assess a $15 million payment-in-lieu-of-taxes on the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) to plug a $65 million shortfall in the City’s budget, jeopardizing the CIB’s ability to support the Pacers, Colts, Indians, Fever and Ice, as well as the city’s convention business.
“It is clear that the Mayor of Indianapolis should be given the authority to manage the finances of the city in an effective and responsible manner.
“Under SEA 621, by December 1 of each year, each City office, department or agency must submit to the City Controller a proposed schedule for its spending. The Controller must then make a determination by December 15 of each year regarding whether the revenues for the next calendar year will support the appropriations adopted by the City-County Council. The legislation is quite clear that if the anticipated revenues are adequate to support the spending of the Council, then the Controller ‘shall approve the proposed allotment schedule as submitted by an office, department, or agency.’ If the City Controller determines that the revenues anticipated are not adequate to support the spending, then the Controller is directed to ‘revise the proposed allotment…to reflect anticipated revenues.’ The Controller has an obligation to report any decisions to the County Auditor and City-County Council. In addition, if he or she proposes to reduce spending by more than 5 percent of the total appropriation, then he or she must submit a fiscal justification to the City-County Council before the beginning of the allotment period.
“SEA 621 also includes commonsense reforms that give the Mayor of Indianapolis more flexibility to respond to economic development opportunities by reforming the Metropolitan Development Commission and eliminating the Council’s power to assess a tax on the CIB, which could jeopardize the city’s ability to support the Pacers, Colts, and other professional sports franchises.
“With those reforms, the Mayor will possess the authority to manage the finances of the city in a responsible manner that furthers the public interest of residents of Indianapolis, by ensuring a solid fiscal foundation for economic growth. By enacting these important budgetary reforms, voters also will be able to fairly hold one elected official, the Mayor, accountable for the financial health of the city.
“While I am signing SEA 621 because it strengthens the Mayor’s financial authority and protects taxpayers, it is regrettable that this legislation also includes the removal of the four at-large seats on the City-County Council. While there are certainly valid arguments in favor of eliminating these at-large seats, including better representation and government efficiency, it is impossible to escape the characterization that this legislation appears partisan and politically motivated since all four at-large seats are currently held by the opposing political party.
“The truth is that both political parties have attempted to eliminate these four at-large seats on the City-County Council at one time or another.
I am concerned that signing this legislation will eliminate four at-large seats that are currently held by one political party. However, I am consoled by the fact that nothing in this legislation removes the incumbent Council members before their terms expire or erodes the right of voters to express their will to elect the Mayor and City-County Council majority of their choosing in 2015. Were it otherwise, I certainly would have vetoed this bill.
“For all of Indiana to prosper, we must ensure that the City of Indianapolis continues to deliver world-class services, recruits and maintains top employers, and continues to offer employment and entertainment opportunities for all Hoosiers.”
This signing statement is utter bullshit. It was quite clearly authored by the corrupt bastards who use government as their personal profit centers and who obviously continue to control everything that happens in state government, as well as the city-county government, just like they did under Gov. Daniels. Gov. Pence should be thoroughly ashamed of himself to have affixed his signature to statements that are patently untrue and reflect the bogus talking points of the most corrupt people in government the Republican Party has to offer this state. The suggestion that this legislation is needed to help bring jobs to Indianapolis and promote economic development is so incredulous that he must think people who live here are mentally retarded.
Astonishingly, he uses the example of the council passing a PILOT to make the CIB pay property taxes on the sports facilities operated rent-free by the billionaire sports team owners as a reason for taking powers away from the council and giving them to the mayor. In one fell swoop, I've lost complete confidence in Gov. Pence. He's obviously totally in the tank with the most corrupt forces that run this state. If his administration goes down in flames as a result of public corruption that permeates it because he was afraid of what Bob Grand would do to him if he didn't do his bidding for him, I won't shed a tear. He will deserve the spectacular crashing halt to his political career he's earned by his actions of the past couple of days. The Democrats are going to have the last laugh when the sweeping indictments start coming down in the near future. To whom will Gov. Pence turn for political cover then?

UPDATE: This is something that really irritates me. Throughout this entire exercise, the media has tried to portray this power grab legislation as Republican versus Democrat. I am a life-long Republican. Every good government Republican I know opposed this legislation, or at a minimum, had serious doubts about the need for it. Yet reading news accounts you would get the impression that all Republicans are for it and all Democrats are against it. The story on the Star's website is typical. It has laudatory comments from Republicans and comments of derision from Democrats. Fox59 News, WTHR-TV and WRTV all describe SB 621 as "reform legislation," a total misnomer, playing up the meme that its opponents are only Democrats. I will repeat. No Republican who supports good government supported this legislation; the only Republicans who backed this legislation are Republicans who support partisan self-dealing by the most corrupt people in the state of Indiana. The only thing I know for certain is that Gov. Pence will do even worse in Marion County in 2016, if he runs for re-election than he performed in 2012, which was pretty pathetic by any measure. If God is looking down on us, Greg Ballard will be in a federal jail cell in Terre Haute where he belongs.


CircleCityScribe said...

Well, we won't have those senseless "at-large" city-council positions anymore. They were never needed.

I'm also glad to see the Mayor can finally tell The Sheriff "NO MORE MONEY". With reports that the Marion County Sheriff overspent his budget from $17 million to $20 million, both figures are obscene. That is OUR TAX MONEY! -and as I see Sheriff's deputies riding a bicycle patrol, I was wondering "why he needs any bike patrol, and how they fit into his assigned duties???" -They aren't delivering process with them, checking on registered sex offenders, or transporting why does he have them? -I consider it money wasted.

Take home cars for all of his cronies....well, explain why! Why does he employ a County Deputy Sheriff who does not reside in Marion County????? Why did he have a take-home car to drive drunk in? I recall another deputy being involved in a controversial matter where another Marion County Deputy residing outside of Marion County shot and killed a dog.

So why does every crony of the Marion County Sheriff have a car at OUR expense? Why are deputies living outside of Marion County?

I can say with certainty that they are not going to get an emergency call to serve court papers at night, to transport a prisoner while off-duty, to check on a sex offender while off-duty, or return to guard the courthouse while off-duty. Thus, no take-home county car is justified! He could just drive to work each day in his own car and use the county car as necessary to fulfill his duties.

Now those motorcycles: Why does he have a single motorcycle? I cannot find anything in the duties of Marion County Sheriff for which a motorcycle should be used.

Finally The Mayor can help get the budget of our tax money under control. (Now if he would find some common sense when it comes to extravagant spending on sports-related facilities at the expense of providing basic city services, like Public Safety.

Flogger said...

Once again no surprises here. Just one more level here for Pence to advance in the Crony-Capitalism Game.

The Democrats are no alternative as both parties are firmly in the hands to the Patron-Client Relationship.

The Democrats will win the Mayors office if they can find someone other than a re-tread.

Just a guess on my part but I do not place a whole lot of hope in the Feds investigating.

The Soviet Union took a tumble because of Crony-Communism and Corruption of the Nomenkultura. From Wiki on the Nomenklatura, "An official in the party or government bureaucracy could not advance in the nomenklatura without the assistance of a patron. In return for this assistance in promoting his career, the client carried out the policies of the patron."
Further- "Self-interest dictated that members of the nomenklatura submit to the control of their patrons in the party." In the case of America control by the Campaign Contributors.

Gary R. Welsh said...

And you believe that any money saved from the sheriff's office won't be given away by this piece of shit mayor to the pay-to-play folks paying bribes to him?

CircleCityScribe said...

-When you're right, you're right, Gary! I agree with your comment 8:04 p.m..


Unknown said...

For what it is worth. I am familiar with the bill. I agree entirely with the Governor’s analysis. The bill has negative aspects, but the sum total of the bill is more positive than negative. I support good government. I have voted Republican more times than you.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Mr. Bennett, Be specific about what it is you like about this bill. Gov. Pence seemed to have a problem with the council utilizing the PILOT law, which has been on the book for decades, to require the CIB to pay taxes on the two sports facilities it leases to the billionaire sports team owners rent-free. Thanks to this new law, that won't ever happen again. Let's be specific. You think taxpayers should be required to build facilities that are used 100% for the for-profit benefit of billionaires. Do you like the idea that someone can move down from Carmel this year and run for a city council district a year later, or for mayor of Indianapolis two years later? Do you think the Metropolitan Development Commission is going to be more friendly to neighborhood concerns now that the mayor controls the appointees to the commission. Do you think it's a good idea that the council has no say when the mayor decides to appoint the next Frank Straub to run the Department of Public Safety? I want you to be very specific about what this mayor has been unable to do without this law that you now think he will be able to accomplish now that it's law.

Unknown said...

Specifically, your article alleges 621 to be “the second worst bill passed by the Legislature.” You keep changing the subject to “this mayor.”

I am pleased that the bill puts constraints on county spending and that it eliminates 18 township board members. It is about time!

I like that law enforcement will continue under the Public Safety Department.

I don’t have a problem with reduced residency requirements, or counting absentee ballots downtown. I am undecided on eliminating yearly cabinet reappointments.

Concerning the metropolitan development commission, it is not a matter of liking or disliking the mayor. What the commission does is going to be an issue in the mayoral election. If the mayor does not control the commission, then how can the mayor rationally be blamed when the commission goes wrong?

I don’t like the elimination of the at-large seats. It looks arbitrary and partisan. It poisons the atmosphere of working together for the common good.

The PILOTS issue is about a unique dispute between the Council and the Legislature over CIB funds. I don’t see it as a structure of government issue.

I believe that covers the entire bill.

Jeff Cox said...


It sounds more like you are rationalizing SB 621 rather than putting forth actual reasons why it is good legislation and good policy, of which it is neither.

1. Government everywhere in the US is about checks and balances. One branch of government or one person in government should not have too much power, because too much power promotes corruption. This is why Gary's comments about "this mayor" are far more relevant than your response. The Ballard/Vaughan administration is nipping at the heels of East Chicago's Robert Pastrick as the most corrupt in recent history. Corruption damages government both in effectiveness and in public confidence, the ACS deal and Mass Avenue TIF being the most recent cases in point.

2. If not for this bill, the mayor will be blamed for things not under his control. So what? Welcome to the big leagues, pal. Every executive office holder from POTUS to a small town mayor gets blamed for things not under their control. That does not mean those things should therefore be under their control. The Greeks had a word for this concept: tyrant. Not with the totally negative connotations that it has today, but they discovered it was difficult to remove a tyrant. As it will be for an Indianapolis mayor with these powers.

3. Example being the MDC. Even with council appointees the MDC was a center of corruption. How many Ballard/Vaughan cronies got approval for shady deals, often with public funding, often with no necessity for the project? The Buckingham project on South Street or the Broad Ripple parking garage come to mind.

4. So the public safety department will continue protecting public safety? News flash: they don't protect public safety now, thanks largely to the fiscal authority of Ballard/Vaughan in cutting police in favor of bike lanes and cricket parks. You know, that authority of which you think he needs more.

5. And how about that unchecked appointment authority? You actually think that someone who appointed Frank Straub public safety director - possibly the worst office appointment since Caligula made a horse Roman senator - either needs or deserves no oversight? Are you like Ballard and Vaughan and just not give a damn about the people of Indianapolis?

6. Evidently you do not, by you having no problem with the residency requirements. We already have a carpetbagger from Bloomington on the council so Ballard/Vaughan can have another yes vote over long-time Indy residents. Now the Downtown Mafia can import a soldier from Carmel to do their bidding, while the people of Indianapolis who do not live downtown will get no attention whatsoever from our esteemed government.

SB 621 is horrible policy, a giant middle finger to the people of Indianapolis, and a green light to the corruption of Ballard and Vaughan. It is a disgrace this bill even got a committee hearing.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Well said, Jeff.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Bravo, Gary.