Thursday, November 28, 2013

Christmas Will Come Early For IU If Mayor Greg Ballard Gets His Way

You have to suspend disbelief to ascertain the fiscal and spending policies of the city of Indianapolis, but that's exactly what the local media in this town does when it comes to these matters. The reporter for the Indianapolis Star responsible for the covering the city beat is the same reporter who covered the tumultuous budget debate only months ago where Mayor Greg Ballard poked and prodded the City-County Council in every way he could in an attempt to coax it into raising taxes to close what was described as a major deficit in next year's budget. We were told there simply wasn't money to spare to fund basic city services unless the council enacted deep budget cuts or raised taxes. We never got a straight answer from the politicians on what they did with the windfall from the 65% increase in the local income tax they enacted in 2007, and the media wasn't about to find those answers for us. This reporter who sat through all of these deliberations feeds us a bullshit story about the need for city taxpayers to donate $9.5 million to the cash-rich Indiana University to make renovations at IUPUI's Natatorium and the possibility of permanently setting aside city revenues for future building maintenance needs:
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has thrown his support behind a plan for the city to chip in roughly half of the nearly $20 million price tag for renovations needed at IUPUI’s Natatorium.
Indiana University still is working out how it will pay for the remainder after the city contributes $9.5 million. As part of the still-developing arrangement for the future of the 31-year-old swimming facility, IU also says it’s seeking greater involvement in Natatorium management and event marketing from a partnership of local sports organizations.
And a portion of city hospitality taxes could be set aside for future maintenance, said Ryan Vaughn, Ballard’s chief of staff . . .   
“It’s part of our core sports economy here in Indianapolis,” Vaughn said. “That is a huge driver for us. (The building) needs a refresh. And it very much is a community asset.”
Okay, here are the only facts that city taxpayers need to know. Firstly, this is a building owned by a state university, which has its own budget to maintain buildings, construct new ones and identify generous donors whose vanity in having a building named after them is all it takes to fork over the money needed if funds are unavailable. The City of Indianapolis is not legally obligated in any way to build, maintain or operate university-owned property. If this building is as important as city leaders say it is, then why has it not been a priority for Indiana University to maintain it as a "world class facility." This building is not just a natatorium; it also serves as the basketball arena for IUPUI's basketball team, which gets at least as much use out of the building as its use as a natatorium. Finally, if the City has this kind of money to spare, then it should be used to fund basic city services. This same administration is in the process of trying to privatize some or all of the city's parks and recreational facilities because it says it can't afford to maintain them with existing funding, while it wastes money on a new sports facility for cricket. Why would we be giving away a chunk of money to a university that always has money for everything it deems important when we can't afford to maintain what we are responsible for maintaining? They are looking to spend as much money to renovate this building as it cost to build in 1982.

Instead of discussing any of the relevant issues, the reporter dishes out the typical meme about how much economic development spin off value this facility supposedly brings to the city because of events it draws to the city. The Natatorium only has a seating capacity of 4,700. Larger swimming events are already being hosted at Banker's Life Fieldhouse instead of the Natatorium. As I've pointed out before, there are numerous high school football and basketball facilities in the area that draw more people on an annual basis than the Natatorium. It's not unusual for participants to outnumber attendees at events hosted at the Natatorium. They can hype it all they want, but the reality is that it has very little impact on the local economy. Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse dwarfs the Natatorium when it comes to economic impact. Are city taxpayers paying to maintain it? At some point, an adult has to enter the room and tell the downtown mafia that there are limits to what they can expect city taxpayers to continue paying for sports facilities to the detriment of funding basic city services. That adult is obviously not going to come from the ranks of the local news media or the people we foolishly entrust with making these spending decisions.


Unknown said...


Flogger said...

The decision has already been made. People who have followed in the past the outline of our Crony-Capitalists, the Republicrat Party in Marion County, and the various other Groups allied with the Sports Parasite Establishment know this.

The Star will pull out their usual rough draft for these types of projects and fill in the blanks with names, and Organizations. The Star will make it appear these talks are a serious discussion among Elected Leadership. They will give the impression that all those that count are on board the ship of Corporate Welfare.

Next some Rent a Report Sports Company will produce a glowing conclusion that in order to preserve and or expand our economy we need the Natatorium to be upgraded.

Several guest columnists will write articles favoring that the City "Chip In."

The Star will conclude with an editorial favoring the notion that the City Chip In to preserve our "World Class Image."

Build a new Public Park Swimming Pool or maybe a couple for the people - Not Likely- More to the Point- Not Even. The only Sports and recreation facilities that receive big money are for Billionaire Owners of Professional Sports Teams or Cricket or Soccer Stadiums.

Anonymous said...

I know what his agenda is. After he leaves the Mayor's Office, there will be a soft spot for him at IUPUI.

This city is doing everything it can to pump all taxpayer resources into downtown, and it is telling the rest of the city to go to hell.

We'd be better served by starting a new city and letting Indianapolis be only about three square miles in and around downtown.

Ellen said...

So, just this week, the Mayor decides we should privatize and/or sell off the city parks AND "chip in" $9.5 for the IU Natatorium.

Anyone see the irony in this?

Indy Rob said...

This is more of a gift from Ryan V to his buddy Fred G. The whole thing smells.

What will it take to get a federal investigation into this old-boy network?

Anonymous said...

Just more proof that Indianapolis is not a democracy, just a rigged plutocracy. Hate to say it, but part of the problem is that we under pay these losers who have more to gain by making the wealthy happy than by being honorable civil servants. They don't even have to try that hard to fleece us. City County building needs to be fumigated, starting with the 25th floor. (I mean that metaphorically, not literally, as I wish no actual physical harm to those jerks)

Anonymous said...

Ponder how Indy got the Nat. IU Dive Team Trials for the next trials here in 2016...

guy77money said...

Sports, sports and more sports! This constant reason to try to build up Indy's image. The tables are slowly turning Gary. I went to see Shrek at Franklin Central that was put on by the student drama club. They had three performances that were all close to being sold out. The band will have a concert this winter that will also be sold out. These six performances will draw more people then the varsity boys basketball team will draw for their entire season. Once upon a time boys high school basketball Indiana's only and biggest sport You have Dancing With the Stars, Glee and all of the singing and dancing shows. Eventually we will jump on that band wagon and put money into the arts. Yes Carmel put a exorbitant amount into the Palladium. But people are coming and staying in the hotels and shopping and eating in Carmel and seeing a show. Why because Carmel has high end restaurants and shopping. So upper scale show draw upper scale patrons. Gary I will pick the arts any day over a football or basketball game. It stimulates the mind!

Anonymous said...

Greg or his minions apparently are the dummest assholes ever elected or are just crooks with taxpayer money. Nuff said!

This is another Financial defalcation. When is someone gonna do jail time?

Former Republican.

Anonymous said...

I spoke on the phone with Councillor Lutz today. He assured me he would NOT be supporting any financial assistance to IUPUI from the city. However, with the CIB due to make a balloon payment to the state in 2015, I'm afraid the writing is already on the wall with how that money is going to be used. The Mayor will claim it's not "new money" being used and that the State can use the CIB payment how they see fit. It's a tangled web they weave, isn't it?