Sunday, September 21, 2014

Indianapolis Star Management And Opinion Staff Threatening Council Members Who Don't Support Higher Taxes For Pre-K Education

The management and opinion staff of the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star think they know what's best for the rest of us and if our elected public officials don't toe the line, it's now bullying and threatening them with negative news coverage and editorials until they comport to their demands. Councilor Angela Mansfield, who chaired a committee meeting this past week that tabled a proposal to eliminate the homestead property tax credit, is learning that fact the hard way. They've met with the corporate leaders of Eli Lilly, Wellpoint and Cummins in private meetings, and they all agree that the City will collapse unless tens of millions of city dollars are invested in pre-K education spending over the next several years.

Their answer for funding pre-K education is to eliminate the homestead property tax credit that will raise taxes on Marion County homeowners and, ironically, cut funding for our public schools by millions at the same time. Never mind that municipal government is neither constitutionally nor statutorily charged with providing education in this state; if you don't support it, we will use our opinion and news pages to punish you. Here's a brief response I posted on the Star's website in response to the threats and bullying they are now engaged with our elected officials:
It's not leadership or sound public policy to threaten and bully members of our city council the way the opinion and management staff of the Star is doing to force them to fund something city government is not constitutionally or statutorily charged with funding.  
Who are you to meet in private with the city's most powerful corporate leaders to decide what you think is in the best interests of this city and then dictate public policy to the rest of us to suit your self-serving ends, no matter how many laws or ethical improprieties are committed along the way?  
Your readers only need to understand one basic fact--the constitutional responsibility for public education rests with the state's Department of Education and the public school districts established throughout the state to help carry out the charge to offer free public education to our state's children. Nowhere does our state laws charge municipal government with that responsibility, which many of us believe is failing already at its job of providing basic city services. 
This newspaper must accept partial blame for that because of your misuse of your position in the community to bully and pressure elected officials to support crony capitalism for the benefit of private real estate development and sports team owners to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars annually, while short-changing the funding of basic services. Your answer is always to demand that we pay higher taxes to get what we want, and when we do, we find that the bulk of the higher taxes we pay go for something other than what we were told it would be used. 
Given the way your newspaper has treated some of its best employees over the past several years, I don't expect you to get it because at the end of the day you really don't care about what the little people think and feel from the ivory tower where you sit and feast with the city's most wealthy and self-serving citizens.
In the last mayoral campaign, Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy pushed the idea of using Rebuild Indy funds from the sale of the water and sewer utilities to fund pre-K education, a plan denounced by Mayor Ballard, who said the neighborhoods of Indianapolis had spoken out loud and clear about how they wanted the money spent and that was rebuilding the city's streets, sidewalks, bridges and other basic infrastructure needs. He opposed raising taxes to fund pre-K education, which is precisely what he said would occur if we used ReBuild Indy funds and created a funding cliff for the program when those funds were depleted. Last year, he proposed eliminating the homestead property tax credit to fund more police officers. Now he wants its elimination for the very purpose he correctly observed in 2011 was something that should be funded by the state, not local municipal governments. See his comments in a mayoral debate with Kennedy below:

Here's something Republicans throughout the state should take note of as well. Indiana Republican State GOP Chairman Tim Berry sent out a mass e-mail over the weekend in which he chastised Indianapolis Democratic council members for tabling the elimination of the homestead property tax credit to fund Mayor Ballard's pre-K initiative. Incredibly, he used a Robin Hood analogy to claim that Democrats were robbing the poor by refusing to take money from homeowners to pay for early childhood education instead of funding basic city services, which is the actual purpose of the municipal government. Yes, the Indiana Republican Party has now stepped into the fray and is demanding that property taxes be raised on Marion County residents to fund something the Republican-controlled legislature and Republican governor has failed to date to fund statewide. Berry's message is that we should send a message to Democrats by voting them out of office for refusing to raise our property taxes. Don't forget that message fellow Republicans as you go to the polls. I won't.


Flogger said...

Sometimes Life imitates Art. There is a famous scene from the movie - Cool Hand Luke. Luke played by Paul Newman smart mouths the warden played by Strother Martin, in front of the chain gang Martin hits Luke with a billy club, and Luke goes tumbling down an embankment. Martin now delivers his famous line - "What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach."

The Shadow Government has existed for decades in Indianapolis. The Star used call them Movers and Shakers. The Shadow Government of Republicrat Crony-Capitalism has seen an opportunity to dig deeper into our wallets, using Pre-K as a smoke screen. As you correctly point out Education is the responsibility of the State Department of Education.

Honest disagreement cannot be tolerated, by the Shadow Government and through it's Propaganda arm The Star has delivered the Warden's Billy Club to Angela Mansfield for failure to conform.

I think it is a given that almost no one with a critically thinking brain would rely on The Star for honest News Reporting. Thus, Mansfield or Scales should have nothing to fear from The Star.

It is just a question of if Reupblicrat Party decides Mansfield and Scales need to be jettisoned, during the next primary election.

Anonymous said...

Joe Hogsett has an interesting editorial in Sunday's paper page A19-A21.
I was NOT aware that Ballard's plan was to levy a PERMANENT tax increase on homeowners which some of it will go to pay for 5 year pilot program.
If the pilot program doesn't work out, where's the tax dollars going to in 5 years????

Anonymous said...

What a surprise that Ballard was against taxpayer funding of pre-K "education" before he was for it. This "pre-K" ed crap is nothing more than a subertfuge and a lie. It is also contrary to the Law... but why should that bother Ballard and the moronic Republican and Democrat Councilors voting for/supporting this sham?

No wonder so many taxpayers with the means abandon Marion County. Except for the downtown core, the County neighborhoods are deteriorated and becoming more uninviting by the day.

Good job Greg! Why don't you run for a third term, PLEASE?!? Allow us to the supreme pleasure of voting you out of office.

Something tells me you aren't at all man enough to stand tall and take what the voters will do to you if you go for a third.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Gary, for telling it like it is. Not that any of your thoughts so well expressed into words will get through to this bunch of bullies. The Lilly Endowment is $7 BILLION strong. Why don't they fully fund the pilot pre-school initiative if they feel so strongly about it. If they want to fund a proven crime fighting strategy, they could donate some bucks to the city for extra cops and cars that won't break down in a chase of bad guys. Lilly should dig into their own funds of billions and leave the city's dollars available to fund the prosecutor's office, courts, infrastructure and other municipal priorities.

Pete Boggs said...

GOP: Greed Over Principle, a "winning" strategy by which to distinguish your party & compete with Democrats? Branding huh?

Anonymous said...

Hogsett make several pertinent points; 1) the responsibility for education belongs to the state, 2) it's a permanent tax increase even though the pilot is only five years, 3) not all of the money is slated for pre-k educaion and 4) if the mayor wants pre-k education, then fund it out of the city's 1 billion dollar budget.

IMHO this is just another revenue stream for the mayor's slush fund.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Hogsett has it wrong too. He wants to dip into current revenues to fund it, which means less to fund the mandatory basic services. Education is not a function of municipal government. He and Ballard should be running for state education superintendent or the local school board if they want to talk about funding pre-K education. These charter schools the mayor's office has been touting turn out to be no better than the public schools. The only difference is that the mayor can't get campaign contributions from the people who run the charter schools but not the public schools.

Anonymous said...

Gary: 6:32
The only difference is that the mayor can't get campaign contributions from the people who run the charter schools but not the public schools.
I think you meant to say "the mayor CAN and DOES get contributions from the people who run the charter schools, but not the public schools.

Point made: Ballard did his first City address on first term from a DeHann school...

Not too mention on Kenley and Turner floated the Referendum through Zionsville years ago...Not even their district...

Anonymous said...

Another superb blog post. It kind of is sad that I have to come here to get real reporting of what is going on in Indianapolis. While Hogsett will be better than Ballard, I'm afraid the crony capitalism will continue under his administration.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Yes, that's what I meant. Thanks.