Saturday, April 25, 2015

Tully Shamelessly Uses Tragic Death Of 6-Year Old To Push For Commuter Tax

Reading Star political columnist Matt Tully's latest column, I couldn't help but picture Star Trek's Spock's raised eyebrow reaction: "Highly illogical." Recently, an adorable 6-year old boy, Dar Wee, was tragically killed when he was struck by a car while crossing the street that separates an apartment complex from an elementary school where Wee was a first-grade student on the City's far north side near College Avenue and 91st Street. For whatever reason, requests made by the school's principal for the past several years to invest a few hundred dollars to place a stop sign and painted cross walks in the area had not been a high enough priority by the local council member or the Ballard administration's Department of Public Works to make it happen. After Wee's tragic death, the city council and the DPW took emergency steps to install stop signs at the long-ignored dangerous crossing.

To believe Tully, Wee's death is to be blamed on the lack of revenues to pay for the City of Indianapolis' infrastructure needs. He then goes on to use the tragedy to pitch a commuter tax on suburban residents who live outside Indianapolis but commute to work in Indianapolis to pay for infrastructure costs. This is the same columnist who praised the City for providing $6.5 million to the mayor's money bag man, Ersal Ozdemir, to build a parking garage and donating another $6 million to the politically-connected developer, Browning Investments, for another mixed use retail project in Broad Ripple. Those are just two of many projects to which Tully and his bosses at The Star have supported giving away public tax dollars totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Sorry, Mr. Tully, the problem isn't a lack of revenues; it's a lack of spending priorities on the part of those making the decisions, who value their campaign contributors more than their fellow citizens. Your shameless plug for yet another tax increase we know will largely benefit the same campaign contributors who feed at the public trough is beneath decency even for you.

UPDATE: To my point, the IBJ's Kathleen McLaughlin has a story about the downtown TIF fund being awash in cash, which I've long dubbed the Mayor's slush fund:
The Indianapolis downtown TIF district is so flush with cash that the mayor can cover all its debt payments, fund two layers of reserves, and still have tens of millions to spend at his discretion.
Free cash in the downtown TIF could amount to $59.3 million by the end of 2018, according to the city controller’s projections.
Like all tax-increment financing districts, the downtown TIF is essentially a reservoir for property-tax revenue that otherwise would flow to government units throughout the county. The way cash is piling up in the city’s largest TIF raises the question: Is it time to open the floodgates?
“It definitely allows an opportunity,” Controller Matthew Kimmick said . . .
Ballard plans to spend $22 million on one-time projects this year and leave $7.3 million in the fund when he steps down Dec. 31 after two terms.
This year’s spending includes the IUPUI roads, repairs to Union Station and buying a Citizens Energy property on Waterway Boulevard to create a shovel-ready site for the 16 Tech business park.
There’s no shortage of demand for downtown improvements. In an interview with IBJ, Democratic mayoral hopeful Joe Hogsett said he’s hearing a drumbeat from downtown stakeholders for a makeover of Circle Centre. He also foresees the need to boost Monument Circle as a family attraction.
Hogsett declined to get into specifics about how he would finance economic development. He’s aware the downtown TIF could be perceived as benefiting real estate developers, but he’s not ruling out any tools at his disposal.
“I think it ought to be used very cautiously,” he said of the downtown TIF’s excess cash.
Chuck Brewer, the Marion County GOP’s endorsed candidate, declined to comment ahead of the May 5 primary, in which he faces two opponents, Jocelyn Tandy-Adande and Terry Michael . . . 
The Indianapolis downtown TIF was the only exception to a 2014 law that required all TIF districts created before 1995 to dissolve by 2025. Lawmakers cited the city’s past revenue-sharing practice as one reason for special treatment  . . . 


Sir Hailstone said...

Why should Matt Tully care about what goes on in Marion County now that he lives in Carmel?

Speaking of HamCo, something occurred to me while reading the INDOT update to US31 project - City of Westfield closed the intersection of 156th and Spring Mill for a roundabout conversion. Signs been posted for a "coming soon" roundabout since about 2012, and now its closed. The northeast corner of 156th and Spring Mill is New Joy church. Not that it ordinarily doesn't matter except on Sundays - except New Joy is a polling station for most Westfield subdivisions between Oak Ridge Rd and Spring Mill Rd. It's quite a busy polling station during presidential and mid-term elections. As this will be Westfield's first city re-election since becoming a city, you can't help but wonder if Andy Cook ran some numbers and find he doesn't have the votes in these precincts - what better way to keep people away from a polling station than to tear up the road in front of it - all in the name of progress.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to Matt Tully... or his connected wife, Valerie Tully (employed at Eli Lilly as a Global Public Policy Director)... the word "shamelessly" is neither strong enough nor descriptive enough.

Anonymous said...

Wow, never let a tragedy go to waste, right Mr. Tully? Shameless.

And you are absolutely right Mr. Welsh, spending priorities are the elephant in the room. You won't get the downtown mafia to acknowledge this, however, because trimming the obvious fat means cutting off their gravy train of downtown projects. Their solution? More revenue. Of course, they'll take their cut first. Remember those promises of more police back in '07 after a hefty local income tax hike in the name of public safety? No new cops were put on the street! Where the hell did all that money go?

There is one element missing from this discussion, however, and that is representation for the area in question. I live in Meridian Kessler, part of which is represented by City County Councilor Will Gooden, the same Councilor who represents the area near 91st and College. When our neighborhood asks for things from DPW we tend to get it. Take a drive through Forest Hills, a subset of MK, located southeast of Kessler and College. All new sidewalks. And new stop signs are going in on a few side streets because folks want to eliminate cut through traffic. Painted crosswalks and stop bars which don't exist on side streets in other parts of the city. Many who drive in the area are no doubt aware of the obnoxious traffic light at 57th and College, installed a few years ago, whose sole purpose was to please Forest Hills residents who think traffic on College drives too fast making it dangerous for their kids to walk to school a few blocks west. The light runs on a timer all day and night and often stops traffic on College without a sole crossing east-west on 57th.

So, did the folks in this part of Nora contact Mr. Gooden, DPW, Mayor Ballard? If yes, why does one neighborhood get obvious special treatment over others?

Indy Rob said...

Tully does not actually care about the lack of sidewalks or cross walks along 91st; he is an opportunist using this death to promote an agenda.

And (being a Nora resident), people drive too fast along 91st and run a fair number of stop signs. Put a couple of police cars out there one day a week, and write tickets.

Flogger said...

Tully is nothing but a stenographer for the Corporate Masters and certainly not a talented writer.

Tully along with equally untalented Erica has never made the rapidly deteriorating infrastructure in this city a topic for column. Neither of the untalented ones has taken Ballard or the City Council to task for all the crumbling potholed streets or the trash along the streets.

Anonymous said...

Exactly who is the City Counselor for this area and was this person contacted for assistance regarding a stoplight or cross lanes? And if that Councilor was contacted, why the hell was there no action?

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's in Will Gooden's district. He is not seeking re-election.

Anonymous said...

The never needed a stop sign or a stop light. As Washington Township if they ever read Indiana Law on Crossing Guards?

OMG, for one hour in the morning and one hour in the simple.

Gary R. Welsh said...

That wouldn't have saved Dar Wee's life. He was struck by a car outside normal school hours. His grandmother was taking him to the school for tudoring outside normal school arrival and departure times.