|Blue Indy charging station under construction at 13th & Alabama
Mayor Ballard executed the illegal, 15-year contract with the French-owned company, Bollore, that awards a monopoly business to the company, along with a public investment totaling in the tens of millions of dollars with no likelihood of any return to Indianapolis taxpayers during the life of the contract. Incredibly, the City's agreement with Blue Indy exempts it from paying any taxes or fees that would ordinarily apply to any similar business operating in Indianapolis.
The Mayor's action came after an earlier plan he sent to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission requesting IPL be permitted to raise electric utility rates on its customers to pay to install the power charging stations was rejected. The IURC did, however, allow IPL to charge customers the cost of running power lines to the charging stations. Blue Indy's agreement with the City allows IPL to be repaid its share of the costs, while Indianapolis taxpayers are unlikely to recover the $6 million Mayor Ballard pulled from the parking meter fund to add to the $42 million Blue Indy claims it plans to spend, at least during the initial 15-year term since Blue Indy must first recover its net cumulative investment before it shares its first dollar with the City.
Navarra has spoken to residents of the Englewood Lofts apartments at 13th & Alabama who are extremely upset about Blue Indy taking up all of the on-street parking available along the north side of the apartments. Some residents in the income-qualified, affordable housing project plan not to renew their leases because of the loss of parking according to Navarra. Blue Indy has plans to take even more free public parking spaces in the Old Northside neighborhood for Blue Indy.
The Indianapolis City-County Council's attorney has told council members the Mayor broke multiple state and local laws by entering into the monopoly, electric car-sharing agreement with Blue Indy. Councilor Zach Adamson (D) promised action in the form of a resolution calling for the towing of the Blue Indy cars that have been illegally parked on Washington Street downtown in a no-stopping, no parking zone. Adamson postponed action on his resolution at last Monday's council meeting after he said Blue Indy officials spoke of a desire to discuss public concerns over the siting of Blue Indy stations and to consider entering into a franchise agreement with the City, which would essentially wash away the wrongs and legalize the illegal actions taken by Mayor Greg Ballard broke by entering into the agreement and appropriating public assets measuring into the tens of millions of dollars for the private company's monopoly business.
The Indianapolis news media, for its part, has essentially been on the sidelines cheering on the illegal Blue Indy project as more and more business owners and residents grow increasingly frustrated by the inattention to legal processes and the harm inflicted upon them after receiving absolutely no advance notice of the City's plans for taking valuable public parking spaces in their neighborhoods. Complaints to elected officials have generated little more than lip service and finger-pointing.
Councilor Adamson engaged in testy exchanges on Facebook today with concerned residents, including me. He claims the council is acting with the "very limited authority" it has to act, even though it could have elected to go to court to nullify the agreement as it did earlier this year with the Vision Fleet contract. "We hammer [the Mayor] plenty and anyone who thinks we don't is a nutbag," Adamson said in response to my criticism the council isn't doing enough. Really nice when your elected council member calls his constituents "nutbags" for complaining about the misuse of our public tax dollars. Adamson then deflected the blame. "You know we have a strong mayor system and the council only has so much support from the judicial branch that we can count on." So public assets are being stolen but there's nothing our elected officials can do to put a stop to it? So much for Democrat mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett's claim that he's going to stop the downtown insiders from stealing from us. It's too bad he never prosecuted any of the downtown insiders during all those years he served as our federal prosecutor when he was in a position to do something about it.
Adamson initially endorsed the Blue Indy project and appeared at a press event announcing the Mayor's launch of the electric car-sharing service almost two years ago. Adamson, who chairs the Public Works Committee which has oversight over the project, says he never supported the eventual plan rolled out this year; rather, he only supported the concept and believed it was going to be a small pilot program initially. He says he opposed the plan once he learned Mayor Ballard planned to make the public subsidize its cost.