|Mayoral chief of staff, Thomas Cook (Twitter Photo)|
Residents who live near College Avenue on Indianapolis' north side formed a community organization, CollegeAvenueIndy.org, to gather information and share their concerns with their neighbors and elected officials about proposed, important changes that could dramatically impact the lives of those living in the area. Their latest concern is the plans to develop the Red Line bus rapid transit line on College Avenue from 66th Street south to 38th Street. One of the neighborhood leaders, Dr. Steve O'Neil, had a brief opportunity to speak to Mayor Joe Hogsett last February, and he was delighted when the mayor provided him the contact information for his executive assistant and offered to sit down and hear the concerns he and his neighbors have about the proposed Red Line. Two months later, Hogsett's office has still not scheduled a meeting, and the reaction to O'Neil's persistence in setting up a meeting by Mayor Hogsett's top aide could not have been more disturbing and disappointing.
When O'Neil briefly spoke to Mayor Hogsett in February, he handed him the business card of his executive assistant, Julie Marvel, to set up an appointment. O'Neil quickly e-mailed Marvel, who politely responded that the first available appointment would be in late March or early April due to the mayor's busy schedule. "I will get back in touch just as quickly as I can to coordinate a meeting time," Marvel said. "In the meantime, I have shared your email with Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett who has been working with the various neighborhood groups on this project." Six weeks later, O'Neil had not been able to schedule a meeting with the mayor to discuss neighborhood concerns about the Red Line. In the meantime, the City-County Council has taken up deliberations on a proposed referendum for this November's ballot, allowing a quarter percent increase in the income tax, to pay for the bus rapid transit system. Having failed to get a prompt response to his e-mails, he called and left a voice mail message with Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett, whom he and other neighborhood groups had already spoken on several occasions about their concerns with TWG's planned large apartment complex project at the site of the old AT&T office building, to express his disappointment with being unable to get a meeting with the mayor scheduled. That project was tabled by the developer in the face of neighborhood opposition.
O'Neil quickly got a return call back, not just the one he had anticipated. When he picked up the phone, the person on the other end of the line identified himself as the mayor's chief of staff, Thomas Cook. "At the beginning of the conversation he said that normally someone who calls as much as I have would be put on a watch list by the sheriff," O'Neil told Advance Indiana, quoting Cook. "[Cook] said [I am] not doing that because [you are] a physician." After expressing to him his disappointment about his tone for starting off the conversation, O'Neil explained to Cook that he was simply trying to get the meeting scheduled with the mayor that had been promised to him. "God love him, but he can't do all the meetings he promises," O'Neil said, quoting Cook. In reference to his earlier contacts with the mayor's office about the TWG development at the AT&T site, Cook said the mayor's office understood his and other neighborhood residents' concerns: "[You] don't want anything built there that [you] believe is uncouth." O'Neil, not surprisingly, took issue with Cook's "snarky and condescending" characterization of his and other neighbors' concerns. "I told him we just want development that is consistent with the neighborhood and we do not decide what is 'uncouth.'"
O'Neil then tried to shift the conversation back to the immediate concern--the Red Line. "I told him our position on the Red Line and the issues regarding the illegality of the referendum due to the requirement in SB 176 that 25% of the budget revenue needs to come from ridership but that in the FTA application IndyGo claims that will only be 17%," O'Neil said. When state lawmakers passed SB 176 allowing a referendum on an income tax increase to pay for bus rapid transit, the law required the operating system to recover 25% of its operating costs from the fair box. In its grant proposal to the FTA, IndyGo specifically said fare receipts would only cover 17% of the costs. "[Cook] told me that this is a City Council issue and referred me to legal counsel for the city. "I re-iterated that if IndyGo falls short of budget due to lack of projected ridership that this will rob dollars from public works and potentially lead to greater tax increases which could be a political problem for the mayor," O'Neil said. O'Neil expressed his great disappointment that his meeting with the mayor would not occur as he believe the mayor had promised him. Cook replied, "It may not be occurring due to [your] persistence."
O'Neil then said something that hit a real sore spot. "I said that if Browning called he would get a meeting. Why can't we?" O'Neil was of course referring to the politically-connected real estate developer, Michael Browning, who wrote Hogsett a check for $30,000 to underwrite the costs of his inaugural gala in January. "[Cook] was very defensive about that and said the mayor had turned down Browning meetings several times," O'Neil said. Before hanging up, Cook told O'Neil the mayor would be disappointed that he was dissatisfied with him. "I told him it is actually worse that I am disappointed as a voter," O'Neil told us.
Gary, you could have left the "ter Photo" off the photo caption of Cook, and "Twit" would fit this clown appropriately. (Actually, my mind read it as "twit")
I am sure Mayor Hogshitt is thrilled to be surrounded by these politically illiterate buffoons who have no clue how to talk to the little people and are only willing to help those who write checks. I am thrilled not to have voted for Joe and his cast of clowns.
Wait until the citizens find out (again and again and again) that money talks and bullshit walks. As I recall, the lady who represents that area was all for this boon doggel but so was Kip Tew......so only the Libertarian (who was not cut in on anything, apparently) was able to give a realistic appraisal and so was against it. The voters in that area, by sitting on their haunches and staying asleep in their comfortable orthodoxies really have no one to blame for this impending taxpayer rape but themselves. Of course, they will be paying the steepest prices but the rest of the City will suffer due to incompetent people in office.
Dr. O'Neil could have aired his views by being a remonstrator at the last Metropolitan Economic Development Committee. Although it was held at an unusual Riverside location there were several supporters including; business representatives; seemingly invented pro-referendum organizations; the Chamber of Commerce, of course; and one noteworthy speaker who brought up the legitimacy of the plan as not being in compliance with SB 176 which included not meeting the 25% threshold.
Being solely a dog and pony show, there was no matter to be voted upon. The next scheduled discussion of the plan will be with the Municipal Corporation Committee to be held on April 13 at another off-site location to give the community a better opportunity to try and find Waldo. After eliminating their 10% charge from SB 176, be assured that the corporatists will be there in full force.
Outside of any legal hurdles, there is no question that there will be a referendum on November's ballot. Between now and then there will be three more opportunities for citizens like Dr. O'Neil to remonstrate for two full minutes. After that the politicos and business interests can listen to the taxpayers who are fed up with throwing money at all the unneeded mega-ventures that come down the pike.
I'm pretty sure O'Neil was at the city-county council committee meeting and testified during the short time allotted for public testimony.
Getting put on a secret Government list because you disagree with Hizzoner. How Nixonian. Or Obamian.
I talked to a client of mine who lives across the street from Ben Davis who usually spends a hour and a half on the buses from downtown. She will occasionally miss her bus due to the buses not being on schedule. She wants more buses and more frequent stops. Once again our politicians have thrown out a solution that makes no sense. Oh sorry it makes sense to the money changers.
Coleen Fanning is the Broad Ripple area councilor who's failing her constitu-aint's. It's time to forward concerns to the AG regarding violation of SB 176 & lining up counsel to go after these fraudsters...
OK, let's think this through. Even if O'Neil got his meeting with Hogsett, nothing would change. Lying Joe is beholden to big donors in the construction industry so he's not going to change his mind. It's actually BETTER thIs way because t's so clear and obvious. Does this O'Neil fellow not see it? Does he not understand how things work in Indy?
So given that, what's a fellow to do? How about guerrilla warfare? How about PR? How about the tireless work of sharing with your neighbors what you know, getting people organized and so outraged that instead of one guy politely asking for a meeting there are 10,000 constituents with pitchforks and torches standing in front of city hall. That would get Hogsett's attention, because like all these guys he's a kiss-up who doesn't have an ounce of courage. Bring out the pitchforks and Boss Hog will change his tune quickly. That's how you effect REAL change, not by sitting down and having tea with the mayor.
The so-called "Red Line" is a legacy of the failed 2005-2015 Agenda 21 density program. If Indy builds this bad idea, the city will be hung with an unwanted, unneeded, quickly dated, bad idea from America's Weak Era.
The results are in. Millennials are buying cars in record numbers, though they're buying cars a few years later, delaying their adulthood. When they do buy cars, they feel like they've "grown up."
"Now that I have a car, it's almost bewildering to me. I feel like a grown-up," said Mueller..."
Millennials are moving to the suburbs, not the urban density cores, marking an utter collapse in Weak Era initiatives.
The only reason Indy would pursue this so-called "Red Line" program that is obsolete and a known failure before ground is broken is that someone in the city is getting paid very well for building it. The Agenda 21 communists have been shopping their grant money to cities for years, and with these programs being shown as failures, that free money may soon dry up, taking with it opportunities for local profiteers to get rich from destroying the city.
All real experts in urban planning should fear that the bad ideas of the past decade will leave Indianapolis' Downtown a comic relic of a quickly passing fad. This "Red Line" is an embarrassment on the drawing board. heaven help Indianapolis if it actually builds the thing.
Indanapolis doesn't have many nice neighborhoods, and this "Red Line" will destroy a couple of them.
People are also quickly relocating to the Sun Belt, where the roads are wide and driving is easy.
Indianapolis is not positioning itself for the future by destroying Downtown with residential development and by destroying streets with an obese bus that can't manage to stay in a car lane.
Indianapolis is cold and not terribly sexy. If Indianapolis wants to succeed, and if Indianapolis wants to position itself attractively against other cities, it needs wider roads, better roads, more roads, faster roads, more road access, an easier life for cars, more car-based living at the city's edge, more room to spread out, more spaces to park free, and no delays in getting around.
The "Red Line" may be the last Weak Era project attempted in Indianapolis before the city goes broke. Indianapolis will get run over if it's stuck in the Weak Era, while other cities are pursuing progress and sound urban planning.
yup, College needs to be widened to 8 lanes
The faces change but the gears of Indy's political machine continue to turn with the same grease.
A true six lanes, exclusive of parking lanes, all the way from Virginia to 116th would be decent.
If will be interesting to see when all the kids start riding the bus from the 38th street area up to Broad Ripple. Fridays, Saturday's and the summer time will be fun. All ya need is a couple of gang bangers to make things exciting in the villagae.
Anon 659 PM sounds like it could be the twit, Cook!
I'm sure they will be carefully screening for the "kid gang bangers," but the car checkpoints very mile or so will probably slow down traffic...
Why is expecting Mayor to keep his promise for a meeting unreasonable? Where does Cook get off threatening a citizen and belittling their concerns after they've been waiting for weeks for their promised meeting? Either Cook's attitude exemplifies Hogsett's attitude toward Indianapolis citizens, or Hogsett can't choose his people very well. Either way, it is a poor reflection on Hogsett.
Also, it is clear that those with an agenda have filtered the neighborhood's message, putting on their own spin: no one ever called the now-defunct TWG project "uncouth", but there were valid concerns about height, density, lack of set back, design and inadequate parking, all of which affect the entire neighborhood and quality of life.
Red Line will raise everyone's taxes, it will not help those who depend on public transportation, it will cause irreparable damage to the entire Northside of Indianapolis, it will drive out small businesses that depend on street parking and will be used as an excuse for taxpayer handouts to developers to build tall, dense apartment buildings pursuant to Agenda 21, which I don't recall being asked to vote on.
Post a Comment