Greg Ballard’s Curious Approach to Fiscal Discipline

There has been a good deal of discussion on local blogs about our Mayor’s ham-handed approach to the just-concluded Gay Pride celebration.

The Indianapolis fire department has participated in the Parade previously, and this year, IMPD announced that it, too, would participate–and show that our local police serve all parts of the Indianapolis community. The day before the Parade, Ballard unexpectedly reversed course, and told IFD it could not use a city fire truck, and IMPD that it could not officially march at all.  (Several members of the police department did march, in uniform, but in their “individual” capacity, and the department’s Hummer was nowhere in evidence.)

Yesterday, Mayor Ballard was interviewed by Amos Brown, who asked an entirely appropriate–and foreseeable–question: why had the Mayor prevented the police from driving an official vehicle in the parade? The obviously bogus response was that the decision was made in order to save tax dollars. It had nothing to do with the fact that this was a gay event, or that Micah Clark and the Indiana Family Institute pitched a fit about the symbolism of treating the gay community like all other taxpaying citizens. Nope–just being fiscally responsible.

I asked a friend of mine who is a police officer whether IMPD officially participated in other community celebrations, and he rattled off a list: St. Patrick’s Day, Veterans Day, Black Expo and several others. I guess those constituencies must be more deserving of the tax expenditures involved.

And that brings up an interesting question: just how many dollars are we talking about?

What is the cost of vehicle depreciation and gasoline during a trip down Massachusetts Avenue? Ten dollars? Five?

Yesterday, the media reported that the Ballard administration stands to lose a three-million-dollar Federal grant, because it hasn’t complied with the grant’s staffing requirements. This makes Ballard the poster child for “Penny wise, pound foolish.”

1 Comment

  1. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea that public safety personnel were on the clock when they were participating in those events. I can understand if they’re doing their job providing security at events. But our public safety personnel should never be paid to participate in such events. That’s horrible policy and awfully close to being ghost employment.

    As far as the Gay Pride parade, I’m sympathetic to their cause, but the fact is that event is tinged with politics. Involving uniformed public safety officials, using public vehicles in an event that is even the slightest bit political again is horrible policy. I can imagine the complaints if the Indiana Family Institute decided to host a parade to promote the traditional husband-wife family. People would be screaming at the tops of their lungs if our public safety personnel got involved in that sort of thing. And rightfully so.

    I think those support public safety officials being involved in the Gay Pride Parade are being very shortsighted about the implications of involving officers in these sorts of events that do involve politics, like it or not. You think it’s okay now, but you’re going down a mighty slippery slope.

    One thing is clear though…we need to have a firm policy on what involvement our public officials can play in these events when on the clock and/or in uniform. Of course what they do on their own time is their own business.

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