Yesterday, Mayor Ballard released his “Five-Point Plan” for improving education in Indianapolis.
The timing of this release had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that his opponent in the upcoming election has been hammering him for totally ignoring the issue for the past four years. Nosiree! The administration has been laboring over this plan for months and months. And don’t you believe that just because the plan hasn’t been finished until now (okay, it hasn’t even been mentioned until now), that means the Mayor hasn’t been doing great and wonderful things for local education. They even list those great, wonderful “successes” in the press release. Let’s see…he has “received” lots of applications for new charters under the program his predecessor developed, and he changed the program’s name from Office of Charter Schools to Office of Education Innovation. He “secured” grants (doesn’t say what for) of “up to” 1.4 million dollars, which-let’s be honest here, fellows-is a pretty paltry amount. And my personal favorite, he “made eight charter school renewal decisions.” Wow.
The list of “accomplishments”–none of which seemed to involve actually getting results of any sort–was somewhat pathetic, but when I got to the actual plan, I had to check to be sure I wasn’t reading the Onion.
The very first point of this plan–I am not making this up–is to “offer an income tax credit to nonprofit education reform organizations that locate in the city.”
Read my lips: nonprofit organizations don’t pay taxes.
Now, anyone in Indianapolis who is sentient and paying attention has recognized the limitations of our accidental Mayor, but this one boggles the mind. One of the major jobs of any mayor is to manage the budget. Big city, small village–it doesn’t matter. Job one is figuring out how to pay for jobs two through infinity, and that requires at least a kindergarten-level understanding of who pays taxes. In Indianapolis, we have long struggled with the issue of nonpayment of property taxes by nonprofits, because we have so many of them. It has been the subject of numerous “blue ribbon” committees, studies, etc. For the Mayor to be unaware that nonprofits don’t pay income taxes either (that’s basically the reason they are nonprofits) is simply unfathomable.
It’s bad enough that Ballard labored (so he says) for months over a “plan” that betrays his total lack of comprehension of the nuts and bolts of the city he presumably runs, but where the hell was his staff? What sort of people has he chosen to surround himself with, if a gaffe this enormous got by them?
Anyone who has been reading this blog knows I’ve not been a fan of this Mayor. He has shown little comprehension of the implications of his administration’s policies, and despite his assurances in campaign ads that he’s “not a politician,” has played hardball politics by blocking satellite voting sites and his willingness to turn a blind eye to ethical questions surrounding the parking meter giveaway. But this time, the emperor’s lack of clothes has been made dramatically–and frighteningly–clear.
Even the Onion couldn’t top this.