The Emperor’s Nonexistent Clothes

I’ve been trying to avoid the dueling ads and other ephemera that inevitably accompany a mayoral campaign, so I didn’t attend the first debate between Mayor Ballard and Melina Kennedy. But now, three people (2 Democrats and 1 Republican) have reported to me that–in the process of defending his record–Ballard several times insisted that he was “the first Mayor” to do something: the examples reported to me were addressing issues in the police department and promoting the City nationally and internationally.

Excuse me? Can we spell hubris? Or perhaps cluelessness?

I served in the Hudnut Administration, so I had a front-row seat for Hudnut’s efforts to address issues in the police department. And those issues were considerably more fraught than today’s.

The assertion that Ballard’s junkets to international destinations were necessary because before that, few people had heard of Indianapolis, is not only delusional, it’s just plain offensive. (Hell, if nothing else, the Speedway put Indy on the map when Ballard was in diapers.) During the Hudnut Administration, we used to collect newspaper stories from around the country and world praising Indianapolis as a city on the move. Both Goldsmith and Peterson generated extensive media recognition for the city–far more than we have seen during the Ballard Administration.

Ballard isn’t even the first Mayor to sell off city assets and reward political supporters with government contracts. Goldsmith did that.

Mayor, if you want to defend your own record, fine. We’ll each decide whether we think it’s defensible. But if you really believe that you are the first mayor to do what mayors are supposed to do, if you are willing to ‘diss’ your predecessors in order to build yourself up, you don’t deserve a second term.

Those clothes you think you are wearing are invisible to the rest of us.


  1. Time to raise the standards on the 25th floor. If that entails changing Mayors, so be it.

    A paraphrase of Ballard’s words that the Kennedy campaign should embrace.

  2. Also bringing acclaim to Indiana and/or Indianapolis before now were
    * authors like Booth Tarkington, Kurt Vonnegut,
    James Whitcomb Riley, & Gene Stratton Porter
    * composers Cole Porter, Bill & Gloria Gaither,
    * Butler University – Tony Hinkle – Brad Stevens
    and his Bulldogs – and the movie Hoosiers,
    * Great colleges and universities including IU
    business, medical, and music schools; Purdue
    engineers and astronauts including first man
    on the moon Neil Armstrong plus David Wolf
    and Gus Grissom; and our many other colleges
    and universities,
    * Lance Armstrong’s successful cancer
    treatments at the Med Center,
    * entertainers like Florence Henderson (Mrs.
    Brady), John Mellencamp, Dave Letterman,
    Wes Montgomery, Hoagy Carmichael, Michael
    Jackson and family, Crystal Gayle, James
    * sports legends John Wooden, Larry Bird, Tony
    Hulman, Knute Rockne, Reggie Miller, Peyton
    Manning, Jeff Gordon, Oscar Robertson, Mark
    * journalists Ernie Pyle, Jane Pauley, Tavis Smiley,
    * shopping center developers Mel and Herb
    * the national headquarters of the American
    * Business legends Eli Lilly, Madame Walker,
    Studebakers, Orville Redenbacher,
    * the best Children’s Museum in the country,
    * President Benjamin Harrison,
    * orthopedic surgeons said to be the best in the
    world because they have put so many race
    | drivers back together,
    * Cartoonist Jim Davis (Garfield)
    * Artist Robert Indiana,
    * Fashion designer Bill Blass
    * hospitals among the first to perform heart

    and many more. We have a rich and colorful history.

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