From Accidental to Delusional

When Greg Ballard was first elected, many people dubbed him the “accidental Mayor,” in recognition of the fact that virtually no one had voted for him; they had voted against Bart Peterson, who had the bad luck to be in office when the General Assembly raised property taxes. (When voters don’t know that there’s this thing called federalism, they also don’t know who raised their taxes.)

Subsequently, Ballard actually won an election, and we are stuck with him for at least the next couple of years–perhaps more, if the Democrats can’t find a viable candidate pretty soon.

On the one hand, it’s hard not to feel sorry for this or any Hoosier mayor. There is no money to do much of anything. The brutal winter has exhausted snow-removal budgets. The Department of Metropolitan Development is down to three planners. The police force is seriously understaffed. The list goes on.

The problem is, this Mayor came into office not knowing anything about urban policy or administration, and he has not proved to be a quick learner. So we have watched his numerous “economic development” junkets, his enthusiasm for cricket, his lack of enthusiasm for the legislative battles over measures that adversely affect a city in a state with no home rule…again, the list is lengthy.

Now we are told how the Mayor wants to solve the systemic problems that are strangling our city and depriving us of needed revenues: we’ll do it by encouraging higher-income folks to move to Indianapolis and grow our tax base.

Can you spell delusional?

Read my lips: people with the means to decide where they want to live make those choices based upon quality of life. They don’t move to cities with horrendous and growing homicide rates, poorly-maintained parks and streets, badly managed snow removal, struggling schools, abysmal public transportation and dwindling city services. They don’t wake up one morning and say, “Wow, I hear Indianapolis has a cricket field. Let’s move there.”

We’ll be lucky if local people who can decide where they want to live don’t continue to leave Indianapolis. (Marion County had Indiana’s largest absolute net outflow of population over the past decade.)

Our city faces truly monumental challenges. It would be nice if we had an administration capable of understanding those challenges.


  1. Well said. Mayor Ballard has demonstated that a frightening lack of common sense about the growth and development and the overall quality of life issues of our City.

  2. And sadly there are so many things that he could be emphasizing to attract more revenue producing residents to Indianapolis. There has been an explosion of young entrepreneurship going on in the city that he could provide incentives to – beer brewing, restaurant opening, food truck driving, home goods producing, vintage clothing selling, art & crafting, small publishing, film & photography – you name it and young (mostly liberal) people are doing it on a shoestring and a prayer. Just shining a spotlight on them would do wonders.

    Hell, lobbying our legislature to making it easy for film crews to film movies here would be a start. The fact that The Fault in Our Stars was filmed in Pittsburgh rather than here – the city the book is actually set in – is a major faux pas. That is the number one young adult bestseller in the US, and it’s a loving showcase of Indianapolis. The fact that it didn’t film is really sad for us as a city.

  3. The previous governor wouldn’t even live in the governor’s mansion in downtown Indy. That rich guy lived on the lake and commuted to his office. What makes Ballard think that other rich people will live downtown?

  4. And Now… MORE BALLS. Another rich dude is intent on taking more tax money so more rich guys can play with a ball. YAY for them. Sad for us. For a change, they want all the tax money generated by their play pen to go to them to pay their bills. GREAT IDEA.

  5. Exactly, Steph Mineart. There is so much amazing, grassroots, independent activity happening at street level in our city. IndyCog, PUP, Pattern, Flat 12, Goose, 5×5 (OK, that last one is supported by major donors, but the labor of making the events happen is all small-scale), w/Purpose, Green Bean, Indy Reads, all the new restaurants, even Service Center – all of the initiatives these people and groups are working on could be celebrated and supported by the city. I wonder how much Mayor Ballard even knows about them?

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