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.