Tag Archives: contract

Outsourcing the Mayor

Per yesterday’s Indianapolis Star, we learn that

The Republican administration of Mayor Greg Ballard has launched a full scale public relations and lobbying campaign to seek support from residents and the City-County Council for a proposed $400 million criminal justice complex.

The surge is spearheaded by a government relations consultant and former Ballard aide who landed a $750,000 contract from the city to see that the project gets approved.

This is unbelievable.

The obscene amount of the contract is indefensible, of course, but even more stunning is the implicit admission: here is a man who has been Mayor for seven years, yet still doesn’t know how to work with the City-County Council, or sell his own administration’s programs or projects to the public.

Councilors on both sides of the aisle confirm that Ballard has largely been missing in action, that he has consistently failed to consult with the city’s legislative branch, not only refusing to communicate but resisting even reasonable requests for information.

And activists concerned about Indianapolis’ failure to deal with our mounting crime problem have pointed to the Mayor’s absence from community events and even press conferences called to address the issue.

Still–who’d have thought he hated his job so much, he’d be willing to spend $750,000 to avoid doing it?

I knew Ballard had adopted Goldsmith’s penchant for privatizing and contracting–but this is ridiculous; he’s contracting out performance of his own job. 

Ballard’s base salary is $95,000. I think We the People are entitled to a refund.

 

I Told You So

There’s nothing as annoying as someone who tells you “I told you so.” It’s a taunt that’s anything but gracious. So I’ll try to throttle my desire to do just that, but it won’t be easy.

When the Ballard Administration entered into a fifty-year contract to manage the city’s parking meters with a consortium headed by ACS,  a lot of us were highly critical. The length of the contract was excessive. ACS had a horrible reputation nationally. There was really no good reason we couldn’t manage our own parking meters (other cities seem capable of doing so) and keep all the profit, rather than giving the bulk of it to ACS. The terms of the contract favored ACS over Indianapolis taxpayers.

Many City-County Councilors shared those criticisms. Even after the administration engaged in considerable reported arm-twisting, the contract was only approved by one vote–and the deciding vote was cast by then-Council President Ryan Vaughn, a lawyer employed by the law firm that represented ACS.

After the new meters were installed, we were treated to a series of press releases–uncritically accepted by the local media–telling us how well everything was going. Revenues were up! (As a cynical friend noted about one of these glowing reports, of course revenues were up; hours had been extended and rates had been raised. For this you need a contractor??)

This week, the Star (finally) examined the numbers, rather than repeating the Administration’s hype. And guess what?

The first year of Indianapolis’ 50-year parking meter lease brought doubled rates in some areas as a tradeoff for a wholesale upgrade of equipment and the convenience of paying by credit card or smartphone.

Was it worth it?

New financial data provided by the city shows its share of revenue from the vendor in 2011 — nearly $1.4 million, or 30 percent — fell well short of the city’s own projection of $2.1 million.

And the city didn’t end up seeing the full amount: After the vendor subtracted $286,000 in charges to compensate for the city closing metered spaces, often for RebuildIndy road construction work, the city pocketed $1.1 million.

The contractor, by contrast, made 3.5 million.

And we’re stuck with this bit of crony capitalism for the next 49 years. Forty-nine years of foregoing 3.5 million plus–money that could be used to pay for paving streets, improving parks or plugging budget shortfalls at IMPD.

This was a very bad deal. And I did tell you so.