Democrat council representatives Jackie Nytes and Paul Bateman, both of whom are not running for re-election in 2011, have supported several of Mayor Greg Ballard's major initiatives and often "made up" for Republican council members who would occasionally defect and not toe the party line. In my conversations with Democrat loyalists, I do not hear many positive thoughts on Nytes or Bateman.
But the vote that caught my eye was José Evans, who represents District 1 and encompasses a chunk of northwestern Pike Township. Evans was a candidate for mayor of Indianapolis until shortly before the Marion County Democrats held their slating convention, where he announced he was halting his mayoral campaign, endorsing Melina Kennedy, and running for his council district seat instead.
Evans often touted a need for a mayor who is concerned with neighborhoods as much as one is concerned with downtown. So his vote here seems a bit odd, since it's a project that only helps a small section of downtown.
Has Evans been seduced by the promise of a certain percentage of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) being contracted for the construction work, or that minorities will be a certain percentage of the 2,800 job "commitments"?
Or does he genuinely think that adding a second YMCA and another hotel to the downtown area will be beneficial? Zach Adamson, a downtown business owner and a candidate for Council At-Large on the Democrat ticket, doesn't think so. And I tend to agree. It seems like we have over-saturated the downtown area with hotels which will only be in full use during the largest of events (IE the Superbowl). During smaller events, these hotels will be competing for smaller slices of the pie. My fear is that, without constantly getting these big events, these hotels will start to lose money and will be back before the City-County Council or the state legislature looking for a bailout.
I wonder if this will become a pattern of sorts for Councilor Evans. Will he become the new Paul Bateman of the council?
For more information on the North-of-South project, please see Pat Andrew's blog (also a candidate for Council At-Large on the Democrat ticket), where she's written extensively on it.