Thursday, July 28, 2011

Concerned About Kilroy's

Kilroy's is a popular bar and grill that started out in Bloomington and also has a location in downtown Indianapolis. It now wants to open up another one in the heart of Broad Ripple, but it's encountering a problem.

Zoning ordinances and regulations specify that, depending on the size of a business (and what the business does), it must provide a certain amount of on-site parking. The proposed location for Kilroy's, where the Cardinal Fitness Center currently is, wants to turn the parking lot by Cardinal Fitness into an outdoor dining area. According to zoning regulations, it needs over 100 spaces. Kilroy's is promising just over 30 spaces,and is seeking a waiver for the rest. I imagine most of those spaces will be occupied by employees, with maybe a select few being reserved for those with disability placards/plates and for take-out orders.

A waiver is very common in Broad Ripple. Many businesses have no parking for their customers, and they often have no control over the parking lots that are located nearby.

My concern about Kilroy's, however, comes from a different perspective.

I'm a white male in his 20s who does frequent the bars, mostly in Broad Ripple but sometimes elsewhere. I play pool with friends and sometimes enjoy a couple of drinks. But I wouldn't fit in in an establishment like Kilroy's.

Kilroy's is the type of place where drinking, and drinking to excess, is encouraged and practically required. In the wake of the Lauren Spierer disappearance, it was revealed that, over the last 9 months, the three Kilroy's locations in Bloomington were responsible for 50% of the underage drinking citations written up by the Indiana State Excise Police. I'm all for re-thinking our laws concerning alcohol and the legal age to drink and all that, but until that happens, businesses have an obligation to follow the law. And I don't think Kilroy's is the type of establishment that even tries. People with fake IDs know that if there's one place that'll let them in, it's Kilroy's.

As someone who has spent a lot of time in Broad Ripple, I also know that most residents don't particularly mind the massive amounts of bars in the area. But what they do mind is waking up Sunday morning only to find that their neighborhood is covered in trash and smashed beer bottles.

I don't know if I'm ready to advocate against Kilroy's new location, but I would like to warn my Broad Ripple friends to keep a careful watch. Remember, it's your community. Sure, all of Indianapolis (arguably, much of central Indiana) enjoys it, but you have to live there day in and day out. Give Kilroy's a chance to demonstrate they can run a responsible business. And if they can't demonstrate that, then hold their feet to the fire.

Wallace Releases First Campaign Commercial

Jim Wallace, a Fishers businessman, was the first candidate to announce that he's running for Governor of Indiana as a Republican. I really don't know much about him, so this video is probably one of the first impressions I've had of him.

Wallace has been all over Indiana in recent weeks attending county fairs, as you can see in the montage of clips in the video.

I like the video. It serves as a nice introduction, and he has a subtle nod to his Republican primary opponent, Representative Mike Pence, when he refers to Washington D.C. Running against a Congressional representative certainly makes it easier to run against "DC Politics" or something like that.

What do you all think?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Broad Ripple Parking Garage Suggestions

Over at Urban Indy, Curtis Ailes post some designs of the proposed Broad Ripple parking garage and asks us to forget about the politics that led to this deal and focus on the structure itself. Okay, I'll take a shot.

As indicated in the parking meter deal, a parking garage constructed in Broad Ripple will also implement permit parking in the neighborhoods in Broad Ripple. This will make it harder for non-residents to park in the neighborhoods and, effectively, move those cars into the parking garage. So a chunk of the parking spots aren't so much adding parking, but more taking it from one area (BR neighborhoods) and moving it to another (parking garage).

The intersection of Winthrop/Broad Ripple Avenue and College Avenue is heavily used, and can get congested even outside of peak hours. What plans are there so traffic will continue to flow smoothly, or at least not get any worse?

Is this location REALLY the best that could be done? And I don't mean within Broad Ripple, but outside of Broad Ripple as well. The Glendale area, particularly the lot just east of the mall, has a huge surplus of parking. Offering some type of shuttle service during peak hours, particularly in the evenings and during special events, would remove cars completely from Broad Ripple. And when they leave that east Glendale lot, they hit a road that isn't heavily used. And I think this type of idea could apply to a few parts of Glendale if, for some reason, that lot isn't available for use.

What type of retail is this mixed-use facility aiming for? My concern is that the rent will be quite high, and will lead to another bank or some type of chain like Walgreens, while more local businesses won't be able to afford the rent.

In addition to free bike rack parking, has anyone considered doing this (bike)Park-By-Phone shindig? It looks pretty nifty.

How about throwing a bone to the residents of Broad Ripple and provide a nice, sheltered IndyGo bus stop?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ballard's Path to Victory? Hide Under the Desk!

Apparently taking a page from the victorious 2010 Charlie White campaign, Mayor Greg Ballard declined invitation to a Nora-area community group's forum for political candidates. Jon Easter of Indy Democrat reports that Ballard initially accepted the invitation, then withdrew it when it overlapped with a Mayor's Night Out event on the opening day of the Marion County Fair. The community group offered to put the forum on for a different day, but apparently that effort went nowhere.

I also highly recommend reviewing Easter's follow up post detailing the meeting and his thoughts. Of particular note was that Chris Bowen, the Libertarian candidate for Mayor, was highly critical of the water deal. Why do I find that interesting? Because Chris Spangle, the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, endorsed the deal on his blog and Edward Coleman, the sole Libertarian on the council, voted for the deal as well.

That's not to say it's a bad thing Bowen is expressing a different opinion. It's nice to have candidates who don't just blindly parrot the talking points, and it demonstrates how far the Libertarian Party has come in having a bigger tent. But still, interesting nonetheless.

(Also, I didn't really have anything worth posting today and so I decided to piggyback off of Jon Easter's two posts. Sorry, Jon).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Broad Ripple Parking Garage Still Stinks

I attended the monthly Broad Ripple Village Association meeting last night. And part of the agenda was a presentation and Q&A about the proposed parking garage.

Deputy Mayor Michael Huber, along with several contractors and a couple of the BRVA who worked on the deal, sat on the panel and answered questions from the audience. Multiple public record requests, including those from the Indianapolis Business Journal, have been denied. Specifically, the breakdown of how much this will cost and what it will be spent on. Huber's answer was that a lot of records are already up on the city's website, but the specifics of the parking garage are still being worked out.

My question compared the proposed $15 million garage to a recently built Ivy Tech mixed use parking garage that has more spaces and only cost $7 million. Huber said he wasn't familiar with Ivy Tech's, but his answer made it seem like Ivy Tech's was just a plain old, ugly looking parking garage, when that isn't the case. It has space on the first floor for retail and is a very nice facility.

While talking about the appearance of the garage, one of the contractors jokingly said "We don't want this to look like a Walgreens". He was referencing the widespread belief that the retail space will become a Walgreens since a CVS is just across the street from the proposed parking garage.

One of the questions commented on how badly a garage is needed and talked about having to deal with minor theft and vandalism and broken beer bottles after the Friday and Saturday night crowds leave town. This re-enforces my belief that the residents of Broad Ripple don't so much have a parking problem, but a problem with the people who park in Broad Ripple neighborhoods.

I also asked if there will be a City-County Council vote. Huber said there will be no vote.

I think this is a bit more than unilaterally deciding what street to pave. We're talking a $6.5 million dollars in public investment with no direct return on it except for a small police sub-station. While I don't have much faith in the council, at least it gives something resembling a check and balance. Council representatives should be demanding a vote on this and should be involved in the process rather than handing over their authority to the 25th floor.

I'm still not sold on the location either. During peak hours, which are basically 10pm-3am Friday and Saturday, we're talking about adding 300 cars that would previously have been spread out throughout various pay lots and the neighborhoods. This garage will be put at the southwest corner of College and Winthrop, an intersection that can easily get congested even during non-peak hours. What are the plans to deal with the additional cars?

Finally, one of the ideas kicked around at the meeting was to put bike lanes on Broad Ripple Avenue. It's a four lane road, but one lane on each side is for parking, and the remaining one lane on each road has gotten a bit tighter in some areas due to how the sidewalks were re-paved. So my question there is...where in the world is a bike lane going to go???

At best, this is a poorly negotiated deal that is dominated by what the contractor/Ballard donor wants. The city really needs to grow a backbone and realize that, without all this city work, these contractors would be stuck in the same crappy economy that the rest of us (who don't live off the public dole) live in.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Does the Indianapolis Star have editors anymore?

Bill Levin, a Libertarian candidate for City-County Council At-Large, was recently interviewed about the controversy surrounding The Sinking Ship (see my post here) by The Indianapolis Star. Earlier today, he posted this article to his Facebook page, noting that he wasn't mentioned in the story despite being interviewed. The story was later updated shortly after 12 noon today, complete with more quotes, including Levin's.

So is this standard practice at The Star? Publish a half-assed article and then expand it by several paragraphs later in the day? What happened to the days where a copy editor would catch oversights like this, or an editor to look over and notice that half of the people interviewed for the article aren't quoted?

Levin says that the article didn't appear in the print edition at all. I wouldn't know. I broke my Star habit about two years ago.

Broad Ripple Parking Garage Forum Tomorrow

Tuesday, July 19, the Broad Ripple Village Association is holding a forum to discuss the proposed Broad Ripple parking garage. It'll be at the Indianapolis Art Museum, 820 East 67th Street, at 7pm.

If you have an opinion (I sure do, and I'll go more in-depth in a post tomorrow), please show up and voice your thoughts.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Sinking Ship Roundup!

Images are what the building used to look like (run down and mostly empty), and the protest announcement printed out by the Meridian Kessler Neighbors Helping Neighbors Association. You can see a contrast to what The Sinking Ship's exterior looks like via the Indy On a Plate blog.

There are rumors that several homeless people had made their way into the structure before The Sinking Ship started renovation and construction. You can see what the inside looked like on The Ship's photo page.

You can still see what the strip looked like prior to the Ship opening up via Google Maps.

Now that the pictures are finished:

I attended the board meeting today that grants and renews alcohol licenses. One of my new favorite bars and restaurants, The Sinking Ship, has their license up for renewal. While they've had no violations in relation to their alcohol license (such as serving minors), a fringe neighborhood group known as Meridian Kessler Neighbors Helping Neighbors, has come out against the restaurant and wants it shut down.

The meeting was packed with supporters of the Ship with well over two dozen in attendance (with some leaving during the meeting since the Ship's hearing was last on the docket), as well as the owner and his representation. Despite the hoo-ha that the neighborhood group attempted, even distributing fliers (pictured above) encouraging people to protest the restaurant getting it's alcohol license renewed, only two people showed up to speak out and put their names on the record. Conrad Cortellini, one of the protesters, requested more time to gather evidence, and the licensing board granted his request, setting a date for a full hearing on August 15.

I had the chance to chat with Cortellini, a working architect and write-in candidate for Indianapolis Mayor (he also ran and lost to Len Farber, District 3, in this year's Democratic municipal primary), shortly after the meeting. He told me that he'd rather see a bakery go in the Ship's place. When I mentioned that a bakery, Scholar's Inn Bakehouse, closed down in Broad Ripple not too long ago, he theorized that the rent was probably what put them out of business rather than the lack of customers. When I asked him about the several other restaurants that have bars in the area, such as Moe and Johnny's and the Jazz Kitchen, he said those were different. He said the Ship had a recent special that advertised a gluttonous amount of food and alcohol (with the catch being that, if you consumed the entire meal, it'd be free), with the implication that these other establishments wouldn't put on such promotions.

Strangely enough, the person who distributed the flier, Paula Light, wasn't at the hearing. I kind of wonder why...

I also spoke to one of the owners of The Sinking Ship after the hearing. Andrew Hamaker asked if I would write a letter of support for the Ship, and I told him I'd be honored to. Personally, I think the owners should be given a medal for opening up a business and investing $500,000 in a strip that looked like crap prior to their investment. If you feel the same way, please e-mail him at

Indy Sidewalks Still Being Built with Obstructions in Them

I don't have much to report on this issue, but my friend Curtis Ailes over at Urban Indy continues his own reporting on these poorly re-paved sidewalks. This is a must read.

Also worth noting that the Department of Public Works publicly responded via Twitter saying "we are getting this fixed."

The Bart Lies blog also raises a similar issue.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Neighborhood Group Attacks the Sinking Ship

The neighborhood association for Meridian-Kessler is petitioning the city of Indianapolis to deny The Sinking Ship a renewed alcohol license. Since the Ship is a bar (though it has a great menu of real food, not just bar food), the business won't be able to operate and will be forced to shut down.

The particular strip where the Sinking Ship is seems to have gone through several businesses the last few years and is in need of some stability. Add onto it that the Ship provides a unique experience not available at nearby Broad Ripple bars, and it deserves a chance to keep it's business open and let the cards fall where they may.

Unfortunately, this happens all too often in the city when a business tries to do something different and the Powers That Be try to shut it down.

If you can help support the Ship, attend the hearing that's being held at the City-County building, tomorrow (Monday) at 9am.

Details are over at this Facebook page.

CORRECTION: Thanks to Kevin of Urban Indy for pointing this out. It is NOT Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association protesting this, but a group called Meridian Kessler Neighbors Helping Neighbors. They have a Facebook page here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thanking Ballard for Newly Paved Streets? Hardly.

The Indianapolis Star's political columnist Matthew Tully has once again penned a love letter to Mayor Greg Ballard's (R) administration and about how Ballard's efforts in repaving streets have fed his needs as an infrastructure junkie.

I know the urban planning site Urban Indy has been critical of the Rebuild Indy program for not so much as rebuilding and "transforming" infrastructure and transportation in Indianapolis. It's more like fixing it up with a fresh coat of paint. Curtis Ailes, one of the bloggers for Urban Indy, often refers to it as "Repave Indy".

I know some politicos out there think we should be thanking Ballard. After all, this was accomplished through his administration. I mean, the money just kind of fell from the sky, right???

I think Zach Adamson, one of the At-Large Council candidates on the Democratic ticket, put it quite well over at Paul Ogden's blog:

Make no mistake about this. Just because the mayors office makes a distinction between fine line that is tax payers and water/gas rate payer, you can be assured it is you and me who are paying for those streets. Water deal or not. Tax hike or rate hike. Take the money out of my left pocket or right pocket.. Its still my money. So if I thank anyone for the new streets and sidewalks.. It'll be in the form of a nice thank you note to myself.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ron Paul Won't Seek Congressional Re-Election

As you may have heard, Congressman (and POTUS candidate) Ron Paul won't run for re-election to the 10th Congressional District of Texas. He says he wants to concentrate on his run for the Republican nomination for President, and that his chances are much better than when he last ran in 2008.

Ron Paul, though a Republican in Congress, has often been seen as a libertarian through his votes. He has what some would say in an antiquated take on foreign policy, often voting against any type of proposal that was put forth that would support a war or military action and generally supporting non-intervention. His fiscal stewardship has led him, several times, to be one of only a few "No" votes, often voting against giving Congressional Medals of Honor. He'd follow up by asking every member of the House of Representatives to pledge $100 of their own money to pay for the cost of the medal. He's also pledged not to take a congressional pension.

However, despite many of these policies that I support or at least respect, I don't think he's ever been put under the microscope. He often gets just enough attention to be a Media Darling for a while, and that's about it. I've never heard a really good explanation for these racist newsletterssent out under his name, or some connections to white supremacy groups, and I think his views on the Civil Rights Act are flat out wrong. And during his 24 years in Congress, he's voted several times to build border fences and increase patrols, but has never tried to fix our broken system of legal immigration.

Personally, I much more prefer the libertarian leanings of former Governor Gary Johnson (also running for President) than Ron Paul. He has a lot of the same beliefs, but with executive experience to back it up without some of the questionable connections Paul has.

I wish Dr. Paul well in retirement, but I can't quite say I'll miss him too much in the United States Congress.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Indianapolis Recorder: Same-Sex Marriage Is Just Like Child-Adult Marriage

The Indianapolis Recorder, one of the nation's oldest African-American newspapers, often posts topics to their Facebook account for discussion. And one of today's topics was about adoption rights for same-sex couples.

What surprised me is whoever is controlling The Indianapolis Recorder's Facebook account is actively part of the debate. The individual compares same-sex marriage to an adult marrying a 13 year old child, and asks where do "we as a society draw the line between right and wrong?". The Recorder also goes on to state that in some states, it is legal for a child to marry an adult.

I was frankly surprised to see this level of bigotry and ignorance expressed on a media outlet's account. I'd expect to see it from individuals commenting on the posts, just because that's how people roll on the Internet, but not from the media outlet itself.

I wonder, if questioned about these comments, if the Recorder will stand by them.

You can view one of the posts here if you don't have a Facebook account.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Hodge Podge of Politics

I'm sure you all have read about how our state legislature accidentally repealed the Family and Social Services Administration, the state's largest office. To correct this mistake, Governor Mitch Daniels issued an executive order...which probably isn't constitutional, but I doubt anyone will challenge him.

If you're interested in HOW this actually happened, Marci Oddi over at the Indiana Law Blog has a great post that is worth reading.

The talk of blog-town, or at least over at Jon Easter's Indy Democrat, is the case of Bill Levin. Levin is running for City-County Council At-Large as a Libertarian. He's been seen at several public events in the last several weeks, and certainly would make the dull events that are council meetings entertaining.

Levin is also affiliated with Re-Legalize Indiana PAC, which is a pro-marijuana group that is advocating legalization of the drug. And, not surprisingly, that's one of his big issues, and he's pretty much the only candidate talking about it.

I think the baseline for the Libertarians in Marion County is a bit screwed up at the moment due to the 2010 elections. In 2010, the Republicans put two poor candidates in the form of now-US Senator Dan Coats (perceived to be an in, from outside of the state) and now-Secretary of State Charlie White (who is under investigation for voter fraud). While obviously these two candidates won their races, it's not too hard to find a handful of Republicans who either skipped voting those offices, or cast votes for the Libertarian candidate. So I don't believe the baseline for Libertarians in Marion County is 5.54% or 4.86% (respective percentages for the LP candidates for Senate and Secretary of State). I think the baseline is somewhere around 3%, which, coincidentally, is just about what their candidate for the 7th Congressional District received.

So that means, beyond those 3% of voters, a Libertarian like Bill Levin is going to have to work for people to vote for him.

So can he do it?

Several comments on Easter's blog suggest that he's registering "every pot head" in Marion County. The problem with that is unreliable voters are well...unreliable. Just look at all the failed campaigns to get out the vote among the 18-22 year old adults. Despite massive funding, promotion on MTV and pimping by celebrities, they've all failed. People aren't going to vote unless they're self-motivated to do so. And Levin won't have MTV promoting his campaign.

But Levin is quite a character, I'll say that. He's a very tall man who is instantly recognizable, very social, and seems to be in touch with a segment of the population that most politicians avoid.