Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Quick thoughts on CCC meeting + CIB meeting

The CIB meeting was generally uninteresting and no one without a press badge (or being on the board itself) would have a point in actually going. Unfortunately, my observation of the news media only leeds me to conclude that most are out of touch with what being a journalist is about. One reporter (not a commentator or anything like that, an actual reporter), in a conversation with Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, triviliazed the situation with "What's the big deal?", not getting that the CIB's solution to debt is to borrow more money, and that they'll have even LESS revenue in the future than they do now. As mentioned in the meeting, they sold off the parking lot where Market Square Arena used to sit.

After Don Welsh left the room, one reporter threw him a softball to so he could trott out the talking point of the supposed horros that could befall this city if taxes aren't raised and more money isn't thrown at the proble...err, CIB. The question was "What kind of devastating effects could this have on the city if the council doesn't pass the tax increase?"

Another interesting note was that they had the numbers for the rejected tax increases on hand at the CIB meeting (alcohol tax, car rental tax, etc...). I'd bet a breakfast at The Donut Shop that those same taxes will be proposed again, and soon.

The same tired line of "no formal discussions" concerning the $15 million to the Pacers was again trotted out, despite the IBJ reporting that the $15 million was on the table, the CIB confirming it verbally at the Pike Township townhall meeting. It's not in the annual budget, which is factually true, but there is nothing stopping that proposal from moving forward. As it is now, the $15 million is in the same place it was in January: Talked about, not voted on, and nobody in authority (legislature, CCC) has done anything to ensure it won't be proposed. Of course, I don't see the current makeup of the CCC rejecting a gift to the Simons. I think they could easily get all Democrats plus a few Republicans to give it to them.

Abdul asked where the revolutionaries/activisits/coffeehouse crowd was, in reference to the 2pm CIB meeting. While I know there's no secret club (and I've never even met a number of them), I understand that they all probably have jobs that keep them busy 9-5. I have a job that's flexible enough with hours, and Abdul has a job that actually pays him to go to these things. He responded with "the revolution doesn't sleep" or something like that. Yes, I was the lone "activist" he referred to via Twitter.

One last thing, the CIB really made a case of "poor me". The lights were shut off in most places, and the air conditioning wasn't turned on in many of the rooms, including the last minute switch to the larger room. I overheard one board member before the meeting say "Fire half of those union employees and it'd save us tons of money." We all can go back and forth about the unions and their place in today's business world, but to suggest that those working at the facilities should be pink slipped while every CIB member got a fat raise (except Levengood, who got a 30+% raise last year) this year is ludicrous.

The CCC meeting was surprising on so many levels. The city's attorney, who doesn't look much older than me, clearly had no idea what he was talking about in regards to Constitutional law and First Amendment rights, in relation to the proposed panhandling ordinance.

Councilor Lutz introduced the CIB bailout. During it, he read the summary of the talking points he was presented with during the committee meeting. With snarky comments referring to the committee meeting running four hours long ("what seemed like forever"), it's almost like Lutz forgot that 3.5 of those 4 hours were from suits lobbying for the bailout that HE scheduled himself. He also made sure to list every single supporter of the CIB bail out, but didn't mention a single member of the public who voiced their opposition to the bailout.

Of course,who could blame him? He put the comments from the public dead last on the Rules and Public Policy Committee. I was barely listening, and I was at the microphone stand for 2 minutes. I'm sure Lutz wasn't listening at all.

Both Democrats and Republicans used the panhandling ordinance and the CIB bailout to take cheap political shots. I kind of got the feeling that MAYBE the votes against the panhandling ordinance were made, overall, for the right reason (questionalbe legality, though "is this really necessary?" would've been nice too). But it's clear that the Democrats weren't in opposition to the tax increase on principal, and the Republicans wouldn't have been either if the shoe was on the other foot. Both were doing it for politics and the downtown elite. It's just that those who voted for it, it'll come back to haunt them.

Larry was dressed in black face. And just as I suspected when I first met him July 28, he's an Alex Jones follower. Nevertheless, I understand that he's logged endless hours at council meetings, and for that he should be applauded. If only a fraction of our fellow citizens were as passionate and dedicated as Larry, our city would be better off.

I haven't had the time or the energy to look through Ballard's budget yet, but I question how balanced it really can be. Federal stimulus money ($11 million) is being used to hire new police officers. I don't have the exact # to be hired, but where is this money going to come from after the fiscal year? If my memory is correct, that 50 new officers will be hired, that's $220,000 per officer. The average IMPD salary certainly isn't $220,000, so where is the rest of that money going? Is training really that expensive (Assuming they aren't rookies)?

And just looking at all the media reports shows how confusing the CIB has made it to see how much in debt they are. The Star has $47 million, the same figure quoted during the beginning of the year that includes the $15 million to the Pacers. Last week the Indinapolis Business Journal said they'd be $5 million in debt, and that does not include the Pacers' gift. At no point has it been suggested to find out how we got into this debt in the first place (not counting the $20 million cost for Lucas Oil Stadium and the aforementioned Pacers gift).

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