Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seperation of powers? Who cares? Not Mayor Ballard.

According to Matthew Tully at the Indianapolis Star and Terry Burns at the Indianapolis Times blog, Mayor Ballard met with the Republican caucus before the City-County Council meeting Monday night. This was the same night where the only major piece of legislation was making a more wide smoking ban. Mayor Ballard has been silent on the issue. Normally, I'd be more wary of something coming from the unofficial mouthpiece of the Marion County Democratic Party. But Mayor Ballard is strangely silent and isn't big on publicly voicing his opinions, and Tully's report pretty much confirms it.

My contention with this isn't to score political points, like Mr. Burns is. Nor is it even because I'm for or against the proposed legislation, such as Mr. Tully. My problem is that Mayor Ballard (or someone from his office) meeting with the Republican council caucus is not an uncommon site, something that Paul Ogden has talked about. And in this case, Mayor Ballard made it clear he didn't want to veto the bill, because that would cause him to break another campaign promise, according to Tully.

Our system of government is set up so that we have three separate branches, each having specific duties, and certain checks and balances so that no one branch can usurp the other branch's power. Someone from the executive branch (especially the head of it) should not be a normal presence at either party's closed door caucus meetings before City-Council business. If Mayor Ballard wishes to meet with any council members on his own time, he's free to do so. But legislative bodies are not there to just rubber stamp whatever the executive branch wants.

Ironically, by all reports from the politically connected, it didn't look like the new smoking ban would pass anyway, due to a number of absences and councils abstaining from the vote. Even if it passed, it would've needed 15 votes to go to the Mayor's desk or be completely defeated. It was 13-13, so it's indefinitely tabled.

Mayor Greg Ballard is someone who camapaigned on very specific platforms. Since then, he's clammed up and only expresses opinions behind lock and key. I'd rather elect someone I disagree with who's willing to take a public stand, than someone I agree with but keeps it hidden. Unfortunately, Ballard falls into neither camp, because I have no idea what he stands for.

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