Monday, November 15, 2010

City-County Council Ignores Will of People. How Will This Play in 2011?

Once again, the City-County Council rushed through a controversial proposal with little deliberation, and it barely passes. And due to passing by one vote, it will be with us for the next 50 years. Some of you older folks reading this will be dead by the time the Affiliated Computer Services' contract to manage the public parking asset comes up for an actual renewal.

You can follow a blow-by-blow account of my thoughts either on Twitter or on Facebook, so I won't bore you with the details of the actual meeting. Jon Easter also has an excellent write up over at Indy Democrat.

The vote to pass this was 15-14. Paul Bateman (D-11th) voted with 14 Republicans to pass. Christine Scales (R-4th) and Edward Coleman (LP-At Large) voted with 12 Democrats to oppose it. There was also a vote to send it back to committee, which I believe fell along similar lines.

It's interesting to hear what the Democrats are saying, because they can really use this issue in the upcoming election. Public parking is something that is real and is often used regularly by the average citizen. It's not something as abstract as transferring a sewer utility to a not-for-profit public charitable trust, or funnelling more money to the Capital Improvement Board from a different revenue stream. Those are a bit harder to grasp. But "meter rates go up, lobbyist's clients get sweetheart deal" is a fairly easy message to communicate. This will be an interesting topic in 2011, since it's likely the last major initiative the Ballard administration and the GOP council can shove through before the election cycle begins.

But it's also interesting to see the difference in attitude between Democrats, or just those that generally lean left politically, react to tonight's vote differently than those who are firmly entrenched in the Democratic party. Adam Kirsch, the Executive Director of the Marion County Democratic Party, is portraying City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn (R-Barnes and Thornburg) as the "deciding vote". And I understand that those who work within the party, especially employed by the party, cannot publicly speak ill of another Democrat. It's an interesting piece of spin, but I don't buy it, simply because very few on the council take those ethics rules seriously. The council, for decades, has had lax or no rules regarding vote abstaining and conflicts of interest, and now it has mere window dressing. Vaughn was never going to vote against it, and if the shoe was on the other foot, more than a few Democratic council representatives wouldn't vote against their own self-interest either.

But it isn't too hard to find Democrats who are greatly disappointed in Bateman's vote. Chris Worden probably presents the best case, even going as far to say that Bateman is buying into race card politics. I'm sure Terry Burns, who runs The Indianapolis Times blog, will have a post in the next day or two questioning Bateman's future in the Democratic party.

Did I mention Bateman, the deciding vote, went on Amos Brown earlier today to shill for the ACS parking contract? This is in stark contrast to his reaction when Mayor Greg Ballard's campaign sent out a press release touting Bateman's vote in the wastewater utility sale touting Bateman's vote as bi-partisanship, where Bateman was not pleased with his vote being used as a political tool.

My two cents? Bateman won't get slated in 2011. If he still manages to win the primary, the county party won't provide support for Bateman, and might even try to recruit a Green Party candidate to ensure he won't get elected.

I'm not intimately familiar with the council districts and the party lines within them, but at least three of the four At-Large seats will go Democratic, even if Ballard wins re-election (and I doubt he will, but that's for another post). The Democrats have at least two candidates who have been running for the better part of this year in Zach Adamson and Annette Johnson, for the At-Large seats.

Joanne Sanders will retain her seat and become the next President of the City-County Council.

Coleman, who ran as a Republican in 2007 but switched parties, has an uphill battle in retaining his seat. The Libertarian Party of Marion County, Indiana, and probably the national party, will likely dump money into this race because Coleman is arguably the highest ranking Libertarian as far as elected public offices go. The Libertarians will need to rely on the general low voter turnout that municipal elections tend to attract as well as a dispirited Republican base, and a good chunk of those Republicans that do show up to vote Libertarian instead. In my uneducated, unwanted, and unasked for opinion, I give the LP a 20% chance at retaining the seat.

It remains to be seen how big the Get Out the Vote effort will be among county Democrats and how involved Representative André Carson (D-7th Congressional District) is with it. Carson's GOTV drive is largely credited as the reason Marion County avoided the GOP tidal wave that swept most of the state and nation.


  1. I am so very angry over this deal. As I learned tonight, the Ballard administration is explicitly selling assets and thereby shifting revenue-raising from tax-payers to rate-payers. To a large degree, taxes are a known quantity, but new rates are not. I deeply fear that this will end up strangling the middle class and small businesses, and end up making us all poorer for it.

  2. Andrew, this could've been a great deal that would significantly supplement infrastructure maintenance. Instead, 15 reps could only see the pretty small $ sign and couldn't resist. This bunch are like kids in a candy store.

    We need to come up with alternative funding methods in this post-property tax cap world. But this administration and this council has completely bungled that mission.

  3. I agree with almost all of what you're saying. All four at-large seats will go Democratic though. Those are base-line races. The baseline in 2007 wll be about 57-43. That's too far outside the margin where a particular candidate will make a difference.

    And it's going to be tough for a Libertarian to win a county-wide race. 20% is awfully generous.

  4. I agree 20% is generous, but hey, before slating happens and before a single primary vote has been cast, I think it's as accurate as anything else.


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