Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thoughts on Councilor Evans and "North of South" Project

It shouldn't come as any surprise that the so-called "North-of-South" proposal passed the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council. What is interesting is who voted for it.

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.


  1. Matt,
    You haven't asked me about Jackie. While I vehemently disagree with some of her positions, I find her to be a smart and thoughtful person and Councillor. She's also a friend.

    Paul Bateman...I've only met once or twice.

  2. I don't hear a lot. That leaves enough wiggle room for Nytes at least, who certainly does have her fans.

    I like Evans a lot. He's often responded to me on issues concerning the council even though I don't live in his district. But that won't stop me from disagreeing with him when he casts a vote like this.

  3. Jose Evans campaigned for mayor talking about the need to stop pumping taxpayer money into these downtown projects that elites like in favor of concentrating more on neighborhoods. The vote didn't make sense if you look at that philosophy. This project was one of the worst ever.

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  5. If you watch the debate from the council meeting, on thing I found disturbing was the 2,800 jobs claim. First, 1,200 are temporary construction jobs. True enough, a job is a job and 3 years of work is not without value. I just want them to own it. Next, of the 1,600, they couldn't not answer what kind of jobs these would be. I want to know how many of those 1,600 jobs are minimum wage jobs. As you know, $15K a year (well below poverty level) jobs often create more dependence on social service since no one can live on it. I want to know how many of them are going to come from Marion County residents. Since we're now selling this as a job creator, income tax goes back to the county of residence. For those jobs to have an impact on Marion county, the jobs have to go to Marion county residents.

  6. I can almost guarantee the vast majority of the jobs created by the businesses included in North-of-south (grocery, hotel, etc, ymca) will be low wage, hourly, and likely part-time jobs with no benefits.

    Hah, watch the debate at the council meeting. I have completely given up on actually attending or even watching the council meetings. Besides the few thoughtful members of the council such as Christine Scales, none of them have ever thought of changing their vote due to how a constitutent speaks of an issue. It is a complete waste of time for someone like me to drive (or in my case, bike) to the City-County building, sit around for hours after paid lobbyists get several dozen minutes to testify for their pet projects, and all I get is two minutes (sometimes with a buzzer to cut me off).

    I too think it's sad that the 25th floor is acting so excited over what will likely be a few hundred minimum wage jobs.


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