Thursday, November 10, 2011

Do the Democrats Have a Real Majority on the Council?

Over the last two and a half years, when Mayor Greg Ballard had a major initiative that required a council vote, sometimes a Republican or two would dissent and vote against it. And almost always, like clock work, the precise number of Democrats needed to pass it would abandon their caucus and vote for the deal.

Paul Bateman and Jackie Nytes, both incumbents who won't be on the council next year, crossed over and voted for the water utility sale. Bateman crossed over and voted for the parking meter sale as well, likely due to the promise of minority contracting.

And while those two were the most reliable votes to cover up Republican dissenters, other Democratic councilors showed that they'll be there to back Ballard if they have to.

José Evans voted for the infamous City Way/North of South deal where we'll be giving Eli Lilly a $100 million loan to build a huge new campus that they couldn't get financing for anywhere else. This vote was shortly after Evans abandoned his mayoral ambitions, where he often said that "Indianapolis needs a mayor who cares about the neighborhoods just as much as he cares about downtown." Ironically, this vote was for a huge downtown construction project which, well, only benefits downtown.

Finally, Vernon Brown was there to vote to re-confirm Frank Straub as director of the Department of Public Safety. Never mind that Brown's full-time employment is with the Indianapolis Fire Department, but I digress.

I think if the Ballard people can twist the right arms, they can probably get most of their legislative agenda through the council. It'll be a razor-thin margin on most votes, but it can probably be done.

I guess the old saying might be true. "I'm not part of an organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

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