Greg Ballard, Jr. is a copyeditor at Hirons and Company, a public relations firm, or so says his "Linked In" page.
Mayor Ballard gave Hirons and Company a non-bid contract worth $10,000 per month with to push the Mayor's transfer of our water and wastewater systems to Citizens Energy Group.
When was Ballard, Jr. hired? August of 2009. When did the City get its responses to the Request for Expression of Interest that started this process? August of 2009. In other word, young Ballard went on the Hirons payroll the same month the City's massive PR campaign started churning.
Is anybody bothered by this?
Or how about this? I've told everybody who will listen that the Mayor's $140 million backdoor tax increase bond issue and separate backdoor tax Citizens Gas transfer will both be used as the Mayor's springboard for re-election. In response, many have said, "Oh, they won't have time to get things built." They'll get $170 million at closing but the other $90 million won't be provided until October of 2010, a month before the election.
My learned critique is as follows: "Bovine feces."
The Mayor doesn't need to build everything (though a good many projects will be cranking the second the dollars are received). All the Mayor needs to do is let people know building is coming and he's responsible for it.
I've said repeatedly that all the Mayor would need is a nifty logo to advertise the repair work coming. Something like....oh, I don't know...how about "Rebuild Indy?"
Take a look at how the Mayor is already spending your tax dollars to advertise his re-election campaign, folks. The Mayor will also claim that these two deals are going to create 10,000 jobs.
That number is ludicrous, but we know at least one job has been secured already by the Mayor's efforts - the one held by his son at Hirons and Company.
UPDATE: We know the $140 million bond issue is for roads and sidewalks, but hasn't the Mayor consistently said that's what the $262 million is for as well? Why does the city have a list of abandoned homes on its Cit Gas deal website now?
Here's why. Because even though the Mayor told us all he'd chop 10% off the City's budget, he hasn't been able to do it. And even though he said he would address abandoned homes, he hasn't been able to do it with general fund revenues.
In short, the Mayor needs to fulfill his campaign promises, but he doesn't have the money to do it. And understand this. We could transfer Cit Gas without forcing them to pay us anything. If we did that, we'd all save money on our rates. But because Cit Gas has no cash reserves, if they pay us, we'll pay, too.
So, here's the short of it. Do you want your sewer rates to go up so Greg Ballard can knock down abandoned homes? It's that simple. You could support the bond issue and get $140 million in sidewalk and road construction and pay for that, too, as a rate increase, but don't think you're ever going to see the entire $425 million going into just roads, sidewalks, and bridges, because it won't happen.