Wednesday, July 15, 2009

IPOPA'S Open Letter to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard - Don't Go!

Mr. Mayor:

I've never seen an incumbent mayor facing such swirling discontent about his administration without an accompanying scandal. The general tone of the criticism isn't that you have done something wrong, it's that you haven't done anything at all, or to the extent you have, it's been mishandled. Rumor is that you might not have the sea legs for the 25th floor and are looking to jump ship.

I was glad when I heard your press secretary denounced the rumors as "utterly ridiculous." He also said Democrats were spreading them, trying to weaken you. Oh, Caesar! You cannot see the Brutuses among you! Sir, my party would love nothing better than to have you on the ballot in 2011. You should ditch the partisan paranoia and start getting rough-and-tumble with the enemy within.

Because we Democrats would so very much much enjoy it if you stayed, can I offer a few thoughts?

Don't listen to the sirens who whisper that you need to resign for the good of the Republican party. Here's why. They will tell you that you can save face and say you needed to resign for health reasons. They will tell you that you can save face by looking like a stand-up guy when you say you needed to resign because you pledged to cut 10% of the budget or be a one-termer, and you won't reach those cuts. They will tell you that you can save face by saying you got a great offer to work in the philanthropic or up-and-coming life sciences industry, and they might even GET you that type of job.

BUT at the end of the day, any incoming Republican must distance him or herself from your mishandling or non-handling of a great many things. That means leaks regarding how they REALLY orchestrated your ouster. While you would have front-page quote friendliness, these same people will be absolutely destroying you behind your back out of political necessity. They MUST distance themselves from you; you will be treated no better than an outgoing Democratic administration. You will eat every mistake twice over "on background."

I would think a Marine would rather go to the bell in a fight. At least if you did that, you could control how your story is written. But the other road? As soon as you step out of that office and hand it back to the very people who savaged you during your campaign - those same wealthy, fat-cat Republicans who detested your populism and had the audacity to act like they were with you all along when they made their first appearance during your victory speech - well, sir, they will turn you into one of those blow-up punching bags, except you'd be the type that never bounces back up.

All the microphones and cameras you once had at your disposal to defend yourself will disappear, and you'll just be a man in front of blowing tumbleweeds, returning to the obscurity that started as your greatest political asset. Is that the legacy you want?


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