Monday, May 17, 2010

AMENDED: Ballard Hooks Up Son; Unveils New Logo for "Public Works"

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 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.



Blog Admin said...

As Welsh pointed out in his post earlier in the week, Detroit is knocking down thousands of homes from a federal grant. Ballard got a similar grant and didn't do anything with it.

Don't expect the abandoned and neglected properties problem to be solved, or even close to it, with this money.

Anonymous said...

doesn't Hirons also emply Susan Decker? Brizzi's new spokeswoman? Check out the "official" office response sent to the media, posted on Pretty sure that the email address for Decker is from Hirons.

Anonymous said...

Wishard also paid Hirons a huge fee. Wishard and their officials have beens spotted as awfully tight with R candidate for Sheriff, Fishburn. Something "fishy" going on here

Bill said...

No other PR firms had a chance to bid on that contract.While other agencies are having a hard time, the Mayor hires his own sons firm.

Iinteresting it is the same firm that Brizzi hired to do his PR.

Fishburn was paid an appearance fee from Wishard via Hirons. Congratulations.Fishburn is as sleezy as the rest of them.

And at the heart of it all is shot caller Tom John

Anonymous said...

Brizzis girlfriend is Ballard's campaign manager. And Fishburns.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Also, let's not forget that the Wishard PAC laundered all their poliltical expenditures through Hirons. Rather than say what they spent the money on during the campaing, they merely listed Hirons as the recepient to the tune of around $850,000.

Anonymous said...

Not only is Hirons working on the water deal, but they also have received numerous other contracts, including Wishard and the Knozone outreach. Rumor has it that they have several others. Just imagine the public reaction had this been a Carson, Mahern or a Peterson.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:18-

Brizzi's girlfriend has nothing to do with the Fishburn race or the Mayor's race. Get your facts right before you start spewing lies.

Anonymous said...

Hirons has been working on City campaigns for a long time and has worked on the Clean Stream Team campaign hired in the Peterson campaign. They happen to be a very effective PR campaign, so, when it comes time to help educate the the residents of Indianapolis on complex issues, like combined sewers or air pollution or why we need to build a new Wishard Hospital or the Citizen's Energy Group sale, Hirons would be a proven firm to do the work successfully.

And, I guess I don't understand why it's a bad thing for an elected official to work to find creative ways of keeping a campaign promise (like address abandon housing) if he got into office and realized that the money didn't exist within the budget to keep it.

So, this blogger seems to have tried to make connections that I don't think really exist. One can be opposed to the Citizens transfer, but it's been long recognized (by the Goldsmith, Peterson and Ballard administrations) that sewer rates are going up to meet clean water standards and that taxpayers are paying more than necessary because the issue was addressed sooner and because the city was charged significant fines by EPA for not meeting the deadlines back during the Goldsmith administration. So, these issues are quite complex and really cannot be summed up in a single passionate blogpost.

Chris Worden said...

Anon 11:19:

Thanks for commenting. You say:

"So, these issues are quite complex and really cannot be summed up in a single passionate blogpost."

And I respond:

Sure they can. Here goes:

"Backdoor tax hike for campaign slush fund."

Yes, the rates are going to go up because we got in an EPA hole. (Our course now will determine how much they go up).

But what I know is that Bart Peterson, while in office, sought a water rate increase of about $300 million, and Greg Ballard made him eat it for lunch.

Here's what Mayor Ballard could do. Go to the public and say, "You know what? I know I've had more money in my hands than any mayor in Indianapolis history, but I STILL can't get your road repair. I need a tax increase."

Will he do it? Absolutely not. What he will do is hide the tax increase in a Cit Gas water deal. That's not "creative" government; that's mortgaging our future.

We could give Cit Gas the utilities for free. Instead, we're making them pay us money ($262 million) they don't have which will just be recovered through higher rates. We could also keep the money we're going to make from increased PILOT payments from Cit Gas. Instead, the Mayor is issuing bonds of $170 million on a good (streets and sidewalks) whose useable life is about 1/4 the life of the bonds. Like I've said, this is just a payday loan, and we're paying a crazy rate.

As Councillor Angie Mansfield pointed out, who would finance a car with a practical life of 5 years on a 30-year note? Nobody except somebody who is desperately seeking money to do road repairs (and rid our city of abandoned homes)to get elected.

I'm not impugning Hirons work at all (in fact, they done some great stuff) but when Greg Ballard, Jr. went there for a job, Hirons knew who he was and they knew they wanted to continue getting city work. You mean to tell me you seriously think Tom Hirons was going to tell Greg Ballard, Jr. no on the eve of a brand-new $10,000 per month PR campaign?

My reponse? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. And I forgot to add ha!

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that all this PR work is being funded through Metro Development with the $5.5M that Navistar and others will pay for violating their tax abatement agreements? Seems Mr. Welch of Conv and Visitors is on board for the transfer of IWC and his "public/private" group received $1.5M of those same dollars. Dollars which this writer feels should have gone to the cash-strapped units of government that Metro. Dev. gave away in the first place.

Anonymous said...

"Brizzis Girlfriend" has nothing to do with Ballard's campaign? How about 10,000 a month worth of "to do"?

read it and weep.