Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Councillors Mahern and Adamson Stand Up for What is Right

Yesterday was a bad day for sense and sensibility in Indy government.  The Council voted 25 to 2 to pass Prop 15, which expands the consolidated downtown TIF by more than a square mile.

The only two who had the strength of their convictions were Councillors Brian Mahern and Zach Adamson.  Angela Mansfield appeared to be absent and Vernon Brown was excused from voting due to a conflict of interest. 

By my count, at least 7 Councillors, bent their principles and voted in favor. (Others were always going to vote the party line, the public interest be damned.)  Sure, their vote would not defeat the measure, but it would have sent a message that the ongoing community discussion on TIFs is necessary.  That conversation will continue.

Councillor Vop Osili made promises to folks living in the Riverside and UNWA neighborhoods.  The language he negotiated and inserted into Prop 15 fails to target those promises to those neighborhoods. 

Councillor Joe Simpson refused to amend the Mass Ave portion of the TIF to exclude 2 of the several parcels that are already slated for private investment.  This extension of the consolidated downtown TIF is merely being created as a slush fund for the Ballard administration, and Simpson is fine with that.  He and they are stealing revenue that would have gone to help teach the children of IPS, stealing revenue that would have gone to deliver poor relief in Center Township, stealing revenue that would have gone to IMPD, IFD, IndyGo, Health & Hospitals, Parks, and the libraries - and spending it on development that could and would have happened without the TIF.

I sincerely hope that a dye was not cast last night.  I hope we merely walked down the wrong path on a course that we can change before it is too late.  TIFs have consequences.  They are not free money.  At some point, we will cross a line that harms Indy's economy and the services we pay taxes for.

Councillors will feel the urge to get in line to get a TIF for their area, too.  By my count, the two that passed last night are just the first of 8.  I don't know where the line of economic harm is.  Perhaps it isn't even a bright line, but rather a gradual loss of services and quality of life for most of Indy's residents until drastic cuts in public safety and education become routine, and we do the best we can to wait out the 25 year lifespan of the TIFs.

The issue of TIFs is a hard one.  I have been happy to see the community trying to get on top of it, digest it, and decide upon it.  The conversation began in earnest about a year ago as key people in key groups began to understand there is no free ride with TIFs.  And the conversation will continue. 

Today I want to thank Councillors Mahern and Adamson for standing up for Indy, even when the powers that be tried to make them bow.  We need elected officials with spines and principles and who will fight for what is right and best for Indianapolis and its people.

The public good suffered a blow last night, but the fight continues.

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