Sunday, April 5, 2009

Had Enough Indy?

When running for office, Greg Ballard used the catch phrase "Had Enough?" on his signs. Pretty darn good slogan at the time. Pretty darn good catch phrase now, too. So, I am using it.

Let's be frank here. Mr. Ballard did not win the election for Mayor of Indianapolis in 2007 as much as former Mayor Bart Peterson lost the election. Mayor Peterson stubbornly plowed ahead with his income tax increase agenda even after the property tax issue hit the fan. At a minimum he came across as insensitive to the personal financial situation of his constituents.

While Mayor Ballard still has over half of his term left to serve, his performance to date has not been stellar. He lacks leadership in formulating and selling of his vision for Indianapolis. His abrupt manner is getting stale and a growing number of folks just consider it more 'rude' than 'tough love'. He appears not to understand that, whether he likes it or not, he is the face and voice of Indianapolis. As I said, he still has the majority of his term left and he might just get his feet under himself and prove that he deserves to be Mayor.

For the rest of us, how do we get superior candidates for office on the ballot? What changes do we need to make to the system? I for one believe that the political party system is not optimized for public input any more than the resulting government is. What is our responsibility to improve the election system and not just complain about it?

Do we try to learn to work the system? Do we try to make changes from inside? Do we work on campaign finances and let the parties sort themselves out? Do we work alongside the old system, offering an alternative approach?

All I know for sure is that Indianapolis voted against the last Mayor and we got an unexpected surprise. Now Mayor Ballard either learns on the job and rises to the occasion, or he doesn't. Either way, how do we make our next choice one between compelling visions of competent individuals who will represent us and our City with grace and intelligence? How do we get a choice between the best and the brightest? What role does, or should, the public have in fashioning who gets on the ballot and ensuring that we vote FOR someone and not AGAINST someone?

Let's talk.


Anonymous said...

Great! We need more critical scrutiny.

Bill said...

I do agree, the voting public has had enough, but Ballard has yet to catch onto his own phrase. We are tired, very tired of partisan politics at the expense of the work that needs to be accomplished for the good of all.

I get the impression the Mayor has the same traits as our former President. Maybe a good person with good intentions, but horribly mis-guided by his immediate support staff. The Mayor still has his military background approach to people. He still has not developed the compassion or even any understanding of the average citizen.

We indeed need to totally change the election system, but I don't think it could even be attempted from "inside". Being on the "inside" means that you have accepted the status-quo, unless you are a mole. Not a bad idea, maybe with a wire to capture some of the details of the back room deals that take place.

We as voters need to get involved first and foremost. Just complaining to ourselves wont' get the job done. We need to get involved with other groups whose mission is to bring clean elections to our state. The voting public needs to get mad enough to actually DO something. Lip service exchanged with our neighbors won't get it done.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Bill, it depends what you mean by working to change from the "inside." If you're talking about going through the party machinery, working your way up, etc., then hoping to get slated by the powers that be, let me assure you that won't work.

What should be done though is identify all those elected officials who are ignoring the people in favor of these insider deals. Then run people in their respective primaries against them. Most of these people are in districts where the opposing party can't win. But they can be beaten in the primary.

bill said...

I had this sent to me and thought others might be interested in this Public Campaign Action Fund and Public Campaign e-activism campaign. If you go to the URL below you can check out what is at stake and send your own message directly to the relevant decision makers.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Bill and Paul - thanks for your comments. I'd like to poke in on one point -- the changing the parties from inside.

I'll address this in the future when I might actually be more clear, as I think the parties are as much a part of the dysfunction as anything else.

But, long story short, I have seen a significant number of people I respect immensely leave their party or consider leaving their party because of the culture set by the county chairman. I wonder, if the good people leave, who will be left but those who don't care and those who agree that money is the issue and not democracy.

Also, I do have to say, good people do get elected - somehow. That is not to say that all people who are elected care about the public interest, but some do.

And, thanks for the link Bill. I have a permanent link to Indiana Clean Elections on the blog because I do think they have a swell idea that just might work.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I hope I was clear on my point of changing the parties through the primaries, NOT by working in the organziation and going through the slating system.

I don't consider ordinary citizens running in their part primaries working to change the parties from within.

One thing that's not well understood is the role that Marion County's unique slating system has in political party bosses continuing to manipulate who gets in office. You don't have to go through slating to run in the primary though.