Letters and Opinion

Forget Pacers; focus on city services

May 8, 2010

Re: [April 26] editorial calling for Simons to donate to keep the branch libraries open, the ongoing dialogue about the Simon request for a subsidy to pay $89 million for their basketball team’s stadium costs masks the real issue: Basic city services in Indianapolis are ignored, sold to others or poorly dealt with.

Fact: The water here currently smells funny. Whether it is temporary or permanent, safe or unsafe is not the issue. This city needs alternative supplies to the dirty canal water. Selling our water system to someone else just pushes the problem to a different party. I have never lived in a city with such poor-tasting drinking water. This priority should take precedence over a Conseco Fieldhouse/Pacers bailout.

Fact: The closing of branch libraries in our inner core leaves city youths with one less alternative to keep them busy. We need to keep the branches open. How about reduced hours (closing Sunday and Monday, opening at noon) or creative solutions? This too should take priority over a Pacers bailout.

Fact: In the current recession and continued cutbacks of our two major employers (the state and Lilly), we have less money for mega-projects of any kind (new library, new airport, subsidized new downtown hotels, and new stadiums all were from a different era).

Fact: Selling the parking meters and system in Chicago was a disaster. Rates tripled, service dropped. We need to rethink this one, too.

This is a very long way of stating the obvious: Sorry, Mr. Simon but we have no money to subsidize your basketball team, whether it be for stadium costs or anything else.

Further, Mayor Ballard and city leaders need to focus on (not selling off) provision of basic city services: drinking water, parking and roads, libraries, schools and transit—and not supporting for-profit sports teams with taxpayer funds.

Finally, we need to stop the flight to Hamilton County and the duplication by Carmel of amenities already offered here.

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Bill Malcolm

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