Facts favor Ballard

September 10, 2011

As a college student who places a high priority on doing my homework, I take exception to Jake Bonifield’s one-sided column “Ballard and Kennedy’s striking contrasts” [Aug. 22 Forefront].

He praises Melina Kennedy’s campaign ad saying she “outlines specific policy goals such as ensuring that every student is reading by third grade and that school curriculums focus on math and science.” I’m sorry, but what’s specific about that?

The governor, state schools chief and Legislature already established that requirement.

Is Kennedy promising to do more to hold schools accountable and take tough steps if kids don’t read by third grade? Is Kennedy proposing to increase classroom teaching time for math and science and less time for say, art, gym or recess? Nope. She’s repeating promises already fulfilled by others and not recommending any additional specific policies.

Kennedy is joining a debate that has been resolved. In 2010, legislation was passed requiring the state superintendent and board of education to implement testing and standards for third grade reading. This is being implemented in schools this year with options to make sure children are positioned to succeed when they leave third grade.

Bonifield says Mayor Ballard’s accomplishments and credentials are “wanting.” But this is a rerun of the Bart Peterson campaign when it ran ads suggesting that a career Marine couldn’t possibly run the city of Indianapolis. They were wrong then, and Bonifield is wrong now. Check the facts.

Ballard has brought fiscal sanity back to Indianapolis. He was a key advocate for property tax reform, and now 98 percent of Indianapolis homeowners pay a lot less in property taxes, including many of my neighbors near Butler University.

He has returned about $7 million in local income taxes back to taxpayers. Upon taking office, Ballard directed his team to renegotiate the Peterson administration consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aimed at addressing sewer overflows. The result: Ballard’s agreement reaches the same environmental results cheaper and faster, producing over $700 million in savings.

And if this weren’t enough, Ballard consolidated the city’s water and wastewater treatment facility functions and transferred them to a well-respected local utility, Citizens Energy. He has dedicated the resources from it to rebuilding roads, streets and bridges that have been neglected for decades.

Ballard’s infrastructure plan also includes the demolition of abandoned homes. This not only eliminates community eyesores, it makes our neighborhoods safer by removing empty structures that attract crime.

Ballard has little to fear in a head-to-head contrast between his record of accomplishment and Kennedy’s empty promises.

John Prout
Butler University senior

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