Opinion and Forefront

GARRISON: Indianapolis might get what it asks for

June 29, 2013

GarrisonThe next mayoral election might represent the functional end to Republican government in Indianapolis.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett is poised to run from his newly high-profile seat over in the federal building, and if Democratic bosses pay attention this time, they will eschew running unqualified—and unelectable—people for that spot.

Democratic Sheriff John Layton managed to make a complete shambles of the prior administration’s efforts to consolidate the sheriff and police. Now he’s got more people, more cars and a bigger budget than Frank Anderson had when the merger took place.

No Republican could have survived such a ridiculously expensive and counterproductive move, but with a Democrat in the position, the media is at least forgiving if not totally in the bag with him.

A quick look at Center Township demonstrates the point. I have often said that, in the city’s center, in order to get votes for the 7th District congressional seat, it was imperative that the candidate be Democratic, black and named Carson. So, well beyond the politics of race and name recognition, there is a predisposition toward not just keeping the same power base in place, but also an antipathy toward any candidate who fails to meet all those criteria.

Assuming facts not in evidence—that Mayor Ballard doesn’t run again, that the ascendancy of Democrats is what it looks like it is, and that populous Center Township remains exclusively the domain of Democrats—Indianapolis will become yet another large metro area that falls into the crony-infested hands of Chicago-, NYC-, Philadelphia-, New Orleans- and St. Louis-type machine politicians.

History is most unkind to Democratic administrations in city government. They spend what they don’t have and program graft and corruption into the very fabric of their personnel, and the longer they’re in power, the worse the fiscal house falls into disarray.

Bart Peterson took over what, by his own admission, was a well-oiled and lean government when Goldsmith passed the baton. In about six years, the place was financially upside-down, and the stupid handling of the water company and the near-collapse of the police department had demonstrated for anyone who might look that they all had no place in positions of authority.

Enter the “Marine who would be mayor.” Adult supervision. Cost cuts, trimming of department budgets, astute and immediately productive approaches with the governor and the Legislature and a Republican council all working together to avoid bankruptcy and pave the way for a vibrancy that this place has just never seen before.

But all that stops if history and political realities are examined. Paying off one’s cronies and installing a leftist-only mentality might make the party faithful smile, but it’s a poor excuse for governance. Just ask the residents in New Orleans, who’ve been led—sort of—by Democrats for generations, or the poor folk of Chicago, where the only disarmed and defenseless portion of the population is the law-abiding, poverty-laden residents of the urban areas.

Some will embrace the (il)logic that this time it will be different. Or not.

In point of fact, those who so blindly and perpetually vote by party only really don’t care much about the result, as long as they have the big-boy chair at the end.

And there lies the root of its evil; the blocking and tackling of city (or national, for that matter) governance is of no moment to Democrats who seek position rather than accomplishment of the common good.

And when the ship runs aground this time, it’s pretty unlikely the Marines will arrive in time.•

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Garrison is a partner in Garrison Law Firm LLC in Indianapolis and a talk show host on WIBC-FM 93.1. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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