EDITORIAL: Hardball tactics put City Market tenants in a bind

Mayor Greg Ballard can’t have it both ways with City Market. On one hand, Ballard wants to withdraw utility subsidies
for the restaurants, food stands and other tenants as part of his overarching policy of eliminating city assistance.

On the other hand, he wants tenants, many of whom complain they’re losing money, to continue operating while the city
decides on a new vision for the historic downtown landmark.

The city either should continue the subsidies, in effect
keeping the building open, or continue cutting subsidies and let the tenants leave peacefully while the city dreams up the
vision.

As it is, the city is playing hardball with tenants it claims are behind on rent by hauling them into court
or threatening to do so. The city counters that a contract is a contract: Pay up or get out.

Problem is, if the
tenants are forced out, there’s little reason to keep the doors open.

City Market bustled with restaurants
and food stands for a number of years after its 1970s revitalization added momentum to the renewal of downtown. Now, though,
the very success of the downtown has siphoned away customers to other restaurants and shops.

City Market’s
board has suggested closing the building for three years to buy time for another renovation and to rethink its mission.

Ballard instead wants to keep the market open while collecting ideas from the public and soliciting proposals for
alternative uses for the mostly vacant east and west wings.

It’s understandable why Ballard would want to
save money while keeping a key building open. But doing both doesn’t seem feasible.

The market should close—temporarily—or
the city should acknowledge the precarious situation tenants are in and cut them some slack.

A competent
public servant

As Indiana secretary of state, Todd Rokita doesn’t let much grass grow under his
feet and perhaps he will have more to offer after his second term ends next year.

Rokita, 39, is drawing criticism
for prosecuting Stifel Nicolaus and Co., the St. Louis financial advisory firm accused of securities fraud. Some observers
think he should have chased other cases with his resources because Stifel has promised to repay investors and because the
problem was triggered by the global financial meltdown.

Still, Rokita deserves praise for aggressively pursuing
securities violations. And he has shown resourcefulness by increasingly funding the office with revenue from fines. If only
the nation’s watchdogs, who are crucial to maintaining the trust that’s so critical for a market economy like
ours, had been as vigilant.

Rokita has also offered a reasonable plan for redrawing the state’s hopelessly
gerrymandered legislative districts in a way that would restore competitiveness to districts around the state.

If
the young secretary of state continues offering solutions to the state’s many problems, he’ll be worthy of the
mention he’s gotten recently about being a candidate to replace Mitch Daniels when the Republican governor finishes
his second and final term in 2012.•

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