Wednesday, August 08, 2007

it's official--indianapolis is now a banana republic

Banana republic is a pejorative term for a small, often Latin American, Caribbean or African country that is politically unstable, dependent on limited agriculture, and ruled by a small, self-elected, wealthy and corrupt clique. In most cases they have kept the government structures that were modeled after the colonial Spanish ruling clique, with a small, largely leisure class on the top and a large, poorly educated and poorly paid working class of peons.

Keep that definition in mind as I tell you what has been happening in the city of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis has had a rather curious history that should serve as its own unit in Conservatism 101. Starting with the end of WWII, and going through 1967, Indianapolis had a Democrat mayor for 15 years, compared with only 6 years of GOP control. By 1967, Indianapolis had almost died. The downtown was a ghost town, occupied by nothing but vagrants and other assorted criminals. Nobody lived downtown, except for the homeless. Indy was experiencing the classic "doughnut syndrome" that so many other cities had experienced. It was a city going nowhere but down and out, and at an alarming rate.

Three things happened in 1967 that changed Indy's direction. First, they elected a GOP mayor with name you will recognize--Richard Lugar. Today, of course, he is Indiana's senior member of the U.S. Senate.

Mayor Lugar brought about the second change---Uni Gov. Lugar's idea was that having separate government structures for the city of Indianapolis and Marion County was inefficient and costly to the taxpayers. Mayor Lugar was able to get the Indiana General Assembly to approve Uni Gov, which consolidated most of the parts of Marion County government and Indianapolis city government. Police forces, fire departments, township government, schools, and just a few cities/towns within Marion County other than Indy (Southport, Speedway, Beech Grove and Lawrence) were all exempt from consolidation. Uni Gov accomplished the intended results. Government became cheaper and more efficient. Oh, and one other small result--Indy instantly became a Republican city. White GOP voters had been fleeing from the old city limits for years to live in what were then the "suburbs" of Marion County--and beyond. All of a sudden, the city limit became the county line. Many thousands of GOP voters suddenly were able to vote for Indianapolis officials. Don't you know, the Democrats were hopping mad!

I said that there was a third change. 1967-68 was the inaugural season of the old ABA--the American Basketball Association. The ABA's original roster included the brand new Indiana Pacers, and they played their games at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum, located at 38th and Fall Creek north of downtown. You can look at the right-hand sidebar to see links for the ABA and the Pacers if you're interested in that history. Here's the significant thing, though. Mayor Lugar realized that moving the Pacers downtown into a new arena would be a significant step towards saving downtown Indy. Market Square Arena was completed in 1974, the Pacers made the jump, and Lugar was proven right. MSA proved to be the catalyst that brought forth, from 1974 to the present day, the Union Station revitalization, the Hoosier Dome (now called the RCA Dome), the Colts, Circle Center Mall, Victory Field, over 50 new hotels and literally hundreds of new restaurants. Downtown Indianapolis has the symphony, the theater, art, museums, and culture, and it can all be traced back to the election of a GOP mayor in 1967. By the way, crime rates went way down during that time as well. Except for those unfortunate days when Black Expo is in town (this rates a whole separate post) crime was alway relatively low in Indy during the 70's-80's-90's under GOP control.

Well sports fans, that all changed in 2001. Democrat Bart Peterson was elected mayor in 2001, and it's 1966 all over again. Violent crime is spiraling out of control, the Democrat leadership of the City-County Council is involved in more criminal and ethics investigations than you can shake a stick at, property tax rates have skyrocketed as much as 300% for Indy residents, and the city is on the verge of bankruptcy. All summer long, there have been large demonstrations by citizens who are being forced to sell their homes to pay their taxes, and by citizens who are concerned that Indy today is much too similar to Dodge City of the old West. Mayor Peterson's first ever campaign promise (which means, his first ever public lie) was that he would increase the number of police officers on the streets while, at the same time, cutting taxes. Indy now has fewer officers on the street since the late 80's and taxes are out of control. I think that counts as a double lie!

Last night, Mayor Peterson was scheduled to deliver his annual budget message, along with the actual budget, to the City-County Council at a meeting open to the public. Indy's Democrat Party brought out swarms of political operatives to the meeting and seated them in reserved seating in the front 3/4 of the chairs. The few remaining seats were taken by regular citizens, and everybody else was locked out, where they stood outdoors in the oppressive heat that has gripped much of the nation (it is August, after all). Peterson then gave his budget address to the "impartial crowd," where it was greeted with ovation after ovation. Is this Indianapolis, or is this Havana?

Several of the people who had been patiently waiting outside, only to be denied entrance, were treated for heat exhaustion. Monroe Gray, the felon---oops! I mean the President---of the City-County Council, still refused to let the people in.

Folks, this kind of stuff only happens in two kinds of places in the world today. You see it in Third World Banana Republics with despotic socialist rulers, and you see it in America wherever Democrats are in charge. If a Republican ever tried this kind of chicanery, they would be publically skewered by the liberal intelligentsia.

There is another mayor election coming up, and a Republican named Greg Ballard is running against Peterson (see I'm telling you right now that if Ballard loses, and Indy gets four more years of Peterson, Indianapolis will be lost for at least a generation. Thirty years of meticulous planning and painstaking work--thirty years that saw Indianapolis grow and evolve into a world class city--will be flushed down the commode. Thankfully, I don't live in Marion County, but it saddens me nonetheless. Some cities never recover from this kind of cultural implosion. I hope that doesn't happen to Indy.


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