Sunday, August 17, 2008

ballard doesn't make the connection

the latest travesty from the mayor's office is that he wants to sell off our small neighborhood parks. ballard told the star ed board, "I don't make the connection between a property the size of this room and green space." apparently we could pave the whole city and mayor ballard wouldn't notice.

the value of these small parks is immeasurable, particularly for those who don't live in houses with nice yards (as i imagine ballard does, in which case... hello! is your back yard not a green space?). i still remember walking to the small park around the corner from the house where i lived when i was four years old. but rather than seeing these as vital community spaces, mayor ballard thinks they're just a "drain".

the mayor has hired venture real estate services to do an inventory of the city's neighborhood parks and recommend which ones to sell off. the administration points out that venture is not getting paid for the analysis, only for the selling off, and states that the company is taking a "big risk" doing it this way—apparently not realizing that this is precisely what will motivate venture to do everything in its power to ensure that lots of our little parks end up for sale. the conflict of interest is glaring.

i've said it before, i can't tell whether the mayor even has a vision for this city, but if he does, it doesn't sound like the kind of place i'd want to live.

with his parks plan, the mayor seems to have finally lost matt tully, who no longer considers ballard's bumbling to be charming:

Mayor Greg Ballard has a way of saying things and later regretting and backtracking from his words.

It was endearing at first, in a Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington sort of way. It's not anymore.

You might recall Ballard bashing public funding for the arts on the campaign trail, only to come into office begging the arts community for forgiveness. And who could forget his criticism of former Mayor Bart Peterson's Super Bowl bid, criticism that came before he realized what an economic boon a Super Bowl could be.

These days, many people are hoping Ballard's talk about pocket parks being a pesky "drain" on the city's budget is just another example of foot-in-mouth disease. They're hoping he realizes city parks are not about dollars and cents, but about green space and quality of life. They're hoping he backtracks from the silly idea of selling off the small parks.

this was tully's second column in the past week and a half that was critical of the mayor (i'm not counting the one from wednesday, which was pretty mild), and that previous column mightily pissed off ballard's office:

And speaking of calling the mayor, his cronies were very upset at me for publishing his office number in a recent column and suggesting readers dial it if they couldn't get through to the understaffed Mayor's Action Center hot line.

Mayoral press secretary Marcus Barlow said my decision to publish the mayor's office number was "counterproductive."

I'm not sure what he meant by that. Personally, I don't see anything counterproductive about taxpayers calling the mayor's office to voice their displeasure about poor service at the MAC, or to complain about the shortsighted idea of selling off park land.

he ends his column by repeating the phone number: (317) 327-3601.


Wilson46201 said...

Amos Brown on his afternoon radio show has already been giving out that 327-3601 number on the air.

Eclecticvibe said...

Here's the game. Try cutting things that are very important to the community. The community gets mad and says no more! Nothing gets cut. Politician says, oh I TRIED to lower taxes, but the public wouldn't let me cut programs. Long story short, nothing changes.

However, the Mayor's view takes root other places. In my neighborhood of Cottage Home, we decided to turn five community owned lots into a public green space. There was a significant split in the neighborhood,as some people saw 5 contiguous lots as a chance to develop and earn some cash. The majority view of the neighborhood won out though, and we'll soon have a Cottage Home Neighborhood Association owned park with a shelter and LOTS of green space. I seem to remember the mayor campaigning on his desire to reconnect with neighborhoods. Perhaps he should ask the neighborhoods how they feel about their parks before selling them off. And if the neighborhoods are truly invested in green space, perhaps they could work out a deal and purchase the parks from the city?

Anonymous said...

I always make sure my clients know this old axiom when they want to complain or bitch about media/blog coverage:

"Don't pick a fight with the guy who buys ink by the barrel."

In the days of blogs, there is no ink. It's a lifetime supply.

varangianguard said...

Home run on the phone number. That seems to have gotten someone's attention.

M Theory said...

eclecticvibe...YOU have the right idea. It's called volunteerism and personal responsibility.

Our city and our nation is in very serious financial peril. It's going to require EFFORT and WORK on the part of all Americans to turn our situation around.

Parks are not a matter of entitlement.

Problem is that the city has no money for the upkeep. And Ballard promised the people who elected him that he would cut spending.

Ballard is keeping his promises. We all need to do our part. And borrowing more money from the bond bank to cover day-to-day operating expenses (which is what Peterson did) is not the answer.

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

stAllio! said...

so melyssa, you don't have a problem with the flagrant conflict of interest here? venture doesn't get paid if no parks are sold; the more parks are sold, the more money venture makes.

if this story involved anybody other than your hero greg ballard, you would be the first to complain about such a corrupt deal. but instead, you come here making excuses. truly pathetic.