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Monday, March 20, 2023

Ballard’s first 100 days; Myers opens negative attack in 7th District race

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During his State of the City speech last week, Mayor Greg Ballard bragged about his first 100 days in office. But from our African-American community’s point of view, Mayor Ballard’s initial 100 days has previewed a city/county administration seemingly bent on marginalizing, minimizing and in some ways humiliating the city and state’s largest ethnic community.

In his speech, the mayor talked about “improving the cultural flavor of Indianapolis,” by making “our ethnic communities more visible to the rest of the city” and “increasing ethnic diversity” on city boards and commissions.

But when Ballard talks about ethnic communities and increasing ethnic diversity, he’s not talking about increasing the inclusion of persons whose ancestors forcibly emigrated from the African continent.

Our mayor’s seemingly on an ethnic kick telling the Indianapolis Star three months ago that he wanted to see the development of a “Chinatown” just south of downtown.

In his speech, Ballard talked about Indianapolis’ sister cities in Europe and Asia, but neglected mentioning Indy’s newest sister city relationship in Kenya. The mayor talked about Indianapolis’ Irish, Greeks and Sikhs. No mention of African-Americans despite cold, hard facts our new mayor either chooses to ignore or is flat out ignorant about.

At 232,334 African-Americans are the largest ethnic minority in this city. Greek-Americans are just 3,395; Irish-Americans 104,750. In a city of nearly 900,000, barely 17,000 are Asian; just 2,600 are Chinese. (2006 Census American Community Survey).

Mayor Ballard’s obsession with all things ethnic, but not Black, has shown up in other ways; most ominously in his hands-off posture concerning the Police Department and our Black community.

The mayor cited “undue influence” in his refusal to comment on the recent Taser death at police hands of a Black man and the boneheaded plea deal in the police kicking of a handcuffed Black youth in police custody during Black Expo. An attitude unprecedented among mayors of the nation’s 20 largest cities.

Mayor Ballard’s administration’s disdain of our Black community is manifested in other ways. Example: the Ballard administration is openly seeking to punish the city’s largest Black-owned businesses because they dared do business with a Democratic mayor. Even though many have done business with and were first encouraged by Republican Mayor Steve Goldsmith.

Not wanting to do business with experienced, tested Black-owned businesses, while trying to steer business to inexperienced, untested Black-owned businesses is naïve at best and troublesome at worst. And it opens the door to reduce, not increase Black-owned business opportunities.

Mayor Ballard is holding hostage repealing the hated 65 percent local option income tax increase until legislative approval of reforms proposed by the commission headed by former Gov. Joe Kernan and Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard. Those reforms would eviscerate Marion County’s poor relief system, leaving thousands without assistance in dire emergencies, gutting this city’s frail social safety net.

Ballard’s first 100 days are quickly showing our community the dangers of a rookie mayor with a complete lack of understanding of the complexities of Indianapolis in general and our African-American community in particular.

The next 100 days could be far worse.

The first negative attacks in the Democratic primary battle in the 7th Congressional District were begun by staffers for Dr. Woody Myers’ campaign, including openly implying that Congressman Andre Carson is a con man.

One line of negative attacks occurred when a white campaign staffer John Padgett, Myers’ supposed Internet campaign coordinator, equated Andre Carson with the character Eddie Murphy played in the 1992 comedy “Distinguished Gentleman.” In it a con man (Murphy) gets elected to Congress in a special election by assuming the name of a deceased beloved Congressman.

Despite the fact that the movie’s characterization of a special congressional election was far different than the special election last month, Padgett made his charges on two Internet blogs, including the most notorious Black-hating-Black blog.

Myers’ negative attacks included a press release where campaign manager Andrea Hailey blasted Carson for airing a TV ad where Carson says there should be change in Washington so that the influence of CEOs and lobbyists is reduced.

Hailey slammed Carson for accepting over $100,000 in contributions from lobbyists and political action committees, despite the fact that Myers is spending millions of his own cash earned from corporate stock options and fees from consulting corporations and businesses that employ lobbyists.

Hailey blasts Carson saying, “We can’t afford someone who says CEOs and lobbyists have too much power yet relies on them to bankroll their campaign.”

Yet, it’s the Myers campaign that is driving the 7th District primary into financial hyperspace.

Though an Indianapolis native, Myers has only been back in Indy less than two years. And in little more than a month, he’s poured millions from his fortune into his campaign. Myers’ wealth didn’t come from privilege or his medical practices’ fees. Instead it came from stock options and stock received from his corporate work with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem, Wellpoint and Ford.

Myers’ largess created a mismatch with the three other major candidates in the race – Carson, Carolene Mays and David Orentlicher – who are all individuals of modest means, not corporate-made millionaires.

Myers’ slam tries to imply that Carson is beholden to lobbyists, but fails to note that “lobbyists” and “corporate interests” are forbidden to donate more than $2,300 (individuals) and $5,000 (PAC’s) to congressional campaigns. In campaigns costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, $2,300 or five grand are chump change.

Myers profligate spending and his lack of getting contributions from individuals or PACs has created the most expensive congressional campaign in Indianapolis history – causing lobbyists to flock to the other major candidates’ doors.

Myers has said nothing about his campaign’s negative attacks. Neither has Hailey, the most brittle and hypersensitive campaign manager I’ve encountered in years.

Woody Myers needs to immediately denounce Padgett’s calumny against Andre Carson. In fact, Padgett needs to be severed from Myers campaign. By sundown is quick enough.

And instead of negative attacks, Woody Myers and his hyperactive campaign staff should join Orentlicher, Mays, Carson and the other 7th District candidates in pushing for stronger campaign finance limits, including stricter lower limits on what individuals can contribute to their own campaigns.

See ‘ya next week.

Amos Brown’s opinions are not necessarily those of the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. You can contact him at (317) 221-0915 or by e-mail at ACBROWN@AOL.COM.

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