For months the rumors were rampant through the political class of Indianapolis. It was said that former Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith was regularly providing advice and counsel to current Mayor Greg Ballard. But without confirmation, the rumor was one of many wild stories one hears about local politicians and politics.
While standing in a long check out line on national shop till you drop day (aka “Black” Friday), I picked up the December issue of Indianapolis Monthly Magazine to kill time until my money was separated from me. Usually, Indianapolis Monthly doesn’t interest me as the magazine routinely stereotypes our African-American community as a community of just athletes and socialites; never doctors, professionals, broadcasters or journalists.
But what caught my eye was a cover headline promoting a story about Steve Goldsmith’s new job as New York City’s Deputy Mayor of Operations.
I opened up the magazine and there it was! On page 79, in the final paragraphs of a story written by Daniel S. Comiskey, one of the magazine’s senior editors, I found the bombshell confirmation of the recurring rumor; this time from Steve Goldsmith’s own lips.
Here’s exactly what Comiskey wrote:
“And behind the scenes, Goldsmith still advises (Mayor) Ballard to this day. Ballard declined to comment, but Goldsmith says the two talk fairly often by phone.”
The article quotes longtime Goldsmith advisor Mike Wells saying that Ballard is “a disciple” of Goldsmith.
Talk fairly often?
I assume that doesn’t mean the two men only talk at Thanksgiving and Christmas, times when occasional acquaintances might converse. But, if “often” means more than just twice during a 365 day year, imagine the implications.
Is the former mayor providing the “advice” that our current mayor is following? Or is our current mayor “ignoring” Goldsmith’s wisdom and counsel.
Given all the monumental mistakes that Mayor Ballard has made during his controversial three-year reign, and especially this year, one has to wonder who’s really running Indianapolis.
Take the current controversy surrounding the Brandon Johnson case. During those “often” conservations between Indianapolis’ 46th and 48th mayors, was Goldsmith the one advising Ballard to stiff arm Black leadership? Has it been Goldsmith advising Ballard to ignore the major ministers of the city’s leading Black Christian denomination?
Did Goldsmith sell Ballard on using, as his go to group in Black leadership, the Ten Point Coalition; the Boston based group Goldsmith brought to town almost 20 years ago? That could explain Mayor Ballard’s stubborn insistence on making Ten Point his lead group on police/Black community issues, at the expense of other organizations.
During Goldsmith’s reign, Indy Parks was treated like a neglected orphan. So, was Mayor Ballard following Goldsmith’s advice when he decimated parks programs and employees, especially African-American top managers; including Ballard’s cashiering of respected veteran parks professional Joe Wynns?
Was it because of Goldsmith’s advice that swimming pools in Black neighborhoods were closed?
We know Goldsmith was big on privatization; so is it because of Goldsmith’s advice that Ballard pushed through the 50-year parking meter deal, the water company deal and that multi-million payoff to the Pacers?
Is the reason Frank Straub is in Indianapolis as public safety director because of Goldsmith’s telephoned whisperings in Mayor Ballard’s ear?
Is Ballard’s new found toughness against the rank and file of IMPD due to Goldsmith’s blandishments? I’m sure Goldsmith still smarts because of the fallout from the infamous 1996 downtown police brawl, when white cops went wild, torpedoing Goldsmith’s chance to be governor?
Is Goldsmith’s advice his way of getting back at a police department that ruined his ambitions?
Before Goldsmith became a New York City deputy mayor eight months ago, he had financial interests in companies and consultancies doing business with the city of Indianapolis. Interests that the Ballard administration has never publicly explained or disclosed.
That raises severe ethics questions from an administration that talks a good game about ethics, but little else.
Goldsmith is a New York City employee, a deputy mayor on the clock 24/7. So why is he providing “advice” to a mayor 643 miles away while on the Big Apple taxpayers’ dime?
Goldsmith works for Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media magnate New York City mayor whose imperial and imperious “my way or the highway” style of governing is exasperating New Yorkers. Has Bloomberg’s style, through Goldsmith’s teaching, rubbed off on Mayor Ballard, who increasingly shows mini-Bloomberg tendencies of not listening to people, not consulting key city constituencies and adopting an imperious governing style, not necessarily suited for Indy?
Maybe Rev. Al Sharpton should talk to his fellow New Yorker Mayor Bloomberg and on behalf of our community and city, and ask Bloomberg to make his deputy mayor cut the strings to our mayor.
What I’m hearing
in the streets
The Democratic virtual sweep of November’s election in Marion County, in the midst of Indiana’s Republican tsunami, was extremely embarrassing to two high profile Republicans. While Dan Coats is now Senator-elect, his Meridian-Kessler neighborhood soundly repudiated him. Brad Ellsworth beat Coats in his home precinct 54.4 percent to 38.6 percent. (Maybe that’s why Coats is house hunting.)
The beatdown was worse for Republican and tea party fueled congressional candidate Marvin Scott. Congressman André Carson got 60.4 percent of the vote in Scott’s Northside neighborhood compared to just 36 percent for Scott.
The prejudice against our president by Indianapolis’ two so-called news talk radio stations, including the acknowledged leader, was on display during last week’s presidential visit to Kokomo. Given that it was President Barack Obama’s first visit to Central Indiana this year, radio stations WIBC-AM (1070) and WXNT-AM (1430) showed their colors by not broadcasting live the president’s remarks.
WTLC-AM (1310) and our “Afternoons with Amos” program was the only Indianapolis radio station to broadcast President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks live.
As Scripture says, “The last shall be first.”
Our community was diminished with the untimely death of Michael O’Neal. An entrepreneur at a very early age, O’Neal was a driven businessman who cared for our community. Besides his business interests, O’Neal worked with Robin Winston, getting involved in politics as a part of Winston’s political consulting firm.
O’Neal was a down-to-earth businessman and budding politico who understood the common man and woman.
My deepest sympathies to Michael O’Neal’s family and friends. Our community has lost one of our young lions.
See ‘ya next week.