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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Close down Carl Brizzi; keep the libraries open

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If there is any elective office where Americans want the utmost in integrity, honesty and probity, it’s the office in charge of prosecuting local crimes. It doesn’t matter whether the position is called state attorney, district attorney or county prosecutor, the individual responsible for representing the “state” in prosecuting crimes against the people of a community must be someone above suspicion and reproach.

It doesn’t help that for 20 years, the American view of a prosecutor has been influenced by the televised portrayal in the original “Law and Order” series. We want our district attorney or county prosecutor to be like Sam Waterston’s portrayal of Jack McCoy, the slightly rumpled guardian of what’s right in the law who puts the bad guys, be they blue or white collar, behind bars.

It is now obvious to everyone that the prosecuting attorney for Marion County, Carl Brizzi, has lost the moral authority to continue in office.

Prosecutor Brizzi has for sometime lost his moral compass that tells him his job is much more important than being popular outside of his job. Brizzi’s road down the slippery slope began when he was allowed by the community and the law to be part owner of a restaurant. The community wasn’t outraged that the man charged with enforcing our laws had become a part-time business owner?

Then came the revelation last fall that Brizzi had agreed to serve on the board of Fair Financial, an Ohio-based for-profit company. If the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) hadn’t blown the whistle on Indianapolis financier Tim Durham’s alleged looting of that company and Brizzi’s on again-off again tenure as a Board member, the voters of Marion County wouldn’t have known their prosecutor was on a corporate board. Which while not illegal, is highly unusual.

Then in recent weeks there were more revelations, again by the IBJ and Fox 59 News. They uncovered that Brizzi allowed an illegal steroid dealer, caught red handed and charged with seven felony charges, to plea his way out of jail in a deal with a defense attorney that happens to be a business partner of Brizzi’s on some odd real estate deals.

Last week, Indianapolis finally began to stand up and demand that it’s time for Carl Brizzi to go.

Mark Massa, the GOP candidate for Brizzi’s job, began the calls as he introduced ethics rules that would eliminate nearly all the sins of the Brizzi era. Massa’s call was echoed by Marion County GOP Chair Tom John.

Melina Kennedy, who ran against and nearly beat Brizzi four years ago, called for Brizzi’s resignation, as did Brian Williams who, like Kennedy, is running for mayor in 2011.

Kennedy went even further, demanding the top Republican in Indianapolis, Mayor Greg Ballard, call for Brizzi’s resignation.

The Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis Business Journal have now editorialized that its time for Brizzi to go.

Meanwhile, Brizzi is channeling Richard Nixon. In a series of statements notable for their arrogance and political insensitivity, Brizzi flatly refused to resign or even acknowledge his sins.

Instead he blamed the current firestorm on a “media feeding frenzy …fueled by rumors, innuendo and falsehoods (which) are blatantly misguided or are brought forward by individuals in the community with a political agenda.”

Prosecutor Brizzi: I’m one of the last media persons this week to publicly comment on your troubles. And as much as I admire what you’ve done for the people of Marion County for 40 months, the environment is such that the people would be best served by your departure.

If I was acting strictly with a political agenda, I’d want you to stay so we Democrats could use your shortcomings to help us recapture the prosecutor’s office. But, as a community servant/leader sometimes one must do what’s best for our community.

And that means, sir, it is time for you to go! Now!

What I’m Hearing

in the Streets

The latest government agency facing the Grim Reaper of the misguided, ill-conceived property tax caps is the Indianapolis – Marion County Public Library. Facing a loss of nearly $8 million in property tax revenue between now and 2012, the library unveiled a draconian set of recommendations to close as many as six library branches.

Two of those branches are in Black-majority neighborhoods, another in a racially mixed neighborhood and a fourth is the city’s largest usage branch.

The library system targeted for closing the four branches located in buildings they don’t own. This included the branch at Flanner House, the entity that’s served African Americans for 112 years.

When the current Flanner House facility was built in 1979, it included a very small library, which has been fully integrated into Flanner House’s programs for youth, teens, adults and seniors. With a charter school on site and the Center for Leadership Development’s headquarters and programs across the street, Flanner House’s library is at the heart of an educational renaissance on the near northside.

Martindale-Brightwood is a neighborhood fighting to recapture some of its luster of decades ago. Its library is the anchor of the gritty, rundown commercial strip at the aging intersection of 25th and Sherman Drive, yet library planners deem this library in a reviving neighborhood to be endangered.

But unlike Flanner House, where the library’s paltry $30,000 rent goes to Flanner House, the landlord of the Brightwood library is multi-billion-dollar mall magnate Simon Property Group.

That’s right, the company that owns the gleaming Circle Center, Clay Terrace, Castleton and Greenwood malls, owns this dilapidated, aging 38,493-square-foot strip center housing a precious community cultural resource.

Last year, Simon Malls generated $3.775 billion in revenues and $1.4 billion in operating profit. Whatever rent they get from the Indianapolis – Marion County Library is change you find under the couch to this company.

In this library crisis, Simon should not only make the Brightwood library rent free, they should subsidize the cost of the Brightwood library for the next five years. (They can rationalize it as penance for years of bad Pacer teams or allowing Washington Square mall to deteriorate.).

The Library fight has only just begun!

See ‘ya next week!

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