explains tax mess, goes on offensive
By AMOS BROWN III
Whether it was that Republican poll showing slipping support, or his own polling showing the same, a chastened, yet energized Mayor Bart Peterson came to the African-American community last week explaining and listening and apologizing.
In his first appearance on WTLC-AM (1310’s) “Afternoons with Amos” in two months, Mayor Peterson explained what his administration is doing about property taxes, including information neither the Indianapolis Star, TV stations, or the anti-Peterson talk shows and blogs have revealed.
Mayor Peterson said in the proposed 2008 city-county budget, property taxes “go down by $50 million this year and will not be any higher next year.”
That’s right; the amount of property taxes going to city-county government will be $50 million less in the coming budget.
The mayor explained that under a new state law, the increased income tax for pubic safety mandates that the city-county and all other Marion County government agencies, except schools, must freeze the amount of property taxes they collect for the next two years.
These mayoral revelations are contained in the proposed 2008 budget’s executive summary, a document mainstream media and the Peterson-haters refuse to read and reveal.
A big question is why the county isn’t planning to institute a state approved income tax hike, which would directly lower property taxes, dollar for dollar. Mayor Peterson explained that, “I don’t think that people want to see additional income tax increases while the state has a $2 billion surplus.”
The mayor accepted public anger over taxes and admitted his response during the past few weeks should have been different.
“I look back on the last couple of months, and I realize what I should have done,” Peterson said, “I shouldn’t have spent all those hours I spent writing speeches, all those hours I spent crunching numbers in my office and trying to come up with plans to try to fit this problem. I shouldn’t have spent any time doing that. I should have been out more listening to exactly what people had to say about this and explaining what we were doing and why were doing it. That was my fault.”
Local Republicans were energized by revelation of a poll they paid for, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies (POS), a 16-year-old, respected Republican polling firm that works on the respected NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll, which surveyed 300 likely voters, showed weakness for Peterson and some strength for Republican mayoral candidate Greg Ballard.
Giving the poll credibility – 23 percent of those surveyed were African-American; in a city-county where 25 percent of voting age adults are Black. POS partner Patrick Lanne told me he was proud his polling measured a representative number of Blacks. But he admitted the poll showed Peterson’s Black support remained “solid.”
Democratic County Chairman Mike O’Connor tried to discredit the poll, but was undercut when Republicans released the questions, results and methodology to media, including me.
So, get ready for a mad 60-day dash to Election Day as Mayor Peterson gets out “all day everyday.”
What I’m hearing in the streets
A series of inexcusable mistakes forced City-County Councilman Patrice Abduallah to resign last week. Abduallah was tardy for months while making his primary Council District 15 residence habitable and compounded his mistakes by saying he lived literally on the wrong side of his district’s boundary.
Politics is a rough profession. The current hatred some have towards Mayor Peterson and African-American elected officials is getting virulent. It’s imperative that our Black community’s politicians make sure their own houses are in order. That there aren’t ticking time bombs the purveyors of hate can use against them.
Abduallah’s enemies came to the raucous Aug. 6 City-County Council meeting publicly charging that he didn’t live in his district. That same evening, an Internet blog run by Gary Welsh, former Illinois GOP activist, attorney and self-described “big fan of Ronald Reagan,” questioned Abduallah’s residency in a series of posts.
A week later, I reviewed Abduallah’s address listing on Marion County Election Board documents and found it was literally on the wrong side of Warman Avenue, one of the district’s boundary lines.
Because Abduallah represents a Black-majority (62 percent) district, I revealed the address problem on our Tuesday, Aug. 14 “Afternoons with Amos” with a report from our producer, Donna Schiele, saying that Abduallah was stunned and shaken over the report. Welsh’s postings and our broadcast broke this story.
Abduallah knew that his not living in his district would be used by enemies of the mayor and Black politicians, like Welsh, whose blog and its participants repeatedly degenerates into the increasingly virulent Black-hating rhetoric exhibited by anti-Peterson advocates.
Now, I hear that André Carson, Congresswoman Julia Carson’s grandson, could run to fill Abduallah’s vacancy. And the haters are already out in force with slanderous, libelous attacks on the Black-hating blogs against him, even though he hasn’t officially declared.
If he gets into the race, André Carson needs to understand that the political hatemongers will turn their bigoted firepower on him as part of their blitzkrieg against Mayor Peterson and the Congresswoman.
Throw a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for the National Football League’s boneheaded decision to exclude African-American artists from the league free season opening concert on Monument Circle. The NFL’s insensitive decision marks the first time any major event has been held on the taxpayer funded Circle that excludes entertainment oriented to our community.
Adding to the insult was a clueless NFL spokesman who told our radio program and our community last week that the NFL “couldn’t find any Black artists” who could appear.
The latest Arbitron ratings confirm that “Afternoons with Amos” continues as Indy’s third most listened to radio talk show; after WIBC-AM’s Rush Limbaugh and Greg Garrison. And Garrison and I are way ahead of Indy’s only other local weekday talk show, WXNT-AM’s Abdul Hakim-Shabazz who ranks 13 out of the 14 top talk shows in Indy.
More importantly, with a 20.4 percent share of all Blacks listening to the radio afternoons tuned to our program, the highest Black audience share of any talk show in America, we’ve proved that African-Americans will listen to talk programming reflecting their issues and values.
See ‘ya next week.
<>Amos Brown’s opinions are not necessarily those of The Indianapolis Recorder. You can contact him at (317) 221-0915 or e-mail him at ACBROWN@AOL.COM.</>