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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Indy’s leaders’ solution to poverty? Get more rich people to move here

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In the Indianapolis Business Journal in August and repeated in an e-blast to community leaders, Bill Taft, executive director of LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corp.) discussed a subject Indianapolis’ leaders don’t want to discuss; the growing economic weakness and poverty among Indianapolis residents.

Wrote Taft, “Poverty in our city actually rose faster than in all but seven U.S. cities. Some of our core neighborhoods have poverty rates as high as 40 percent – almost twice the city’s overall percentage.”

Among Taft’s conclusions: “It is critical that we focus seriously on growing the scale and quality of community development in these areas.”

Taft’s words were written before the 2012 Census American Community Survey (ACS) data was released last month. Data that show Indianapolis still mired in the depths of the Great Recession.

The 2012 Census ACS reported that over a fifth of Indianapolis/Marion County residents (21.5 percent) live below the federal poverty level. Far higher than the 15.9 percent of Indy residents in poverty in 2008, before the recession.

Median Household Income lags behind pre-recession levels. It was $41,409 last year; far below 11.3 percent below the 2008’s Median Household Income of $46,669 for city/county households.

The 2012 Census ACS said overall unemployment in Indianapolis/Marion County last year was 11.0 percent; compared to just 7.8 percent pre-recession in 2008.

But if our city/county still has an economic cold; then our African-American community is suffering from severe pneumonia.

The Census ACS reported that nearly one-third of our Black community (31.0 percent) lived below the federal poverty level last year. The percentage of Blacks in poverty was 25 percent in 2008.

Black median household income in 2012 was a dismal $29,314 compared to $30,783 in 2008.

More ominous was Black unemployment.

In 2008 Black unemployment in the city/county was 9.8 percent. In 2012, according to the Census ACS, Black unemployment virtually doubled to 19.1 percent.

Other than this columnist and Bill Taft, Indianapolis’ leaders are silent about the continued economic stagnation of Indianapolis residents.

To hear Mayor Greg Ballard and key members of the Ballard administration tell it, the solution to Indianapolis’ economic slump is getting more wealthy young and older professionals to move into the city. No words or solutions for improving the incomes and quality of living of the individuals currently living here.

In the six years of his mayoralty, Mayor Ballard has never given a speech addressing poverty, unemployment, underemployment or the stagnant incomes of many Indianapolis residents.

The attitude of forgetting those hurting economically and put the emphasis on getting the rich and successful to move here not only permeates our mayor and his minions, but many of Indianapolis’ top leadership. From the Chamber of Commerce, key corporations and non-profits and even some in our city’s universities.

Meanwhile, whether they’re in politics, media, running non-profits or civic enterprises, Indy’s next generation of leaders seem to care more about proliferating bike lanes, electric cars, adding more unaffordable apartments and condos downtown and beefing up development in Broad Ripple and environs than in dealing constructively with our city’s major problems.

Worse the next generation of Indianapolis’ white leadership and the next generation of our African-American leadership don’t even bother to build bridges to each other.

It’s like our city’s next generation of leaders are content to exist in their own silos; oblivious to the forces that could drag Indianapolis from a top tier city back into the backwater where Indianapolis existed before the dawn of UniGov.

It’s obscene!

What I’m hearing

in the streets

Does Indiana have to hire United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mediate between Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and rogue Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) member Dan Elsener?

A so-called “independent” who represents the 7th Congressional District (mostly Indianapolis); Elsener has acted disrespectfully toward Ritz at SBOE meetings.

Last week, during October’s SBOE meeting, Elsener tried to change an agenda item to seemingly push for someone he felt should provide guidance on changing Indiana’s A-F grading system. Despite the fact that Ritz told the board she’s already engaged a different consultant to do the task.

Like a petulant first grader, Elsener tried to unilaterally change the agenda to get his way. He was joined in his mini-mutiny by the board’s only minority, African-American SBOE member Tony Walker, who represents the 1st Congressional District in Lake County. Ritz, though rebuffed Elsener and Walker.

Elsener, Walker and other SBOE members must understand that while they may have doctrinal and political differences with Ritz, she was elected by a majority of Hoosiers. Over 1.3 million in fact. Even if they disagree; they owe her the respect as a statewide elected official.

We don’t need the chief educational policy group of Indiana acting like bickering 7-year-olds.

* * * * *

What’s happening at the Hoosier Lottery?

Maurice Markey held a spot in Indiana history as the highest ranking African-American ever hired by the lottery in its 25 years in Indiana. A Purdue and Indiana University graduate and seasoned marketing executive, Markey was hired by GTECH/Indiana, the company running the day-to-day lottery operations for the state, as general manager and chief operating officer.

But a few weeks ago, Markey suddenly left the lottery, which didn’t even publicly acknowledge Markey’s departure until I heard rumors and got the lottery to confirm his departure.

African-American Hoosiers provide significant amounts of revenue to the lottery. Yet, the number of top ranking African-American lottery executives are scarcer than Republicans supporting Obamacare. And the lottery’s utilization of Black and minority-owned businesses continues to lag.

Our community shouldn’t have to wait another 25 years before the Hoosier Lottery hires another African-American in a significant management/leadership position.

See ‘ya at the Classic and here next week.

You can email comments to Amos Brown at acbrown@aol.com.

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