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Good Government & Good Politics

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

I have always argued that when dealing with crime, more cops doesn’t equal less crime unless you do some other things, like keep the bad guys behind bars and mitigate the conditions that make new ones.

The plan Mayor Greg Ballard announced today does just that.  It adds nearly 280 more police officers over the next several years, while expanding early childhood opportunities to stem the creation of future criminals while calling for extending the sentences for current criminals.

The plan is funded using ideas brought forth by a bipartisan commission created by the Democratic-controlled City-County Council.  The elimination of the homestead property tax credit will pay for the early childhood education while the 0.15% increase in the public safety tax will get more officers on the street.

In addition,  the Mayor is calling for 20-year mandatory minimum sentencing for gun crimes and efforts to reach young people who drop out of school and start going down a path of becoming future criminals.

While I am not crazy about the tax increase portion, I can live with what amounts to a night out with me and the Lovely Mrs. Shabazz if it means finally addressing crime long term.   And the fact it takes ideas by the Democrats and just makes the whole thing even sweeter from a political perspective.

Brilliant or Bastard?

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

I’ve gotten quite a bit of response to my column this week in the Indianapolis Star on my “reverse panhandling” experiment.

You can read it here, but in a nutshell, a few weeks ago I got tired of the panhandlers downtown asking me for money so I decided to turn the tables on them and do some preemptive begging.

In other words, I asked them for money before they asked me.  My conclusion, panhandlers don’t like it when people ask them for money either.

The public response to my efforts fell into two distinct camps.  Most sane, rational  people thought what I did was brilliant and plan to do something similar the next time they get approached.

Other folks, well, not so much. I was a cruel, heartless bastard with no moral conscience; which is odd because I am also an attorney.    And one person hoped I would lose everything so he could walk by the street and spit on me.  Wow!!!

What really amazed me with the hate mail was how many people got mad at me for proving a point;  that most downtown panhandlers are scam artists and giving them money only feeds into the scam.  In addition, panhandling has been cited as reason Indianapolis has lost some of its conventions.  And those conventions generate dollars so we can pay for things like public safety and roads.

Yes, there are truly homeless people in our community and they deserve our help to get them in a stable environment, which is why I support programs and events like this.

But as far as that guy who ran out of gas and left his pregnant wife on I-69 and she’s about to go into labor and he just needs a few dollars so he can get her to the hospital, sorry dude.  Today is not your day and to be frank, tomorrow doesn’t look all that great either.

So what am I a genius or a jerk?  You make the call.

 

Mr. Saturday Night

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

For the past six years I have spent the second Saturday night of Indiana Black Expo working the door as a “bouncer” at Nicky Blaine’s cigar bar on Monument Circle.  I go back and forth between working the door and walking around the immediate downtown vicinity talking to law enforcement and other folks.

I was there when Shamus Patton took out a gun in 2010 and shot several people and I was there when things went well.  And for the last three years, not only have things gone well, but I could clearly see a change in the attitudes of attendees.

Yes, there was still the girl wearing clothes that look she was trying to fit 10 pounds of sausage in a five pound bag and you do come across the occasional drunk, but that’s just life in the big city.   What clearly demonstrated for me a change in attitudes and perceptions  were the two white people I saw using the bike share program riding through downtown.

Let’s be honest, in years past there is no way that would have happened, but now, Saturday night seemed almost like any other night in downtown Indy.

What changed?   A lot of things.

Of course there is the continuing messaging of making IBE a family-friendly event.  But, the the top two, I believe, were the cops going to the homes of potential trouble makers and telling them that they might want to leave town that weekend.  Secondly, having a black police chief delivering a message of tough love (i.e. come in peace, but if you cause trouble, we will lock you up) goes a long way to diffusing the idiotic allegations that the city is racist and wants to keep black youth out of downtown.

Yes, people actually do make that allegation.

I also noticed, which deserves major kudos, was IMPD bringing in members of the new recruit class to observe the event up close, so when they become fully-sworn officers, they aren’t surprised by anything.

I think the big question moving forward is does the city and IBE keep up the same police presence or do we scale back or make other adjustments? I think the city will probably need the heavy presence for one more year and then can scale back somewhat.

In the meantime though, I think a question the black community is going to have to answer is can it be trusted enough to police itself so law enforcement can scale things back and Summer Celebration can stay just that, a celebration.

We’ll see, but I am very optimistic about the future.

And They Lived Happily Ever After

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

I didn’t expect to wake up this morning.

Why?  Because I thought the world was going to come to an end yesterday.  At least that’s what i was led to believe after listening to the wailing and gnashing of teeth over federal Judge Richard Young’s common sense ruling that Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, like bans in most jurisdictions, has no rational basis so it was thrown out as unconstitutional.

Hundreds of people lined up at the Marion County Clerk’s Office to tie the knot.  A number of them had been together longer as partners than most heterosexual couples have as married. They were happy.  They were ecstatic.  And I was happy for them.

I know how I felt when I got married on September 5, 2009 (see I even remembered the date, not bad for a guy, huh) and it’s always good to see someone else experience that same feeling.

But despite what was a happy day for a lot of people, the folks who for whatever reason can’t get past this issue could have swore this was last nail in the coffin of the moral decline of America.

I don’t get it and frankly never have.

As I have stated before, same-sex marriage doesn’t infringe on my liberty or freedom, so I have a hard time getting worked up over it.  I am also very secure in my sexual identity so I don’t spend all day complaining and obsessing over what my neighbors do behind closed doors.

I also don’t worry about someone trying to use this ruling to marry their pet iguana or trying to engage in polygamy with an exponent because those arguments are just silly.

And to be frank, if the critics of same-sex marriage would spend as much time working on their own marriages as they do freaking out over someone else’s maybe they could live happily ever after too.

Democrat Infrastructure Plan Could Hit Legal Roadblock

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Although Indianapolis City-County Council Democrats are touting their “Rebuild Indy” plan as a viable alternative to Mayor Greg Ballard’s infrastructure plan, there could be a legal road block that could stop their proposal from taking effect.

As part of their $340 million plan, Council Democrats have proposed taking $45 million from the downtown TIF district. However, that move could violate an agreement the Democrats reached with the Mayor earlier this year.

The Democrats and Ballard administration were at odds over the use of downtown TIF dollars so they reached an agreement limiting the use of the funds. The policy passed by the Council and the MDC states:

“Reserves and Fund balances for each TIF shall include, and, otherwise, be determined and established consistent with the following considerations: 1) all reserves required by bond covenants, plus 2) an additional reserve equal to no more than 10% of the outstanding principal amount of the bonds, plus 3) any and all additional amounts necessary to improve or, at the very least, maintain current credit ratings.”

In addition, with regard to the coverage ratio, the policy also states that when considering the amount of TIF revenue to pass back to the base assessed value, consideration shall be given to maintain coverage ratios that preserve the credit rating of the TIF bonds.  In other words, enough money must be kept in the TIF to allow the city to keep its AAA credit rating.

With the $45 million in cash payments from the TIFs,  that would violate the 10% reserve policy the Democrats and Mayor agreed to, and in addition, if the entire $45 million in road funds  came from the Downtown Consolidated TIF, that would leave the city with 0% in reserves, could which would drop below optimal coverage ratios and deplete any cash for other economic development projects.

And to make matters more interesting, it’s important to note that TIF funds can only be spent in or around the TIF and cannot be spent on operating costs.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Cockroaches & Congress

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

What’s the difference between cockroaches and Congress?  One tends to be a disgusting creature that feeds on carrion and carries the plague, the other has an approval rating of just 13  percent.

That’s according to the latest Gallup poll.  Which go me to thinking, what else is there that most of us have no use for, generally speaking, but is more popular than Congress?   Public Policy Polling did a survey last October, here’s what made the list…

  • Hemorrhoids

  • The IRS

  • Potholes

  • Heroin

  • Toenail fungus

Now to be fair, there are some things that people prefer Congress over…

  • Ebola virus

  • Miley Cyrus/Twerking

  • Charles Manson

But then again, if I had a choice of being trapped in a room with a Congressman or Charlie Manson, I’d take Manson. He wouldn’t ask for money and it wouldn’t last long.

Short on Sympathy

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

My good friend and Democratic blogger Jon Easter is taking me to task over my attitude regarding Indy’s spike in murders.   On his blog, Easter has levied the charge that I am downplaying the city’s murders because most of the victims (80%) and the suspects (88%) all had mugshots, i.e. prior felonies.   Jon says that by pointing out the criminal histories of those involved I am downplaying the seriousness of the city’s problems.

Far from it.

As we say in my old neighborhood in Chicago, “I am keeping things real”.   We can have the debate in Indy over whether we need more officers, which by the way I am willing to pay for as long as we do some other things to go along with it.

However, you can’t ignore the real fact that most of the violence is bad guy killing bad guy and usually the two are engaged in bad activity.  The problem is when innocents get caught in the crossfire.  I have nothing but sympathy for the families of people like Nathan Trapuzzano who are truly, innocent victims of crime.   But when one bad actor takes another bad actor out of the gene pool,  I’m sorry, I can’t get worked up.

Does this make me a bad person, maybe.  But I don’t apologize for thinking the way I do. My heart and sympathy are saved for people who obey the law, pay their taxes and try to live a decent life.  This is why I have no issue when the city and faith-based leaders sit down and talk with people who honestly want to change their ways.

But when it comes to the rest of them, my only regret is these guys don’t have the decency, or the aim, to take each other out without innocents getting caught in the middle.

God’s Sense of Humor and Irony

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

The one thing I admire most about God is his/her wicked sense of humor, especially when it comes to dealing with folks who claim everything they do for your benefit is in his/her name.

I bring this up because my “pro-family” friends have been doing victory laps following the primary defeats of Northeast Indiana State Representatives Rebecca Kubacki and Kathy Heuer.   They claim in numerous e-mails that have bordered on manifestos that Kubacki and Heuer’s opposition to the marriage amendment in its original form is what did them in.  The marriage amendment was part of it, but any intellectually honest observer knows there were a lot more moving parts involved: low voter turnout, late starts by both candidates, etc.  But hey, in politics a win is a win, so I will give them their due.  (Notice I did not use the term devil).

Now where God comes into play is the day after the holy warriors declared victory and began saber rattling against other lawmakers who had issues with the marriage amendment, a federal judge ruled that Indiana must recognize one same-sex couple from out of state.  One of the women was terminally ill and wanted to die in her home state.  They were married legally out-of-state but Indiana did not recognize their marriage.  So they did any American would do, they exercised their God-given right to take their government to court.  And they won their fight.   The state is appealing.

And that’s where God’s wicked sense of humor comes in.  Less than one day after the marriage amendment supporters were declaring victory and getting ready to launch another crusade, a federal judge comes along and formally opens the door that they have been fighting for years to keep closed and raise money.   During the entire marriage amendment debate I argued an amendment to Indiana’s State Constitution would do nothing to stop a federal judge from declaring it unconstitutional and throwing it out.    And it looks like I was right, but what else is new?

When I witness God use his/her wicked sense of humor and makes stuff happen that people who invoke his/her name to make money and scare people don’t like, tt shows how awesome he/she is and how powerless they are.   He/She truly is an awesome God.

 

Just When I Was Getting Ready to Take Indy Democrats Seriously

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Whenever Marion County Democrats express “outrage” at something Mayor Greg Ballard does, I am reminded of the old scene in Casablanca.  (Here’s the clip).

They put out the following statement Tuesday reacting to the city’s decision not to pursue hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which would cost at least $50 million which is more than the Super Bowl.

“Today’s move by Mayor Ballard is shameful, disrespectful and blatantly political. Indianapolis was specifically invited by the Democratic National Committee to submit a bid to host a political convention that reaps financial rewards for the city and global exposure in a Presidential Election year. Next month, our city is holding one of the largest single-day sporting events in the world. We have hosted the Super Bowl and are in the running for another. We have hosted Final Four tournaments and major stock car races. The excuse that we don’t have enough hotel space and private funding to attract a political convention is simply ludicrous.

Mayor Ballard was willing to ask ‘Kate and William’ – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – to a cricket tournament at his boondoogle of a cricket stadium on the eastside. He is willing to host the NRA’s convention later this week in Indianapolis. But, he is not willing to host Democrats, including the current President of the United States, in our city. -    April 22, 2014

I laugh because here are some other things they’ve stated in the past e-mails about Ballard and his “misplaced priorities”.

Cops Not Cricket

Leading and governing is about establishing priorities. Mayor Ballard has already threatened to veto this measure because he wants to spend $6 million of ReBuild Indy funds on a cricket stadium. Does Mayor Ballard really believe that cricket is more important than our safety? What are Mayor Ballard’s priorities? Public safety is the most basic responsibility of government. -   June 11, 2013.

Greg Ballard: In His Own Words

Greg Ballard is misspending our money with his backward priorities.  -   September 9, 2013

Regional Operations Center deal another example of Ballard’s misplaced priorities

Greg Ballard spends millions on bad real estate deals and cricket fields while our police force is critically understaffed. -    September 18, 2013

So let me get this straight, Democrats complain about not enough money for police or potholes, but think the city should spend $50 million to bring more Democrats to town.  And then they wonder why they can’t beat Ballard in a general election.

 

 

 

RTV 6 Talks with Tobin

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Archbishop Joseph Tobin

On this Easter weekend, Indianapolis This Week sits down for an exclusive interview with Archbishop Joseph Tobin of the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The Archbishop talks about faith, tough decisions ahead on closing parishes, and the canonization this week of Pope John Paul II.

It airs Sunday morning at 8:30 on RTV 6, with a repeat broadcast at Noon.