The closer; the losers

Dateline: Wed 09 Nov 2011

Congratulations to Mayor Greg Ballard and his team for pulling off an impressive victory in Tuesday's mayoral race.

And although Melina Kennedy is officially the loser, the Indianapolis Star made several missteps along the way that gives the paper license to share the title.

Kennedy deserves credit and gratitude for running a hard, albeit sometimes misguided, race.  Unfortunately for her, she probably believed her own press -- that the endorsement by the state's largest newspaper might carry some heft. Obviously it did not, any more than support from the cops' or other unions, since many Democrats went out of their way in a Dem-dominated city to vote their ticket -- except for the mayor's office. Hence Ballard is left with a solid, respectable win, support by voters of both parties and a Democrat-controlled City-County Council. This may, in the end, be a good thing, giving both sides a chance to see another point of view, which is what democracy is sometimes about.

But what a repudiation this race was of Ms. Kennedy and the school of politics she embraced.

As for the newspaper, did anyone else find it annoying that we once again had to endure a cloying "He said/She said" take from columnists Matt Tully and Erika Smith, who supposedly never see eye-to-eye on anything?

I personally find pitting writers against each other a silly business (I hated it when the Chicago Trib did it, too, so it's not just these particular writers).

It seemed especially disingenuous for Tully to be the token Kennedy backer -- he's really not that liberal -- although I found Smith going for Ballard more believable, since she had the integrity to acknowledge she's a Dem and crossed over to vote. But what are Tully's politics?

I smell eau de management at work: somebody sitting in a big frunt office thinking this would all be a great buzz. Not so.

The "stunt" of dueling columnists is both highly contrived and a leftover bit of business from the 1930s, at best. Think Nick and Nora ("The Thin Man") and how they used to spar; today, independent men and women form their own ideas and don't play off each other like some silly sit-com.

OK, I read every word they wrote, which is not necessarily a sign that something is well done; sometimes it's a case of "it was so putrid I could not take my eyes off it."

Also, the Star's ringing endorsement of Kennedy shows how out of touch it is with the city and how unappreciative of Ballard's strenuous efforts. Ballard is a solid, likeable, competent guy; unlike Kennedy's former boss, Bart Peterson, Ballard did not file a lawsuit over violent video games or fired 200 cops, after promising law and order.

Kennedy's "vision" was frankly tainted by the inept administration of former Mayor Peterson, to say nothing of her association with former Sen. Evan Bayh, whom even Dems no longer like, and the imminently unlikeable Dem party chairman for Marion County, Ed Treacy. Yech.

Despite Tully's goofiness in allowing himself to be used as a management tool, because he is really much better than that, he hit the nail on the head this morning with this paragraph condemning the Dem Party machine:

"Many voters also likely rejected the tired race-baiting and nasty politics of the Marion County Democratic Party, a mean-spirited and useless organization that solely seeks to divide. It served as an anchor around Melina Kennedy's neck."

Tully then calls on Dems to toss out the "hapless individuals running the party."

That's good column writing, although he should have named names.

One more note: equally mean-spirited were the on-line readers who commented on the Star website last night ) re: Erika Smith's weight. Why would management even allow those comments to stay up? Her appearance has nothing to do with her opinions. But then, if I were running that show, there would have been no silly video taped conversation, either.

The unkind comments about Smith brought back one fond memory, tho. When I wrote columns for the Star, a piece on Bobby Knight invited the following phoned-in response from one of the General's fans (think hillbilly twang): "Ruth, yer ugly, yer fat and yer a dickhead."

Yep, the good old days. At least he said it to my face, almost.



whosear [Member] said:

Such is the anonymity of the internet.

Hopefully there will be an Obama-like dem who goes against the powers and charts his own course.

Maybe the universe is returning to order. It seems that dem legistlators and republican administrators make for better government, at least in the past.

So Mitt Romney and democratically controlled House/Senate may be enough to bring corporations/Wall Street under control


2011-11-09 18:30:40

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

I enjoyed this article very much, Ruth. Very insightful and informative.

I couldn't agree more with this sentence:

"The "stunt" of dueling columnists is both highly contrived..."

Those two must have been squirming when they got their "orders." But they have to pay their electric bills and put food on the table. So, I can't judge them; just empathize with them.

Kennedy was a solid candidate and I believe she would have made a good mayor. I don't really get what is so attractive about Ballard, But, as they say, the voters have spoken.

I guess Indianapolis voters don't see change as being a good thing.

There's a Super Bowl to prepare for, for cryin' out loud.

2011-11-09 23:04:16

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

The entire Indy news media has to hang its head over coverage of this municipal election. Pitiful. Again. It's a race to the bottom, coverage-wise. Who's to blame--them, for doing it, or us, for accepting it?

The issues Ballard handed to Kennedy were sufficient for a victory: the baseline straight-party vote proved that. The water and parking deals were grossly corrupt. There are at least 6000 votes in those tow iossues if they're properly emphasized. About 6000 Dem straight-ticket voters wandered off the reservation to vote for Ballard. There's the story. Where was that defection?

It will take a few days of analysis to fully-deterine that. Preliminary suspects: strong D precincts who voted closer to 20% than 30%. Laziness abounds.

I was impressed with the grassroots campaigning of the Democratic at-large candidates. They won.

Maybe the real moral of this story is that old-fashioned retail politics can work.

Wouldn't that be refreshing?

2011-11-10 08:19:12

hendy [Member] said:

The way legalities go on comment editing, TheStar is smart not to pull the evil ones. If you start to edit them, you can become liable for others that are left-- malicious, perhaps libelous ones. You either drastically edit (costs $$ and is painful) or leave them alone.

That said, the election was Kennedy's to lose, and she did lots of good things, but many very bad ones. The bad ones include going negative, not disassociating herself with Peterson politics, and not allying herself with differing constituencies.

I don't like Ballard and find him to be less than what Indy needs, but I don't vote in Indy any more and am rather glad about that. Who had the best transportation system in Indiana last year? Wasn't Indy. Most astute use of public utilities? Wasn't Indy. Best use of public bond money? Wasn't Indy. The list goes on. Top leadership is not so good. But the Democratic Party in Indy didn't do so well, either. No energy; much was apparently taken for granted. Now we have: The lesser of evils.

I like Erica Smith a lot. Tully is inconsistent and tries to find a voice. The mgmt staff, well, we've discussed them before. Tough spot to be in, but leadership again is the problem. More doldrums for Indy.

2011-11-10 08:50:51

Jeff [unverified] said:

On a somewhat related side note, I am also tired of Dennis Ryerson's attempt to preview what I am about to read in the Sunday Star. (I already bought the paper, Dennis. Please let me read it in peace.)

First, the paper is small enough that I really don't think I'm going to miss any articles, although the Business section does frequently get lost in the ad inserts. Also, when he refers to a front page article, chances are I already read it before I got to his "column."

Second, I think the Editor should have something more important to say than just "Oh boy, you're going to love this."

Third, aren't there more important and timely news stories to put on Section A, Page 2 of the Sunday Star?

I'm not the journalist here, just a paying subscriber, so I appreciate everyone's comments here.

2011-11-10 08:51:27

hendy [Member] said:

Ryerson attempts to use his "seductive" copy to entice you to look, beating the drum, cheerleading. The enticements, as you cite, aren't very strong, nor are they very useful. Instead, the under 100-IQ set will breathlessly follow his suggestions, and revel in the results. That leaves the over 100 IQ set to line their bird cages.

2011-11-10 10:13:17

ruthholl [Member] said:

As an editor explained to me once, there are two kinds of exec editors: one who loves journalism and journalists and stays close to the newsroom and its issues; and the other who is community minded and likes to get outside the newsroom and be a mover and shaker. Alas, Ryerson is the latter. He loves to wine and dine. Hence his knowledge of what is really being written or what reporters care about is worthless. He can be nothing more than a cheerleader, and he is too dense to see that people see through it. It's really sad, because an editor of the state's largest newspaper in a city that is 11th or 12th in size should have an editor with gravitas. Ryerson is pure fluff.
I think both Erika and Matt are tremendously talented. I think if he would leave them the hell alone, they would express themselves just fine without all the little cutsey pooh games.

2011-11-10 12:45:12

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Once again Ruthie, you nail it.

Mr. Milz needs to befriend a reporter or two. Real ones.

He's certainly chummy with the movers-and-shakers in town. He's got good Super bowl, seats, I'm sure.

His column sucks. Plainly and simply. It reads like one of those GD Chritmas brag letters that come inside cards...the letters that make me want to vomit.

Off with his head. Yesterday.

2011-11-10 21:54:43

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Glad the subject of Ryerson's columns came up.

All of these many good people working under him who have lost/are losing their jobs and he waxes elegantly euphoric about the future of that pathetic rag he edits.

I don't know why I read it. Not good for my blood pressure.

2011-11-11 11:36:01

Marycatherine Barton [unverified] said:

Did more than one out of four citizens of Marion County even vote Tues.? I do not think that most even care whether the mayor of Indianapolis is a Democrat or a Republican, for reasons about which they should be polled.

2011-11-12 09:52:30

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