Mayoral politics

Dateline: Sun 04 Sep 2011

Interesting that none of the blogs/stories/TV coverage I've read speculated about why the Fraternal Order of Police in Indy did not endorse Mayor Greg Ballard in his re-election bid, but instead went with Democrat challenger Melina Kennedy.

Ballard had received the nod from the FOP when he first ran four years ago. As a career jarhead/Marine, you'd think he'd have plenty of buddies on the force.

WRTV Channel 6 reported that "Political experts said Kennedy’s endorsement is historic because she is the first Democratic candidate to receive a nod from the FOP since the Unigov began."

No question, Kennedy made a good pitch to the FOP, and she's comfortable around cops and cop issues.

But here's the real reason I think the FOP turned on Ballard: police in this city hate Public Safety Director Frank Straub's guts. That's no secret, and plenty of comments on websites explored that sentiment. Straub is seen as the arrogant outsider, a New Yorker who does not get IMPD and worse, does not support the officers whose working lives he controls. He's seen as a headline grabber who cares more about personal power than the rank and file men and women in blue.

Ballard has steadfastly stuck by Straub. So that loyalty is going to cost him plenty of votes.

Misplaced? Loyalty is admirable, but there's clearly a disconnect between the mayor and what the police officers in this city are saying.



P.J. [unverified] said:

"But here's the real reason I think the FOP turned on Ballard: police in this city hate Public Safety Director Frank Straub's guts."

Sure seems like it:

2011-09-04 17:27:11

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

If Ballard loses, and that's a strong possibility, this won't be the main reason.

IMPD needed reformed. It still does.

They just don't like Straub's arrogant east-coast attitude. You know, the same kind of attitude Steve Goldsmtih took to New York, and...oh, never mind.

2011-09-04 19:48:17

hendy [Member] said:

Peterson didn't give the FOP a fair shake. Ballard seems to have slighted them, too. Would Kennedy? Tough to know. But what does an FOP endorsement do, in terms of votes? The FOP has its own list of people that don't care for its attitude, too. There haven't been many recent incidents of questionable arrests, or deaths in police custody. And Indy's Finest end up doing a lot of grunt work for our event-driven city and its economy, and often do that job quite well, and in an organized way. But in the past four years, there have been some strange events, police chases, shoot-outs, and so forth. My take: doesn't have a strong effect on the election results, except that Kennedy picks up law-and-order votes from Ballard.

2011-09-04 21:52:28

Matt Stone [unverified] said:

I've been putting a post together, but holding off on analyses/posting it till Tuesday when people are back to work.

Really, it's not a question of if they'd endorse Ballard or Kennedy. The question to ask was Kennedy or no recommendation.

The reforms IMPD needs, if needed, need to come from someone who understands the system and can work from within it. Straub isn't about reforming IMPD. He is about consolidating power. DPS, the department and not the individual departments (IMPD, IFD, etc...) has vastly increased it's budget and office space, completely contrary to the history of the office of DPS, over the past two years. There's two things getting fatter, and that's Straub's pocketbook and ego. The other departments are practically being ignored. The head of animal control is a LAWYER whose previous job was in Corporate Council (City Legal) and has no experience in handling animals.

As for the effect, it's just like the effect of various county GOP defectors to the Dems, LP, or indepent status. While their individual votes might only add up to a few hundred, these are passionate people who volunteer, write, work, blog, and donate to campaigns. Now their money, time, and efforts are going elsewher.e

Full disclosure: The FOP endorsed me for my District 7 race.

2011-09-04 22:49:41

sjudge [unverified] said:

There will always be someone like Straub in place in any administration. Mayors say they want control over the police (or lately, the schools) but those are both places that are prone to terrible problems, politically. Administrations will always need, and have, someone to serve as insulation.

2011-09-05 09:27:54

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Matt: anyone from this administration's CorpCounsel office is suspect. It's a training ground for future Big Three law firm partners. Worst in decades.

And yes, IMPD needs reforms. Many. I think the good LEOs, who are a majority, know that.

Ballard's main law enforcement problem is his lack of understanding of basic FOP power plays. They're like children. Over the years, they stomp and whine and get what they want, or they leave the room and endorse someone else. They're not going to stop doing it until someone tells them, politely:

"Here's what we're going to do to start meaningful IMPD reforms; your future endorsements or lack thereof are of no consequence in this discussion. Threats won't work. Let's get to work."

The FOP and line officers need to be part of that solid discussion. I attended or watched dozens of hours of Sheriff-IMPD merger discussions, which were conducted live and telecast on Ch. 16. Anyone who doubts the ability of LEOs to work out differences intelligently, should re-watch some of those tapes. It was poetry. I was very proud of the participants.

Little problems remain: three years later and we still have too many brown cars. But that's chicken feed.

The overwhelming majority oF LEOs can meaningfully participate in those kinds of fair discussions. They're aching for the chance. The FOP can demand whatever they want. Straub is insignificant in that discussion, because if there's a God iknk heaven, he'll be gone. (So too should the entire PSD position--wasteful duplication--all the chiefs can report directly to the mayor and save hundreds of thousands)

We'll all be better off for it.

2011-09-05 12:41:36

Jason [unverified] said:

Ballard's issue is he took the ball after the election, and stood there and stared at it. It's hard to hold him responsible for everything that Straub has done since he's been here, but at the same time the way he's handled this issue has been found wanting. Ballard criticized Peterson up one side and down the other and has justified his actions by pointing at the same behavior he used to scorn.

The FOP crowd rallied behind Ballard before the election, and the vote may have been different had there been more in attendance. Make no mistake, though, there are a lot of lifelong Republicans throwing in the towel over Straub.

Straub failed to realize that values shape the way people feel about things, and assumed that what worked in New York or White Plains would work in Indianapolis. The most recent blunder was IPL showing up at East District HQ to shut off the power because somebody in DPS forgot to pay the electric bill for 3 months. There's a lot of self-proclaimed belt-tightening going on, but suddenly we have a dozen deputy Public Safety Directors adding several million to the budget, we're routinely sending today's brass to training all over the East Coast at great cost, and we've quadrupled the size of youth services while leaving basic patrol functions unattended. Peterson was bad, and oftentimes played the public against the police department by rebranding issues and controlling information, but the fact that cops are willing to vote for Melina Kennedy in droves tells you more than anything else.

Realistically, though, it doesn't amount to much. The FOP PAC has a coupla thousand in it, tops, to spread out among dozens of elections in a good year. Endorsements are endorsements, money wins elections. Enter the IFD PAC, with a campaign warchest of nearly a half a million dollars. Not to make excuses to defend the recent IMPD headliners, but you don't hear much ado about it when it's IFD up to the same claptrap. Just sayin' To wit: Firefighters doing accounting, running cabinetmaking businesses, real estate, etc. on duty. And IFD's curious lack of any take-home car policy at all means their Chief can give anybody a car anytime he wants to take home whether they live out of county or not (which does happen.) So oftentimes these calls for 'reform' and 'change' fall on deaf ears because of the chaotic regulatory environment in DPS in general.

2011-09-06 13:40:45

Jason [unverified] said:

But there are changes needed, and I don't think it's quite what people think. The biggest morale-killer wasn't having multiple officers arrested for a motley assortment of charges, or the Brandon Johnson incident where an officer was thrown under the bus, or even the aftermath of Dave Bisard's crash. The two worst things that have happened involve an officer who stole a great deal of money from a prisoner, and another officer who ruined a homicide investigation because, as best could be deduced, this officer was involved at some level. Both of these individuals are back working in full-duty status. THAT is what needs to be reformed. Like it or not, we need to remember that when cops get arrested, the system usually works. I digress.

It's hard, though, being a politician over a police department. Even the appointed ranks in IMPD feel the rub, triangulating among doing the right thing, scoring some points for ones self, and doing what's best for the city. Obviously there's never a perfect congruence between these issues so they very often present themselves as immoral when they're just trying to do their job.

It's this way for a lot of public employees, trying to make sense of the insanity, every four years dealing with a rat race of issues and having a such vicarious enforcement of policies a matrix within a matrix is needed along with the discretion of a dozen people to determine what, if anything, was done wrong and if they should do anything about it.

Okay, this is going to be a bit disjointed. I ran over. Again.

2011-09-06 13:43:35

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