Just how much more arrogant, in-your-face bullying by the political leadership of this city will the people accept?
The very headline of the article on page A3 of the morning newspaper tells the story. "Tarkington Park plan tied to Whole Foods." The third paragraph, in its entirety, gives the incredible details.
"‘If Whole Foods doesn’t get passed, this won’t get funded,’ said Ryan Vaughn, chief of staff for Mayor Greg Ballard." (Our emphasis.)
This open attempt at extortion, in favor of a pet project of city hall, apparently is justified by saying that a part of the funding of the park project will come from TIF revenue estimates connected with the Whole Foods boondoggle in Broad Ripple.
According to the story, the park project will get $1 million from estimated future TIF funds, the implication being that these funds can come only from the Whole Foods projects success.
Two things are being ignored to strengthen the blackmail approach. One is a statement in the article itself. "...businesses nearby have long contended that if the park were rebuilt, commercial investments and improvements would follow." If so, why not call the park itself a separate TIF project, bringing in its own increased tax revenues?
Secondly, the city is already sitting on an unmentioned multi-million dollar pile of available money - the TIF slush fund - which has been diverted from legitimate municipal functions. Like parks, for instance!! The problem here being that, in actual practice, these funds are held to be distributed to appropriately connected real estate developers at the mayor's discretion.
The TIF financial smoke-and-mirrors approach is part and parcel of the fiscal policies prevalent in Indianapolis for decades. Public apathy might be understood because of the (intentional?) complexity of governmental income and outgo.
But it is alarming that we have now reached the point where the city administration is willing to make public reference to putting corporate welfare ahead of community parks development on an out-and-out "If we don’t get ours, you won’t get yours" basis!
Is this a demonstration of prioritizing "municipal amenities" to attract wealthy young professionals to the city? Who knew that a grocery store would be more worthy of public assistance than a park within walking distance of 30,000 citizens?