Thursday, May 23


SO Tuesday the FBI basically shut down the 25th floor of the City-County Building in Indianapolis for half a day, seizing records from the Department of Metropolitan Development. And the US attorney, Joe Hogsett, announced five corruption indictments, including the head of the Land Bank and one of its project managers, a former spokesman for Mayor Gomer F. Ballard, USMC, plus two operators of local non-profits and a real estate agent (for a company in which the Land Bank director was a silent partner). They're accused, variously, of bribery and wire fraud for a scheme which used the Land Bank, tasked with getting rid of the city's thousands of abandoned buildings, to cherry-pick properties to sell to the non-profits for pennies. They would then flip them quickly to developers.

This was, you might expect, fairly big news. Mayor Gomer went missing for 24 hours, though he was presumed safe. His mouthpiece at first tried to insist that Hizzoner didn't actually appoint the people who work for him, before rendering that comment inoperable, and allowing as how the Mayor was deeply troubled by the fact that this was revealed on his watch.

He resurfaced on Wednesday, giving reporters a chance to record his soundbite in a steady rain. But then Channel 8 went missing.

I watched a half-hour of the morning news. Took them twenty minutes to get to a simple recitation of the basic facts, that is, that the FB Fucking I had raided the seat of Indianapolis government the previous morning. I know, you have to give people two weather reports and three recitations of the two traffic accidents slowing the morning commute first, or they'll just get confused and stay home. And you need to tell everyone about Game One of the Pacers-Heat series, so the audience can remember that you can't be bothered reporting sports anymore, except as an act of civic boosterism, or to explain why professional sports clubs can't afford to do the maintenance on the stadia we built 'em.

Then I watched the first hour of the evening news. Zero mentions. [I should note here that I tried and failed somehow (old) to tape the last half-hour, so maybe that was wall-to-wall coverage and a thorough examination of the theft of taxpayer money. Yeah, probably.]

Channel 13 teased it on opening. Had a reporter out in the rain who actually asked Mayor Gomer a pointed question. Interviewed the Star's political reporter Matt Tully, who'd fairly called out the Mayor for his Tuesday disappearing act.

Oh, but 8, and its political reporter Jim Shella, the Dean (Broder) of Statehouse hackery, did manage to work in a political story or two:

• Indiana Teabag parties believe they may have been targeted by the IRS.

• Indiana Governor Mike Pence once co-sponsored a media shield bill in Congress.

•Indiana Governor Mike Pence pledges to complete the uncompleted half of the half-completed I-69.

•Indiana Governor Mike Pence probably has some idea where he might get the money to do that, but he'd as soon not be asked.

• Indianapolis is planning to make another Super Bowl bid, probably in the future.

• President Barack Obama is mired in scandalisms.

Okay, look, I understand. Free drinks aren't really free.


BruceJ said...

Jeezus, that was a 'Sopranos' plot arc, season five or so...

Calming Influence said...

I understand your frustration, Mr. Riley, but it's not as if your mayor was smoking crack.

Anonymous said...

The angel on my right shoulder keeps saying that this isn't a partisan scandal, it's a corruption scandal, and it could just as easily have happened in a state run by Democrats.

But the guy on my left shoulder keeps reminding me that every description I can find of the way the Land Bank allegedly operated sounds a lot like standard-issue libertarianism. After all, the government has no legitimate right to property anyway, so why shouldn't the Bank's holdings be made to serve the Randian ubermen who dared to take what they deserve?