- Rebecca Townsend
- Mayor Greg Ballard, a veteran of the Gulf War shown here addressing a veterans' memorial this summer, made veterans' issues a priority in his first term.
The 2011 Election
Mayor Greg Ballard was reelected in November, but the Republican's next term will begin with a Democrat-controlled City-County Council.
Ballard defeated Melina Kennedy, a deputy mayor in the Bart Peterson administration. Kennedy lost despite the backing of the Fraternal Order of Police and an endorsement from The Indianapolis Star (which might illustrate how much pull the local fish wrap has in the city today). She consistently trailed in the polls, and lost the mayor's office by 7,500 votes.
Although Kennedy lost, her fellow Democrats won a 16–13 majority on the City-County Council, which is believed to be the first time in the city's history that a Republican mayor would be working with a Democratic council.
Exiting the water business
Citizens Water, a subsidiary of Citizens Energy Group, is set to complete payments of an estimated $425 million by year's end to acquire the city's water and wastewater systems. In addition, Citizens is absorbing more than $1.5 billion in city debt. The deal removes several burdens from the shoulders of city officials. Citizens will take the lead on completing upgrades to the sewer and storm water systems to bring the city into compliance with the Clean Water Act after years of notorious sewage overflows into White River and its tributaries.
City-County Council Scandals
Two City-County Council members were arrested in 2011; one was sentenced to prison while the second awaits his day in court.
Former City-County Councilman Lincoln Plowman was sentenced to 40 months in prison earlier this month, shortly after being convicted on bribery and attempted extortion charges. Plowman, the leading Republican on the council at the time, accepted a $5,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent who claimed he needed help opening a strip club in the city during a sting operation.
As if that wasn't a bad enough black eye for the city, Plowman, who worked full-time as a major with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, accepted the bribe while wearing his police uniform. Plowman resigned from the council shortly afterward and took early retirement from the department.
Although Plowman wasn't able to help the undercover operative open the non-existent strip club, he will likely be seeing plenty of bars in prison.
Plowman's former fellow councilor Paul C. Bateman Jr. likely wasn't impressed by the $5,000 extortion attempt; he allegedly defrauded an Indiana doctor of $1.7 million.
Bateman, a Democrat, convinced the unnamed victim to invest in an ethanol-production business and The Russell Foundation, to "enhance society through compassionate concerns for the spiritual, moral and ethical fibers of the community." The head of the foundation, Rev. Michael L. Russell, was also indicted, along with a third man, Manuel Gonzalez.
Instead of the money going to the promised purpose, prosecutors claim the three men diverted the cash to their personal accounts and spent it on luxury items, including a Cadillac Escalade and custom-made clothing.
-Robert Annis and Rebecca Townsend contributed to this report.