Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mayor Ballard's appointment of Randall Tobias to IAA humiliates Indy's faithful

[an edited version of this post was printed as a Letter to the Editor in the Indianapolis Star on February 3, 2008]

WHAT KIND OF LEADERSHIP IS THIS? Newly-elected Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard cursedly instructs us (Indianapolis Star, January 28, 2008; see quote below) that Randall Tobias deserves a second chance and hands the leadership of Indianapolis International Airport to the nationally-shamed local ex-Lilly CEO. In doing so, has Ballard tipped his hand as to the kind of leadership we can expect over the next four years? Will integrity take a back seat to expediency? Will a moral compass yield to political pragmatism?

SWALLOWING A CAMEL. During his campaign to become mayor, Ballard’s supporters made political hay by calling into question City-County Councilor Monroe Gray’s conflicts of interest. But Gray’s issues pale in comparison to the moral disgrace Tobias made of his Bush Administration appointment when he admitted to using a notorious escort service. This is called straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

BUSINESS AS USUAL? Surely a person of impeccable personal, business, and community qualifications can be found to lead Indianapolis International Airport. If Ballard is serious about making good on his campaign promises and raising the level of expectations from cynicism with local government, he should begin by presenting leaders who do not carry baggage that humiliate the city’s faithful residents. But, apparently, it's business as usual.

Ballard's quote in the Indianapolis Star: “Am I going to not get the best talent available in the city because of something that’s damn near irrelevant to the position?” Ballard said. “This is America. We believe in second chances.”

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