Black Caucus fights Mayor Ballard

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There is a new effort to eliminate the four at-large seats on the Indianapolis City County Council. It's a controversial attempt to change the way government operates here in Indianapolis. 

Republicans say it will improve government efficiency. Some Democrats today suggested that it's rooted in racial discrimination.

Four members of the 29 member City County Council are elected at-large. That means voters in the entire county elect them. The other 25 members are elected from districts. 

Mayor Greg Ballard has told 24-News 8, "I'm a little bit ambivalent about” the proposed elimination of the at-large council members. But it is part of a bill that he supports. He said he wants the power to make some separately-elected officials live within their budget as members of his team do.

“I have to be able to control the money in the city,” he said. “I can't have people over-spending and just blowing their budget every year. Then everybody else is hurt because of that. You want more cops on the street, make people live within their budget. I can't do that right now.”

"The bottom line is the bill is unfair," said Sen. Lonnie Randolph (D-East Chicago,) "and the question is whether or not we're going to recognize that and it's common sense."  

He, along with embers of the Black Legislative Caucus, Democrats all, want the legislation stopped because, they say, it would have an adverse effect on minorities. They don't have the votes to defeat it. So, they also have a plan B, a call for a summer study committee. 

"Perhaps the removal of the four at-large does make sense but let's study it and let's understand it," said Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis). "Let's look at all the consequences and the pros and the cons."

Senator Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) is the author of the bill and says he won't budge on the elimination of the at-large's or wait until next year. 

"We didn't have a study committee when they did Uni-gov back in 1968," he said. "These issues I think we've looked at over 43 years."

Democrats currently control the City County Council but if there were no at-large members, the GOP would be in charge.

The members of the black caucus would appear to have very little leverage. However, last week all of them voted against the bill to give state assistance to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

It's a bill the Mayor wants and they almost killed it. This battle may not be over yet.

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