Dems bash Ballard over power grab

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mayor Greg Ballard will have new power on July 1 thanks to a bill signed by the governor over the weekend.  That same bill will eliminate the four at-large seats on the City County Council now held by Democrats.

Democrats took to the airwaves on talk radio to make the case that Mayor Greg Ballard changed the rules in way that is unfair. 

"This is a power grab," said Council President Maggie Lewis on the WTLC program "Afternoons with Amos." 

"I believe that the Administration did not want to deal with the Democrats on the Council so they went to the Statehouse to ask them to fight their battle."

The bill backed by Ballard not only eliminates four seats on the City County Council, it also gives the Mayor budget powers that will reduce the authority of Democratic officeholders including the Sheriff. 

"He chose not to work with us in a bi-partisan way," said At-Large Councilor John Barth, "but to take his argument in a partisan way to the Statehouse and that's just now how people want things to get done."

The mayor was unavailable, but Republican party leaders reject the Democratic allegations. 

"It is not a power grab," said Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker.  "It's all about accountable government and the fact of the matter is the average voter does not know their at-large councilor."

Some Democrats, however, believe that the bill passed by the GOP controlled General Assembly and signed by a Republican governor will become a political asset for them in the next election. 

"The strategy for something like this is pretty simple," said Marion County Democratic Chairman Joel Miller.  "You tell the truth. You trust the public to be intelligent and informed and you make sure that everybody knows exactly what the Republicans are up to."

One thing you can say:  Republicans created the at large seats and now they've taken them away.  The four Democrats who hold at-large seats will remain in office until the end of their terms on December 31, 2015.  After that, the council will be comprised of 25 members, rather than 29.

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