City will push criminal justice center proposal at next council meeting

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The proposed Indianapolis criminal justice center plan was not placed on the agenda of Monday’s City-County Council meeting, but Mayor Greg Ballard will seek to gather votes to pass the divisive 35-year private-public partnership next month. Ballard’s statement drew a rebuke from council chairwoman Maggie A. Lewis.

 “Our team has had positive, productive conversations regarding the justice center this week with councilors and community leaders, and we look forward to continuing that dialogue in the weeks ahead,” Ballard’s office said in a statement.

“The proposal was not called for a vote this evening, and while waiting for that action until the next council meeting will create a very tight timeline to achieve financial and commercial close, (WMB Heartland Justice Partners) has once again demonstrated their commitment to this project and to our community by agreeing to work toward completion on a compressed timeline.”  

Lewis said in a statement issued Tuesday that the administration’s decision to delay a vote on the proposal was disingenuous.

“For months, the message from the administration has been that when it comes to this $1.75 billion criminal justice center proposal, time was of the essence and the matter deserved to be heard before the full City-County Council. Tonight, the administration had its opportunity to bring this matter for a vote, and chose not to.
“Instead, as we have seen time and time again with this proposal, when the numbers just don’t add up, the administration changes its tune. … While there is widespread agreement on the pressing need to address our outdated, inefficient facilities, clearly there is no consensus or confidence in this particular proposal. A delay of one month will not change that fact.
“As a bipartisan coalition of councilors have noted in recent weeks, there simply remain too many questions about both the affordability and the cost-effectiveness of an untested, long-term public-private partnership.”

Ballard, a Republican, is not seeking re-election this year. Democratic mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett has urged a delay on the project until after this year’s election.

Read more about the justice center proposal in the April 22 Indiana Lawyer.


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