What's A Public Nuisance?

Mayor Greg Ballard's administration proudly boasted yesterday of its efforts to close a small motel, a Traveler's Inn, which it says is a public nuisance because of numerous police runs to the business over the last several years. Many people live at the small motel because it is the only place they can afford to live with record high unemployment rates and the worst economic downturn in the nation's history since the Great Depression. As reported by Fox 59 News:

"We're all here for a different reason," said Kelli Benner, who has been living at the Traveler's Inn for more than a year. "Some because they can't get places but most it seems to be drugs."
Despite her concern about safety, Benner says she couldn't find any other affordable housing options for her and her kids. Now she says she may be forced to find someplace else or seek help from a shelter.
"Number one goal is to shut it down," said City Attorney Helen Marchal.
Marchal says that goal has come because from July 2008 through July 2011 there have been 114 violations of health and hospital code, and more than 12 hundred police calls involving more than 22 hundred officers. Marchal estimates the policing alone has cost the city between $200-250,000.
Reuse America, bought the Inn last fall with the goal of turning things around, but the Marchal says time is up.
"Nothing's changed and there comes a point when you realize that asking somebody to make a difference just isn't going to work and you have to take them to court," Marchal said.

Contrast the City's treatment of this small motel with the annual Black Expo Summer Celebration event downtown that requires the deployment of the City's entire police force within the Downtown area to combat the shootings and mayhem that accompany the event every year. Ten teens were shot at last year's expo. Shootings, rapes, assaults, drugs, prostitution, public intoxication, etc. have been associated with  the event every year. Downtown businesses don't even want to be open during the event because their employees call in sick to avoid working, and those who do show up for work have to deal with unruly teen-agers who scare away paying customers. For this event, taxpayers are not only required to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for the extra policing, hundreds of thousands of your taxpayers dollars are actually given to the organization to bring this mayhem to our Downtown every summer.

Mayor Greg Ballard, Indiana Black Expo, Metro Police and 10-Point Coalition officials will announce Tuesday morning their plans for keeping a lid on the kind of downtown violence that has marred recent Summer Celebration weekends.
In 2010, on the last full night of Indiana Black Expo, ten people were wounded in gang-related shootings, casting Indianapolis into the national spotlight just when the city was preparing to host the 2012 Super Bowl. 
“We just want to make sure we stay ahead of this thing,” said IMPD Deputy Chief Mike Bates, the commander in charge of more than 300 officers who will report for duty Friday and Saturday nights.

IMPD  has cancelled days off for every officer in the department, detailing forces to either their regular shifts at the district level or assigning them downtown.

In the wake of last summer’s shootings, Public Safety Director Frank Straub suggested that safe zones and metal detectors would be part of this year’s security plan. They are not. However, officers will enforce curfew restrictions for teenagers found wandering downtown streets after 11 p.m.
Talk to any downtown business owner any they will agree that Black Expo's Summer Celebration weekend activities create a public nuisance that actually harms the reputation of Downtown Indianapolis. Hotel operators actually tell people who call up from out of town who are making travel arrangements to the City to think about a different travel time because they've all experienced out-of-town visitors being shocked and disappointed by what they encountered during the second weekend of this event. Restaurant workers don't want to work because they can't earn tips and most of the customers they have are rude and unruly. Shop owners experience a rash of shoplifting and vandalism to their property. What does the City do to business owners who wish to close down during the event? It threatens them with legal action? I'm not kidding. Someone needs to ask the Ballard administration to rethink what it considers a public nuisance. And it's just not the general public doing the complaining. Many IMPD officers are less than happy with the way the administration is handling this event.