The announcement of a public safety advisory board and the hiring of Rick Hite for the position of Deputy Director of Public Safety for Training and Strategic Initiatives has been the talk of the blogosphere the past day or so, so I thought I'd give my thoughts. I'll admit, I have changed them a bit since reading these various points of views.
As I've previously criticized the Summer Celebration "task force" being an idea from the hell of middle management, this seems like a similar situation. Instead of our elected and appointed officials taking a leadership role and doing their job, we get an appointment of an outside body.
Furthermore, as Gary Welsh has written in numerous posts, I'm concerned about the expansion of the Department of Public Safety. DPS seems to be acting as a buffer between the various agencies such as Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the 25th floor, rather than representing them. And as others have expressed to me (both from within and beyond the blogosphere), many even question the need for DPS. Why the heads of the respective departments such as IMPD, animal control, etc... don't just report to Mayor Ballard is something I've been wondering for a while, and apparently I'm not alone.
The selection of the advisory board members also concern me. Regardless of if Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an Indiana resident or not (I personally am not knowledgeable enough to discern if he is), he does maintain residence in Illinois, practices law there, and votes in that state's elections. While Shabazz is certainly qualified for the position, I question how hard Mayor Ballard and "Call me Doctor" Frank Straub looked to find someone with similar qualifications but who also can vote in Marion County.
But as far as Shabazz's and Brown's being media personality goes, I don't see a conflict. These men are opinion men. As long as they're open and honest about serving on it (and they aren't being paid, and the board is voluntary), I don't have a problem. I think it might bother some people who might still think these two have any sense of objectivity, but pundits can't exist in a empty void.
Jon Easter of the Indy Democrat blog noticed that the advisory board's two council members are both Republicans, and publicly questioned DPS on their Facebook page why no Democratic council representatives are on the board. DPS responded, saying that the board members were chosen for their professions and backgrounds, and not political positions or influence.
The press release identifies Ben Hunter and Angel Rivera as "Councilor" and "City-County Council, At-Large" and makes no mention of their full time employment. While Hunter and Rivera may have qualification beyond being on the City-County Council, they were certainly appointed because of their political position.
On another note, Hunter represents District 21. The intern who wrote that press release needs to brush up on his/her local government.
I'll be covering the rally today at Monument Circle at 7pm. It concerns last Friday's crash that left one dead and two injured. I guess they're collecting signatures to show support for the victims. I'll have more on that in the evening.
Other blog entries on the same subject:
Indy's Political Stock Exchange: Also weighing in on the subject is Amos Brown in the comments section. Brown is also a member of the advisory board.
Advance Indiana (and related post here)
Indy Democrat (and related post here)