Monday, August 15, 2011

DCE the Driving Force Behind Ordinance Giving Themselves Uncontrolled Powers, Admits Councillor

I had about a 35 minute chat yesterday with Councillor Angel Rivera. We mostly talked about Proposal 188, but ventured off a few times and talked about various other topics like the Broad Ripple parking garage.
My original intent was to touch base with the Councillor before I posted the entry to my blog yesterday, so I'd be able to include his remarks there. As it would happen, he called me literally seconds after I published that post. I said I would discuss our conversation, though, when it happened. So, here it is.
First, and most importantly, I wanted to address the topic of why 188 is even necessary to begin with. When I asked him where he got the idea for 188, he did not hesitate to say it came from the Department of Code Enforcement. When I asked who the major contributor was to the original writing of 188, again the answer was the Department of Code Enforcement. My fears, as I laid out in my last blog, are indeed true. The proposal to give large amounts of undefined power to the DCE was, in fact, proposed and written by the DCE itself.
I asked Rivera if he saw the enormous conflict in interest in this.   He did, he admitted. He then went on to tell me that he and other councillors simply don't have the time to research and write these ordinances. Instead, he said, they typically defer that to part of the executive branch.
I understand that being a City-County Councillor is a part-time job. I understand that many of the employees of the DCE are full-time. I even understand the need to have someone with more time and more experience write these ordinances.
What I don't understand is how it can be allowed for one area of the executive branch to suggest a proposal that gives them enormous powers, and then we allow that same organization to write and amend the legislation and then be the sole group to testify to the committee on the proposal's pros and cons.
When I presented this problem to Councillor Rivera, his reply was, "it's the Mayor's head that's on the chopping block."
The Councillor even admitted that the powers granted to the DCE were broad, and, if someone was so inclined, could be abused. I inquired why, if abuse is possible, aren't limitations included in the language of the proposal, such as maximum size and scope of clean zones, that would prevent potential abuses before that had the opportunity to occur. Again, Rivera deferred to the Mayor, stating that if the abuse happens it will be the Mayor who is forced to deal with it.
As far as ticket resellers go, Rivera stated that after they added the "face value +15%" amendment to the amount resellers can sell their tickets for, I am the only person that has a problem with it. While I cannot speak for others, I must say I doubt that.
I also mentioned that Ticketmaster fees, according to my research, often exceed 20%. The Councillor said he would move to amend the language again, from 15% to 20%. I suggested removing the reseller ban altogether.
Correctly, Rivera said that it is not a ban. I pointed out that it is a law that will allow bulk ticket resellers, like Circle City Tickets, to resell all they want. You and I, though, that just want to sell a couple of tickets to an event we can't go to anymore? Well, we're going to be forbidden. Rivera suggested we sell to a licensed broker ourselves. To do so, though, once again takes the ability to profit away from the individual citizen and leaves that ability solely in the hands of corporate ticket brokers. This is something we should all be able to do equally.
And the reason that we should limit the ability to resell? Rivera says its because of the numerous complaints received about counterfeit tickets as well as complaints about overly aggressive scalpers causing people to feel intimidated on the way to an event.
Having been to many, many events in the city, and having bought from resellers myself, these are problems I've never faced. I don't deny they exist, though, so I asked how many complaints we were talking about.
Rivera said he knew of a dozen or more. That's right, a dozen. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people attending various events throughout the city each year, we're going to infringe upon the rights of hundreds of vendors and resellers, as well as hundreds or thousands of citizens who wish to repurchase (the resellers are responding to a market demand for their services, to be sure) because 12 people complained. That, my friends, is how I define overreaction.
Overall, my conversation with Rivera was a pleasant one. He is a nice man, and I genuinely believe he means well. I do disagree with him on what this law will accomplish, though. I also continue to question the judgement that allows the DCE to write their own ticket to control in this city.
For now, I will end my discussions on Proposal 188 and how bad I believe it is. We will see tonight how the rest of the members of the Council weigh in on it.

1 comment:

  1. So Rivera is willing to promote a bad law in search of a problem, knowing its shortcomings and potential abuses, to score points against the Mayor if a 6 year old gets busted for selling Kool-Aid and it makes the front page. Got it. Sorry, Angel, but this one has your name on it, not Ballard's. It's all yours.