Remembering Bill Hudnut; My Interview with Him on Getting the Colts

Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut was the first mayor I have a memory of. When I read of his passing over the weekend, it took me back to all the landmark accomplishments that took place during his 16 years in office.

I also thought about the lively and interesting phone interview I had with him in the summer of 2011. The Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine was doing a section on famed business deals and I got the best one: the Circle City landing the Colts.

I found Mayor Hudnut more than willing to take a stroll down memory lane and share his opinions.

An excerpt from the interview:

“We thought we’d get a franchise because the league was expanding, not the relocation of an existing one. (Owner) Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders moved (the team) to Los Angeles and, secondly, there was a strike, so they weren’t going to expand – which certainly was sort of a blow to us. But we were pregnant with the thing; we had to keep on building it as an expansion to the convention center. That’s the way it was promoted to the public – that it would justify itself whether or not it was used 12 days a year for a football game.”

Read the full Q&A (you have to love his detail and memory of the events). Also read the full BizVoice article.

Booker on Budgets, Being Mayoral

Up-and-coming political star and Mayor of Newark, N.J. Cory Booker, whose first campaign was documented in the entertaining documentary "Street Fight," recently sat down for a Q&A with Huffington Post. He offered some interesting thoughts on what it’s like to run a city in today’s America, and the challenges facing leaders in terms of both budget cuts and communication:

HuffPost: A trailer for the new season of Brick City starts with a quote from you, on the screen, where you say, "Squeeze everything else but police and fire." But late last year, the city laid off 164 officers, about 13 percent of the force. How did it come to that?

Booker: Look, budgets across the country — 60 percent of American cities have had reductions in their forces of public safety. And, so, this is not something that’s unique to Newark. In fact, right now it’s plaguing major cities in New Jersey. Camden has had major layoffs. Paterson is facing layoffs. Atlantic City. Jersey City. We’re facing, literally, the worst economy of our lifetimes.

So, we have dramatic losses in revenue. And public safety, frankly — police and fire — make up the significant majority of our budget. We were squeezing and starving every other area of our city. Furloughing employees, cutting staff. But it came to a point where we couldn’t cut enough to make up for the tremendous budgetary shortfall.

Challenges demand creativity. I’m grateful that the police director and my team really came forward with a substantive plan to make sure that the loss of those police officers didn’t affect the progress we were making in the street.

And, look, it’s been a difficult adjustment. We had really some challenges in the month of December. But now, as we’re going through January, things are really getting back on track. And I’m really encouraged. Remember, the first three years in office, we led the nation in percentage reduction of shootings and murders. And I’m really confident that now we’re beginning to get back to that nation-leading pace.

HP: I’ve heard that there are the same number of officers patrolling the street. But I also have heard from some of the union officials that in order to accomplish that, older officers have had to be re-deployed: People who were looking at retirement are now on street patrol. Are you concerned about officer safety?

CB: I’m always concerned about officer safety. I think when you are the leader of men and women who put their lives on the line — whether it’s firefighters and police, or national guard members in the military — that’s the most horrific thing, I think, for an executive, when guys who put their lives on the line get hurt or injured.

That’s a concern that hasn’t changed as a result of the layoffs. But in many ways, we have more experienced officers on the streets. Guys with more years under their belts, not people that are six months out of the academy. It’s a give-and-take in many ways.

Look, I’m very happy: We have our chief, who used to be doing other jobs, now in precincts, running our precincts. In many ways, we have the best talent of the agency closer to the street and closer to the ground on a daily basis.

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Bloggers & Mayors: Working Through Some Things

Gawker (via State Sunshine and Open Records) recently highlighted a bit of a spat between a blogger and the Mayor of Portsmouth, Ohio. Turns out the blogger filed a public information request. He got his info, as well as some constructive feedback from the Mayor. Now, I was once a small town journalist, so I do know the look of disdain from city officials rather well — but dang, guy. At least the Mayor was nice enough to dull the profanity with asterisks, and rehash a classic insult from the "Wayne’s World" movie (see if you can find it):

From: City of Portsmouth
To: [email protected]
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information
Priority: Normal. Date: Sunday, September 27, 2009 1:47 AM
To: Robert Forrey

Per your public records request;

You are correct in stating that at the meeting in the park the fact was "acknowledged that such a written agreement existed". What I don’t understand is why you feel that a confirmation of this fact would necessitate a publication or distribution of the mentioned document.

As you requested, a copy of the document has been prepared for you to pick up at my office. Our regular office hours are from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

If there is anything else that I can do for you, which is required by law, don’t hesitate to call my office. If it isn’t required by law then don’t bother asking, because I think that you’re a worthless piece of s**t and I wouldn’t p**s on you if you were on fire (my opinion). You’re a poor, lonely, jealous, old man with aspirations of being a writer. You write your lies and uneducated opinions on people and issues from behind the safety of your slobber stained keyboard with the hope that somebody will read them that doesn’t know you and believe that you’re more than the pitiful, broke-down, lizard-looking thing that you are, in my opinion. Get a life old man. On second thought, don’t bother…………..

I do have a question for you. Do you have family and if so do they even like you?

Looking forward to your next Internet issue of "FORREY’S FOLLIES"…..NOOOTTTTTT

With little respect for you,
Mayor James D. Kalb

Now that’s freedom of speech at its best, in my opinion.

Sooooooo, you’re saying he can have the information?