Featherstone: Rivera’s Proposal Attacks Indy’s Poor, Neighborhoods, and Private Property Owners

(Josh Featherstone is the 7th District Representative for the LPIN State Central Committee. Blog originally posted here.)

On June 27th, At-Large City-County Councillor Angel Rivera introduced what became Proposal #188. According to the digest of the proposed ordinance, it “amends portions of the code pertaining to the permitting, licensing, and organization of activities related to special events licensed by the department of code enforcement, and adds a new chapter creating an annual license for ticket broker engaged in the sale or resale of tickets on public streets, sidewalks, and alleys.”

Oh, is that all? Well that sounds innocent enough, I guess. Like most digests and summaries these days, though, it’s a nicely written paragraph that has very little to do with what the bill or ordinance contains. In reality, they are written the way they are so folks like you and I with a little political interest look at the digest and move on, uninterested.

Let me tell you a little secret that Angel Rivera and any other supporters of Proposal 188 don’t want you to know: This ordinance is an all-out attack on property owners, neighborhoods, and the poor in our city, especially downtown and especially because of one week of festivities surrounding the 2012 Super Bowl.

Let’s break 188 down…
First, Ticket Brokers. 188 repeals two other sections of code (specifically 407-107 through 407-109 and Chapter 431, Article II) regarding selling and reselling of tickets around NCAA events, NFL events and at Victory Field. What it replaces these with is an attack on the poor who are trying to make a little income to support themselves by selling tickets on the sidewalk. It does this by saying no one can resell or repurchase a ticket within ONE MILE of: Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field, Hinkle Fieldhouse, MuratTheatre at Old National Centre, Indianapolis Convention Center, Indiana State Fairgrounds, and White River State Park…or any other place where more than 500 people can gather. (Well, not quite no one….people with a license or with written permission from the event organizers are allowed….so no one.)

Is it really that bad to see some people trying to sell tix on the sidewalks? Are they really that much of a bother? I agree that there is some risk of counterfeit tickets, but it is a small one. Besides, 188 does nothing to prevent counterfeit tickets other than saying you can’t sell within a mile of the event and by saying the police have the right to inspect the tickets being resold or repurchased (the police probably won’t know if it’s counterfeit much better than you or I would). This is just an attack on the poor, similar to the bills preventing panhandling, because the city refuses to let visitors know that the poor and homeless exist here in the Circle City. Ticket resellers present very little potential harm and this ordinance is not about fixing that. The City doesn’t want the resellers out there because the NFL doesn’t want them there…it’s as simple as that.

Next, 188 attacks the street vendors. God forbid you try to buy a hot dog from someone other than the NFL or the NCAA, because that’s basically what 188 prevents. The ordinance creates “Clean Zones” (their term, not mine….sounds like something established in the event of a plague). These Clean Zones are a vague, undefined area (the clean zone for each event will be specifically designated at some unknown time before the event) where street vendors cannot make their living without the specific permission of the event organizer. We all know what that means…no street vendors allowed unless they pay the NFL or the NCAA or whoever some outrageous fee that will make it unappealing and probably unprofitable for the vendors to be there. I guess they’ll probably go a mile away and try to sell their hot dogs to the ticket resellers.

The included events? The 500 Festival, Indiana Black Expo, The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, The Circle City Classic Parade, The Circle of Lights, The Indiana State Fair, all NCAA Championships or related events, Big Ten Championships or related events, NBA Finals or All-Star games and related events, NFL Super Bowl, Pro-Bowl, draft and related events, WNBA Finals or All-Star game or related events. Yep, pretty much everything.

Finally, Proposal 188 attacks private property owners. You know those ultra-convenient lawns that the owners will let you park on for a fee? These owners are responding to a market-based demand for close, convenient parking. Well, don’t get used to seeing them anymore. If the property is within the aforementioned vague clean zone, you have to pay a fee for a license to allow for this parking. What damage was being done by the owners providing this service? None at all. This is just a way for the City to make a money-grab. $75 for the right to let people park on your lawn or a big fine if you get caught doing it without a license. And who are these property owners? Again, they are almost exclusively the poor and the lower-middle class who are just trying to have a little extra to put bread on the table with.

The City won’t have that, though. You see, the NFL owns us now. If the NFL wants to make the money, they get to make the money. If the NFL says they don’t want to see it, we’ll pass an ordinance to make it illegal. None of this is about doing anything that is better for the City in the long run, it’s all about doing what the NFL wants for a one-day event and making it permanent.

Proposal 188 will probably be coming up for a vote on Monday 8/15. That’s not set in stone, yet, because the Council won’t release their agenda until Friday 8/12 (they’d hate for us to have any real time to examine the proposals they’ll be discussing). I’ll update on here if that proves to be the case.

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