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Since this is Valentine's Day week, a lot of us will spending time working and planning to do something special for the people we love. For my lovely wife, our plans usually involve dinner and an evening in Downtown Indianapolis. I am an urbanite to my very core and love the Downtown area. However, I am not so sure the Simons do. If they did, they would step up and do a lot more to help solve the problem of out-of-control teenagers in Circle Centre Mall and not expect the city, i.e. the taxpayers, to do all the heavy lifting.
You are likely well aware of the recent violence at the mall a couple weeks ago that compelled the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to spend time and resources to boost security in the area. If you're a Marion County taxpayer, that extra security cost you about $10,000. Now that may not seem like much for a city that has a $1 billion budget, but here is the bigger question: Should you be paying for it or should the mall foot the bill?
Isn't enough that we bailed the Simons out to the tune of nearly $40 million to cover the costs of operating Bankers Life Fieldhouse? I frankly think we should charge them rent, but that's another column for another time.
What irks me to no end about the Simons is the fact that they are more concerned about themselves than they are about the city. When one downtown merchant suggested a wristband system to help monitor where teens can go and increase parental accountability, my colleagues at RTV 6 reported that the Simons rejected the idea. In other words, they'll take the taxpayers' security subsidy without embracing or spearheading any solutions to address the underlying problem.
Now in all do fairness, there is a legitimate question as to how to enforce a teen curfew in the mall since so many conventions with young people come to Indy. We could run into civil rights issues since most of the convention goers are white and many of the out-of-control teens are black. I do think a balance can be found between security and liberty, but it is not going to happen if everyone is working to solve this problem but the people who are the attractive nuisance. I really don't think the Simons get it, as evidenced by the fact that they asked for multi-million dollar bailouts but leave the taxpayers on the hook for $10,000 to provide them with security.
Maybe things will change when someone gets shot actually in the mall, you know that is coming, it's happened at other Simon Mall properties so it's only a matter of time before it happens here. But at least it's good to know that when it does happen, the Simons will still be able to sleep at night knowing the taxpayers will continue to foot the bill and they don't have to step up and help assume any real responsibility to help address this issue. How much do you think taxpayers will comfort the parents of the dead person?