The last dozen years have seen a steady stream of corporate hogs belly-up to the public trough in Indianapolis. Mayor Bart Peterson boasts that over $216 million in public money has been fed to these greedy porkers by local government this year alone. Highlights of recent Hog Reports include: ï United Airlines: Indianapolis still owes over $150 million on bonds it sold to help lure United here in 1991. While nearly bankrupt now, United Airlines was awash in cash then. ï Eli Lilly & Co: To counter a supposed $36 million offer to lure Lilly to South Carolina, shrewd city negotiators induced the drug giant to stay with $106 million in tax breaks and infrastructure in 1999. (Lilly graciously accepted an additional $108 million from the state.) ï Indiana Pacers: In 1997, the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) sold $230 million in revenue bonds to finance the Conseco Fieldhouse for Herb and Mel Simon. (NOTE: The Pacers are required to pay rent ... $1 a year.) Why can"t these super-rich, "free-market" porkers help each other finance their private schemes? For a clue, let"s return to 1997 when Pacers owner Herb Simon was interviewed by The Indianapolis Star. Simon solemnly told the reporter, "I don"t think it"s right for an entrepreneur to ask another entrepreneur for a gift." Sadly, his shyness has never extended to Hoosier taxpayers who are being tapped royally to pay off and maintain the Conseco Fieldhouse. The Simons, by the way, keep all revenue from the Fieldhouse, including the $95 million from Conseco for naming rights and sponsorship. They also keep every nickel of rent from rock concerts, hockey games and all other events, plus advertising and broadcasting revenue. The generous city even pays $3.45 million annually to the Pacers to help cover utilities and maintenance. That lesson in state-of-the-art panhandling apparently wasn"t lost on Colts owner Jim Irsay. The fun-loving Irsay, whose team has benefited from over $138 million in public charity since arriving here in 1984, is back, silk hat in hand, demanding a raise. The current annual public subsidy of over $12 million is nowhere near enough to elevate the Colts" revenue to Irsay"s goal of "middle of the pack" in the NFL. Savvy observers warn it will likely take an additional $20 million (per year) from city taxpayers to keep those nocturnal Mayflower vans away from the Colts Complex. Let"s look at our city to determine how much we can spare these deserving entertainers. In October 2002, the women"s magazine SELF featured a report titled "The Healthiest Places for Women to Live," which examined 31 areas of wellness for women in the 200 largest U.S. cities. The study looked at life expectancy, crime, health care, cancer, exercise, sexual health, etc. The home of the Indianapolis Colts finished second - second from the BOTTOM! That"s right: 199th Ö just ahead of gruesome Memphis. Hold on! If it"s unhealthy for women, it might just be unhealthy for us men! Why is Indiana"s capital city one of the two least desirable cities in America? Consider that Indianapolis has: ï Sexually-transmitted disease rates five times the national average. ï An open sewer called White River that flows sluggishly south with over 4 billion gallons of Indy"s disgusting bodily wastes. E coli counts in our waterways commonly reach 70 times EPA limits. ï Privatized wastewater treatment plants that fall into further disrepair while money is raided from the sewer accounts to pay other city obligations. ï Air quality that"s the worst it"s been since 1988, undoubtedly contributing to one of the nation"s highest lung cancer rates. ï Many city-county employees who receive poverty wages. ï Over-crowded, filthy jails. ï Not invested in new streetlights for over two decades. There are fewer streetlights in Indianapolis right now than in 1987. ï Over 30,000 houses still on septic systems - the second worst of any large city in America. ï Cancer-causing weed killer in our tap water. ï One of the lowest recycling rates in America. ï Schools with no air conditioning. ï Rampant sprawl with ineffective urban planning and no rapid transit system. ï Extremely limited funding for new park land. An earlier survey by Money magazine helps put this in perspective. Money found that true quality of life issues such as clean air and water, good schools, affordable health care and high marks from ecologists were among people"s chief interests - major league sports were not even among the top 35 concerns! The true colors of city officials are betrayed most apparently in the area of new park land, which could be enjoyed by everyone. Consider that since 1998 the city has lavished $20.31 per capita annually on welfare for the Colts. During that same period, it"s spent a pathetic 12 cents per capita each year on new park land. When the beautiful St. Maur property became available on Michigan Road recently, a perfect city park was envisioned. The city said flatly that the $5 million price tag was out of the question and the mayor didn"t even hint at negotiating the matter. The sad truth is that no rational person (who has a choice) is going to move to a filthy, sprawling city with crumbling, underfunded schools, token parks and a herd of insatiable corporate hogs simply because it has a pro football team. It"s time that we demand public money be spent on the public instead of using it to further enrich the super-wealthy. Residents of Indianapolis deserve to have a city that"s at least in the "middle of the pack." Good grief, the middle of the pack looks like a distant dream when our city is 199th out of 200. Mayor Peterson: Instead of negotiating, start enforcing the city"s Panhandling Ordinance on the Mansion Set the same as you do on the homeless! Jack Miller is coordinator of Indiana Alliance for Democracy.