A wet week in IndyDavid Hoppe

I don't know that there's a direct connection between all the rain we've had and public policy. Lately, though, the people who lead this town of ours have been showing the effects of something like water on the brain. That Talley thinks he can turn his back on his mayor and his party - and go unpunished - suggests that Peterson's reach exceeds his grasp of practical politics.

Exhibit one was the news last week that a group of city and business officials are hard at work developing a "brand" for Indianapolis. Tom King, an executive with - who else? - Eli Lilly and Co., is chairman of a 25-member committee called the Indianapolis Branding Initiative. Their job is to come up with a slogan and logo which is supposed to do for Indianapolis what the Nike swoosh and "Just Do It" tag line did for a certain athletic shoe company also known for dubious Third World labor practices.

The idea is that a cool slogan and logo will help Indianapolis "get over the hurdle that we're still backwater," as Mayor Peterson put it.

Presumably, once the committee's work is done, all of us - and the rest of the country, as well - will be awash in our own version of "Just Do It." You'll see it on everything from billboards to matchbook covers. And Indianapolis will go from backwater to ... frontwater.

The good news is that the committee's progress has been slow. Apparently they have been working on this project since the fall of 2003. So far they've come up with a statement that, according to The Indianapolis Star, they hope will inspire their final product, help give the Indianapolis brand that unforgettable edge which will send the city's cool factor soaring. It reads, in part, "Indianapolis is a place designed around people and the things people need to pursue goals and enjoy life. You can see it in everything from the easy-to-get-around layout of downtown to the warmth and hospitality of its residents to the way public and private organizations work together ... "

Anyone care to go down to the canal and catch a mess o' catfish with me? Afterward we can snatch a fresh-baked pie off Aunt Sally's windowsill.

If the branding committee was looking for an example of Indy's "can do" spirit last week, all they needed was to go over to the City-County Building. There they would have had the chance to see the way the Democrats succeeded in turning themselves into Republicans.

You'll recall that a year ago, the Democrats took control of the City-County Council for the first time in over 30 years by using their one-vote majority to elect Rozelle Boyd council president. It seems these folks can't stand prosperity. Or maybe they're just creatures of habit. In any event, last week another Democrat, Steve Talley, managed to unseat Boyd by putting together a coalition made up of all 14 of the Republican councilors plus himself and three freshman Democrats.

"Democrats have had control of the council for 12 months, and we have not articulated the issues that I feel are important," Talley said. Unfortunately, Mr. Talley failed to say what he finds important - besides business as it used to be.

Talley's accusation that his fellow Democrats lack sufficient gravitas must come as a shock to Mayor Bart Peterson, the presumptive leader of the city's party.

Dreaming up slogans and logos has been the least of it for Peterson. In the past year he has proposed the most ambitious reorganization of local government since Richard Lugar introduced Unigov. And, as if that weren't enough, Peterson has also put forward a plan designed to significantly increase gambling in Indianapolis, build a new stadium, expand the convention center and establish 30-year pacts with the Colts and the NCAA.

Maybe Talley missed those meetings. But maybe Peterson needs to do a better job of building support for his ideas. Although Peterson has won two elections and consistently racks up high approval ratings, popular support for his policies has proven elusive. That Talley thinks he can turn his back on his mayor and his party - and go unpunished - suggests that Peterson's reach exceeds his grasp of practical politics.

But hey, that's OK because we finally have a Republican in the governor's mansion, er, residence, who says that he's determined to bring us the civilized delights of daylight-saving time.

Gov. Daniels - whose readiness with inspirational aphorisms such as "if all you do is practice, you're not keeping score" suggests a closet obsession with Successaries - claims DST will boost the state's economy. Whether this is true remains to be seen in the extra hour of summer daylight it will assuredly bring us. But in settling for DST, Daniels has already ducked his first issue, which would be to finally put all of Indiana in the same time zone.

Let's face it: What's really confusing about Indiana time is that there's an hour difference between Hammond and Indianapolis and between Indianapolis and Evansville. Getting all our clocks in synch might actually be helpful, particularly if we could line up with our region's undisputed economic engine, Chicago.

Daniels himself has said he thinks Central Time is a good idea. That's because it doesn't make sense - from an economic or any other stand point - for us to pretend Chicago, with all its resources and opportunities, is farther away from us than, say, New York.

What's more, if we made this change, those people trying to brand our city could relax. Our new slogan could be: "Indianapolis - Now on Central Time."

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