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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Digital billboards under glare of ethics concerns in Indy"

The last post the ILB has had on this topic was two years ago, Feb. 6, 2013. It was headed "Digital billboards grow in favor among Indianapolis leaders" and briefly quoted a story from Jon Murray. You can still read the beginning, here.

This latest proposal has been a matter of great concern in my downtown neighborhood and the other neighborhood groups, once it saw the light of day.

This evening Brian Eason of the Indianapolis Star has a long story, headed "Digital billboards under glare of ethics concerns in Indy," that deserves close reading. A few quotes (great lede!):

A proposal to bring the bright lights of digital billboards to Indianapolis is flickering under a glare of scrutiny.

The controversy has put a committee of the City-County Council under fire for trying to fast-track an ordinance written by the very industry it's supposed to regulate.

In the process, council members bypassed the city's own planning staff, which had planned to review the ordinance in a few months anyway. And, even as the proposal was being ushered through, the industry's lobbyists doled out thousands of dollars to council leaders, including committee Chairman LeRoy Robinson. * * *

Neighborhood groups, though, say the public was shut out until the eleventh hour, allowing them little chance to weigh in until the proposal had already cleared the committee level.

The plan is on hold for now — and ultimately, the committee's haste may have killed the measure's chances for passage. Even some members who initially supported the concept say the route it traveled has looked so inappropriate that the legislation would be dead on arrival if it ever returned to the full council for a vote.

While a coalition of 37 neighborhood groups opposed to digital billboards appear to have beaten back the proposal, a government watchdog group said the process raises red flags about government accountability.

And some residents are still incensed at how it all went down.

"The layers of absurdity just pile on top of each other," said David Hittle, the land use chair of the Near Eastside Community Organization. "The billboard industry is writing the regulations that would regulate the billboard industry."

And that is just the start of the story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 17, 2015 07:13 PM
Posted to Indiana Government