Mayor’s new plan for neighborhoods frustrating some residents

Joe Hogsett speaks with WISH-TV's Jim Shella on the mayor's first full day in office Monday, Jan. 4, 2015. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Rebekah Ramsey spent her Tuesday afternoon pulling dandelions out of her front yard. During her yard work, she stopped to call her community liaison.

When no one picked up, a voicemail came on informing Ramsey the current position is vacant.

“I don’t understand,” said Ramsey as she clenched a cellphone.

Community liaisons were created by Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration to bridge the gap between residents and city government.

Over the years Ramsey developed a friendship with Charles Ingram, who worked as a liaison. She credited Ingram with helping to make her community safe. Ingram pushed illegal dumpers out of the neighborhood, and he held marches to draw awareness to safety. He’s also credited with bringing the business community together after a series of robberies on the east side.

However, late last week Ingram was informed his services were no longer needed. Ingram and the eight other liaisons were told they had to reapply for their positions. Some decided not to reapply. Ingram wanted to stay, but was told his services were not needed.

“I don’t understand how you take someone who we built a relationship with to trust, it’s not easy to trust,” said Ramsey.

According to a spokesperson for Mayor Hogsett’s administration, neighborhood leaders were informed that the name of neighborhood liaisons has changed to Mayor’s Neighborhood Advocates (MNA).

Below are the following initiatives and duties of MNA:

  • Convene stakeholders and facilitate Quality of Life Plans (QLP).
  • Ensure investments and programming fit within neighborhood QLPs, specific funding requirements, and city master plans.
  • Work across departmental lines to smooth out the bureaucracy and slice through red tape.
  • Have a role in each project planned in their locales – regardless of city department.
  • Act as ombudsman to manage relationships with neighborhood stakeholders and leaders to ensure full transparency and understanding.
  • Be specifically trained to implement neighborhood QLPs, leveraging city resources as well as neighborhood assets, non-profit resources, and corporate funds to keep QLPs moving forward even without direct city funding.

Deputy Mayor Dr. David Hampton is in charge of the MNA program. Ramsey and others plan on voicing their frustrations to Hampton when he returns from a vacation next week about the removal of Ingram.

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