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Incumbent Null was first elected from council District 3 in 1997, cruising home serenely in an unopposed race. Four years later, he still doesnt have an opponent. And if you wonder what kind of political skills you have to deploy to reach such a state of electoral nirvana, consider Jims answer to one of the questions posed by Citizens Project in their special election insert in last weeks Indy. Asked whether the city should partially subsidize a downtown convention center, Null forthrightly replied: "Generally, no. But maybe under the right conditions."

Way to avoid a meaningful answer, Jim! But the professor surpassed even his high standards by his response to questionnaires presented by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and the Christian Coalition. Both organizations are interested in finding out where candidates stand on abortion. And it was made clear that failure to respond would be taken to mean that the candidate would be listed as opposing the basic principles of whichever outfit was doing the questioning.

A lesser pol would have resorted to smarmy evasions; Jim simply ignored both questionnaires. Result: the Christian Coalition calls him pro-abortion, and NARAL calls him anti-choice. In fact, Jims neither; he has entered that hallowed land where only great pols dare venture, a meta-reality where there are no facts, no beliefs, no positions, and no opponents, only the cheerful certainty of electoral success. Council incumbents and challengers alike are visibly salivating over the prospect of a 45 percent increase in the municipal sales tax. Why? Theyll tell you that they just want to fix our deteriorating infrastructure, blah blah blah. Maybe so, but theyre vividly aware of the many miracles, great and small, that such a vast cascade of loot into our citys coffers would bring about. For starters, theres the nebulous private-public partnership to build a downtown convention center, supported by Null, Kevin Butcher, Linda Barley, Sallie Clar and Judy Noyes. Such a notion, delightfully vague and unthreatening, is merely that without an infusion of new cash.

But give em the bucks, and theyll build it. Besides, itd mean that thered be no pressure to end the subsidies, small and large, that the city doles out to its supplicants. And speaking of the convention center, Bill Neil, the 80-year old owner of Ross Auction, which is currently located in an old brick building on Sierra Madre St., recently received an unusual communication from his landlord.

Since our latest crop of urban visionaries want to plunk down the convention center right on top of Ross Auction, Bill has become, through no fault of his own, a burr under the saddle of progress. Naturally, his landlord raised his rent, but in so doing pointed out that he was doing Bill a favor. After all, he explained, when the Urban Renewal Authority decides to boot Bill out the door, hell get more money for relocation if hes paying a higher rent. I know that Bills grateful to city government for not only fingering him as a source of urban blight, but also giving his landlord a novel excuse to raise the rent. Meanwhile, all of the inside-the-beltway candidates (i.e., those supported by big-money institutional donors) are trying, without much success, to claim that theyre not in the pocket of the development industry.

Incumbent Linda Barley has charged Sallie Clark with currying favor with the local power rangers by opposing development fees; Clark denies that she opposes such fees, and points out that Barley received endorsements from the twin towers of the real estate industry, the HBA and the Realtors.

And as always, reality is not a subject for discussion. Lets talk about the bad developers, and the fundamental responsibilities of guvmint (build more roads, hire more cops).

Lets not ask where were going, or why. Lets ignore the looming recession, and the underlying flimsiness of our own local economy. Lets join County Commissioner Duncan Bremer, who, if his own words are to be believed, spent last week deeply thinking about topless nightclubs and their place in the local firmament.

Lets not worry about the election; after all, if the Republic still stands with George W. in the Oval Office, how much harm could Kendall Kretzchmar do? And if were going to buy a car, lets do it right now and beat the sales tax increase.

Jim Nulls not particularly busy; give him a call and ask him where to get a deal. On second thought, dont. Thats a little too specific.

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