Indianapolis is a left-leaning city in a right-leaning state with a Republican mayor that has showed some surprisingly liberal tendencies. Mayor Greg Ballard made a deal with California-based Vision Fleet to replace the city’s municipal fleet with plug-in vehicles. But after cops complained that their plug-in sedans weren’t up to snuff, increased scrutiny and an audit have convinced the city council to sue the city, bringing plans for the so-called “Freedom Fleet” to an abrupt end.
The Indianapolis city council voted in favor of suing the city over the $32 million Freedom Fleet deal, which may have included illegally-siphoned money meant for the stormwater fund, reports Indiana NBC news outlet WTHR. An internal audit is focusing on whether or not the mayor needed the council’s approval to move the money. The mayor is quoted as saying this is nothing more than “sloppy legal work”, and that the deal was legit.
The council’s ire was first raised when some officers complained that their plug-in sedans weren’t nearly fast enough for pursuit work. After asking to review the Vision Fleet contract, a heavily-redacted version raised even more questions about the legality of the deal, the first of its kind. Ballard was trying to position Indiana as an environmental leader with the Freedom Fleet and other ambitions, like an all-electric car sharing service imported from France. The Freedom Fleet’s 426 plug-in vehicles saving the city an estimated $8.7 million over ten years. But opting to rent the vehicles from a third party with a secret contract, rather than just buying and maintaining the vehicles on the city’s dime, is becoming a real headache for these green ambitions.
At best, the Freedom Fleet is stalled while this whole thing is sorted out. At worst? Well, we don’t really want to think about that, do we?