Sunday, September 30, 2012

Daniels' Corrupt Leucadia Deal Could Cost Indiana Gas Customers $1.1 Billion

That controversial coal gasifacation plant being built at Rockport by Leucadia that Gov. Mitch Daniels forced Indiana's gas utility customers to subsidize could wind up costing them $1.1 billion in the form of higher gas prices over an 8-year period, or about $375 per customer according to an estimate by Vectren the Star is reporting. The deal that puts the state's natural gas consumers on the hook to purchase gas produced by the plant at inflated prices was hatched to ensure that the plant pushed by one of Daniels' closest political cronies, Mark Lubbers, who works for Leucadia, would be built when Leucadia couldn't find traditional financing for its plans to construct the coal gasification plant. Vectren has opposed the plant from the beginning because of plentiful natural gas that is already available on the open market at low prices. The part of the story that struck me was the unwillingness of either gubernatorial candidate to take a firm position on the plan:

Neither of the two candidates running to replace Daniels as governor -- Republican Mike Pence and Democrat John Gregg -- has expressed the same level of enthusiasm for the project, creating a potential opening for opponents.
Pence said he's committed to working with both opponents and supporters of the project, while "honoring the commitments the state has already made."
Like most of these crony capitalism deals financed by the government, it's a win-win proposition for Leucadia. The state has signed 30-year contracts to purchase natural gas at a guaranteed price that is higher than current market rates regardless of the price of gas at the time it is produced. In the unlikely event that natural gas prices are higher than the guaranteed price, Leucadia would split the profit with natural gas consumers. If the price is lower than the guaranteed price, which is the more likely scenario, then consumers will pay the difference in the form of higher utility rates. Large industrial consumers are exempt from paying the higher costs because they had the political muscle to get themselves exempt from the deal. Small industrial consumers, however, could pay as much as $250,000 in higher utility bills. Small business owners could pay $2,500 in higher utility bills.

Friday, September 28, 2012

City-County Council Committee Approves TIF Proposal Deemed Dead By City Ordinance

[Updated] Tonight, the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee unanimously approved Proposal 15, a major expansion of the downtown TIF district to include some of the most vibrant and booming areas of the city economically. Even Councilor Steve Talley, the former chairman who stepped down in disgust as other members of his party took up the measure last month after he gaveled a committee meeting adjourned, voted for it. It is believed that Councilor Talley was told he would be fired from his city job unless he supported Proposal 15. That's how these people conduct business. Proposal 15 is actually dead by virtue of a city ordinance that deems any proposal that lies on the table without action for a period of more than 6 months dead. Nonetheless, the City-County Council is taking a second stab at passage by the full city council after it procedurally botched the adoption of an amendment offered by the proposal's sponsor, Vop Osili, who represents some of the area affected by the TIF expansion, during the committee's action on the proposal last month. [At-large Councilor Zach Adamson was the only no vote among the sitting committee members. An earlier post indicated the vote was unanimous. The voice vote was taken quickly and Adamson's no vote was not audible on the video recording of the meeting on WCTY]

Coincidentally, an architectural firm co-founded by Osili, AS2O4, and in which he declared a financial interest in as of the filing of his financial disclosure statement filed with the council in February of this year following his introduction of Proposal 15, performed work on three projects contained within the expanded TIF district as introduced. One of those projects already completed, Trail Side, was removed from the proposed expansion as a result of Osili's amendment. Two other projects, however, remain a part of it, including the Lockerbie Square mixed commercial/housing proposed by The Whitsett Group, and the Millikan project adjacent to Barton Towers. Osili claims he no longer owns an interest in AS2O4, but the work on those projects likely started before he claims to have divested his interest in the business. Councilor Osili took no opportunity to publicly clarify his relationship with AS2O4 at tonight's council meeting despite the troubling conflict of interest raised by this blog.

I've added five clips from tonight's council meeting that should cause all citizens of Indianapolis great concern about the reckless abandon manner by which the council is pursuing the adoption of this supposed "do or die" economic development opportunity. Fellow blogger Pat Andrews, in particular, does an excellent job dissecting the problems with Proposal 15, while protestations by Councilor Brian Mahern were met with deaf ears by his fellow councilors. Chairman Leroy Robinson literally cut off any debate on final passage of Proposal 15 and shut off Councilor Mahern's microphone in mid-sentence and walked out of the room while he hopelessly attempted to speak. This is an example of what happens when you have a council populated by folks on the government dole or on the take representing you.

Councilor Vop Osili attempting to explain his amendment to Proposal 15.

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Councilor Brian Mahern questioning a befuddled Councilor Osili about the change in job commitments from a 40% target to a 25% target.

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Fellow blogger Pat Andrews effectively punching holes in Councilor Osili's poorly and hastily drafted amendment and reminding the councilors that Proposal 15 is actually dead by virtue of a city ordinance because it laid on the table for more than 6 months without action. For the record, neither the sponsor nor the administration responded to any of the excellent questions she raised.

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Citizen activist Larry Vaughn bringing comical relief to the absurd and illegal consideration of Proposal 15 and drawing the admonition of Chairman Leroy Robinson for calling Councilor Osil illiterate for obviously failing to comprehend his own proposal.

Get Microsoft Silverlight Councilor Brian Mahern tries in vein to bring some reason to the discussion before the measure is passed on final adoption and Chairman Leroy Robinson literally cuts his microphone off in mid-sentence,gavels the meeting adjourned and walks out of the committee hearing.

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Police Layoffs Threatened If Council Doesn't Approve Elimination Of Homestead Credit

The Ballard administration has apparently warned some city-county councilors to expect layoffs of police if the council does not agree to the elimination of the homestead credit for residential property taxpayers. Eliminating the homestead credit would help the city close a $50 to $60 million budget deficit for 2013 according to the administration by about $8 million; however, if it is retained, the credit will cost about $13 million in city-county revenues for 2013. As I previously reported, the city's gain from eliminating the homestead credit would come at the expense of other taxing districts, particularly schools. County option income tax revenues are the source from which the cost of providing the credit is paid rather than foregone property tax revenues. If the credit is eliminated, a number of homeowners who haven't bumped up against the property tax cap of 2% will reach it, causing a hit to taxing units who rely on property tax revenues. Police staffing levels are already down about 300 from where they were several years ago after the city enacted a 65% increase in the county option income tax, which was dubbed at the time as a "public safety tax increase" because of the nearly 100 police additional police officers the public was told the city would be able to hire once the tax became law.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Is This The 47% Problem Romney Says We're Facing?

The free Obama phones are no joke, incidentally. It was a rather obscure federal benefit for low-income Americans until Obama became president.
The program is called Lifeline, established in 1984 was originally created to subsidize landline phone service for low income Americans, funded by government-collected telecommunication fees, paid by consumers.
In 2008, the program was expanded to support cell phones which quickly escalated the cost of the program. In 2008 the program cost $772 million, but by 2011 it cost $1.6 billion.
A 2011 audit found that 269,000 wireless Lifeline subscribers were receiving free phones and monthly service from two or more carriers. Several websites have been created to promote “free” government cell phones, including the”The Obama Cell Phone” website at

IDI Removes Seating On Georgia Street To Shoo Away Homeless

That much ballyhooed downtown Georgia Street attraction that cost taxpayer $13 million has become a popular hangout for the city's homeless, causing concern to Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., the nonprofit, taxpayer-financed agency entrusted with the new downtown venue critical to our city's world-class status. WTHR tells us about IDI's response to the homeless plague:
Businesses and city leaders, though, are plenty bothered. Increasing numbers of homeless men and women on Georgia Street are occupying tables and chairs for hours, some camping out overnight.
Without warning Thursday afternoon, all of the furniture disappeared from outside the convention center. It's now blocks away at the opposite end of Georgia Street.
Indy Downtown Inc. runs and promotes Georgia Street, a promenade with wide walkways and trees intended to attract special events, people and money to downtown. Indy Downtown says furniture was moved so everyone has the chance to use it and so it isn't monopolized by one group or person.
Businesses say workers and customers are being harassed. There's a fear of drugs, alcohol and violence. A stabbing this week put a homeless man in jail. Even Ron Lofton admits, "half the people out here aren't taking their medicine. That makes them violent."
They come to Georgia St. for the food handed out by St. John's Catholic Church. Critics call it a good deed with unintentional consequences.
"For thousands of years, the history of our church is to help the poor. It's our gospel," said Fr. Rick Nagle.
The city is facing a dilemma, trying to find a solution that doesn't trample anyone's rights.
"If you or I went to sit down there for four hours, it's completely legal, so how do we approach it? It has to be very thoughtful and very sensitive and offer respect to everybody," said Julia Watson, Indy Downtown Inc.
But now without a place to sit, everybody on one block of Georgia Street will have to bring their own chair.

Indianapolis Star Part Of Criminal Conspiracy To Ram Illegal TIF Into Law

So much for the days when the media served as a watchdog to protect us from public corruption. The Indianapolis Star has doubled down on its role as a co-conspirator in the adoption of an illegal TIF district expansion that promises to make tens of millions of dollars for the pay-to-play contractors and developers who have kept themselves busy passing out bribes, kickbacks and payoffs these past several months to grease the wheels for this latest public ripoff, while ensuring that there will NOT be sufficient revenues to pay for basic city services or to fund our schools. If you want your basic city services and money for schools, parks and libraries, the Star's editors thinks that average folks should be asked to dig deeper into their wallets to pay for the services through higher taxes. The 65% income tax increase the Star supported five years ago belongs to the selfish bastards that operate the downtown mafia; everyone else can do with less or pay more. From today's Star editorial:

Unfortunately, Mayor Greg Ballard's efforts to expand the Downtown TIF district to include sections of Massachusetts and Indiana avenues has been delayed by protracted discussions that have developers and neighborhoods in limbo.
TIFs lock in property tax levels for a period and retain some of the revenue within the target area. Used well, they replenish blighted and stagnant areas. Critics say they deprive schools and libraries of needed funds -- and that, in Indy's case, they have been pushed through without enough public input or cost-benefit analysis.
The latter complaints also have a partisan tinge and are moot when it comes to Proposal 15. Many months of deliberations have accrued, and the projects pass muster.
Mass Ave. involves replacing a fire station, which doesn't pay taxes, with private enterprise. The 16-Tech venture would make Indiana Avenue a life-sciences corridor, harboring one of the city's most promising industries.
Meanwhile, merchants, community leaders and elected officials in the Midtown area stretching several miles north of 16th Street seek TIF inclusion for grass-roots rejuvenation of a sector that is diverse, viable but in many parts struggling. They have much to offer a city that has not done well by its neighborhoods, and they ask a fraction of what Downtown developers are used to in terms of tax help.
Responding to a study commission report, the council has committed to taking a hard look at TIFs overall. That mission need not conflict with the current task: End the delay and approve Proposal 15 before the investors walk away; and let the Midtown stakeholders have their shot.
They make our absentee mayor's water-carrying efforts on behalf of the downtown mafia sound so noble. You would think he was rescuing babies from poverty, or doing something as basic as operating a city bus service upon which its residents could rely to get to and from work. Notice how the eggheads describe development of an upscale, booming downtown business district as "blighted and stagnant areas." They tell us the projects "pass muster." Hell, the proponents haven't even detailed to the public what the projects are. That's all a big secret that has been kept under lock and seal to protect the integrity of the public bidding process we're told. Only the mayor, his trusted minions and pay-to-play contractors and developers are privy to that information. What little we do know is that developers who were willing to pay a lot of money to purchase city-owned property without any TIF or public dollars to redevelop the parcels of property in question were told "no thanks" by city officials. Yet the Star's editors can tell us that secretly-negotiated deals "pass muster"? How stupid do they think we are?

Despite overwhelming evidence from the recent study of the financial impact of the dozens of TIF districts already on the books that was undertaken by a task force that proves unequivocally how deeply TIFs are eroding the tax base upon which our schools and other essential governmental services rely upon as their funding source, the editors depict the complaints of the well-informed as having a "partisan tinge and are moot when it comes to Proposal 15," the downtown TIF expansion proposal. Are these people serious? What hope do we have as a community when the newspaper of record so blatantly misleads the public with which it has entrusted itself to serve and throws in with the most corrupt elements within city-county government to force through a measure that so clearly does more harm to those who most need the assistance of our government in order to feather the nests of the so-called 1%? The Star's editors could seem to care less that the proponents of this TIF grab have avoided transparency at every turn and even demonstrated a willingness to enact the measure in clear violation of city law.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I would highly encourage our neighboring corrupt pols in Chicago to relocate to Indianapolis and ply their trade here where you will have the state's largest newspaper to aid and abet you in stealing public funds and friendly, back-slapping prosecutors who prefer breaking bread with you over interrogating you for your wanton ways. You have to live it to believe it.

Obama's White House Spending Cost Taxpayers $1.4 billion

Author Robert Keith Gray has written a new book, "Presidential Perks Gone Royal," that details how the expense of taking care of the President and his family under Barack Obama has skyrocketed to $1.4 billion compared to the $57.8 million the British spent on the royal family. From the Daily Caller:

Author Robert Keith Gray writes in “Presidential Perks Gone Royal” that Obama isn’t the only president to have taken advantage of the expensive trappings of his office. But the amount of money spent on the first family, he argues, has risen tremendously under the Obama administration and needs to be reined in.
Gray told The Daily Caller that the $1.4 billion spent on the Obama family last year is the “total cost of the presidency,” factoring the cost of the “biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever,” a 50 percent increase in the numbers of appointed czars and an Air Force One “running with the frequency of a scheduled air line.”
“The most concerning thing, I think, is the use of taxpayer funds to actually abet his re-election,” Gray, who worked in the Eisenhower administration and for other Republican presidents, said in an interview with TheDC on Wednesday.
“The press has been so slow in picking up on this extraordinary increase in the president’s expenses,” Gray told TheDC.
Specifically, Gray said taxpayer dollars are subsidizing Obama’s re-election effort when he uses Air Force One to jet across the country campaigning.
Even Bo, the Obamas' dog, is costing taxpayers a record amount of money. You're paying $102,000 a year for Bo's handler because the Obamas are not dog lovers and only accepted him as a gift from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy as a prop. It would be beneath them to actually take care of their dog so they make the taxpayers pay the highest wages earned in the country by a dog handler so they can give you the false appearance of being something they aren't. You paid for Michelle to vacation as much as 42 days in the course of a one-year span. If anyone other than Obama were in the White House spending like this while Americans' income has been declining for the past four years in the worst economic depression since the Great Depression, there would be non-stop news stories complaining about the wasteful spending. The lamestream media thinks of the Obamas as royalty who are entitled to live as high as they want at your expense whether the country can afford it or not.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Durham Sentencing Date Set

Convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham will be sentenced on November 30 by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson for twelve felony fraud convictions related to his operation of the Fair Finance Company in Ohio that bilked small rural investors out of more than $200 million. If Judge Magnus-Stinson metes out a sentence similar to what federal judges have given to those committing similar crimes in recent years, he can expect to spend the rest of his life in prison. Durham's business associates, James Cochran and Rick Snow, will be sentenced at the same time.

False Flag Operation In Indiana's Second Congressional District?

There's a rather odd report of a mailbox bombing at the home of a Democratic congressional candidate in Indiana's second congressional district, Brendan Mullen, who is running well behind Republican Jackie Walorski in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly.
A small explosion of some kind occurred Monday afternoon in a mailbox outside the home of Indiana Democratic congressional candidate Brendan Mullen.
A law enforcement official told TPM on Tuesday that authorities are investigating a spate of incidents involving similar explosions. Four such explosions have occurred in and around Granger, Ind., where Mullen lives, in the last 24 hours, according to David Coulson, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Coulson said the St. Joseph’s County Sheriff’s Department is leading the investigation.
“We’re assisting in any way we can,” Coulson said, referring to ATF.
Mullen is running in Indiana’s 2nd congressional district. His spokesperson Andy Reynolds told TPM the incident occurred between 4:45 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday. Mullen, his campaign finance director, and an intern heard the explosion, and went outside to see what had happened. Several neighbors also left their homes in response to the noise. According to Reynolds, both Mullen and his financer director spotted a black car driving away “out of corner of their eye[s].”
Reynolds said that Mullen then “spoke with the police, they came and checked it out,” and that local authorities later contacted the ATF and the FBI. But he noted that at “this point it’s more of a precautionary measure.”
“We certainly hope that it’s not a politically motivated thing,” Reynolds said.
Calls to the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI were not immediately returned.
Mullen's opponent is, of course, a Tea Party-backed candidate and her opponent has sought to characterize her a "Tea Party extremist." Is this simply another effort by rogue forces within the U.S. intelligence community to rescue the candidacy of their faltering chosen candidate by making it appear that Walorski is backed by a bunch of wild-eyed, right wing extremists? Mullen, a West Point graduate who served in the DMZ of South Korea and several tours of duty in Iraq, lived and worked in Washington with his wife in some obscure role as a military contractor after leaving the military. He and his wife owned three homes in Washington and only moved back to Indiana so he could run for Donnelly's open congressional seat. When Walorski recently made an issue of her opponent's three D.C. homes, the campaign used left-wing media outlets to suggest that she was trying to put Mullen at personal risk by publicizing the address of his homes and attacking his military service to his country. In a story headlined, "Rep. Walorski publicizes home addresses of Democratic challenger in campaign ad," the Huffington Post wrote:

Rep. Jackie Walorski's (R-Ind.) latest campaign ad goes after her Democratic challenger, Brendan Mullen, as a Washington, D.C. insider who doesn't share Hoosier values. To underscore the point, the ad publicizes Mullen's home addresses . . .
Andy Reynolds, Mullen's campaign manager, called Walorski's charges "laughable," saying the candidate lives in Indiana with his wife and two daughters. He added that the D.C. addresses are of rental properties.
"Brendan is proud to have served his country honorably as an officer in the United States Army, and was stationed in Washington D.C. -- along with being stationed at the DMZ in Korea and near Mosul, Iraq in combat as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom," he said in a statement. "Brendan is proud of his South Bend roots, being born and raised here. That’s why he and his wife are raising their two daughters here in Indiana, and why Brendan runs a small business here helping Hoosier veterans and their families."
Republicans have lately been decrying Democratic trackers who have filmed the homes of GOP candidates and posted the raw footage on the Internet. They have argued that it's an invasion of privacy and puts their families at risk . . .
Mullen's campaign put out an ad on Wednesday responding to Walorski's spot, featuring Army veteran Chad Gibson, who served in Iraq with Mullen.
"So when I see Jackie Walorski smear Brendan, who has spent his life defending our country and working for veterans -- while Walorski spent her's as a career politician -- that's downright un-American," Gibson says in the ad.
To show you how out-of-touch Mullen is with Indiana, when he sought to distance himself from Obama and the liberal national Democratic Party, he described himself to a reporter as a "common sense centrist"- a "Birch Bayh Democrat. "I'm not a national Democrat," he told the South Bend Tribune. "I'm not an Obama Democrat. I'm a Birch Bayh Democrat." Uh, Birch was as liberal as Ted Kennedy, Brendan. It was Evan Bayh who was considered the centrist Democrat.

UPDATE: Just caught this pointed headline that ran on Soros-funded Daily Kos blog: "4 bombs, One in Indiana Dem Brendan Mullen's mailbox, He's running against a Tea Party candidate."  "Now, I'm not suggesting that Jackie Walorski had anything to do with the 4 bombs detonated in Brendan Mullen's district," War on Error writes. "However, there is a video showing that some of her followers are a tad unruly."

Tully Proves Once Again That He's Nothing But A Tool For The Downtown Mafia

For every Tim Evans' story that inspires you to think that there is still a little hope for the Indianapolis Star, there are at least twenty reasons why the Star isn't worth the price of the subscription. To remove any doubt, the paper's political columnist turns in another butt-kissing column for the benefit of the downtown mafia--that's the pay-to-play contractors and developers who bankroll the politicians' campaigns and operate our government for their own personal benefit with damning consequences to everyone else. Tax increment finance districts (TIFs) have become the tool of choice for the downtown mafia to accomplish their dirty deeds. It's not enough that the dozens of TIFs that they've already created, including vast areas of downtown, consume more than 11% of the property tax base and approximately $100 million in property tax revenues that are diverted to a slush fund controlled by the Mayor. They still demand more, even as we struggle to fund essential services, including our schools, police, fire and parks.

Matt Tully's column today endorsing creation of a midtown TIF that captures large swaths of property on the city's northside, including a new parking garage and retail project financed with $6.5 million of city tax dollars for the exclusive benefit of its owner, Ersal Ozdemir, one of Mayor Ballard's largest pay-to-play benefactors who lives in a swanky Carmel home, would be laughable if not so serious. To support the creation of this latest TIF, Tully turns to a real estate developer, Chuck Cagann of Mansur Real Estate Estate Development. "Our idea is to try to reverse the problems neighborhoods are seeing before it's too late, and before everything has bottomed out," said Chuck Cagann, a Midtown leader. No, your idea, Chuck, is to create yet another large pool of tax dollars that are available to finance new development projects on the backs of our schools and other taxing districts that will be deprived of much-needed property tax revenues. He says they want to redevelop Tarkington Park, but for every dollar diverted to benefit that city park there will be fewer dollars available to support other city parks that rely on those precious property tax dollars. Tully's assertion that the new TIF goes "hand-in-hand with initiatives to improve the quality of schools and mass transit" is laughable. Tully's baseless reporting is either the result of being too lazy to read the TIF study on which an Indianapolis City-County Council task force just completed work, or an indication that he's so embedded with the downtown mafia that he can no longer write informed columns that discerning readers expect from a major daily newspaper. Either way it's just plain sad.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is It Over Now That Payne Has Resigned?

Star editorial cartoonist Gary Varvel's harsh depiction of Payne's departure as DCS Director

Is it the end of the matter now that DCS Director James Payne has resigned amidst an Indianapolis Star investigative story that questioned his role in a child neglect case involving the children of his son? Judging by the comments state lawmakers made to reporters yesterday, that depends on whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. From the Star:
But the political fallout is not likely to end any time soon, with Republicans and Democrats continuing to fight over the need for an investigation and broader performance issues within DCS.
That was evident Monday afternoon as lawmakers from both parties staged dueling news conferences before a previously scheduled meeting of the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee. The committee was looking into concerns about the DCS child abuse hotline, as well as the agency’s relationship with service providers, courts and other child advocates.
Moments before Payne’s resignation was announced, a group of House and Senate Democrats held a press conference in the Statehouse to ask Daniels to launch an investigation into issues raised by The Star's story.
They asked for an investigation by the Indiana inspector general or the Indiana attorney general. They also called for Payne step aside immediately . . .
“There are just so many allegations that are still there, still need to be resolved,” State Sen. Tim Lanane said.
State Sen. Vi Simpson, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, also called for a probe Monday afternoon, several hours after the resignation announcement.
“Ongoing problems in (the) agency should be addressed immediately,” she wrote on her Twitter account . . .
State Rep. Cindy Noe, R-Indianapolis, a co-chairwoman of the legislative study committee looking into issues at DCS, said Payne’s resignation should bring an end to questions about his conduct.
“I think it’s important to note at this time that we have a government that is prepared and that has standing entities whose charge is to handle just such situations,” she said. “We have the Commission on Ethics as well as the inspector general. In this instance, those entities will not be used because this issue has been resolved within the executive branch of government.”

Monday, September 24, 2012

Osili Must Provide Full Disclosure Of Any Financial Interest In TIF Legislation

UPDATED: The biggest proponent of the controversial downtown TIF district expansion along Mass Avenue has been City-County Councilor Vop Osili. By trade, Osili is an architectural engineer. He was a principal and co-founder of the A2SO4 firm located at 300 S. Meridian Street in the Union Station building adjacent to the powerhouse architectural engineering firm, R.W. Armstong. A2SO4 is a certified minority business according to state records, which gets spin off work from government contracts that contain compulsory MBE requirement goals. Osili supposedly sold his interest in the firm to Sanford Garner when he ran for Secretary of State. When asked by radio talk show host Amos Brown whether he had a financial stake in the expansion of the downtown TIF district, Osili adamantly denied that he did. Osili replied with words to the effect, "I ain't got no nickel in that dime." His Linkedin listing, however, still identifies him as an owner of the firm. Osili brokered an amendment to his proposal with the Ballard adminstration that will specifically benefit minority businesses. More importantly, the financial disclosure form he filed this year after becoming a councilor states that he received from A2SO4 compensation in excess of $5,000 in the previous year, which he identifies as his employer. Osili completed and signed his financial disclosure form on February 1, 2012.

According to the firm's website, A2SO4 is partnering with Ratio Architects on the Millikan on Mass Ave project adjacent to Barton Towers and directly across the street from the firehouse parcel in the 500 block of Mass Ave. A news announcement on the firm's website reads:

The project, tentatively dubbed The Millikan on Mass Ave after an apartment building that once stood on the site, is being designed by Ratio Architects and A2SO4. Millikan on Mass Ave will be a $23 million residential and retail development planned for the land surrounding the Barton Tower apartments along Massachusetts Avenue between Michigan and East streets. The project is a partnership between Flaherty & Collins Properties and Insight Development Corp. It calls for a mix of 144 affordable and market-rate apartments and retail/restaurant space along Mass Ave.
That's not all. The Mass Ave TIF district expansion will reach over and include property two blocks east of Mass Avenue in the Lockerbie neighborhood where I reside. I attended a meeting of the Lockerbie People's Club neighborhood association where The Whitsett Group tendered its proposal to redevelop the vacant property bounded by Michigan and College. The design firm which presented the renderings for the Whitsett Group was none other than A2SO4. The presenters of this minority-owned firm at my neighborhood meeting were all white. Originally, the developer stated that it intended to utilize government housing credits to develop affordable apartments as part of the mixed use project. Later, the developer told the IBJ it was moving forward with the project without the government tax credits. The same news was communicated to the neighborhood through the neighborhood newspaper, "The Urban Times." From the IBJ:
The developer of what was to have been a tax-credit-financed project in Lockerbie Square now intends to develop market-rate housing instead.
The Whitsett Group announced last summer that it would build 190 affordable and market-rate apartments and 44,000 square feet of retail and office space in three mid-rise buildings at the northwest corner of Michigan Street and College Avenue.
Whitsett was counting on selling state-issued affordable housing tax credits to finance the $27 million project, but it wasn’t among the projects awarded credits by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority earlier this year.
“We came up just a few points short,” said company principal Joseph E. Whitsett. “But we own [the land] and we are going to develop it.”
Whitsett said his company anticipates breaking ground next spring on essentially the same project, minus the affordable housing component. By that time it should be the second market-rate project for Whitsett, which up to now has focused on affordable housing.
Interestingly, A2SO4 is renovating the old church facing North Street, which is just north of the vacant property that The Whitsett Group is developing, as its new offices. That parcel is included in the expanded TIF district as well. According to A2SO4's website, the firm was also architect on the recently completed Trail Side project at the north end of Mass Ave. The original TIF expansion included this property as well, even though work on it had already been completed. It sits across the street from the Coca-Cola building the Ballard administration has included it in the TIF for redevelopment once IPS' transportation center is relocated. TIF money is to be used to relocate the transportation center.

At tonight's committee hearing, Deputy Mayor for eoncomic development Deron Kintner told committee members that this parcel was included in the Mass Ave TIF expansion plan because develpment of this parcel was contingent upon the pending development plans for the firehouse property two blocks away. Either Kintner is a liar, or Joe Whitsett is a liar. Whitsett said nothing about his development plans for the property in my neighborhood being contingent upon the expansion of the downtown TIF district, or more specifically, the development of the firehouse property on Mass Avenue. My neighborhood includes some of the highest assessed residential property on a square foot basis in the state of Indiana. We don't need your public tax dollars to make development occur in our area. Don't believe their lies.

The Ballard administration has already secretly decided upon a development plan for the firehouse property, but it refuses to release that development plan to the public and explain how much and who is going to get public tax dollars for their private development projects. Kintner repeatedly lied, claiming that this parcel could not be redeveloped without a TIF district. He knows damn good and well that there are developers out there who would gladly purchase that parcel on the open market and redevelop it without a dime of taxpayer dollars. I've also learned that Simon Property Group is willing to develop the IPS transportation center/Coca-Cola building into a new shopping area that would be anchored by a Whole Foods. This is nothing but crony capitalism of the worst order that is putting this city on the fastrack towards bankruptcy. These TIF districts are depleting much-needed property tax revenues for funding basic city services. IPS is broke. The library district complains that it lacks adequate funding. Police and fire budgets are being cut, while crime skyrockets. We don't even know where they plan to move the firehouse, which is needed in the heavily and growing downtown populated area that includes tall skyscrapers and government installations that are a prime target for terrorist attacks.

The taxpayers need to demand an immediate investigation of what is really behind the expansion of this TIF district. I assure you that you will uncover all kinds of self-serving, insider deals that have been transacted behind closed doors to force this TIF expansion project through the City-County Council to line the pockets of the pay-to-play contractors and developers who own our elected officials. The Indianapolis City-County Council and Mayor Ballard do not represent you. They represent the corrupt fat cats who bankroll their campaigns. It's government at its worst. Everyone who testified at tonight's committee hearing in favor of this proposal has a financial stake in its approval. The only resident of Lockerbie who testified in favor of tonight's project, Fred Hash, makes his living off doing these deals. At least he disclosed his interest. That's more than I can say for my councilor, Vop Osili. It's time that he provides full disclosure about his past and current relationship with A2SO4 and how it stands to benefit from the TIF expansion he is proposing. You don't matter. Only the people making money off the government's ability to pick winners and losers matter. The taxpayers are always the losers. They're always the winners.

Council Committee Votes To Finance Eric Turner Family's Nursing Home

State Rep. Eric Turner (left) with Curt Smith, President of the Indiana Family Institute

Tonight, the Indianapolis City-County Council's Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee unanimously voted to approve the issuance of $7.5 million in revenue bonds to finance a $15 million nursing home and assisted living facility to be developed by Mainstreet Property Group, LLC. The facility is to be constructed at 1635 N. Arlington Avenue in Councilor Mary Moriarty Adam's district on the city's eastside. The area in which the facility is being built is actually in the airport's TIF district, even though the airport is on the far west side of the county. All property tax revenues generated from the new facility, which is expected to be on the tax rolls by 2014, will be paid into the TIF district and will generate no property tax revenues to fund other governmental services, including fire and police protection services from which the new facility will be served. Because the airport TIF is underperforming already, new revenues generated from this facility will be diverted to benefit projects related to the airport, not the city's eastside. The TIF district is scheduled to expire in 2022, but that could change. In the event Mainstreet defaults on repayment of the bonds, city taxpayers will be on the hook to pay off the bondholders.

Who is Mainstreet Property Group? Paul "Zeke" Turner presented on behalf of Mainstreet Property Group, which is a family-owned business. His father, State Rep. Eric Turner, co-owns with his wife Mainstreet Capital Partners, LLC, which is an investor in Mainstreet Property Group, LLC. Eric and Zeke conveniently purchased an old school building in Marion, Indiana at a bargain which just happened to be selected by ACS to house a call center as part of FSSA's controversial and troubled privatization of the state's welfare services. As a state legislator, Eric Turner supported the privatization of FSSA. Turner's daughter at the time just happened to be the general counsel for FSSA. Eric Turner calls himself a fiscal conservative, but he sees government service as just a means to an end to make him a multi-millionaire at other taxpayers' expense. It also seems a bit odd that we're subsidizing new nursing home construction when the state is doing everything it can to push people out of nursing homes to save money.

Laying aside the issue of how the Turners use their insider political connections to their personal financial benefit, Eric Turner has also been at the forefront of hot-button social issues. He is a sponsor and major proponent of the constitutional amendment that would enshrine discrimination against same-sex couples by denying them benefits enjoyed by opposite sex couples who can legally marry. Turner has also sponsored anti-abortion legislation that would require doctors performing abortions to counsel their patients that abortions could cause breast cancer and require women seeking abortions to view ultrasounds of their fetuses and be counseled that the fetus will feel pain during the procedure. In the video below, Turner is shown stating that creating exceptions in the abortion law for rape or incest might create a loophole that would encourage women or young girls to fabricate claims of rape or incest.

Payne Resigns

A day after the Indianapolis Star published an in-depth story discussing DCS Director James Payne's role in a drawn out child custody and child neglect case involving his grandchildren, which questioned whether he crossed ethical boundaries, Gov. Mitch Daniels has accepted Payne's resignation. Daniels' office had denied any prior knowledge of Payne's active involvement in the case for the past two years, a claim contradicted by Payne. Payne blasted the Star's report yesterday as "despicable," noting that he hadn't been able to visit his grandchildren since last Christmas and that the agency he administered ultimately decided without interference from him that it was in the childrens' best interests to remain in their mother's custody. Fox 59 News has more on Payne's statement and the Governor's comments concerning Payne's resignation, which offered words of praise for his service to the state:

"It is clear that the story of my family's person circumstances will continue to be public and that there is no concern by those about the impact this will have especially on my grandchildren," Payne wrote in his letter to Daniels. "Therefore, in fairness to my family and to all my fellow co-workers at DCS, I resign effective today."
Daniels responded with a statement, saying, "I respect (Payne's) view that his family be spared further harsh criticism, and that a difficult personal dispute, not of his own making, could be misused by those with political or special interest agendas to falsely disparage the excellent work he and his DCS co-workers have done over the last eight years."
Daniels continued, "The leading national authorities are unanimous in praising Indiana's improvements in child protection, often labeled 'worst to first,’ during Jim Payne's tenure. In the most recent measurements year, the number of fatalities among children under DCS oversight fell to four, an all-time low.

Lugar Reaffirms Support For Mourdock

A consummate pot stirrer desperate for attention recently got his name in the news by suggesting that Sen. Richard Lugar's comments that he was not actively campaigning for Richard Mourdock's election should be interpreted as meaning that he is not backing the Republican candidate's campaign against Joe Donnelly to succeed him in the Senate. Human Events' John Gizzi gets a different take from the senator's staff:

“Yes, the senator is supporting Treasurer Mourdock,” Lugar press secretary Andy Fisher told us Friday. “On the night of the Friday election (when Mourdock defeated Lugar by a margin of 3-to-2), he said he would vote for him in November.”

Fisher also pointed out that, in July, Mourdock “was introduced by the senator to a luncheon of Republican senators.”
Confusion as to whether Lugar is supporting the Republican who defeated him stems from an interview with the senator and onetime Indianapolis mayor posted five days ago on In that interview, Lugar said he would not campaign in the fall for Mourdock, who won the nationally-watched Senate primary in May with strong backing from the tea party movement as well as most GOP county committees in the Hoosier State.

“I’ve not been a factor in the campaign, and I do not intend to do so,” Lugar told the online political journal.

Spokesman Fisher confirmed to Human Events that the 80-year old Lugar “indicated he won’t do other activities” in the fall campaign, but emphasized “he is supporting Treasurer Mourdock.”
I don't think anyone would have expected the 80-year old Lugar to go out and actively campaign for Mourdock or any other Republican candidate this fall after losing the primary election in May. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn't be out campaigning for other candidates either. His 36 years in the Senate are coming to a close and it's time to move on. If he wasn't supporting Mourdock, he wouldn't have shied away from saying so but he didn't.

There's been a lot of talk about Mourdock having a tough time selling himself to so-called Lugar Republicans, who will supposedly decide the race. That's not his problem. Voters could care less whether Lugar is backing him or not. His problem has been poor messaging since he won his upset victory over Lugar. His media campaign has been piss poor, and he has essentially allowed his opponent to define him as the "It's my way or the highway" candidate without any effective response. There has been absolutely no attempt to humanize the man, who has been demonized non-stop on TV and radio ads this past year. Mourdock is having a difficult time closing the deal with voters because he's allowed himself to be defined by his opponents. I'm not sure that there's enough weeks left in this campaign to rescue his candidacy. At this point, he may have to rely on Mitt Romney's coattails or anti-Obama sentiments in the Hoosier state to carry him on election day, and I have my doubts as to whether either will be enough to make a difference.

Payne Calls Star Report Despicable

DCS Director James Payne is responding to an investigative story in Sunday's Indianapolis Star detailing his direct involvement in a child custody and child neglect case involving his grandchildren that some believed crossed ethical boundaries. In an e-mail to Fox 59 News, Payne called the report "despicable" and denies that he did not doing any improper. Payne also contradicted claims by Governor Daniels' office that it did not know of his involvement in the case.

"It was difficult to see our children and grandchildren go through this matter, and it is nothing short of despicable for The Indianapolis Star to profit from their difficulties," Judge James Payne wrote in an e-mail in response to Fox 59's questions. "We have not seen our grandchildren since Christmas due to a custody case. So, to even imply that I had any professional influence on this case is preposterous." . . .
Meanwhile, when asked by Fox 59 whether the governor's office was informed of the case, Payne said "[t]he governor's staff knew my grandchildren had been placed with my wife and me, but CHINS (child in need of services) cases are confidential -- even for my grandchildren."
I'm not sure why Daniels' office is claiming that it knew nothing about the case. It simply defies credulity to believe that it knew nothing about a case that has been ongoing for the past two years. Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg seized on the Star report to call for Payne's resignation.
“Let me be clear. Judge Payne needs to be removed from his position today,” said Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg. “The well-being of our children cannot wait until a new administration takes over in January. I am calling on Governor (Mitch) Daniels to ask for Judge Payne’s immediate resignation.”
“In February of this year, I wrote a letter to the editor saying that the department needed to be fixed, and that started with removing Judge Payne as Director. In July of this year, I released my plan for fixing DCS by creating the Office of the Child Advocate, re-instituting preventative mental health care and promoting adoption throughout the state. Again, I called for Judge Payne’s removal.”
A spokesman for Mike Pence's campaign told the Star that he was deferring comment to the governor.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

CNN Finds Assassinated Ambassador's Journal On The Floor Of Sacked Consulate

In a shocking revelation, CNN is reporting that one of its reporters found a journal belonging to the late Ambassador Chris Stevens lying on the floor of the burned out consulate four days after the attack on Benghazi, Libya consulate that claimed Stevens' and three other Americans' lives. CNN confirms that Stevens had worried about security threats in the months leading up to his assassination.

Four days after he was killed, CNN found a journal belonging to late U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. The journal was found on the floor of the largely unsecured consulate compound where he was fatally wounded.
CNN notified Stevens' family about the journal within hours after it was discovered and at the family's request provided it to them via a third party.
The journal consists of just seven pages of handwriting in a hard-bound book.
For CNN, the ambassador's writings served as tips about the situation in Libya, and in Benghazi in particular. CNN took the newsworthy tips and corroborated them with other sources.
A source familiar with Stevens' thinking told CNN earlier this week that, in the months leading up to his death, the late ambassador worried about what he called the security threats in Benghazi and a rise in Islamic extremism.
It is simply stunning that our government would have left the consulate unprotected even after the attack, allowing anyone who wondered onto the grounds to pick up sensitive documents that were left behind, including the ambassador's own personal journal. CNN is also reporting on home video footage that a witness supposedly took showing Libyans breaking out a window and removing Stevens' body from one of the burning consular buildings. The person who took the video claims that Stevens was still alive. The report suggests that the people who supposedly rescued him from the burning building were thankful to God for finding him alive. In fact, they were chanting, "Allah Akbar." That was the same thing that Major Nidal Hassan chanted as he shot and killed 13 of his fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood and wounded 26 others in an incident our government to this day refuses to acknowledge was a terrorist attack on American soil. Lost in translation, eh? Breitbart asks why CNN waited a full week before it disclosed that it had found Stevens' journal: "Because they’re CNN, and this is the Obama administration, and they didn’t want to step on any toes. That’s why tonight, when they released news of the Ambassador’s diary, a week late, they headlined it this way: 'CNN finds, returns journal belonging to late U.S. ambassador.'"

Hite's Plight Continues

Interim Police Chief Rick Hite
On Friday, local news reports told us that interim IMPD Chief Rick Hite had come under fire for penning a letter of support to a Marion County criminal court judge for a sex offender facing probation violations in apparent violation of IMPD procedures. I'm hearing that his difficulties in obtaining certification as a police officer in Indiana haven't been going real smoothly either. When Ballard appointed Hite as police chief back in April, he said he knew that Hite wasn't a certified police officer in Indiana; however, he didn't view it as a stumbling block to his appointment and that he would serve in an interim role and share departmental responsibilities with others until he became certified. “I think we’re overplaying this one a bit,” Ballard said at the time. 

Indiana permits a police officer certified by another state to obtain a waiver after undergoing some basic testing and training requirements. Fox 59 News reported last month that Hite had missed a deadline for obtaining that waiver because of delays in providing the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy his Maryland police training records where he had worked as a Baltimore police officer before going to work as a deputy for former Public Safety Director Frank Straub. Hite subsequently furnished his Maryland police records to the ILEA. Yet five months after his appointment, Hite is yet to obtain a waiver for Indiana certification as a sworn police officer, a requirement he must meet before he can formally become the city's police chief.

According to a knowledgeable source, Hite obtained his Maryland certification through a grandfathering provision rather than a formal certification process after undergoing training at an accredited law enforcement agency. The source says that Hite failed the law test on a first attempt that he took at the ILEA as part of process for obtaining his Indiana waiver. An applicant is given up to three attempts to pass the exam. The source also says that Hite used a Maryland driver's license for identification purposes, even though he's been living in Indianapolis and working for the City since the summer of 2010 and has been serving as Indianapolis' interim police chief since April. "When you become a resident of Indiana, you have 60 days to obtain a new Indiana driver's license if you hold a valid driver's license from another state," according to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles' website.

DCS Chief Becomes A Critic Of His Own Agency In Case Involving Grandchildren

The Star's Tim Evans has an excellent investigative story looking at a more than 2-year old child custody battle that has been going on between the son of DCS Chief James Payne and his grandchildren's mother in which Payne has become personally enmeshed and has even drafted and filed legal briefs questioning the actions of his own agency's staff in a child neglect case opened after a divorce and child custody battle began in Hamilton County. The story charges that Payne did not let Gov. Daniels at any point know about his personal involvement in the case, although it's hard to believe that Daniels had not heard about it at least through the grapevine if Payne hadn't notified him of it personally. Further adding to the intrigue to the story is the fact that the judge assigned to the child neglect case was Superior Court Judge Steven Nation, who was one of three finalists that Gov. Daniels was recommended to consider for the recent Supreme Court vacancy The story's opening sets the stage:

Department of Child Services Director James W. Payne waged a behind-the-scenes fight to discredit and derail his agency's recommendations in a child neglect case that involved his grandchildren.
Payne's actions -- uncovered by a months-long Indianapolis Star investigation -- crossed ethical lines, experts say, and likely violated his agency's code of conduct.
Even as he ran DCS, Payne became deeply immersed in the case, which began in 2010 when his grandchildren were taken from their mother by his agency as she was locked in a nasty divorce and custody battle with Payne's son.
It wasn't DCS' removal of the children, however, that Payne opposed. What put him at odds with DCS was his agency's push, about nine months later, to end the neglect case and permanently reunite the children with their mother.
Payne, in written responses to questions from The Star, stressed that his only role in the case was "as a grandparent, father and husband," and not in a professional capacity.
At no point during his involvement in the case, however, did Payne step aside from his leadership role with the agency -- a move ethics experts say would have been appropriate.
The story has enough twists and turns to serve as a script for a made-for-TV movie. According to Evans' story, John Payne's reputed wife, Heather, filed for divorce back in December, 2009 after John was arrested for drunk driving for the third time. James Payne became involved almost immediately in the case after filing a motion as the grandfather of the couple's children seeking visitation rights while the case was pending, a motion denied by the judge. Payne then hired a private investigator who began keeping tabs on Heather, even placing a GPS tracker device on her car. It turns out that she was leaving the three kids alone at home while she worked nights as a stripper. A child neglect case is made anonymously by someone, likely the private investigator, and the children wind up in James Payne's custody where his son is now living. As Evans noted, this happened at a time when Heather had the upper hand in the case, having been awarded custody of the children and receiving $800.00 a month in child support John was ordered to pay her.

According to Evans' story, DCS was concerned enough about the potential conflict that it hired a former Illinois child welfare worker to oversee the Payne neglect case rather than assigning one of its child welfare workers to the case. That apparently created a whole other set of problems because the contracted case worker was unfamiliar with Indiana practices and procedures and "slow to respond to court orders and services ordered for Heather Payne and the children." James Payne at one point is accused by one of his grandchildren of slapping them in the face, "prompted by the child's disrespectful behavior." Payne denied the allegation, contradicting the claim of the children. Apparently Payne obtained daily transportation assistance from DCS to take the grandchildren to school despite the fact that he earned $132,600 a year as DCS chief and had a take-home car.

Payne's clashes with his own agency accelerated after it later supported reunification of the children with their mother, a move approved by Judge Nation. One of the children, according to the story, was arrested for shoplifting at Wal-Mart during a visit to Payne's home after the child left Payne's home unsupervised after the trial reunification with the children's mother. Evans details legal briefs Payne filed that contained a "stinging attack on DCS."

The brief claimed the agency's report in support of permanent reunification "will be shown to be so inaccurate that its value and credibility should be given no weight."
It also slammed service providers who partnered with DCS to assist children and families, with allegations such as: "What they seem to demonstrate now, along with case manager, Sandy Downs, is that once they make a recommendation, in spite of overwhelming evidence that the recommendation is wrong, they will not change it."
Another dig: "Instead of concentrating on what is in the children's long term best interest, it seems DCS finds it expedient to end this case, it appears they are worn out by this case, and are tired of having to do the work needed to help the children."
Judge Nation closed the DCS case after siding with the agency in reuniting the children with their mother. In a final twist in the story, the divorce case of Heather and John is dismissed after it is learned that Heather wasn't legally married to John because she never divorced her prior husband. "Heather Payne is still legally married to her second husband, Michael Brandon Baker," a motion to dismiss the divorce case being handled by Judge Daniel Pfleging read. The case has now moved to Marion County where a paternity and child custody case is pending. Payne tells the Star he hasn't seen the grandchildren since last Christmas. "So, to even imply that I had any professional influence on this case," he said, "is preposterous." Unbelievable.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hite In Hot Water Over Letter Written To Aid Sex Offender

As Mayor Greg Ballard headed out of town today on another 10-day junket to Australia, his interim police chief, Rick Hite, found himself in hot water for penning a letter of support to a Marion County judge on behalf of a sex offender with close ties to the Ballard administration who had violated the terms of his probation. Byron Alston, a youth minister for the Ten Point Coalition, landed in criminal trouble after engaging in sexual misconduct with women he was interviewing for jobs funded by a crime prevention grant Alston's organization received from the Ballard administration. Two women had accused Alston of exposing his genitals and offering them jobs at the organization in exchange for sex in separate incidents in June and August 2009. Alton pleaded guilty to confinement and habitual offender harges in 2010 after he made unwanted sexual advances toward young women interviewing for jobs with the Save The Youth program.

Indianapolis police officers are barred from testifying in any court case, civil or criminal, except as required by law. Yet Hite penned a letter of support for Alston to a Marion County criminal court judge after he was ordered to appear on charges of violating the terms of his probation. According to the Star, the letter Hite wrote on his city letterhead read, in part:

"[Alston] has become a successful outreach worker with Ten Point and is called upon by both community and law enforcement."
"He is a valuable 'asset' in our efforts to rid our city of violent crime, through his street knowledge and willingness to provide crisis intervention mediation and counseling on the streets of Indianapolis," Hite wrote in the three-paragraph letter. It was addressed "To Whom It May Concern."

FOP President Bill Owensby told the Star that police officers would be subject to discipline if they had written a letter in support of a probation offender as Chief Hite did, unless they have been given express permission by the chief to do so. "We’ve got a victim of a sexual crime who is dependent on the city to protect and prosecute," Owensby said. "Now the city is defending and essentially coming out in support of a criminal suspect. The community has let down the victim." The Star story notes that Alston had previously served time in the past for sexual battery, confinement and armed robbery before he became a youth minister. Judge Annie Christ-Garcia let Alston off with a slap on the hand for violating the terms of his probation, but she would not comment to the Star on whether Hite's letter made a difference.

The 49-year old Alston was in front of Judge Christ-Garcia for failing to attend court-ordered sex offender counseling sessions and being behind in paying counseling fees and court costs. Questions last year were raised about whether Alston had violated the terms of his probation by attending a Ten Point Coalition meeting at a local church at which Mayor Greg Ballard and former Public Safety Director Frank Straub were in attendance and an event on that same day with the Rev. Al Sharpton. Alston had been placed on home detention at the time and was wearing an ankle bracelet that tracked his whereabouts. "I'm a little embarrassed and disappointed that he didn't let us know," Deputy Mayor for Neighborhoods Olgen Williams told WRTV. "He probably wouldn't have been allowed into the church had we known" about the plea, said the Rev. Charles Harrison, president of the Ten Point Coalition. "I'm saddened that Byron has placed himself in this situation. He's done some good things for this community, but for him to get himself into this kind of situation, is disappointing to a lot of people."

Federal Prosecutors In Indiana Have Among The Fewest Public Corruption Convictions In The Nation

This is a statistic that should come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog. It turns out that federal prosecutors for the northern and southern district of Indiana won fewer convictions for public corruption cases than most other districts in the country. The Indiana Legislative Insight's latest edition reports that based on data compiled by the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department in Washington, the northern district obtained only four convictions in 2011 and the southern district fared even worse with only two convictions. Only 9 of the 93 federal districts obtained fewer convictions than the southern district in Indianapolis headed up by the former Democratic Secretary of State and Democratic State Party Chairman, Joe Hogsett, while the northern district headed up by David Capp obtained more convictions than just 28 other federal districts. Looking back over the past decade, the southern district fared better, with 38 other federal districts having fewer convictions, while 56 federal districts had fewer convictions than the northern district over the past decade.

I don't know why all the corrupt pols up in Chicago don't relocate to Indiana. They stand a far greater chance of escaping prosecution for their sins in Indiana, where federal prosecutors often turn a blind eye towards corruption matters that are commonly prosecuted in other states. The northern district of Illinois in Chicago obtained 30 convictions last year compared to Indiana's southern district's 2 convictions. Over the past decade, the Chicago office has obtained 370 convictions compared to Indianapolis' 68 convictions. The federal report highlighted among its 2011 convictions the conviction of former Barnes & Thornburg lobbyist Kevin Ring by the D.C. district for conspiracy, honest services fraud and paying gratuities in connection with an illegal lobbying scheme while he was employed by ex-powerhouse lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Ring received a 20-month prison sentence. The report also highlights one of the two convictions the Indianapolis office obtained last year, the conviction of former Indianapolis City-County Councilor Lincoln Plowman on attempted extortion and bribery charges last September. Plowman was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ballard Off On Another 10-Day Junket To Australia

He may have used a "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" meme to ride a wave of taxpayer discontent to win the mayor's office in 2007, but Greg Ballard has turned into the most corrupt and self-dealing mayor in modern Indianapolis history. Ballard is heading out of town on a 10-day junket to Australia, the third such junket he has taken this year and the eighth overseas junket he's taken during the less than five years that he's been in office. Ballard claims that taxpayers don't pay for the trips. Instead, he uses money washed though the city's economic development arm, Develop Indy, to pay for the trips, which have cost the nonprofit agency hundreds of thousand of dollars. His wife Winnie has accompanied Ballard on every single trip. Ballard always picks pay-to-play city contractors and developers to accompany him on the junkets, which have never created a single job for the city of Indianapolis despite empty claims to the contrary. The Star has the latest on his junket down under:
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will depart Friday on a 10-day trade trip to Australia that will focus on the life-sciences, manufacturing and information technology industries.
It's the second overseas trip for Ballard in a month. He led a group that traveled to China and Taiwan in August. He traveled to United Kingdom and Germany in June.
This trip will have a smaller group -- with a half dozen travelers joining Ballard and his wife, Winnie -- and it will include stops in Sydney and Melbourne.
The trip, which ends Oct. 1, is sponsored by Develop Indy and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. It's privately funded -- but as generally is the case with such trips, Develop Indy declined a request from The Indianapolis Star to specify which organizations or companies were underwriting the costs.
The other members of the delegation are Carey Lykins, president and CEO of Citizens Energy Group; Gearoid Cronin, vice president of Asia operations for Commissioning Agents Inc.; Melissa Proffitt Reese, a partner at the Ice Miller law firm; Chris Cotterill, a partner at the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm and Ballard's former chief of staff; Melissa Todd, chief operating officer for the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce; and Nancy Langdon, Develop Indy's executive project director for global investment and trade.
A news release from Develop Indy says the trip's itinerary includes meetings with companies that do business in Indianapolis and some considering investments in the United States.
The organization says previous trade trips to Australia have resulted in business for Indianapolis-based companies. As an example, it cited Commissioning Agents, an engineering and technical services company that it says won a contract with an Australian pharmaceutical company for work in Kankakee, Ill., and also received exposure that has helped it expand operations worldwide.
"Indianapolis is an international city, with more than 250 international companies located here that employ more than 43,000 people," Mayor Greg Ballard said in the Develop Indy release. "We see this (trip) as an opportunity to leverage Indianapolis' stable, affordable, pro-growth economic environment to enhance global trade and investment, while broadening business opportunities for Indianapolis-based companies."
Since taking office, Ballard has accepted free country club memberships, gifts, meals and trips worth well over a half million dollars, all tax-free, equaling or exceeding what he is paid by taxpayers to serve as the city's mayor after promising on the night of his election victory to end country club politics in Indianapolis. He is totally consumed by the trappings of the office and has become completely disconnected from the day-to-day operations of the city. Ballard has from his first day in office essentially turned over control of the city to Barnes & Thornburg's Bob Grand and Joe Loftus, who have operated the city as a profit center for their law firm, and who have decided which pay-to-play contractors and developers will reap the benefits of the taxpayers' largess.

Public Safety's Professional Standards Chief Wrecked City-Issued Car In City Garage

People are asking questions about a recent one-car crash in the basement parking garage of the City-County Building involving a city-owned car driven by the Department of Public Safety's Chief of Professional Standards Ellen Corcella. According to a police report, IMPD Officer Brandon Laser responded to a report of damage to a city-owned vehicle on September 6, 2012 around 10:00 a.m. "A city owned vehicle had sustained damage to its right rear passenger door and fender while in the basement at this location [50 N. Alabama street]," Officer Laser's report reads. The report identifies a 4-door, 2011 Ford Fusion driven by Corcella as the vehicle which sustained the property damage. The report indicates that photographs were taken, but no arrests or tickets were issued.

A source tells Advance Indiana that more than two hours passed before a portable breathalyzer test was administered on Corcella, who acted "strange" and "agitated" according to the source. No blood alcohol test was performed on Corcella according to the source. Corcella was directed by former Public Safety Director Frank Straub to investigate how a blood vial containing blood drawn from Officer David Bisard, the IMPD officer who crashed his police cruiser into a group of motorcylces stopped at an intersection while allegedly under the influence of alcohol, killing Eric Wells, somehow got moved from IMPD's property control room and stored in an unrefrigerated location. A subsequent investigation by the FBI determined that the mishandling of Bisard's blood alcohol evidence happened as a result of sloppy handling of evidence by IMPD and did not occur as a result of any criminal intent. Straub recruited Corcella, a former deputy prosecutor in St. Joseph and Marion Counties, to head up the professional standards division within the Department last January.

If you check out this video clip from last night's Public Safety Committee meeting during an exchange between Councilor Aaron Freeman and Ms. Corcella concerning the allocation of take-home vehicles, you will see her hold up the keys to her car and tell Councilor Freeman that she will turn over the keys to her car to the police chief before the close of the meeting if the council believes she shouldn't have a take-home car. Corcella, who was visibly miffed at Councilor Freeman for raising the issue of her having a take-home car, accused him of personalizing the issue. Freeman's point was to question why it is necessary to allocate a fleet of cars to various employees within the Public Safety Department when money is too tight to replace aging vehicles in IMPD's fleet. Chief Rick Hite responded that his concern was one that needed to be addressed within the Director of Public Safety's office. Corcella steps to the podium at approximately the 3:00 minute mark in the clip below to address the issue. Freeman's exchange on take-home cars revealed that approximately 60 cars within IMPD's budget are vehicles issued to persons other than sworn police officers, including the fleet of cars used by non-sworn employees within the Department of Public Safety.
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Obama Campaign Unveils Creepy O-Flag

The red stripes in the O-Flag look eerily like the bloody handprints of a person. Obama, like other infamous dictators, relies heavily on symbolism to promote a cult of personality with the American public. Hat tip to Gateway Pundit.

South Bend Police Officers File Suit Over Illegal Wiretapping Allegations

Several South Bend police officers are suing the city, its former police chief, communications director and an attorney following revelations earlier this year that the police department had been recording phone conversations that took place on private lines in the offices of higher-ranking police officers. Karen DePaepe, the city's former communications director, in attempting to record phone conversations of a division chief inadvertently recorded conversations on a phone in a police captain's office instead. Upon reviewing the content of some of those conversations she found offensive, DePaepe shared them with Chief Darryl Boykins. The police officers learned of the recorded conversations after Chief Boykins summoned one of them to his office and berated him for being a "back stabber" and referenced recorded phone conversations that he would use as a basis for firing of anyone he determined had been disloyal to him following his reappointment as chief by incoming Mayor Pete Buttigieg. DePaepe confirmed that she had tapped the officer's phone line when confronted with the accusations, which resulted in a firestorm that led Mayor Buttigieg to demote Boykins and fire DePaepe, both of whom have filed their own lawsuits against the city.

Buttigieg's administrations asked the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate the wiretapping of the phone lines. According to Buttigieg, he was told by the U.S. Attorney's office that unless he fired Boykins as police chief he would face criminal prosecution when the city's African-American community became outraged at Boykin's demotion. The U.S. Attorney's office subsequently claimed that it did not provide personnel advice to the city according to Boykins' attorney. No criminal charges were brought against anyone for violating federal wiretap laws. DePaepe and her attorney, Scott Duerring, gave several public interviews in which they accused the officers whose calls were recorded of making racially offensive comments about Boykins. The lawsuit claims that Boykins admitted to one of the plaintiffs that he had not heard him make racially offensive comments in the recorded phone conversations but said so "because his feelings had been hurt."

The lawsuit contends that the recording of the phone conversations violated their Fourth Amendment rights against illegal searches and seizures, as well as the federal wiretapping statute. It further alleges that the actions of the defendants support state tort claims for negligence, defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the harm they say they have suffered. Attorneys for the plaintiffs held a press conference yesterday upon filing their lawsuit according to the South Bend Tribune.

Daniel Pfeifer said the officers, who remained quiet for months, were vilified to the public. The tapes have been rumored to contain comments from officers making racist comments against Boykins, who is black, and possibly illegal comments.
The tapes have not been released to the public.
“For several months the plaintiffs have not said anything at the advice of their attorneys,” Pfeifer said. “They have become villains when in fact they are the victims. They’ve been the victims all along.”
The lawsuit contends that it is well known that some of the lines in the department are recorded, but that the officers believed individual lines, including their own, were private.
The defendants' attorneys shot back that the lawsuit was frivolous and state they will file counter claims against the plaintiffs.
“I can say that we’re going to formally respond through the appropriate channels through court, which may include seeking sanctions for the bringing of frivolous litigation,” Dixon said Wednesday.
Duerring also called the complaint frivolous and added that he and DePaepe will be replying to it with a counter claim against the plaintiffs for damages.
“The complaint is rife with factual inaccuracies and falsehoods that any reasonable investigation would have uncovered,” he said.
Buttigieg declined on Wednesday to discuss the details of the pending litigation, but did release a brief statement.
“These allegations make it all the more important for us to concentrate on finding outstanding new police leadership,” he said. “Our officers and citizens deserve leadership that puts the focus where it belongs: Fighting crime and serving our diverse community.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Enemy Of Our Enemy Really Is Our Enemy

Attempts by the Obama administration in the aftermath of the sacking of our consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens to portray the September 11th attack as a spontaneous eruption of violence by a mob have now been thoroughly discredited. The latest intelligence reports credit an al Qaeda terrorist with quite an interesting past association with our government as being responsible for masterminding the attack last Tuesday. The terrorist being fingered is Sufyan Ben Qumu, a former tank driver for the Libyan army who did time in prison.

According to Fox News, intelligence sources say Qumu made his way from Libya to Egypt and then eventually to Afghanistan, where he took up arms with Osama bin Laden, who our government initially helped arm and train during the late 1970s when he helped drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. He later joined the Taliban after they came to power following the Russian exit from Afghanistan. After 9/11, Qumu was captured in Pakistan as an enemy combatant and taken to Guantanamo Bay. In 2007, the U.S. made some sort of deal with Libya to turn over Qumu, which released him back into the general population in 2008. When the Obama administration was looking for allies to help drive Gaddafi out of power, a former enemy combatant became an ally we helped arm and finance. Despite Qumu's known ties to al Qaeda, the Obama administration felt he wasn't a threat because he was indigenous to Libya. So to make a long story short, our consulate was sacked and our ambassador assassinated by a person we once considered an enemy combatant but later considered an ally worthy of our financial support.

It's also becoming increasingly apparent that the orchestrated attacks against our government in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East have less to do with an offensive, amateurish movie produced by a nobody and more to do with efforts to put pressure on the Obama administration to release from prison the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of playing a key role in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Shockingly, the State Department is reportedly in talks with the Egyptian's Muslim Brotherhood to reach an agreement to release the Blind Sheik for humanitarian reasons in exchange for the release of Americans being detained in Egypt. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been calling for the release of the Blind Sheikh ever since he was elected earlier this year. The State Department at first refused to comment on the story but later stated that "there is no plan" for his release. As someone commented, that's sort of like an unannounced candidate for office who says "I have no plans to run", which is typically taken as an indication that the person will run for office. You can bet that Obama will wait to announce the release of the Blind Sheik until after the November election. Obama did after all back the release of the Lockerbie bomber to Libya.