Friday, May 30, 2014

Indianapolis Cancels National Cricket Championship At Mayor's New Cricket Park

It was supposed to debut the opening of Mayor Greg Ballard's multi-million dollar sports on the City's east side--the hosting of National Cricket Championship. As often occurs, bad news gets delivered late in the day on a Friday before the start of the weekend when the mouthpieces believe the story will get buried amidst other stories already put to bed before reporters begin their weekend, particularly on a day when a new round of violence has left five dead and one police officer shot in the last 24 hours. The parks department is blaming "lack of communications" with USACA, the sanctioning organization, following the recent departure of its chief executive, Darren Beazley, and to provide the necessary assistance in lining up sponsors for the event. The Dubai-based International Cricket Association will vote next month on whether to suspend its relationship with USACA.

Ballard first unveiled plans to host the national championship event during one of his overseas junkets to India last year. Ballard has been heavily criticized for blowing millions of dollars on a new cricket park at a time the City claims a fiscal inability to properly fund basic city services, such as maintaining existing parks, fixing streets and sidewalks and hiring a sufficient number of police officers. Ballard and fiscally irresponsible members of the Indianapolis City-County Council are now pushing the enactment of another increase in the local income tax rate to fund public safety as it continues to fund private real estate projects being developed by their campaign contributors by the millions and tens of millions at a time. A 65% increase in the income tax rate in 2007 similarly promised new police officers but wound up getting spent elsewhere. The TIF slush funds that fund so-called economic development projects now consume nearly $120 million annually in local property tax revenues, starving other units of government of much-needed revenues.

Police Officer Shot On Indianapolis' Northeast Side

An IMPD officer was shot this morning during a gunfire exchange in the 2600 block of North Dearborn Street. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening. The name of the officer has not been released. As many as three suspects may have been killed by police during the gunfire exchange. A few hours earlier, two Indiana State Troopers in an unmarked patrol car claim they were fired upon while ISP and IMPD officers were investigating a report of shots fired around Lakeview Apartments near 21st and Mitthoefer Road. The ISP officers began following a white Cadillac when they claimed a man armed with a rifle began firing at them from the car. The car crashed at 30th and Mitthoefer following a chase where police apprehended one suspect and a rifle, but the other suspect fled the scene. It is unclear whether the two incidents are related.

This morning's violence follows a double homicide that took place at 3100 North Graceland Avenue on the City's north side. Two men were found shot to death in a car at that location. Remember, Mayor Ballard and our City-County Council has already declared that this violence is all your fault because you aren't paying enough in taxes to hire enough police officers. Never mind that they pilfered hundreds of millions of our public dollars on subsidies for real estate developments of their campaign contributors over the past several years instead of spending the money from the last public safety tax increase in 2007 that they promised would be used to hire more police officers but wasn't used to hire a single new police officer.

UPDATE: The police officer who was shot was wearing a bullet proof vest that protected him from serious injury. He's been identified as Officer Greg Milburne. The man involved with police in the shooting was found outside the home. Following the shooting, two women were found dead inside the home. It's unclear how they were killed.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ten Point Coalition Leader Charged With Income Tax Evasion And Perjury

The Indianapolis Star is reporting that Byron Alston, a youth minister who works on youth crime prevention efforts on behalf of the Ten Point Coalition, a nonprofit group funded, in part, by Indianapolis' crime prevention grant program, has been charged by the Marion County Prosecutor's Office with four felony counts of state income tax evasion and perjury. According to the report, Alston failed to report and pay taxes on income earned from 2010 through 2014, and lied under oath about vehicles he owned.

In February of this year, Alston told reporters that his home had been the subject of a raid carried out by federal, state and local law enforcement officials. Alston claimed that he had been questioned by authorities about $3 million that he had supposedly been offered by Republicans and whether his organization had been the target of any extortion attempts. At the time of the raid, Rev. Charles Harrison, the head of the Ten Point Coalition, attacked the raid as a "Democratic witch hunt" aimed at a Republican mayor because of the group's support for Ballard's re-election in 2011.

A few years ago, Alston pleaded guilty to criminal confinement charges for allegations of sexual misconduct towards women who applied for jobs funded, in part, from crime prevention grant money provided to his organization by the Ballard administration. Questions arose about Alston violating the terms of his probation in 2010 when he showed up at a meeting of concerned clergy attended by Mayor Ballard at a time when he was supposed to still be on home detention from his guilty plea. IMPD Chief Rick Hite came under fire in 2012 when it was disclosed that he had written a letter of support for Alston to a Marion County judge for his probation hearing.

UPDATE: The IBJ adds a few more details:
The organization's purported mission is to help at-risk youth, but prosecutors allege Alston used much of the money intended for the group for personal gain. The organization won financial support from the city via crime-prevention grants as well as private dollars from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.
An investigator digging into Alston's financials found Alston received $128,844 from Save the Youth from 2008 to 2009. Of that amount, $45,248 is undocumented as to why Alston received the money. The bank accounts also show cash deposits of more than $56,000 in which the source of cash is unknown.
Bank records for 2010-2012 were not available, filing documents say . . .
“This investigation determined that Byron Q. Alston formed the organization Save The Youth that was suppose (sic) to help at risk youth,” according to court documents in the Marion Superior Court. “Alston applied for grants that were supposed to be used for a specific purpose but documents showed that most of the grant money was used by Alston for his own personal gain.”

Pacers' Paul George Slapped With Paternity Suit In New York By Former Stripper

Paul George
A 24-year old former stripper, Daniela Rajic, has filed a paternity action against the Pacers' forward Paul George according to the New York Post's Page Six column. Rajic, who formerly worked as a stripper at Tootsie's Cabaret in Miami and who now lives in New York, gave birth to a daughter on May 1. George, who reportedly had a fling with Rajic last summer, previously denied a claim that he had offered Rajic $1 million to have an abortion. A source tells the Post that she has already had a paternity test performed and there's no question he is the father. An official DNA test will likely be ordered by the court. The timing of this distraction is not good as the Pacers struggle to battle their way out of a deficit in their playoff match-up with the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference title. Great role model for the kids, eh?

Public Defender Board Re-Appointee Withdraws Name From Further Consideration

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After this blog raised questions about the re-appointment of Jennifer Lukemeyer to the Marion Co. Public Defender Board because of her role in facilitating the payment of campaign contributions to former chief deputy prosecutor David Wyser by her client's father in exchange for a sentence modification that allowed her client, a woman convicted of hiring a hit man to murder her husband, after serving only a fraction of her sentence, Democratic council members moved to recommit the proposal re-appointing her to the board to the Public Safety Committee where it had earlier been voted out unanimously for further consideration.

Federal prosecutors charged Wyser with bribery, a charge to which he later voluntarily pleaded guilty. Wyser later received probation only for his offense and was suspended from the practice of law. Wyser's boss, former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, faced no charges despite accepting more than $30,000 in campaign contributions from Harrison Epperly, the father of Lukemeyer's client. Neither Brizzi nor Lukemeyer faced a complaint against their law licenses by the Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission despite the stain the ordeal left on the public's confidence in the judicial system.

When the committee met on May 22, Councilor Mary Moriarty-Adams announced that Lukemeyer had asked that her name be withdrawn from further consideration rather than face questions about her role in the Wyser bribery affair. With that, committee members voted to recommend striking her re-appointment from the proposal and sending it to the full council for approval. Council Democrats should be applauded for their action. The same can't be said for Republican council members, who condemned Democratic members for not approving Lukemeyer's re-appointment when it was before the full council and voted against sending her re-appointment back to committee.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mow Me, Please

This vacant commercial property at 120 E. Vermont downtown never seems to catch the eye of the city code enforcement folks. The weeds and grass on the lawn out front become very overgrown before the property owner tends to it. One would have thought that someone would have tended to this before last weekend's 500 Festival Parade, which passed only a half block from the building. The building once housed the offices of the Marion County Republican Party.

Frankfort Basketball Coach Arrested For Child Seduction

JASON CLARK / Courier & Press archives 
Princeton coach Tom Weeks reacts to a foul called on one of his players during a game against Washington on Friday, Jan. 23, 2009. Weeks, who led the Tigers to the 2009 Class 3A title, is moving on to Frankfort, Ind.
Frankfort High School basketball coach Tom Weeks (Jason Clark/Courier-Press Photo) 
Frankfort Police have arrested Frankfort High School history teacher and head boys' basketball coach Tom Weeks on charges of child seduction for allegedly engaging in inappropriate relations with a female student according to WTHR-TV. "These types of allegations are taken very seriously and investigated with the utmost sensitivity," Frankfort Police Chief Troy Bacon told WTHR. "Cooperation between the Community School of Frankfort and our detectives, as well as information gathered during the investigation, led to Week’s arrest," Bacon said. Weeks led the Princeton High School's boys' basketball team to a state Class 3A championship in 2009 with a perfect 29-0 record. Weeks left Princeton after 9 seasons in 2011 to join the faculty at Frankfort High School. WLFI quoted Superintendent Don DeWeese earlier today as indicating that Weeks is still employed by the school.

Charges Dropped Against Teen Arrested For Coke Lot Murder

A 19-year old arrested by Speedway police for the fatal shooting of a 25-year old Kokomo man early Saturday morning in the Coke Lot of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before the race will not face formal charges. The Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office tells Fox59 News that Avory Johnson will not face murder charges for the shooting death of Max Levine due to inconsistencies regarding the identification of the shooter.

Star: Prosecutor's Silence On Misdemeanor Only Charges Against Irsay Opens Door To Criticism

The Star's Tim Evans has a follow-up story to last Friday's late announcement by the Hamilton Co. Prosecutor's Office that only misdemeanor charges would be filed against Colts owner Jim Irsay in connection with his drugged driving arrest last March. Evans writes that "the prosecutor's silence, coupled with the timing of that charging decision, did little to instill public confidence that Irsay--despite his position and wealth--was treated like anyone else." Evans believes Lee Buckingham's handling of Irsay's prosecution raises the following questions:
  • Why did it take more than two months to charge Irsay?
  • What happened to the drug charges? Did Irsay have prescriptions for the drugs?
  • Did the prosecutor hold off charging Irsay after the team owner helped the city make a bid last week to host the 2018 Super Bowl?
  •  And why were charges filed in the minutes before the courts closed for the long Memorial Day/Indianapolis 500 weekend?
Not surprisingly, former Hamilton Co. Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp defended Buckingham. "I am familiar with the individuals in the position of making those judgments and determinations," Leerkamp said, "and, based upon my knowledge of those individuals and their character, I would never suspect any of them of showing favorable treatment based on (a suspect's) position in the community."

Leerkamp, herself, faced criticism for her handling of high-profile cases. In two cases separated by years involving serious allegations that members of Carmel High School's swim teams and basketball teams had raped anally younger teammates in some twisted hazing ritual, she concluded felony charges weren't warranted. Incredibly, in another case where a minor was served alcohol at the home of a physician and later drove his car into a retention pond and drowned, she claimed there were no laws that would allow her to bring charges against adults who serve alcohol to a minor at a private party. Leerkamp also dropped hit-and-run charges against Nancy Irsay, Jim Irsay's step-mother, who also escaped drunk driving charges in Marion County following her arrest after she was stopped by Indianapolis police for driving 70 mph in a 30 mph zone and then refused to submit to a blood alcohol test administered by police.

Evans' story includes interviews with several legal ethics experts, who agree that Buckingham has no obligation to explain to the public why he chose not to bring more serious, felony charges in Irsay's case. "Charles Geyh, a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, said that although he didn't see an ethical mandate, 'as a practical matter, this is someone who runs for office, and the electorate might think differently about explaining himself.'" Retired law professor William Hodes suggested that police may have deliberately over-charged Irsay. "What if the police on the scene were out of line and charging everything because it's fun to catch Jimmy Irsay?" Hodes asked. The Carmel Police Department declined to comment on the prosecutor's decision.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Food Vendor's Employee Caught Smuggling Drugs Into Indiana State Prison At LaPorte

Letrice Drake
A supervisory employee for Aramark Correctional Services, a division of the food services giant that is under contract to provide meals for Indiana's prison inmates, was arrested last week trying to smuggle drugs into the Indiana State Prison at LaPorte. WNDU-TV reports that Letrice Drake was arrested for felony drug possession and trafficking after prison guards caught her trying to bring heroine, marijuana, suboxone and tobacco products found in a package wrapped with black electrical tape.

Drake is a 25-year old food services supervisor for Aramark from Gary who was hired by the company in March. Superintendent William K. Wilson, stated, “I am very proud of the staff and the great work we do on a daily basis. This is indicative of our commitment to maintain the safety and security of the facility. We will continue to aggressively pursue and eradicate these individuals who choose to compromise the integrity of our profession.” Campaign finance reports indicate that Aramark contributed $10,000 to Mike Pence's 2012 gubernatorial campaign.

The Michigan Department of Corrections fined Aramark Correctional Services $98,000 in March for violating its contract to provide services to its prison inmates by employing workers who fraternized with inmates, making unauthorized menu substitutions and failing to prepare the correct number of meals. According to Michigan officials, the state corrections' department found a dozen instances of Aramark employees being overly-familiar with prisoners. Union officials charged one employee with having sex with an inmate, although corrections officials said that allegation was exaggerated, claiming the employee was merely caught kissing the inmate. Aramark's 3-year contract with Michigan DOC is worth $145 million. The state eliminated about 370 food services jobs at the prisons in order to save $12 to $16 million a year under the privatization contract.

Aramark's problems haven't been confined to Indiana and Michigan. The company has been accused of overcharging state governments in Kentucky and Florida, as well as facing criticism for skimping on food portions and food safety issues. A Kentucky prison riot was blamed on inmates' displeasure with the low quality of food Aramark provided. An investigation by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges found that food served to inmates in the Burlington County Jail in New Jersey was substandard and spoiled and frequently made prisoners sick with diarrhea and vomiting. Hedges wrote in his report:
Aramark, whose website says it provides 1 million meals a day to prisoners, does what corporations are doing throughout the society: It lavishes campaign donations on pliable politicians, who in turn hand out state and federal contracts to political contributors, as well as write laws and regulations to benefit their corporate sponsors at the expense of the poor. Aramark fires unionized workers inside prisons and jails and replaces them with underpaid, nonunionized employees. And it makes sure the food is low enough in both quality and portion to produce huge profits.
The company has been the subject of numerous labor complaints involving allegations that it fired workers for reporting unsanitary food conditions and a variety of wage claim disputes according to various news reports. Aramark has been under contract for many years to provide food services to the Marion County Jail, a contract which is reportedly being renewed this year. Aramark has contributed $1,300 to Sheriff John Layton's campaign committee. It's interesting how Democratic officeholders always seem to get a pass by labor bosses when they screw public employees with these privatization deals; it's only when Republicans do it that it becomes an issue.

Actor Known As Elliot Rodger Liked Listening To 80s Music And Driving His Black BMW, Couldn't Get Laid

It's difficult trying to figure out the made-for CNN event that played out in Isla Vista, California last Friday night where we're told that 22-year old Elliot Rodger, son of Peter Rodger, a Hollywood film director who worked on projects like the "Hunger Games" and "Oh, My God," went on a knife-stabbing and gun-shooting rage near the University of California-Santa Barbara where he was a student that claimed the lives of six people and wounded thirteen others before taking his own life. According to a video he posted on YouTube shortly before the killings titled, "Elliot Rodger's Retribution," he blamed his rage on rejection by women, complaining that he was still a virgin who had never even kissed a girl. In the video, he laid out his plans to enter the hottest sorority house on campus at UCSB and slaughter "every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut I see inside there."

He kept his word to engage in a blood bath, but his first three victims were three male Asian students with whom he roomed at an apartment near the campus, all three of whom we're told were stabbed to death by Rodger. He later shot and killed two young women outside a sorority house after he was unable to enter its locked doors before going on a shooting rampage that claimed one other young man's life at a local convenient store. Despite being part Asian, his mother is Malaysian and his father is a white immigrant from England, Rodger held bigoted views towards Asians and other minorities. According to postings he made on the Internet, it bothered him a great deal when attractive white women dated minority men. It also appears that he despised his step-mother, actress Soumaya Akaaboune, an immigrant actress from Morocco who starred opposite Matt Damon in "The Green Zone" and has also played on a French version of the Real Housewives. A YouTube video shows Elliot with his father and Akaaboune during their red carpet arrival at the premier for the "Hunger Games" with actor Sylvester Stallone during seemingly happier days.

One family connection not reported on much by the media is Rodger's late famous grandfather, British photojournalist George Rodger. He became very well known for his work covering The Blitz during World War II in London for Life magazine. He was one of the first journalists allowed to enter the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. His photographs of the survivors and piles of corpses were featured in Life and Time magazines and influenced American's views of the Holocaust. He stopped work as a war correspondent and focused the remainder of his career covering the people and animal life of Africa and the Middle East. His coverage of the founding of the state of Israel was decidedly pro-Palestinian, and he reportedly complained that he believed press reports in America were biased because Jews controlled the media according to author Carol Naggar, who wrote a biography on Rodger's work as a photojournalist. Rodger was also one of the founders of Magnum Photos.

Elliot posted numerous self-produced YouTube videos where he rambles on about his miserable and lonely life despite growing up in an extremely wealthy family, driving a sporty black BMW and having really cool clothes and sunglasses. Curiously, he seemed to have a passion for 80s music as that seemed to be the only genre of music he played while videotaping himself driving around Santa Barbara in his BMW and admiring his "awesome, magnificent" good looks. His "Retribution" video and some of those driving videos are shown below. Naturally, the media and some of the victims' families are blaming this latest tragedy on gun owners, the NRA and politicians who support the Second Amendment. Coincidentally, or not, the popular meme following this event is that our government failed to act in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut where Suzanne Collins, the author of the "Hunger Games" trilogy lives. It seems to be more about a bad case of parenting to me by people whose work in Hollywood is polluting the minds of our young.

Indiana Media Slow To Pick Up On Pitfalls Of Illiana Expressway Bi-State Deal

It is quite remarkable how little media scrutiny was given to the public-private partnership between Indiana and Illinois to build the Illiana Expressway, a private toll road that will primarily benefit access to a third airport for the Chicago metropolitan area in rural Peotone, Illinois. It is unclear what benefits, if any, will accrue to residents in Northwest Indiana, but it will be a boon to highway contractors who contribute heavily to the politicians' campaign committees and the foreign-led consortium that will be chosen to build the Indiana portion of the highway. Unlike Gov. Mitch Daniels' P3 long-term lease of the Indiana Toll Road, this project will require massive sums of money flowing out of state highway funds to the private operator of the road. A story last week by the Northwest Indiana Times' Keith Benman is slowly being reported elsewhere around the state as an AP report discusses the shift in funding of privatization agreements, but it's too little too late to make a difference with the potential boondoggle of a deal Gov. Mike Pence already approved for construction of the Illiana Expressway:
Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels appeared to strike the best deal since the Dutch bought Manhattan for beads when he landed a $3.8 billion windfall by leasing the Indiana Toll Road to a private consortium in 2006.
One recession and eight years later, privatizations are again the rage in the region. But the tables have turned, with most of the risk in the deals shifting to government and windfall payments becoming a thing of the past.
Nationally, that trend has played out most predominately on road-building projects. Investment teams are demanding states guarantee them fixed annual payments, known as availability payments, before they will build anything . . .
The prime example of that shift in this region is the bi-state Illiana Expressway, which has five private investment teams vying to build all or part of the 47-mile toll road.
In early 2013, hopes were high investors might pay the entire cost of the road for the right to keep the tolls. But that idea was dropped. Indiana and Illinois are now offering private investment teams annual availability payments throughout the 35-year lease.
If toll collections don't exceed the amount of those fixed payments, the states will have to dip into their highway funds to pay the bill.
Indiana and Illinois also estimate they may have to fork over up to a combined $270 million in cash to investors in the form of milestone payments in 2018 and 2019 once the road is built . . .
Benman's story overlooked an Illinois Department of Transportation study that suggested tolls on the Illiana Expressway would need to be two to three times as high as tolls on other area toll roads in order to cover payments on the road once it is constructed. One of the reasons the private consortium that operates the Indiana Toll Road has been struggling with the deal it inked with the State of Indiana in 2006 is the fact that traffic on the road has been lower than anticipated, resulting in fewer toll road revenues. I can't imagine drivers paying more to make their East-West commute using the Illiana Expressway. It is also unclear to me why Indiana wants to invest in a direct route to a third airport in Illinois rather than the Gary Airport, which officials there recently privatized for no upfront payment. Instead, Gary officials are hoping the deal generates a minimum $25 million investment during the first five years. Unfortunately, by the time Hoosiers figure out how badly they were screwed on the Illiana Expressway deal, Gov. Pence will likely be long gone from office.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Marion TIF Funds Provided To Mayor's Business Partner, Later Let Off The Hook Financially

The Marion Chronicle-Tribune exposes more transactions involving the use of tax increment finance district funds by the city that benefitted businesses owned by the business partner of Mayor Wayne Seybold, who is seeking nomination at next month's state GOP convention for the office of state treasurer. In the latest disclosure, the Chronicle Tribune reveals two transactions where loans backed by TIF district revenues were made to two businesses, Western Place and Active Properties, both owned by Jim Swan. According to the newspaper report, Swan co-owns with Seybold a portable ice rink company, Ice Rinks 2 Go. Swan is also a member of the city's Board of Public Works and Safety, whose board members are appointed by the mayor.

In December, 2008, city officials approved the use of $1 million in TIF loan proceeds for Western Place to make improvements to retail property that was later used for Moe's Southwest Grill and Culver's frozen custard franchise. The restaurant franchise is a partnership involving Swan and several other partners, while the Culver's is owned by Swan and another immediate family member. The portable ice rink company co-owned by Swan and Seybold is located in a building adjacent to the building where the TIF funds were invested by Swan. Swan's Active Properties also received $1.6 million to redevelop what is described as a brownfields site. The loan proceeds helped with environmental clean-up to make the property which formerly housed a factory operated by Active Products suitable for reuse. Swan leased the property to JSG Processing, a company which processes spent limestone for reuse. It is owned by Christoper Gandolfo of Fort Wayne. JSG Processing also received $500,000 in TIF funds.

The Chronicle-Tribune reports that although the original bond documents listed Swan's companies as the borrower responsible for repayment of the loan proceeds, the documents approved by the city's Redevelopment Commission, most of whose members are appointed by the mayor, pledged TIF revenues to repay the borrowed amounts. Swan's companies were only expected to repay loan proceeds to the extent TIF funds were inadequate to repay the bond debt. Swan defended the investment of the city's TIF funds in his businesses, noting their use for out-of-town interests. "If we're giving increment to people coming from out of town," he said, "I need that competitive (edge)."

The newspaper previously reported that Marion officials had provided $2.5 million in funding to a Korean businessman, Michael An, to redevelop a former YMCA building for a mixed use. Mayor Seybold's brother worked for a company that An established to redevelop the building. The City's building commissioner, Larry Oradat, also owned a construction company that performed work on the building. An's project later failed to come to fruition, and his property was ordered sold at a sheriff's sale after he failed to pay taxes on it. Oradat's construction company has filed a lawsuit against An's company for money it claims it is owed for construction work it performed on the building. The Chronicle-Tribune previously reported that city officials refinanced the debt owed on the YMCA project as part of a larger bond issue and relieved him of all liability for the $2.5 million in loan proceeds provided to him for his project. Marion city officials were unable to account for how over $2 million in bond proceeds issued to An were spent.

It turns out that the bond refinancing deal in 2009 for An's debt also included a refinancing of the prior bond proceeds that benefitted Swan's projects. Like An, Swan's businesses were released from any liability for repayment of the debt as part of the bonds issued to refinance the old debt. Swan told the newspaper that he was unaware that the debt had ben paid off until he got a letter saying that it was done to obtain a better interest rate for the city. The Chronicle-Tribune cites city council meeting minutes where the city's attorney, Barnes & Thornburg's Bruce Donaldson, had assured council members otherwise. "The city would not have any liability on it," Donaldson told council members at the time the TIF funds were approved in 2008 for Swan's Western Place. "If that (TIF) doesn't generate enough to pay them, then the company would be on the hook for the difference."

Seybold is favored to win his state GOP nominating race for state treasurer next month where he will be opposed by businessman Don Bates and treasurer's office employee, Kelly Mitchell. Seybold is backed by many party leaders around the state. Democrats are expected to nominate Mike Boland, a former Democratic lawmaker from Illinois who moved to Fishers, Indiana from the Quad Cities in Northwestern Illinois in 2012. Boland represented a district in the Illinois House of Representatives for 16 years before losing the Democratic primary race for lieutenant governor in 2010. He also lost a 2012 state senate primary race in Illinois before moving to Indiana later that year.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ryan Hunter-Reay Gets His First Win At Indy

It was a perfect day for the running of the 98th Indianapolis 500. The final laps made the race particularly exciting as three-time winner Helio Castroneves traded the lead with Ryan Hunter-Reay in the final five laps of the race. In the end, Hunter-Reay edged out Castroneves by .060 seconds, making it the second closest finish in the race's history. Hunter-Reay is the first American to win the race in eight years. Sam Hornish, Jr. is the most recent American winner in 2006. Marco Andretti finished third, followed by fourth place finisher Carlos Munoz and fifth place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya. NASCAR's Kurt Busch got an impressive six place finish in his rookie race before hopping a plane to Charlotte where he will race in tonight's Coca-Cola 600. A collision between pole-sitter Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe on lap 176 following a restart tragically ended their day. They were both running at or near the front most of the day before their crash. Yellow caution flags were a rare sight today. The first caution lap didn't come out until lap 150.

Another Shooting At IMS' Coke Lot On Race Day

This isn't a good trend. There's been a second shooting in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Coke Lot in as many days. Fortunately, the shooting that happened at 2:30 a.m. Sunday was not fatal like yesterday's shooting, although the victim is listed in serious condition at Eskenazi Hospital. Police say a group of men robbed a person. Friends of the robbery victim chased after the group of men when one of the armed robbers turned and shot one of the robbery victim's friends. The suspects remain at large. Police have apprehended the person they believe is responsible for Saturday morning's fatal shooting in the Coke Lot. Police have arrested 19-year old Avery Johnson and charged him with murder.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fatal Shooting At Indianapolis Motor Speedway

A man was fatally shot in the Coke Lot at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway early this morning. Several shots were fired after witnesses say a fight broke out between several individuals. Fox59 News reports that the victim, whose name has not been released, was found in an area where hundreds of people were camping out the night before the race with two gunshot wounds in the stomach and shoulder from which he later died. Police are questioning several persons of interest. This morning's shooting victim become the 62nd homicide victim this year, making it one of the most deadly years for homicides in recent memory.

UPDATE: The victim has been identified as 25-year old Max Levine of Kokomo.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hamilton County Prosecutor Lets Jimmy "The Pill Popper" Irsay Skate On Felony Drug Charges, Will Only Face Misdemeanor Charges

Things haven't changed in Hamilton County. Once again, a prominent resident is given preferential treatment by the legal system in Hamilton County. When Carmel police officers arrested Irsay in March, he was charged with felony counts of possession of controlled substances and driving while intoxicated. The police report found that Irsay had hundreds of powerful prescription pain medications, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs in pill form, including drugs like Xanax, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan and Ambien in unmarked prescription bottles and more than $29,000 in cash on him at the time of his arrest. More than two months later, the Hamilton Co. Prosecutor's Office got around to formally charging Irsay and we learn, to no surprise, that he will only face misdemeanor charges. Irsay has only been charged with misdemeanor counts for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in his body. From the Indianapolis Star:
Minutes before the court closed for Memorial Day weekend, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was charged with two misdemeanor counts of impaired driving in connection with his March arrest in Carmel.
Formal charges were filed against Irsay in Hamilton Superior Court. Following his arrest, police had filed four preliminary charges of felony drug possession, but they were not included in the prosecutor's formal charges today.
Irsay is charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in the body. Prosecutors allege he had "oxycodone and/or hydrocodone" in his system when a Carmel police officer pulled him over at 11:40 p.m. on March 16.
An initial hearing is scheduled for June 19. A news release from the Hamilton County prosecutor said the office wouldn't comment on the case until it's resolved.
More than a decade ago, local law enforcement officials allowed Irsay to skate on felony charges where there was evidence of significant abuse of painkillers and illegal prescription-writing of controlled substances. Irsay had been hospitalized at least three times for drug overdoses. Officials then swept the charges completely under the rug out of fear that charging Irsay could lead the NFL to bar him from the league, putting future ownership of the team in doubt. Flash forward to this March when a close friend of Irsay, for whom a Colts-related trust had purchased at least three homes, died of a drug overdose in one of those homes only two weeks prior to Irsay's own arrest. Hey, who cares if someone died? As long as Irsay is free and clear. The charging information indicates that blood tests revealed the presence of hydrocodone and oxycodone. Does anyone believe that a license medical professional in his right mind would prescribe powerful pain medications to Irsay given his known, past drug addiction problems to painkillers? If they were prescribed to him, let's see criminal charges against the doctor who prescribed them. Catch this explanation Fox59 News received from a source as to why there were no felony drug possession charges:
A source indicates that investigators have spent the last two months analyzing the pills found in Irsay’s possession to determine their identity, quantity and origin.  Some of the dosages are inconsistent with a typical patient’s therapeutic need or Irsay’s prescriptions, according to the source. The seized medications were in quantities that, while perhaps excessive for personal use, did not rise to the level of dealing status.
Year, right. Any ordinary guy on the street arrested with $29,000 cash on him and all of those pills would have been charged with felony drug charges and would have faced forfeiture of the seized cash. Per typical operating procedure, the Hamilton County Prosecutor waited until the start of a long Memorial Day weekend to announce the formal charges in hopes of burying the news in the busy holiday weekend of activities, including the annual running of the Indianapolis 500 and tomorrow's 500 Festival Parade. It also comes just days after the NFL decided not to award Indianapolis a Super Bowl bid for 2018 and just four days after the Indianapolis Star fed us a BS story to assure us that the delay in announcing charging decisions had nothing to do with the Super Bowl bid. Irsay's attorney, Jim Voyles, thanked the prosecutor for not filing felony charges. There is no such thing as equal treatment under the law in this country. There are two sets of laws in the country: one for us plebes; and a special set of laws that apply only to the elite scumbags who have money and power to influence those with criminal charging authority. The latter's laws are ever-evolving to meet the special circumstances necessary to free the privileged from serious criminal prosecution in contrast to the black and white laws enforced against the rest of us without exception.

Indiana Democrats Turning To A Second Out-Of-State Mike To Run For State Treasurer

Mike Boland
Indiana Democrats turned to a Florida resident and voter there in recent elections, Mike Claytor, as their candidate to run for state auditor this year. Claytor, a former Crowe-Horwath partner with close ties to the bipartisan corrupt political establishment that runs Indiana, only re-established a voter registration in Indiana last year in order to run for statewide office after retiring to Florida many years ago. He had voted in elections in Florida as recently as 2012 and donated money to Democratic candidates in Florida. Now Indiana Democrats are turning to a long-time Illinois resident, Mike Boland, who served in the Illinois House of Representatives for 16 years and ran for political office in that state as recently as 2012 when he lost a state senate district race there, as their candidate for state treasurer at the state convention at the end of this month. The Indiana Democratic Party had this to say about Boland's entry into the race:
Boland, a 30-year educator, moved to Indiana in 2012 with his wife, Mary, after serving in the Illinois General Assembly for 16 years. While in office there, was he awarded 36 awards for his service in the House from groups representing educators, veterans, child advocates, agriculture and firefighters. Since arriving in Indiana to be closer to family, Boland has become active in the Democratic Party, helping candidates and organizations with their mission to restore balance to Hoosier government.
“Mike Boland is a lifelong public servant who will work hard to advance the cause of ‘better and more balanced’ government in our Statehouse,” said IDP Chair John Zody. “Hoosiers deserve better in our state, and a candidate like Mike who understands that mission. When elected, he will keep his focus on Hoosiers instead of on politics.”
“The Treasurer of State is tasked with enormous responsibility in the financial management of taxpayer dollars. From college savings plans to the Indiana Bond Bank to the State Board of Finance, which can move money separately from General Assembly appropriations – it is imperative that there be transparent and balanced representation in our Statehouse,” said Boland. “As Treasurer, I will work to restore the trust of Hoosiers with my attention squarely focused on the fiscal health of our state. The current administration made headlines when it sued to put Chrysler out of business – and in doing so putting 5,000 workers out of a job. Hoosiers deserve better.”
Boland's electoral success came to an end in Illinois after he decided to run for Lt. Governor in 2010 instead of seeking re-election to the Quad Cities legislative district he had represented for 16 years. Boland finished a distant fourth in that Democratic primary race. In 2011, Boland briefly sought election as a Democrat to Illinois' 19th congressional district before bowing out in favor of a state senate race he lost in the Democratic primary to a political rival, Mark Jacobs, which Jacobs won by a 10% margin. Boland and his wife left Illinois and moved to Hamilton County in 2012 after losing his primary race that year. Judging from comments about his electoral move in Indiana over at the Springfield-based Capitol Fax blog, Boland is not missed there. Boland draws an Illinois legislative retirement check of over $52,000 a year according to one blog commenter.

I'm at a loss as to why the Democrats have been unable to field a substantial, home-grown candidate for this office this year. The two leading Republican candidates, Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold and businessman Don Bates, both have considerable baggage they bring to their campaigns based on the barbs being traded between the opposing sides, and the third candidate in the race, Kelly Mitchell, isn't given a great chance of winning. If rumors are correct, there is an ongoing FBI investigation of Marion city government that could blow up Seybold's chances before November rolls around. Seybold's campaign has been dragging up issues about Bates' personal financial problems to raise doubts about his worthiness to serve as state treasurer should he be nominated. A number of Democrats might be kicking themselves hard in a few months for not taking a shot at the state treasurer's race this year.

Terre Haute Mayor Accused By Department Head Of Using TIF Monies To Meet Payroll

Terre Haute's director of Department of Redevelopment, Cliff Lambert, is publicly attacking the city's mayor, Duke Bennett, for using money deposited in the city's TIF slush funds to meet payroll. Mayor Bennett disputes that claim, arguing that his office is merely complying with a TIF reform law passed by the state legislature this year that shifts oversight of TIF funds to the city controller. State Sen. Pete Miller (R-Avon), the sponsor of the legislation, defended the new law:
State Senator Pete Miller, R-Avon, is the author of that law. He says the intent of the legislation is to reign in redevelopment departments and add accountability.
“We appreciate the work of redevelopment commissions but at the end of the day they’re still appointed officials and we’re dealing with millions of dollars of tax payer money,” Miller says. “We want to have someone that the tax payer has elected to make the call at key points in the process.”
But Terre Haute is one of 21 second class cities in Indiana where the city controller is appointed by the mayor, not publicly elected.
Interestingly, Mayor Bennett did not deny that TIF funds were being tapped to make up payroll shortfalls, but he says the funds at the end of the day will be used for their intended purpose.

Frankly, I have no problem at all with cities accessing TIF funds when it has shortfalls in funding basic city services. Yes, paying your city employees is a core function of city government. Handing out money to campaign contributors for supposed economic development activities should hardly be considered a priority. As fellow blogger Pat Andrews has pointed out, the City of Indianapolis has repeatedly tapped other funds to cover shortfalls in the City's TIF funds to the tune of tens of millions of dollars without complaint from anyone. Indianapolis now diverts upwards of $120 million annually in property tax funds to the TIF slush funds that are passed out like candy to developers who are stuffing money in the politicians' pockets. Indianapolis could easily meet its public safety funding obligations if it accessed its flush TIF funds, but then it wouldn't have as much money to pay out to campaign contributors. Instead, our mayor and city council want to force taxpayers to dig deeper into their pockets, which demonstrates just how much contempt they have for the people they supposedly represent.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

No Jail Time For Dirty Cop

IMPD Officer Cory Owensby pleaded guilty today to false reporting and official misconduct, but he won't be serving any time in prison. The son of FOP President Bill Owensby received a one-year sentence with all but two days of his sentence suspended. He had originally been charged by the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office with five felony counts of official misconduct, three misdemeanor charges for false informing and five counts of criminal conversion related to the mishandling of evidence.

Court documents alleged that Owensby provided false information about persons involved in five separate investigations, which resulted in harm to an "innocent person." Evidence missing from court cases in which he was involved included marijuana, controlled substances, a steel axe, a marijuana pipe and rolling papers. Owensby has been suspended without pay since his indictment. IMPD Chief Rick Hite says that he will recommend to the merit board that Officer Owensby be terminated.

Illinois Village Clerk Stole More Than $700,000 To Spend At Indiana Casinos

There seems to be more than a small trend emerging that one of the leading reasons public officials steal money from their employers is to feed a gambling addiction. The latest example is the long-time village clerk for Burnham, Illinois, who pleaded guilty today to stealing more than $700,000 from the small town's coffers to spend on gambling. Nancy Dobrowski, 70, pleaded guilty in federal district court in Chicago today to one count each of wire fraud and income tax evasion.

Dobrowski worked as the village clerk in Burnham for more than 30 years. She abruptly resigned her office after FBI agents raided the village offices last year. Going back at least ten years, Dobrowski raided the village bank account for money to spend at Indiana casinos. Dobrowski covered up her thefts by falsifying entries in the village's financial records and delaying bank deposits for weeks at a time. Dobrowski will be required to repay the more than $700,000 she stole from the village as restitution, which includes $58,000 she paid herself in ill-gotten pension funds.

Oakland Officials Trying To Determine If Former Troubled Officer Turned FBI "Hero" Fraudulently Obtained Medical Disability Benefits

Aaron McFarlane (left) and Ibragim Todashev (center)
Oakland city officials are reviewing the awarding of medical disability benefits to a former troubled police officer with the department, Aaron McFarlane, who went on to become a key FBI agent at the center of the Boston Marathon bombing investigation now identified as the agent who shot and killed a Chechen suspect after a lengthy interrogation in an Orlando, Florida apartment a year ago. McFarlane has been drawing a $52,000 a year pension since he retired from the Oakland police department at the age of 31 after only four years of service according to the Boston Globe. Disability payments for on-the-job injuries are tax-fee. He received his pension for medical reasons even though he was able to later on pass the rigorous physical requirements when he joined the FBI four years later.

News of the investigation by Oakland officials comes after the Globe last week identified McFarlane as the FBI agent who shot and killed an unarmed Ibragim Todashev after he and two Massachusetts state troopers spent hours interrogating him in an Orlando apartment. Incredibly, Todashev was not handcuffed during the more than four-hour long interrogation despite the fact that the law enforcement agents were supposedly questioning him about his alleged role in an unsolved triple homicide in Boston that occurred two years prior to the Boston Marathon bombing and allegedly involved the Tsarnaev brothers, the two principal suspects in the bombing case. McFarlane claims that Todashev, who was still recovering from recent knee surgery, took him by surprise after confessing to his role in the crime while writing out his confession by overturning a coffee table that struck him in the head. McFarlane claims he shot Todashev multiple times in self-defense after he began wielding a metal pole, now identified as a broomstick handle, including one gunshot wound to the back of his head.

The Globe revealed that McFarlane had a very troubled past during his short tenure with the Oakland police department. He once took the Fifth Amendment while testifying in a police corruption case where prosecutors accused him of falsifying police reports. McFarlane was also the subject of at least two police brutality lawsuits brought against the department by arrestees which were settled for more than $10 million. The Globe reports that news that McFarlane later obtained a job working for the FBI while receiving a medical disability pension has struck a raw nerve in the financially-plagued city:
Disclosure of McFarlane’s pension has struck a nerve in Oakland, a Northern California city of 400,000 beset by high crime and a tight budget. Over the last decade, Oakland has slashed 720 city jobs, including dozens of police officers; closed firehouses for days at a time; and limited basic services such as code enforcement and fixing streets, city records show. The city’s unfunded pension liability is nearly $1.5 billion.
This week, the president of the Oakland City Council, Patricia Kernighan, expressed “real frustration that Oakland is still paying a disability pension to somebody that is still working in law enforcement.”
She said she also asked her staff to look into McFarlane’s pension. “We want to make sure that people who are truly disabled on the job get fair compensation,” Kernighan said. “But we certainly don’t want to be paying able-bodied people for a disability that they don’t have with public funds.”
A report prepared by a prosecutor in Orlando exonerated McFarlane of any wrongdoing even though the prosecutor admits that he and his investigators were never allowed to question McFarlane. Florida prosecutor Jeffrey Ashton, who redacted McFarlane's name and the names of the other two state troopers who participated in the interrogation from his report at the request of the FBI, now claims that he knew nothing about McFarlane's troubled past. The FBI still insists on describing McFarlane as a "hero" for supposedly saving the life of a fellow law enforcement officer for his quick action in killing Todashev as it refuses to answer any questions about how he ever became an FBI agent in the first place. The Globe reports that McFarlane spent four years working as a licensed real estate appraiser in San Francisco after leaving the Oakland police department in 2004 before joining the FBI in 2008.

McFarlane's worth to the FBI going forward in light of these disclosures is very much in question. It's worth noting the untimely deaths of other key law enforcement officials involved in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. In May of last year, two members of the FBI's elite counterterrorism unit involved in the capture of Dzhokhar plunged to their deaths after falling out a helicopter during a training exercise. Special Agents Christopher Lorek and Stephen Shaw's deaths occurred while they were receiving training on how to quickly drop from a helicopter to a ship using a rope. Last month, Boston police officer Dennis Simmonds died unexpectedly after suffering a medical emergency. Simmonds, who was described as a "health nut," was recently honored for bravery for his role in the shootout in Watertown last year with the Tsarnaev brothers during which Tamerlan was allegedly shot by police before being run over by a fleeing car driven by Dzhokhar. The Watertown shooting never added up after video emerged showing police taking Tamerlan into custody alive after he had been stripped naked, handcuffed and put in the backseat of a police car. Yet another local police officer involved in the investigation died last month from injuries he sustained from a single-vehicle accident involving a motorcycle driven by the police officer while on-duty. Some are now questioning what, if any, role McFarlane may have had in the unexplained execution of MIT police officer Sean Collier on the night of the shootout in Watertown, which police have attempted to blame on the Tsarnaev brothers.

In another development, NBC News reports that new filings by federal prosecutors in the pending trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev indicate that he and his deceased brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, required the assistance of others to build the explosive devices they are accused of setting off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last year. Prosecutors admit that law enforcement officials were unable to find any trace evidence of key ingredients used in the preparation of the bombs in the homes they lived, their cars or other places with which they were associated, suggesting that someone else built the bombs. That means there is a strong likelihood that others persons responsible for building the bombs are walking around free today, but there has been no indication that federal law enforcement officers are holding anyone other than the two Tsarnaev brothers responsible for the bombings. Friends of Dzohkhar were arrested and charged for removing a backpack from his college dormitory room after the bombings which may have contained legal fireworks and lying to law enforcement officers about it, but federal prosecutors have not alleged any of those individuals played a role in the bomb plot.

In those same filings, prosecutors urged a federal judge to reject arguments by Tsarnaev's lawyers that statements he supposedly gave in his hospital bed while heavily sedated from life-threatening injuries should be suppressed. Government prosecutors claim that Tsarnaev readily admitted his role in the bombings as he remained "responsive, coherent and clearheaded" throughout the hours of interrogation. Federal prosecutors also claim that Tsarnaev handwrote a confession note in the boat where he was found hiding prior to his apprehension in which he supposedly declared, "we Muslims are one body." Writing about his dead brother he said was shot and killed by police, he said, "I do not mourn because his soul is very much alive. God has a plan for each person. Mine was to hide in this boat and shed some light on our actions." So why would a supposed Muslim write a note referring to "God" rather than "Allah?" Yet another stupid mistake behind this hoax that is sinking the bomber hiding in the boat narrative.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ed Bagley, Jr.: Washington And Hollywood Are A Lot Alike, Illusions, Special Effects, Smoke And Mirrors

James O'Keefe's Project Veritas strikes again. This time they expose the extent of the fraud the Hollywood elites are willing to perpetrate to pursue their political agenda. In this case, O'Keefe's undercover team poses as representatives of a Middle Eastern oil tycoon from Dubai named Muhammed who wants to fund a Hollywood-produced anti-fracking documentary to bolster his bottom line by interfering with any and all efforts to make America energy independent. The foils in this plot are award-winning film producer Josh Tickell and actors Ed Begley, Jr. and Mariel Hemingway. Muhammed agrees to plop down $11 million to finance the project that will be funneled through two prominent, anti-fracking, nonprofit environmental groups with close ties to Hollywood. Tickell assures Muhammed's representatives that they will get at least one A list actor like Mark Ruffalo or Woody Harrelson to participate in the project. The key players all agree that the source of funding will be kept secret; otherwise, the effort cannot proceed. "If we have to disclose that or that becomes a necessary part of it the whole enterprise will not work," Tickell explains. During a luncheon meeting to wrap up their deal, Ed Begley, Jr. says to Muhammed: "Washington and Hollywood are a lot alike . . . illusions, special effect, smoke and mirrors. Muhammed replies, "As long as it looks good to the eye it doesn't matter." "Exactly," Begley retorts. "Washington and Hollywood are very similar that way." As Paul Harvey would say, And now you know the rest of the story." Tin foil hats, anyone?

How Did We Arrive At The Point Where Our Government Picks Winners And Losers In Business?

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With the passage of each day living in the United States of America, I am growing increasingly disillusioned by an acceptance of the belief that government has a fundamental right to tax me and every other citizen and then redistribute those tax dollars to private businesses that it deems worthy of funding. I'm not just talking about the special tax breaks that litter our tax laws at the federal, state and local level that provide preferences for people and businesses to act in a way favored by the government. I'm talking about direct grants that are being provided at an alarmingly increasing rate to an elite group of private developers and corporate interests. In Indianapolis, these grants are doled out millions of dollars and sometimes tens of millions of dollars or more at a time.

At the latest meeting of the Indianapolis Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee on Monday night, a packed room of money-grubbing political insiders packed the hearing room to ensure passage of proposals that provided multi-million dollar handouts to politically-connected developers. There were three potential Democratic mayoral candidates in the room, including Council President Maggie Lewis, a member of the committee, lobbyist and Washington Township Trustee Frank Short and State Rep. Ed DeLaney, all on hand to support the multi-million dollar giveaways to big campaign contributors backed by our incumbent Republican mayor, Greg Ballard.

The biggest prize of the night was the nearly $8 million in borrowed funds to be repaid with TIF property tax dollars awarded for Browning Investment's mixed use development project in Broad Ripple that includes a Whole Foods grocery store, apartments and a parking garage. As a bone, $1.5 million is being borrowed to invest in the blighted Tarkington Park community. For downtown, there was nearly $5 million to be split between The Whitsett Group's Pulliam Center mixed use project at the site of the Indianapolis Star building and surrounding parcels and the second phase of the Millikan affordable apartment project on Mass Avenue. The public subsidy for Whitsett is justified because he's going to provide 75 pay-to-use parking spaces in a parking garage at the site and a small off-street dog park within the project that will barely be accessible to members of the public not residing in the apartment complex.

As near as I can tell from watching the meeting, only one member of the committee, Councilor Zach Adamson, had any reservations about funding for either of the projects. He offered an amendment to scale back the size of the money being borrowed to fund the two projects in the Mid North TIF district which died for lack of a second. Both proposals flew out of committee with no dissenting votes, except for Adamson's vote against the Broad Ripple funding, exactly as the proponents desired them. Only two members of the public testified in opposition to the proposal, who were told by Councilor Vop Osili, who was chairing the meeting in Councilor Leroy Robinson's absence, that they would only have two minutes to speak, unlike the proponents of the projects who consumed as much time as they desired per standard operating procedure at council meetings.

The first gentleman who spoke, whose name I could not make out, makes some serious allegations of conflicts of interest that drove the project from the outset and which he alleged cost his own business nearly $5 million. If anyone knows who this gentleman is, I would like to speak to him and share more information about the background information he briefly summarized about non-disclosure agreements being signed by the various players during the TIF district study and planning process and how certain corporate entities acquired property supposedly to help out the community but under circumstances that forced the cramming down of property values which were then transferred to the real parties in interest in a fashion that transferred millions of dollars in value from his business to the conflicted parties. [UPDATE: The gentleman has been identified as Leif Hinterberger of Carreau Design Corp., who unsuccessfully pushed city and community leaders for support of his Upland project at 49th & College for several years after he says he poured $5 million of his own money into the planned mixed use project. Read more about it here. It certainly should have been a project with a higher priority given the blight that exists there as opposed to one closed gas station that gave rise to the $8 million investment in Browning's project in Broad Ripple in what is otherwise a booming area.]

What he described happening might involve more than just unethical conduct on the part of certain players. Frank Short can be seen laughing at this gentleman's tale of losing $5 million, which says a lot about his character. I would like to get to the bottom of it because it's clear that nobody at the Indianapolis Star cares about public corruption. Their columnist and reporters were part of the amen crowd which predominated the hearing. Political columnist Matt Tully lamented in a column this week that "It shouldn't be this hard." Say what? Apparently he was upset that it took a few months rather than a few weeks to obtain approval for millions of dollars in public funding for a Whole Foods grocery store in Broad Ripple that he thinks the village will die on the vine without. Of course, the Star never disclosed its conflict of interest in pushing the approval of the expanded downtown TIF district, which we now know was used to leverage the sale of an entire city block to Whitsett.

Citizen activist Larry Vaughn also spoke about the inherent unfairness in the council picking winners and losers. A lot of people like to call him "Crazy Larry," but honestly speaking, Larry made more sense than the gibberish spoken by most of the members of the council who have no problem handing out money to their campaign contributors like its candy as if that's their civic duty, but when it comes to funding our basic city services, they tell us that we will have to accept paying higher taxes because there's not enough money in the budget to hire police officers, fix our streets and sidewalks, maintain our parks or perform any of the other basic services that are supposed to the be the primary purpose for the existence of the municipal corporation. I agree with Larry. Some of these council members clearly have some side bets going on that are a lot more lucrative than the $15,000 they earn annually from serving on the council to make them so anxious to pass out hundreds of millions of dollars to private businesses at a time the City is supposedly so hard-pressed financially to pay for basic services.

The bottom line is that our country has become an oligarch of the worst form just as bad as Nazi Germany was at its height of power. At the close of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked by an inquiring citizen outside Independence Hall what the delegates had agreed upon. Franklin replied, "A republic . . . if you can keep it." I think Franklin would agree if he were alive today that we failed to keep our republic. The shocking aspect of this is the total obliviousness that most people in this country seem to have to this horrifying transformation. Why do I feel all alone even caring that it has happened? I'm sorry, but I just don't recognize the country in which I live any more. Can I ever go home again to the America I was taught to love and respect?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Former NFL Players File Lawsuit Against League For Illegally Administering Painkillers And Encouraging Injured Players To Continue Playing

A federal lawsuit has been filed by a number of former NFL players against the league accusing the teams of illegally prescribing controlled pain medications to injured players and misrepresenting the seriousness of player injuries to convince them to continue playing. The lawsuit filed by eight retired football players includes three members of the Super Bowl XX championship Chicago Bears, including quarterback Jim McMahon, defensive end Richard Dent (who played for the Colts in 1996) and offensive tackle Keith Van Horne. The eight plaintiffs have asked the federal district court in San Francisco where the suit was filed to certify their complaint for class action status.

In the 85-page complaint, McMahon claims that team trainers dispensed a high volume of pain killers to him and hundreds, if not thousands of shots from team doctors for pain management without being given any warning of possible side effects from use of the drugs. McMahon states that he believes team doctors okayed him to continue playing after he suffered a broken neck and later a broken ankle while playing. Van Horne claims he played an entire season on a broken leg without ever being told by the team's doctors of the extent of his injury. He was required to wear a special medical boot to reduce swelling in his leg and was "fed a constant diet of pills to deal with the pain."

Colts' owner Jim Irsay's recent arrest for possession of controlled substances and driving while intoxicated is used by the plaintiffs in their lawsuit as evidence of the NFL's "pervasively malign culture." The suit first mentions problems that arose with missing pain medications from the New Orleans Saints' drug locker. When the team's head of security, a former FBI agent, investigated and learned that pills were being removed from the drug locker by an assistant coach, the team's management conspired to cover up the coach's actions. Geoffrey Santini resigned his job rather than be complicit in the team's actions and later sued the team for constructive discharge, which led the DEA to open an investigation now being reviewed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Louisiana. The suit adds, "The Saints may not be the only team failing to properly account for its medications. On March 16, 2014, Colts’ owner Jim Irsay was arrested and found to possess several Schedule IV medications, including Xanax, Valium and Ambien, along with large amounts of cash." Isn't it ironic that one of the selling points of the Irsay-led efforts to win the 2018 Super Bowl bid for Indianapolis was a new initiative to promote player safety? Want to take any bets on whether U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett will open an investigation of how Irsay was acquiring his controlled substances?

Click here to view the complaint.

Outrage: State Taxpayers Donating $345,000 To Eric Turner's Terre Nursing Home Project That Will Net Him A $1.8 Million Profit

At some point the taxpayers of Indiana are going to have to rise up in revolt at the sight of our public tax dollars being pilfered by political insiders for their own self-enrichment. One of the worst offenders is State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero), the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House who has blatantly exploited his state legislative position to amass tens of millions of dollars for him and his family. The AP's Tom LoBianco reports that our state's Economic Development Corporation is awarding $345,000 to a nursing home project that Turner's family is developing in Terre Haute from which he stands to personally make $1.8 million.

According to LoBianco, the money was what Gov. Pence originally decided to hand out to the state lawmaker's business, Mainstreet Properties, to move its headquarters from Cicero to Carmel. Yes, our fake conservative governor thinks public subsidies should be given to a politically-connected business to move its business offices from one side of Hamilton County to another location within the same county. After public outrage over that announcement, Pence put it on hold until IEDC officials said "a review" of the award showed that no conflict of interest rules were broken by the awarding of money to a business controlled by a guy who exercises control as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee over how much money gets appropriated in the state budget for IEDC. Do they actually expect us to believe that construction of a nursing home is legitimate economic development for the state? Please.

Now that the $345,000 state taxpayer gift to Turner's company is a go, it's being redirected to help pay for the development of a new nursing home Turner's company is building in Terre Haute. Through a high-paid spokesman at a big Indianapolis law firm that lobbies the state legislature, Turner assures the public that his stake in Mainstreet is only as a "passive investor," which is laughable given that everyone knows that he's the one who's been pulling the strings for the business all these years as he continues to build a massive fortune on the backs of Indiana taxpayers while passing himself off to the voting public as a "fiscal conservative" and "devout Christian." An assistant professor at Indiana University, Josh Perry, tells LoBianco that deals like this "erode the public trust" in government." Yeah, no sh__.

Congratulations, Minneapolis! Have Fun Wasting Your Taxpayers' Money Hosting A Super Bowl

It's with great pleasure that we receive news that Indianapolis lost out to Minneapolis in its bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl. Indianapolis was eliminated in the first round of voting before the NFL team owners chose Minneapolis over New Orleans because it is now building a new billion-dollar publicly-financed stadium for the sole purpose of hosting a Super Bowl.  "It's always tough when you're going up against someone building a new stadium," Colts owner Jim Irsay told the dozens of reporters from Indianapolis who accompanied the downtown mafia members to Atlanta to grovel in front of the billionaire NFL team owners for the right to spend tens of millions of our public tax dollars over the next several years for a private party from which only the greedy NFL owners derive profits. Several league and team officials speculated that Irsay's March arrest for driving while intoxicated and possession of controlled substances was a drag on Indianapolis' bid according to the IBJ. Hey, if that's what it takes to save taxpayer dollars, let's see a few more arrests. Perhaps the leaders of this city can refocus on the things that matter and less on their creative ways of finding more excuses to squander our tax dollars on more extravagant and excessive downtown spending on sports and entertainment ventures to the detriment of the rest of the city. We can only hope that some brave federal prosecutor emerges in this country who is willing to pursue federal RICO charges against the NFL for the never-ending extortion rackets they run throughout the country to entice public officials to finance their multi-billion dollar business enterprise with our tax dollars.

UPDATE: Our fake conservative Governor Mike Pence, who signed an executive order in March assuring the NFL team owners that the state's taxpayers would pick up 100% of the costs associated with hosting the Super Bowl in 2018 to ensure that the NFL team owners didn't have to pay a dime of the huge public costs associated with the event, released this statement following today's announcement:
Indiana presented a compelling bid in Atlanta, and I commend the Super Bowl Bid Committee and all those who spent countless hours putting together a bid packet that told Indiana’s story so well,” said Governor Pence. “Although the Super Bowl will not be coming to Indianapolis in 2018, we look forward to another opportunity to showcase our Hoosier hospitality and all that Indiana has to offer.
Conservatives complain about President Obama's unconstitutional executive orders and this man unilaterally decides that the state's taxpayers have to pay to host a private party for the nation's most wealthy citizens as a way of showcasing our "Hoosier hospitality." That's the thinking of a guy who spent one decade too many living and working in Washington. He picked up all of the worst habits of the career politicians who choose to make our nation's capital their home as he did. To other conservatives throughout the United States of America, please take note of the fact that Mike Pence should NOT be on anyone's list as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. His policies are totally driven by the people contributing the most money to his campaign committee just like President Obama. He gave $100 million of our state tax dollars to the Hulman-George family to spend on improvements for their privately-owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The man is devoid of any principles and should be trusted by nobody. He sold his soul to the devil to become our state's governor, and he'll do the same thing to get elected President.

GTECH Not Hitting Numbers On Hoosier Lottery

It looks like GTECH will have to see a big turnaround in Hoosier Lottery revenues in the last two months of the fiscal year in order to meet its target under its contract with the state lottery agency in order to avoid payment penalties. The private operator is required to produce net income of $256 million to the Hoosier Lottery during the 2014 fiscal year under the terms of its contract. GTECH reported to the Lottery Commission yesterday, revenues through the end of April were $852.4 million. That number will have to reach $1.06 billion by the end of June in order to reach its $256 million net income target and avoid making shortfall payments to the state.

GTECH will have to exceed its budgeted sales numbers by 14% according to the IBJ's Kathleen McLaughlin to meet goal. It's currently running 3% below forecast. Nonetheless, GTECH staff told the Lottery Commission it can still meet its goal by the end of the fiscal year based upon "favorable trends":
The company assumes the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots will continue to roll over, generating higher sales through June 30. The company also expects a recent rise in sales of the game Cash 5 to continue, and for scratch-ticket sales to continue at historic highs.
Yes, roll overs week after week push up prize payout amounts and cause more consumers to purchase Lottery tickets. My fear with state-run lotteries has always been that the urge to reach higher and higher revenue goals provides a strong incentive by the operators to rig number drawings to cause more roll overs. To my knowledge, there's no evidence that this has occurred in the past with any state-run lotteries, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on, particularly since the operation of lotteries like Indiana's are increasingly being taken over by private operators who face large penalties if revenues don't reach goals. GTECH has a contract with the state of Illinois to operate its lottery and has faced penalties of up to $40 million for failing to meet goal the past two years.

Six Shot, Four Dead In Overnight Shootings In Indianapolis

While the Indianapolis media was ensconced in its non-stop coverage of the downtown mafia's latest push to host another Super Bowl with teams of reporters down at the NFL team owners meeting at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, six people were shot and four are dead this morning from a violent round of shootings on the City's northwest side. Local TV stations provided live coverage during the evening broadcasts of a press conference with the pill-popping Colts owner, Jim Irsay, who refused to apologize or answer any questions about his arrest in Carmel in March on suspicions of driving while under the influence of drugs and possession of controlled substances as the night of violence unfolded.

Four of the shootings happened in the 6000 block of Lakeside Manor Avenue where two men were found dead in the doorway of a home and a third man was found critically injured in the home's backyard who later died from his injuries. A 10-year old girl about a block from the shootings was the apparent victim of stray gunshot fire from the incident. A fifth gunshot victim was found about a mile from the scene of the shooting with a minor gunshot injury to his head, which police believe was connected to the same incident. In a separate incident, a male in his twenties was shot dead during a home invasion at 41st and Boulevard Place. The victim was shot by one of the two men who robbed the home. Eight children under the age of 10 were in the home and witnessed the shooting.

Mayor Greg Ballard and his stooges on the Indianapolis City-County Council will point to the latest violence as more evidence that the spike in crime is your fault because you aren't paying enough in taxes to hire enough police officers to patrol the city's streets when the fact of the matter is that they have chosen to divert hundreds of millions of dollars into slush funds used to finance the real estate development projects of their campaign contributors, most of which have occurred in the downtown area. No money can be spared for the downtown mafia and its various criminal rackets masked as downtown economic development that are making them all multi-millionaires at the expense of the general public. As they demand you pay higher income taxes to fund public safety, they have already cut deals to funnel tens of millions of dollars into two downtown luxury hotel projects being undertaken by politically-connected real estate developers. Until we find a prosecutor who will put the real criminals in prison who are bilking public tax dollars, you will continue to be socked with higher and higher taxes to fund their self-dealing instead of paying for the basic city services the lying politicians tell you the higher taxes are needed.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Super Bowl Party Planner Left Lasting Impression In Indianapolis

Howard Jaffe
It's quite a web of business dealings that a Boca Raton, Florida sports agent racked up in Indianapolis over the past several years. Howard Jaffe's CV Sports Marketing, Inc. sued the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League in 2011 over millions in unpaid commissions Jaffe said he was owed for securing Izod's sponsorship of the league, as well as for claims that IMS officials had defamed his business' reputation in racing circles. In 2009, Izod signed a 6-year, $60 million dollar sponsorship deal with the racing series but ended its sponsorship before the expiration of the 6-year agreement. Jaffe claimed that the IMS only paid him $25,000 of the 10 percent commission he claimed he was entitled to receive. That lawsuit was ended in 2012 after the parties entered into a confidential settlement agreement.

Last week, WRTV's Kara Kenney reported that Jaffe had been arrested in Florida and extradited back to Indianapolis to face two felony charges of check deception arising out of his work as a party planner during the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Jaffe's company served as promoter for the Super Lounge 46 venue created at space owned at 11 S. Meridian by Barnes & Thornburg, which was formerly occupied by the Border's bookstore. Interestingly, Barnes & Thornburg also represented Jaffe in his lawsuit against the IMS over the Izod sponsorship deal. Jaffe's firm hired a local audio and visual company to help convert the space into a nightclub for events held at the venue over the Super Bowl weekend, which were sponsored by Ivanka Trump and co-hosted by actor Nick Cannon and the Colts' Reggie Wayne and which featured musical appearances by Nelly and Spinderella. A $50,000 check issued by Jaffe to Evans Audio & Visual for its work was not honored by the bank. Jaffe is also being charged for a $6,000 check he deposited at a local Huntington National Bank branch in 2008 that was never honored. It's unclear why that latter offense went uncharged for six years. Isn't that beyond the 5-year statute of limitations?

That's not all. WRTV's Kara Kenney also learned that Jaffe was being sued in a number of civil lawsuits for events connected to him during the 2012 Super Bowl. The former Bella Vita restaurant in Circle Center Mall rented out their entire restaurant to Jaffe during the Super Bowl weekend but was never paid. The restaurant's owner, Najem Management, is suing Jaffe for more than $111,000 it says it is owed. A Carmel woman, Mary Shaw, sued Jaffe after she claimed he never repaid money she loaned to him for the Super Lounge 46 venue. Shaw obtained a judgment of over $258,000 against Jaffe and another company he owns, Barjaf Group. It's worth noting that Hulman & Co's CEO Mark Miles and its former head, Tony George, both serve as members of the local Super Bowl committee. Miles, who didn't join Hulman & Company until after the 2012 Super Bowl, has served as the local Super Bowl committee's chairman since its creation. He accompanied most of the board members to Atlanta this week, along with Colts owner Jim Irsay, to pitch Indianapolis as the site of the 2018 Super Bowl. It's interesting that Jaffe was able to become such a big player in Indianapolis promoting Super Bowl parties in 2012 given his relationship with the IMS had already soured by that point.

Former Deputy Prosecutor and Brizzi Spokesman Sentenced For Felony DUI

A former Marion County deputy prosecutor and spokesman for former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, Mario Massillamany, was sentenced this morning to home detention after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge for operating a vehicle while intoxicated stemming from an arrest made last year. Massillamany's arrest last year was his third drunk driving arrest, which came less than three years after a similar arrest in 2010, making it a Class D felony offense.

According to court records, Massillamany was given a 3-year sentence by Hamilton Co. Superior Court Judge Wayne Sturtevant, two and a half years of which was suspended. Judge Sturtevant ordered Massillamany to serve 180 days on monitored home detention after crediting him for 20 days served in the Hamilton County jail. Massillamany's driver's license has also been suspended for one year. Masssillamany is eligible to have his felony conviction entered as a misdemeanor offense under the state's alternative sentencing law within three years if he satisfies the terms of his probation. Massillamany was given a 32-day jail sentence and 180-day driver's license suspension after his 2011 drunk driving conviction.

According to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys, Massillamany's law license is listed as "active in good standing" with no pending disciplinary actions against him for the felony drunk driving in which he entered a guilty plea as part of a plea agreement on April 9. Massillamany was publicly reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2011 after his second drunk driving conviction. Massillamany, who worked as an attorney/lobbyist for Barnes & Thornburg at the time of his arrest, has since joined DECA Financial Services, which is now being wound down as part of a bankruptcy liquidation process. Massillamany also serves as president of the Hamilton Co. Young Republicans.

The politically-connected financial services firm where Massillamany currently works was offered $2.5 million in conditional tax credits by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation in 2012 based on a promise it would create 270 jobs by 2015. The debt collection firm, which primarily collects unpaid medical bills, has instead been ordered liquidated by a bankruptcy trustee after the company defaulted on money owed to its creditors after a failed mortgage refinancing attempt. A former top executive of the company founded by a friend of Massillamany, Todd Wolfe, claimed that someone had removed nearly $2 million from a company account while it struggled to pay its bills. The company had been recently awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Education before encountering financial problems. Among the creditors owed money by the company is Massillamany's former employer, Barnes & Thornburg, which says it is owed more than $800,000 in unpaid legal fees.