Saturday, January 31, 2015

Guest Editorial: Sullivan Hardware Threats Against City And Neighbor Remonstrators

The following is an editorial offered by neighborhood activist Clark Kahlo in response to sharp media and community reaction against the successful remonstrance of neighbor activists to a zoning variance requested by Sullivan Hardware's:

Following the Board of Zoning Appeal's December 16th unanimous vote to deny its four requested variances, Sullivan Hardware immediately threatened to close its retail operation at 49th and Pennsylvania. There was also a threat to move the Do It Best Corporation's bi-annual convention away from Indianapolis.

These are bogus threats to the community in response to the BZA's denial of variances. They're intended to pressure elected city officials and to leverage public-sector appeasements.

Regarding the threat to close his store, Sullivan profits from a strong customer base of both contractors serving the residential neighborhood and from nearby residents. They enjoy the convenience of easy access for hardware and landscape goods. Sullivan's site needs were readily accommodated by the City in 1994 when he received variances to build the store. Later, In 2009, Sullivan sought and received additional variances to build a greenhouse along with additional parking variances. Sullivan operates on a site which has worked well for them for 20 years with the aid of the City's and the BZA's two previous sets of variance approvals.

Regarding the claim that the Ft. Wayne based Do It Best Corporation is "so irritated by the city's ruling that it is considering moving its bi-annual retailers convention away from Indianapolis" (a claim in a supporter's broadcast email), this is news to company officials. Actually, its official corporate response is that: "this is a local matter between Pat Sullivan and the City of Indianapolis" (email from a Do It Best communications officer).

As the credibility of its two threats against the City and community continues to erode via proof-to-the-contrary, the Sullivan Hardware camp still has its "mob mentality" to apply against the individual remonstrators and, to a lesser extent, the BZA. Following the BZA's denial, Sullivan's angry, but uninformed, supporters unleashed a cascade of personal attacks on the several remonstrators via the social media and comment websites. Several news organizations (WTHR-13, Indianapolis Star, WIBC) fanned the flames with stunningly one-sided "news reports" and commentary. As for the BZA, which actually denied the variances, and the city's professional planning staff which recommended denial on 3 of the 4 variance requests, the pro-Sullivan mob and the media weren't nearly as condemning or insulting.

Sullivan Hardware also intimated that it might appeal the BZA's decision in court. However, this remains a remote possibility -- in effect, another empty threat -- because Sullivan knows that it has no substantive case in either the facts or the law (even in our legal system which heavily favors property and commerce over the interests of people, communities, and nature).

It's not rare for developers and business operators to make personal threats against neighborhood remonstrators. We saw this last year when the Browning-Sheehan group sued two remonstrators for opposing its massive project which would redevelop several tracts in Broad Ripple with a Whole Foods grocery and residential units. Their claimed damages, allegedly resulting from appeal litigation delay, were claimed to be in excess of $1 million. Their claim and lawsuit went nowhere because they had no legal merit. The developers' attorneys knew the law and their suit was intended only to intimidate and punish. These kinds of lawsuits are generally called SLAPP suits-- Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. Indiana law does not favor them. (Whole Foods has withdrawn its intent -- reported by others, but never confirmed by the company -- to put a store in Broad Ripple. That plan was likely a ruse from the start and intended only to help the developers sell the project to the public and to the Metropolitan Development Commission)

Another bullying tactic is to chill neighbor remonstrance by sending a threatening personal letter, as Patachou's Martha Hoover did in 2009 when she sought variances for her new and expanded restaurants at 49th and Pennsylvania. In her letter, Ms. Hoover ominously warned a near-neighbor that she was an attorney and former deputy prosecutor, and demanded that they cease their remonstrance against her variance petition.

Former Nuvo Newsweekly editor Harrison Uhlmann wrote an accompanying essay for former mayor Bill Hudnut's 1995 book The Hudnut Years: 1976 to 1981. He noted that Hudnut was mayor of "a city that has no tradition or talent for public debate. Once the leaders of the community set a priority or start an initiative, the opposition is expected to retire in silence." Fortunately, public participation, including the statutory right of zoning remonstrance, remains a protected part of our democracy, albeit one increasingly weakened by the juggernaut Corporate State. However, neighborhood remonstrators are still subject to threat, intimidation, and personal attack by commercial interests and their friends.

As we've seen in the Sullivan Hardware variance petition, on the relatively rare occasions when insatiable commercial interests are successfully resisted by neighbors via the long-established zoning review process, those interests can become irate, cry foul, and harangue elected officials in private meetings with threats to close stores, pull conventions, and anything else they can think of to gain private advantage at the expense of the public.

Over Half Of GOP Precinct Committee Persons Boycott Slating Convention

Well, I'm glad to see a majority of the Marion County Republican precinct committee persons decided to do what I chose to do today and boycott the Marion Co. GOP slating convention for this year's municipal election. The corrupt and rigged system yielded zero contests for the 25 City-County Council seats and a disingenuous, clueless candidate for mayor who only moved to Indianapolis from Chicago a little more than three years ago and who can't even figure out what his legal voting residence is. Radio talk show host Amos Brown tweets that the certified count for today's slating convention shows that fewer than 50% of the 590 precinct commiteepersons bothered to show up today to participate in the charade. That is a record low turnout.

UPDATE: Here's how a party press release put lipstick on this pig:

Saturday morning, hundreds of Marion County Republicans gathered to select their endorsed candidates for the upcoming 2015 municipal elections. Republicans slated candidates for communities within Marion County including Indianapolis, Beech Grove, Lawrence, Southport, Speedway, Homecroft and Warren Park.

Marion County Republican Party Chairman Kyle Walker said, "This is an important year for our Party and I am very encouraged by the quality of candidates we have representing us in neighborhoods across Indianapolis."

The most high profile race is the one for Mayor of Indianapolis. Local entrepreneur and 23-year Marine Chuck Brewer will lead the ticket as the candidate endorsed by hundreds of dedicated Republican precinct volunteers. Brewer owns two restaurants in the Circle City, spent ten years working for a Fortune 500 company, holds Masters degrees from Harvard University and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business, and served two combat tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Indianapolis Republican mayoral candidate Chuck Brewer addressed the crowd by applauding the leadership of Mayor Greg Ballard and rallying supporters to build upon the work of the last seven years. "I love Indianapolis and I'm proud to call it home," said Brewer. "We're a city on the move and it's important that we continue the progress. By working together for safe neighborhoods, more jobs, and great schools, we'll build an even stronger Indianapolis."

County Republicans also endorsed candidates with their sights set on regaining the majority on the Indianapolis City-County Council. Current Republican Minority Leader Michael McQuillen was endorsed to serve another term, as well as incumbent Councillors Janice McHenry, Marilyn Pfisterer, Jeff Miller, Benjamin Hunter, Jason Holliday, Robert Lutz, Jack Sandlin and Aaron Freeman.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Marion County Board of Voter Registration Records Raise Residency Concerns About Republican Mayoral Candidate

An analysis of public records regarding Indianapolis Republican mayoral candidate and political newcomer Chuck Brewer raises serious questions about the candidate's honesty in completing his application to register to vote and documentation he filed with the Marion County Board of Elections last year when he originally planned to seek a seat on the Indianapolis City-County Council in the newly-drawn District 23 on the city's south side in Perry Township.

Brewer initially filed paperwork to open up a campaign committee to run for the District 23 seat on December 30 listing an address in Perry Township just two weeks before he changed his mind and decided to run for mayor instead after Marion Co. Republicans struggled to find a viable candidate to slate at its party convention scheduled to take place tomorrow. Party leaders immediately anointed Brewer as its candidate after conducting little or no due diligence. He is running unopposed at the slating session, although other candidates have filed to run in the May primary, including Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams, Jocelyn-Tandy Adande, Terry Michael and Darrell Morris.

According to his own public statements, Brewer said he moved to Indianapolis in 2011 from Chicago after leaving a corporate job with Sears Holdings Corp. in suburban Hoffman Estates where had worked his way up to the position of a division vice-president. Brewer, a Lt. Colonel in the Marines and Iraq combat veteran with two tours of duty under his belt, said he chose to move to Indianapolis to launch a new Potbelly Sandwich store on Monument Circle, the first of several he planned to open in the area. Brewer never opened any other Potbelly franchise stores, but he did open his own concept restaurant around the corner from his Potbelly restaurant, Soupremacy, which is located on East Market Street.

According to records Advance Indiana obtained from the Board of Voter Registrations ("BVR"), Brewer filed his first voter registration application listing a luxury condominium in the Athletic Club, which is located at 350 N. Meridian Street, as his residence. In the space provided on the application for "Previous Voter Registration Address," Brewer left the space blank, suggesting he had not previously registered to vote anywhere else in Marion County or his previous residence in Chicago. The box next to "New Registration" is marked, indicating it was the first time he registered to vote in Marion County. The BVR redacted the date Brewer signed and filed his new voter registration application despite a state law making that information a public record. The state's Public Access Counselor in an opinion issued a little more than two months ago in response to a similar public records request, which Advance Indiana made to the BVR and which was denied, admonished the agency that it was misapplying the state's law and a resolution adopted by the Marion Co. Board of Elections regarding public records requests for information regarding individual voters.

According to property tax records on file with the Marion Co. Assessor's Office, Brewer recorded the purchase of Unit #607 in the Athletic Club on August 19, 2011, which is consistent with Brewer's public statements about the time frame during which he moved to Indianapolis. That is also consistent with the exclusive interview Advance Indiana had with Brewer's former general manager of his Potbelly restaurant, Sarah Hoyt, who said her former boss lived in a condominium downtown on Meridian Street only blocks from the restaurant. The assessor's records also show that Brewer claimed a homestead exemption on Unit #607 in each of the tax years from 2012 to 2014, indicating that was his principal residence. A mortgage assignment of a debt of $380,000 on Unit #607 was recorded in favor of Wells Fargo on December 29, 2014.

Nonetheless, Brewer filed paperwork with the Marion Co. Election Board on June 30, 2014 to form an exploratory committee to run for the Indianapolis City-County Council in District 23. He listed his address as 623 Slate Drive, Apartment #B, Indianapolis, which is located at an apartment complex in Perry Township. Similarly, when he filed an updated report on December 31, 2014 to formally open his campaign committee to run in District 23, he listed that same address. A second voter registration form Brewer completed with the BVR, however, stated he was changing his address to the 623 Slate Drive, Apt. #B address from another apartment in Perry Township, which he claimed as his previous registered voting address, which was listed as 1452 Dakota Ridge Drive with the apartment number missing. Brewer's application has a check mark listed in the box marked "Address Change." Once again, the BVR redacted the date Brewer submitted the change of address information in violation of the state's access to public records law. The BVR provided no change of address form Brewer submitted changing his voting address from the 350 N. Meridian address to the 1452 Dakota Ridge Drive address, although that information was within the scope of my public records request.

The BVR denied Advance Indiana's request for Brewer's voting history in Marion County, which would indicate which primary, general and municipal elections he has participated since becoming a registered voter in Indianapolis, yet another violation of the state's public records law. Advance Indiana made a written appeal to the Marion Co. Board of Elections today to furnish the information on Brewer's voting registration and voting history illegally being withheld by the BVR. The BVR claims it cannot disclose any information contained in the state's Statewide Voter Registration System ("SVRS"), even though that information is provided in bulk to the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian Parties, as well as the state's four legislative leaders, to use for campaign purposes. The state's Election Division requires requests for individual voter information to be made at the county election authority where the voter is registered to vote. Its counsel agrees that individual voting history records are public records, as well as the voter registration information.

Why the BVR continues to defy the state's public records law after being admonished by the state's Public Access Counselor to comply with it is beyond me. The BVR is following the advice of the City's corporation counsel's office and not the advice of the Marion Co. Election's Board's counsel, who is well-versed on the state's election law. The author of the current state law, State Rep. Kathy Richardson, who also serves as the Hamilton County election's chief, concurs with the Public Access Counselor's opinion. Incredibly, the corporation counsel's office claims other counties, unlike Marion County, don't abide by state election laws.

Brewer has not yet filed a statement of organization or declaration of candidacy for his mayoral bid so it remains to be seen what registered voting address he lists on those forms. Interestingly, Advance Indiana's research uncovered an ordinance violation complaint filed against Brewer on June 27, 2014 for conducting outdoor sales without a license. A notice of the violation was served on Brewer at 1452 Dakota Ridge Drive, Apt. #A, the same apartment complex where Brewer indicated on his change of voter registration card he had previously been registered to vote before changing it to the 623 Slate Drive, Apt. # B address. A court entry dated November 20, 2014 indicates an attempt to serve a summons on Brewer at the Dakota Ridge Drive apartment was returned as undeliverable. On December 29, 2014, a prosecutor from the city's corporation counsel's office, Michael Clifford, moved to dismiss the ordinance violation against Brewer, and an order was signed that same day.

It is not disputed that Brewer satisfies the two-year residency requirement to run for Indianapolis mayor; however, there are serious questions about the accuracy of the information Brewer completed on voter registration forms filed with the BVR when he listed two separate addresses at apartment complexes in Perry Township instead of his Athletic Club condominium, which he claims as his principal residence for purposes of paying his property taxes. It gives the appearance Brewer only used a Perry Township voter residence for convenience in order to run for council in District 23 when the evidence suggests he lives far away from that district in his downtown condominium. The voter registration forms completed by Brewer contain a disclaimer stating "All the the above information and all other statements on this form are true," and "I understand that if I sign this statement knowing that it is not true I am committing perjury and can be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to three years or both." Suffice it to say, Mr. Brewer has some explaining to do.

Shortly after Brewer dropped his bid for the District 23 council seat, Scott Kreider, an attorney with the Indianapolis law firm of Alerding Castor Hewitt, announced his intentions to seek the District 23 seat. He is running unopposed at the Marion Co. GOP slating convention tomorrow. Kreider's law firm offices are located in the Keystone Group's Majestic Building at 47 S. Pennsylvania Street, the same building where the Marion Co. GOP headquarters is located. The building is also the headquarters for Keystone Construction and Indy Eleven, businesses owned by the shadowy Turkish immigrant, Ersal Ozdemir, who is seeking approval from the state legislature calling for the public funding of a nearly $100 million soccer stadium for his minor league soccer team after just one season of play. Ozdemir's Keystone Group also owns the 47 S. Pennsylvania Street office building. He has served as the finance chairman for the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee, although he lives in a gated Carmel community up in Hamilton County. He took over that position after Ponzi schemer Tim Durham stepped down as the party's finance chairman.

Republican Council Members Push Approval Of Controversial Criminal Justice Center Project While Key Documents Still Are Being Withheld

The administration of Mayor Greg Ballard has still not made public key documents for the 35-year public-private partnership ("P3") agreement it wants to enter into with WMB Heartland Justice Partners, LLC to construct a new criminal justice center at the site of the former GM Stamping Plant, which could cost taxpayers at least $1.75 billion over the life of the agreement. That includes the proposals submitted by the three competing vendors, scoring information regarding those three proposals, an executed agreement with the P3 vendor, and a financial analysis demonstrating that the use of a P3 is a financially better model for Marion County taxpayers than a traditional publicly-financed and constructed project. Nonetheless, all of the Republican council members except for Councilor Christine Scales, are pushing for immediate approval of the costly, long-term deal despite the absence of key information required to evaluate what on earth it is on which they are voting based on artificial deadlines set by an administration this blog has demonstrably proven engaged in a rigged bidding process.

“Council Republicans just filed the new Justice Center Proposal w all 13 Republicans sponsoring,” Minority Leader Mike McQuillen wrote on his Twitter account. "No more time 4 Democrat stalling! #Progress." As an illustration of just how biased and inaccurate the reporting is by the Indianapolis Star's city beat reporter, check out how Brian Eason opens his story:
After weeks of inaction by the City-County Council on a proposed criminal justice center, Republicans are pushing the plan forward, whether Indianapolis’ Democratic majority is ready or not.  
Democrats in December announced that they would delay a vote on the massive public project until their probe of a controversial Regional Operations Center lease had concluded. 
But facing deadlines that the administration says could threaten the project’s financing, 13 Republican council members on Friday sponsored a measure to introduce the proposal at the council’s Feb. 9 meeting . . . 
First of all, how can the reporter accuse the Democratic-led council of "weeks of inaction" when the administration is still blocking access to all of the critical information the council would require in order to consider the complex and costly 35-year agreement, which will consume close to $50 million a year of the city-county budget when the complex opens for business? If someone is trying to sell you a new home and the seller refuses to provide you a written contract and allow you to independently inspect the home and otherwise carry out the necessary due diligence, is it your fault as the buyer that a closing on the sale of the home hasn't occurred?

Would it also not seem logical to tie up loose ends on the investigation of the costly Regional Operations Center, particularly since the same administration trying to sell the council on the criminal justice center project has stonewalled the administration for more than a year in turning over key information the council needs in order to determine why Marion County taxpayers got taken to the cleaners by entering into a long-term credit-tenant financing agreement that left no outs for the county after it was discovered the building wasn't suited for its intended purpose? It was only recently that we discovered the administration's claim that the city had no other choice than to build the ROC to comply with its agreement with the NFL to host the Super Bowl in 2012 was an outright fabrication.

It is the height of hypocrisy for the Indianapolis Star to bash Gov. Mike Pence's administration the way it did this past week for its efforts to create a centralized news agency website to allow the public easier access to a wealth of information emanating from dozens of state agencies when this newspaper seems to care so little about transparency in any number of governmental decisions, whether it be public financing for a new sports stadium and hundreds of millions in subsidies for their billionaire sports team owners, or the ROC and the criminal justice center project, all of which the newspaper's editorial writers endorsed site unseen with nothing more than a cursory review that largely regurgitated the talking points of those who benefited financially from these public transactions.

The Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star has forfeited the public's confidence altogether. Many like to condemn the political bias of the newspaper's former owners, but at least the Pulliam family required its reporters to dig and dig until every possible stone was overturned on any number of major public matters regardless of the opinions of the editorial page writers. Reporting by the Star's reporters today merely reflect the narrow-minded views of the newspaper's top management, who are made up entirely of out-of-state transplants who have few long-term ties to the community and share few, if any of its values.

IPS Board Member's Charter School Paying $100 Referral Fees To Boost Enrollment

The education profiteers now control every single member of the Indianapolis Public School system's board thanks to the hundreds of thousands of dollars the out-of-state interests pumped into the past two elections to purchase seats for candidates they supported. One of those members is newcomer LaNier Echols, who is the acting principal of Carpe Diem charter school on North Meridian Street. The Chalkbeat blog has a disturbing story discussing how the school recently paid $100 referral fees to boost its enrollment.

The state-funded charter schools' enrollment includes many children from low-income families. According to Chalkbeat, Carpe Diem offered $100 gift cards to persons who provided student referrals to help the school boost its enrollment 40 students by February. That was in addition to money the school spent marketing itself through open houses, distributing fliers to parents and day care centers and TV and radio appearances. Critics are concerned the referral fees lead parents to make less than rational choices when choosing the school to send their children. Echols was unapologetic about the incentives paid for referrals.
People are more excited to do something where they get something out of it,” Echols said. “Parents are like, ‘Oh I do have a cousin that was looking for a school.’ It’s just to encourage people.” 
But she said she is confident offering a gift card wasn’t the reason the school ultimately exceeded its enrollment goals. Two more Carpe Diem campuses are slated to open this fall in Indianapolis, each aiming to eventually enroll 300 students. Carpe Diem combines traditional classroom instruction with online lessons. 
“We are a blended learning school and that’s what parents love about it,” Echols said. “We have children coming from everywhere, not because of the gift cards, but because we’re offering something different. We are filling a niche.”
Read the rest of the story at Chalkbeat by clicking here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

McCain Calls Protesters Low-Life Scum For Protesting War Criminal Henry Kissinger

If you had to pick a list of the ten most evil men in the world deserving of being executed for the great war crimes they've committed against world humanity, Henry Kissinger would rank near the top. Sen John McCain insults our nation by bringing the war criminal to the Senate to testify. Here are some of Kissinger's more infamous quotes that reveal his true character:
"The elderly are useless eaters." -- Henry Kissinger, quoted in the book The Final Days 
"Military men are 'dumb, stupid animals to be used' as pawns for foreign policy." -- Henry Kissinger, quoted in the book The Final Days 
"Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the third world, because the US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries." -- Henry Kissinger, National Security Memo 200, dated April 24, 1974 
"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." -- Henry Kissinger, speaking at Evian, France, May 21, 1992 Bilderburg meeting. Unbeknownst to Kissinger, his speech was taped by a Swiss delegate to the meeting. 
“The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy, and if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”
"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac." -- Henry Kissinger, quoted in the book The Final Days

Pence Nixes JustIn State-Run News Site

Well, that didn't take long.

TO: All Agency Heads
FROM: Governor Mike Pence
DATE: January 29, 2015

From the outset of this administration you have heard me emphasize the importance of integrity and accountability to the public, and I am grateful for the manner that each of you has worked to serve the people of Indiana with transparency and a servant’s heart.

As you are aware, concern has arisen regarding the development of a new website for the state of Indiana.

However well intentioned, after thorough review of the preliminary planning and careful consideration of the concerns expressed, I am writing to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately.

The original intent of this project was to make press releases more readily available in a onestop website for the convenience of the press and the public. At present, approximately 50 of the 90 executive branch state agencies and commissions post press releases on the state's current public calendar website ( This results in the press and the public having to visit multiple sources to stay informed about state activities.

Therefore, rather than developing a new website, I have instructed the Office of Information Technology update the current public calendar website to ensure that the press and the public have unfiltered and convenient access to all press releases and public meeting notices. The updated calendar will be fully automated and designed to post all press releases and public meeting notices in real time.

Accordingly, effective immediately, I am directing you to instruct your communications office to work with the Office of Information Technology to ensure that all press releases and public notices issued from your agency are properly displayed on this public calendar and press releases website.

It is a great privilege for us to serve the people of Indiana and I am grateful every day to serve with men and women like you who share my determination to do so integrity, servant leadership and accountability.

Thank you for your cooperation.


Michael R. Pence
Governor of Indiana

Louisville Minor League Baseball Stadium Modified For Professional Soccer Play

Here's another one of those stories the Indy Eleven and their propagandists in the Indianapolis media don't want you to read about as they set about to pick your pockets to the tune of nearly $100 million to build Ersal Ozdemir's minor league soccer team an extravagant, 18,500-seat stadium. Our neighbors to the south in Louisville are home to the USL Pro soccer team, Louisville City FC, which plays in a professional soccer league where team franchises draw crowds that rival Indy Eleven's North American MLS league. Guess where the Louisville City FC will be playing? How about the Louisville Bats Triple A Minor League baseball stadium. That's right. They're modifying Louisville Slugger Field, which seats a little over 13,000 fans:
Louisville Slugger Field is preparing for a new tenant.
The home of the Louisville Bats will become the home of the Louisville City FC soccer club beginning in March, meaning big changes at the 15 year old stadium.
The stadium’s grounds crew is preparing a special synthetic field turf that will cover the base paths during soccer games and is installing a mechanical mound that can be lowered with the push of a button. Groundskeepers say they aren't concerned about the field's Bermuda grass surface being torn up by soccer games but say they will keep a close eye on it.
The staff says they are working through full rehearsals of the changeover in the off-season and say it will all be done in less than 24 hours once the season starts.

Gannett-Owned Star Treats Online Subscribers To Pornographic Images Of Chippendales Performers

The Chippendales website states that the men perform
Eugene Pulliam is turning over in his grave. The Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star online edition at features a photo gallery of mostly-naked and bulging Chippendales male performers from a recent show at Old National. It's just a reflection of big media's overt effort to Kardashianize culture in America and keep the masses distracted while the elites plunder our nation.

Elites Planning Their Getaway

Private jet landing in the Alps
The global political and business elitists are gathered in the ski resort community of Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum to discuss how to continue the stranglehold they have on the world's wealth at the expense of the masses. High on their agenda is apparently having a getaway plan when the masses finally decide they've had enough of the growing income inequality. From The Guardian:
With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people’s mind, the world’s super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” he said.
Johnson, who heads the Institute of New Economic Thinking and was previously managing director at Soros, said societies can tolerate income inequality if the income floor is high enough. But with an existing system encouraging chief executives to take decisions solely on their profitability, even in the richest countries inequality is increasing. 
Johnson added: “People need to know there are possibilities for their children – that they will have the same opportunity as anyone else. There is a wicked feedback loop. Politicians who get more money tend to use it to get even more money.”
"Politicians who get more money tend to use it to get more even more money." How true.

Someone was complaining at the Indianapolis City-County Council meeting the other night that our part-time council members are paid too little and should get a big pay raise. Au contraire. Chicago pays its full-time aldermen $108,000 a year. According to the Chicago Tribune, many still have other jobs from which they supplement their income. A story today says Alderman Michelle Smith earns $72,000 working for a non-profit foundation. The foundation's tax return listed her as a full-time employee, which the foundation's trust fund baby founders, Tim and Helen Meier, now say was a mistake. Those same multi-millionaires have contributed $373,000 to Smith's campaign committee. Smith says she just does a little work for the foundation in her spare time. The only purpose of the foundation is to award three grants annually of $33,000 each to mid-career artists. It's good work if you can get it.

On the issue of civil unrest, here's video footage from a brawl that erupted at a St. Louis city council meeting just last night after the president of the police union got into a shoving match with a woman after he concluded a heated exchange with a council committee chairman during a discussion of a civilian police oversight board.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ozdemir Returns To State House Seeking Approval Of $100 Million Soccer Stadium Heist

The Indiana General Assembly is too often nothing more than a public auction where prostitutes masquerading as lawmakers hang out their shingles, making it a perfect place for a shadowy Turkish immigrant businessman to swoop in with high-paid lobbyists to pass legislation allowing him to capture nearly $100 million of your state tax dollars to build a new, multi-purpose soccer stadium for his Indy Eleven minor league soccer team with only one season under its belt, which he will get to use exclusively for his own profit-making purposes, while taxpayers are stuck footing the bill for the expense of maintaining it just like the billionaire NFL and NBA team owners whose teams play in Lucas Oil Stadium and Banker's Life Fieldhouse on our dime.

Indiana lawmakers have no idea what Ersal Ozdemir's background back in Turkey was or just where the hell all of the money is coming from to finance his ambitious endeavors as he tosses big money around everywhere he goes. What we know is that a little more than a decade ago he was broke and facing a number of lawsuits for unpaid bills and now he's touted as having deep pockets. The man claims he was mentored by convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham's mentor, the late Beurt SerVaas,  a high-ranking OSS officer during World War II and long-time President of the Indianapolis City-County Council who flipped businesses for a living while working covertly as an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency. Ozdemir's meteoric rise in Indiana business and politics closely parallels that of Syrian immigrant Tony Rezko, who started making the Chicago political and business scene as a civil engineer/real estate developer big time in the 1990s and spreading hundreds of millions of dollars around we were told by the late political columnist Robert Novak he got from a corrupt Iraqi billionaire businessman.

Rezko is now sitting in a federal prison after being convicted of multiple public corruption charges, but not before taking down Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with him and playing a key role in the meteoric political rise of Barack Obama, who was able to buy his mansion on Chicago's south side with the financial assistance of Rezko. We can't help but wonder if Ozdemir has a secret billionaire benefactor in the Middle East with close ties to the CIA just like Rezko. The American people are clueless about the magnitude of the money earned off-the-books by the CIA, which it gets from its heroin and cocaine smuggling operations and illegal arm sales that are laundered through various businesses operated by its intelligence assets, and which makes its way into this country where it is used to subvert the political system for the benefit of a ruling elite that are hell-bent on establishing a fascist dictatorship greater than Hitler's Third Reich.

State Rep. Todd Huston, a Republican lawmaker from Fishers, is sponsoring HB 1273, which would allow the Marion Co. Professional Sports Development Area ("PSDA") to be expanded to capture some unnamed site in downtown Indianapolis far from Huston's suburban Hamilton County district for Ozdemir's envisioned $83 million, 18,500-seat soccer stadium that would be built for multi-purposes, including outdoor concerts, lacrosse, football and other special events, in addition to serving as the home playing venue for his newly-minted Indy Eleven minor league soccer team. HB 1273 would make the Capital Improvement Board responsible for owning and maintaining the publicly-financed stadium. The CIB would be allowed to capture an additional $5 million annually in income and sales taxes generated from within the PSDA and admissions taxes collected on the sale of tickets to events at the stadium. The PSDA is already capturing over $14 million a year in income and sales taxes. Contrary to the claims of the Indy Eleven public relations folks, the capture of these tax dollars takes away money that would otherwise be available to fund state and local services.

Rep. Huston is not sponsoring HB 1273 alone. He has other Marion County legislators who have signed on as co-sponsors, including Reps. Justin Moed (D) and Cindy Kirchhofter (R). Rep. David Ober (R-Albion), who has obviously taken a quicker path than many to the corrupt ways of Indiana State House politics, is doing Ozdemir's bidding as well. Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee says he wants Ozdemir to have some skin in the game. Last year, he allowed the legislation to sail through his committee and the full House with very little public discussion before it was killed in the Senate. We know what counts as skin in the game. Ozdemir gets to sell the naming rights for an arena built with our taxpayer dollars and claim those revenues as his contribution to the arena's cost.

The fiscal analysis prepared by LSA's Heath Holloway is highly suspect. He relies on data from the NFL, NBA and Minor League Baseball as if those are remotely comparable to this fledgling minor league soccer franchise, as well as data he got from Indy Elven. Despite lies contained in press releases from Indy Eleven repeated as fact by our useless local media, Indy Eleven DID NOT SELL OUT EVERY HOME GAME LAST SEASON. Force the liars to reveal how many free tickets they were giving away to every game, and show us the images of the gaping holes at many of the team's home games at the more than adequate Carroll Stadium, not to mention the large sections of seating blocked off by banners at every game.

While an 18,500-seat arena is being built, the fiscal analysis assumes a stadium with a capacity of 12,000, or about 1,500 more than Indy Eleven falsely claims attended each home game last year. Holloway's analysis claims a 10% admission tax could generate up to $519,000 annually, which would assume over $5 million annually in ticket sales. It's interesting that the fiscal analysis for this stadium funding legislation assumes that it will generate nearly the exact $5 million the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was estimated to generate to pay debt service on the $100 million the state is issuing in bonds to finance improvements for the privately-owned race track and related facilities.  

The only thing we know for certain is that there will be no critical analysis by the media in this state of the latest public heist for the benefit of yet another sports endeavor. When it comes to promoting anything related to sports, they're only capable of putting out press releases for the sports team owners and their rent-a-civic leader friends. Indiana lawmakers only care about helping people who are stuffing money in their campaign pockets, and Ersal Ozdemir has learned that trade quite well in the short time he's been a U.S. citizen just like Tony Rezko learned too well before his friends in high places threw him under the bus.
Ersal Ozdemir (Indianapolis Star/Danese Kenon Photo)

Please read my previous post on the soccer stadium deal that Indy Eleven's Peter Wilt helped put together for the Chicago Fire, which has left taxpayers in Cook County's Bridgeview community reeling after it never came close to living up to expectations. It's the story the Indianapolis media doesn't want the public here to know about.

Another Lawmaker Caught Self-Dealing Backtracks

Rep. Eric Allan Koch
State Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford), an attorney by trade, chairs the House Energy Committee. According to his statement of economic interest, he has a financial stake in 28 oil and gas companies, including some with operations in Indiana. The Indianapolis Star's Tony Cook raised questions about legislation Rep. Koch is sponsoring to prohibit local units of government with home rule powers from regulating or prohibiting oil and gas exploration, or production activities, including anything related to hydraulic fracturing or horizontal drilling. Rep. Koch initially insisted his legislative action did not violate House Ethics Rules. On second thought, Rep. Koch has decided to withdraw the legislation because it had become a "distraction." Koch is a member of the House Ethics Committee, which just voted to tighten up ethics rules.

RIP John Myers

Former U.S. Rep. John Myers (R), 87, who represented a west central Indiana district in Congress for three decades from 1966 to 1996, died at his home yesterday morning according to the Lafayette Journal-Courier. Gov. Mike Pence issued the following statement on his passing:
“It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of former U.S. Congressman John Myers, a friend, patriot, and leader who made a real difference in the lives of Hoosiers and in the history of our state. For three decades, John worked tirelessly to represent Hoosiers from west central Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legacy of public service he leaves behind is unmatched, and we do well to strive to emulate his example. The First Lady and I extend our deepest condolences to his beloved family and all those who mourn the loss of this Hoosier leader and hero during this difficult time.”
Myers was kind of our adopted congressman when I was growing up in east central Illinois just across the border. He was more than happy to represent people in neighboring Illinois who felt alienated from our long-time Democratic congressman. I met him on many occasions, and he and his wife once came to my parents' home for a political fundraiser. The guy really knew how to work a crowd, and he never forgot a name. I think one of his biggest disappointments was his inability to secure funding to make the Wabash River navigable at least from Terre Haute down to the Ohio River.

Westfield To Perform A Do-Over On Soccer Arena, Still Gets It Wrong

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook makes comments to the hundreds of people that turned out for the grand opening ceremony for Westfield's Grand Park, which, when finished, will be the country's largest multipurpose youth sports complex, on Saturday, June 21, 2014. The three-day celebration that began on Friday includes live music, a Ferris wheel, food and fireworks, and of course a youth sports tournament. The facility has 31 multi-use soccer/football fields and 26 baseball/softball diamonds throughout 400 acres.
Mayor Andy Cook at Grand Park's opening ceremony (Charles Nye/Star Photo)
I previously reported that Westfield city officials blatantly violated the state's public-private partnership agreement last year when Mayor Andy Cook privately negotiated a 25-year agreement with Holladay Properties to build, operate and maintain an indoor soccer arena that could cost city taxpayers up to $53 million over the 25-year life of the agreement. The Star's Chris Sikich wrote after the council's approval of the deal that its finance committee met and acted upon the long-term agreement at meetings which were not publicly-noticed in violation of the state's open door law. The state's public access counselor agreed that the open door law had been violated. That prompted mayoral candidate Jeff Harpe to file a lawsuit challenging the agreement's validity last December. City officials have decided to re-start the process according to Sikich's later story rather than fight Harpe's lawsuit, but that's not enough to correct the problem.
. . . "This is a great victory for the residents of Westfield," Harpe said. "This lawsuit held city officials accountable for their actions and now that city officials have decided to start the process over, the residents of Westfield will be able to make the decision of whether this indoor soccer facility is a good idea for all taxpayers of Westfield." 
Harpe wanted to consult with his attorney, Steve Stoesz, before deciding whether to drop the lawsuit. But Tuesday, that seemed likely. Harpe was asking a judge to overturn Westfield's approval of the indoor arena to force the city to restart the process — action the city already is taking . . 
In legal proceedings, the city has admitted no fault and maintained that it violated no open-door laws.
However, Todd Burtron, the mayor's chief of staff, said it has become apparent that simply restarting the process to approve the arena would be a quicker and surer way to proceed with building the arena than litigating the case . . . 
After the lawsuit was filed, Burtron said the city began to field phone calls from developers who were concerned that the legal action would delay or stop development of the arena.
"The development community has called and expressed deep concern," Burtron said. "Their business model incorporates the business from the indoor facility."
"We didn't do it purposefully or with malice," Burtron said.
No, this isn't a great victory, and the process is not being restarted properly, Mr. Harpe, because the public process that would have helped ensure the taxpayers got the best deal is still being avoided altogether. I get that the media despises what I do at this blog in calling out the folks behind all of these corrupt deals that defraud the public, but if there is one thing I know something about is the P3 law that governs this particular transaction. I helped write the damn law so I know something about it.

That law unequivocally required the City of Westfield to conduct an RFP process that allowed developers to competitively bid on the right to build, operate and maintain the indoor soccer arena. That never happened. The corrupt city officials, instead, negotiated secretly and made a sweetheart deal with Holladay Properties and cut every other potential bidder out of the process. Remember what happened when Lawrence Mayor Tom Schneider handed control of the city's water utility to his political cronies? Yeah, it got thrown out by a court in a process that cost Lawrence taxpayers dearly. Not even the fact that the powerful Ice Miller law firm was behind that project could prevent that outcome. Big surprise to find Ice Miller involved in this deal as well. I've brought this point to Sikich's attention, and he refuses to write about it. I've also brought this to the attention of Harpe's lawyer and a member of the Westfield city council. Yet nobody will do or say a damn thing about it. And please, Mr. Sikich, go back and read the archives of your own damn newspaper if you don't want to take my word for it.

And here's another thing. Somebody needs to ask Mayor Cook why the out-of-state professional soccer arena operator with whom he was originally discussing the project walked away from it only weeks before he announced plans last June to let Holladay Properties build it. The professional soccer arena operator walked away from the deal because the Mayor was allowing Holladay Properties to stiff city taxpayers by increasing the construction costs by at least 25% by charging exorbitant development fees that out-of-state operator wanted to avoid entirely in exchange for the right to operate the facility. Why was Cook allowing Holladay Properties to stiff Westfield taxpayers? For the life of me, I don't understand why we have a media, public officials and a public that just no longer give a damn when our government assets are being used to line the pockets of private developers and business interests which have unseemly relationships with government decision-makers. The entire system has broken down. Until people rise up in revolt, it's only going to keep getting worse.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Photo That Got Fox News Employee Fired And Led Him To Commit Suicide Outside Fox News Headquarters In New York

The picture that started it all: Amanda Jo Stephen and Art Acevedo
Phillip Perea worked as a promotion producer at a Fox News-owned affiliate, KTBC Fox 7 in Austin, Texas. Video of Austin police arresting a University of Texas student for supposedly jay walking while she was jogging sparked outrage after it went viral on the Internet. Austin Chief of Police Art Acevedo stirred further controversy during a press conference rant where he defended the police officer's arrest of the jogger by saying words to the effect that at least they weren't sexually assaulting her like officers in other cities had been accused. "In other cities there's cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for controversy in Austin, Texas," Acevedo said, words that would later lead to a public apology from him.

Perea's choice of the photo image above in a Facebook post used as a teaser for the TV station's coverage of the press conference enraged Chief Acevedo, who complained to station management it made him look like a lunatic. In retaliation, he refused to provide any access to the station. That was the beginning of Perea's problems with the TV station's management. He recorded meetings with the general manager in which he blamed Perea for the station's loss of access to the Austin Police Department. Eventually, management forced Perea out in May after he complained his boss contrived issues with him as part of an effort to force him out. Yesterday, he was passing out fliers outside Fox News' headquarters in New York complaining about Fox News' bullying behavior towards its employees and how they ruined his career. Later, he pulled out a gun and shot himself in the chest. He died a short while later at the hospital. Sad story.

Below is video taken from Chief Acevedo's controversial press conference, which led to Perea's problems with the station's management.
The video below is a video Perea uploaded to YouTube prior to him taking his life yesterday in which he details the grievances against his former employer, including audio of meetings he secretly recorded with them.

Indianapolis Star Upset Gov. Pence Is Creating State-Run Media Service Modeled After Obama White House Press Service

It really bothers me how much government at all levels spends hiring people to work as public information officers, who I think are better described as disinformation agents since they spend most of the time trying to make us believe everything except the truth about what the government is really doing to us. In the 1970s, the Church Committee uncovered the fact that the CIA had a large percentage of the national media folks we relied upon to provide factual news reporting on their payroll under its infamous Operation Mockingbird Project so the news disseminated to the public was even more tainted.

The Obama White House has taken disinformation to an entirely new level, producing its own stories, photos and videos of the President and his administration's actions on a daily basis, which it expects the White House Press Corp to rely upon as opposed to regular access to the President and key administration officials for press availabilities. If that's not bad enough, various news reports indicate the Obama White House is reviewing and revising press reports prepared by the supposed independent news organizations before they're published or aired.

So I had to chuckle at the reaction of the folks over at the Indianapolis Star today to their discovery that Gov. Mike Pence is launching his own state-run news service modeled after President Obama's White House Press Office called "JustIn." "Gov. Mike Pence is starting a state-run taxpayer-funded news outlet that will make pre-written news stories available to Indiana media, as well as sometimes break news about his administration, according to documents obtained by The Indianapolis Star," the story by Tom LoBianco opens. The Star's political columnist Matt Tully chimes in, "A state-run news agency?" "What in the name of Vladimir Putin is the Pence administration thinking? His administration is calling it "Just IN." But, I'm sorry, that's the last time you'll ever hear me call it that. This is a propaganda outlet, plain and simple."

Excuse me if the only thing that comes to mind is "Casablanca's" Captain Renault's "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here." If Matt Tully is worried about propaganda, perhaps he should re-read the columns he's written over the past few years. Some of us have a difficult time discerning any journalistic quality in most of what he writes about. One need only read the talking points laid out in the press releases of the various members of the downtown mafia to know what to expect in his columns. He protests a bit too much.

Instead of complaining about Pence's JustIN project, the Star's reporters for starters should be asking questions about why the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has taken the job of making Indiana license plates away from Indiana prison inmates at the Department of Corrections and outsourced it to a California-based company purportedly to save money--$14.4 million over five years to be precise. Seriously? A company called Intellectual Technology, Inc. can really make license plates cheaper than the prison inmates paid no more than a few dollars a day for their work? Why doesn't the BMV tell us why they really want this private company making our license plates? Doesn't it have something to do with intelligence gathering capabilities embedded in the license plates? Ah, yes. More big brother watching over us. More importantly, the private contractor can make big campaign contributions those lowly prison inmates are incapable of making.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Council Committee Keeps Digital Billboard Proposal Alive Despite Overwhelming Public Opposition

If you needed any further confirmation that members of the Indianapolis City-County Council auction off their votes on the council to the highest bidder, you need look no further than the action of the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee at tonight's meeting. No other issue before the council in recent years has drawn more public opposition than Proposal No. 250, a draft zoning ordinance governing digital billboards, which was drafted by the billboard industry to allow current billboard owners to swap out their static billboards for digital billboards.

The unprecedented action stands current zoning laws on their head by allowing the council to draft a proposed zoning ordinance it expects to be acted upon by the Metropolitan Development Commission, which is charged under Indiana law with drafting zoning laws through a drawn out public process and then sending it on to the council for approval. Lobbyists for the billboard industry had been meeting secretly with council members over the past three years before rolling out the proposal to the public last year. Their proposal would undo the City's zoning law, which currently bans digital boards, and allow billboard companies to erect more than 70 of the high-tech signs over the next three years alone.

Despite the overwhelming public opposition at tonight's meeting to the proposal and the inability of lobbyists for the industry to answer basic questions about the impact of the zoning law they are proposing, committee members voted to postpone action on Proposal No. 250 until April at the request of the billboard lobbyists by a 6-1 vote, the second such delay since an initial hearing last November. Only Councilor Jeff Miller (R) opposed the postponement, who has said he intends to vote against it. The proposal's sponsor, Mary Moriarty Adams (D), the committee chairman, Leroy Robinson (D), and Councilors Zach Adamson (D), John Barth (D), Vop Osili (D) and Will Gooden all voted against the overwhelming public opposition by keeping the proposal alive. The members expect the opponents to negotiate a zoning ordinance with the billboard industry rather than allowing the normal zoning process to play out.

Staff members for the Department of Metropolitan Development are still trying to wrap up work on Rezone Indy, a major undertaking to update the City's zoning laws. Although the original Rezone Indy project included signs within its scope, the Department pulled that component out and stated it planned to take up discussion of billboard zoning regulations only after it completed the larger Rezone Indy project. Proponents of Proposal No. 250 want to force the DMD staff to use the billboard-drafted ordinance as a starting point for their discussions. It is no secret that lobbyists for the billboard companies have been lavishing campaign contributions on council members over the past year, Clearly, these council members were more concerned about what their campaign contributors would think of them if they killed Proposal No. 250 than what the dozens of neighborhood residents throughout the City representing every council district think about them. I think it's time for neighborhood leaders to wake up and start bucking the system by drafting their own candidates to run for the council in the respective primaries and vote out of office council members produced through the respective parties' corrupt slating processes.

Vaughn Turned Over Names Of Council Members Accused Of Accepting Bribes To Local FBI Office

Larry Vaughn
Democratic mayoral hopeful Larry Vaughn made a jaw-dropping allegation during public testimony at an Indianapolis City-County Council meeting on January 12 that ten council members had been paid $10,000 bribes in consideration of their votes in support of the controversial criminal justice center project. Specifically, Vaughn claimed a government whistle blower provided him the names of ten council members who received bribes in the form of annuities made payable to them. At the time, I commented that his allegation would likely lead to a visit by a local FBI agent.

In a telephone interview this afternoon, Vaughn confirmed he met with special agent Bradley Bookwalter in the Indianapolis FBI office and turned over the list of council members. Although Vaughn declined to identify the names of the ten council members, he said it included both Democratic and Republican members. Vaughn said the source who provided him information about the alleged bribes is someone who formerly provided services to the city. Special agent Bookwalter did not return a phone call seeking comment on Vaughn's claim that he had met with him and turned over the list of names to him.

Agent Bookwalter testified during the 2011 trial of former City-County Councilor Lincoln Plowman, who was convicted of accepting a $5,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI agent posing as a developer interested in opening a strip club in downtown Indianapolis. Bookwalter was the FBI agent who questioned Plowman during his brief detention in a hotel room at the Conrad Hilton where he accepted the $5,000 cash payment from the undercover agent. Bookwalter testified that during his questioning of Plowman, he admitted he received $1,000 a month consulting payments from PT's strip club on the City's east side and had previously received similar consulting payments from Dancer's Showclub on the City's west side. Bookwalter testified that Plowman had been given the opportunity to cooperate in an ongoing investigation of public corruption in Indianapolis, an offer Plowman declined.

The timing of the bribery allegation brought to Vaughn by the government whistle blower and the choice of Vaughn to take that allegation public is suspect. It is my belief this may be a deliberate distraction, a diversion from from the real crime which has and is continuing to occur with this proposed criminal justice center project. The Ballard administration violated the requirement of the state's P3 law that it make the RFP for the project publicly available when it opened the project up to three bidding groups handpicked by the administration to compete for the project. Instead, it waited until the winning bidder was chosen before making the RFP document public. Since it made the RFP available last December, the administration has still refused to publicly release the responses provided by all three bidding groups, claiming it doesn't have to turn over those documents until it inks the final agreement with Heartland Justice Partners. Yet the administration is asking the City-County Council to approve the 35-year build, operate and transfer agreement it is entering into with the winning bidder no later than March of this year, just two months away.

Advance Indiana's independent investigation has led to the conclusion that the Ballard administration engaged in a rigged bidding process under which the participating bidders knew in advance who would be awarded the project, which turned out to be Heartland Justice Partners led by Meridiam Infrastucture, the same company which won the right to build, operate and maintain a courthouse building for Long Beach, California. The losing bidders entered into an agreement under which the City agreed to pay $750,000 to each of them as long as they accepted the bid outcome and didn't contest it. That provision of the RFP seems to clash with the state's anti-collusion law, which is intended to protect the integrity of public bidding processes for government contracts. Under the terms outlined in the winning bid, the P3 operator will receive payments of nearly $1.75 billion over the life of the project; however, those figures are likely to grow significantly if planned expansions of the project are undertaken. The administration scaled back the size and scope of the project considerably to keep beginning annual payments to the P3 operator under $50 million.

Many of the participants in the Indianapolis bidding process were identical to those which participated in the Long Beach project. The City of Indianapolis is also relying on some of the same lawyers and financial advisers who worked on the Long Beach project to provide legal and financial advice on the City's criminal justice center project. Some participants switched sides between the two projects, participating on the winning side in one project and the losing side of the other. A California official following developments here in Indianapolis contacted Advance Indiana to express his concerns that the bidding process for the Long Beach project had similarly been rigged. That official is working behind-the-scenes in an effort to get an investigation of the Long Beach bidding process launched.

Another IMPD Officer Arrested

Johnathan Burger. (Provided Photo/IMPD)
An IMPD officer isn't as lucky as the high-ranking IMPD officer caught driving drunk while on duty last month and false reporting, crimes covered up by IMPD's top brass according to police sources. Seven-year veteran IMPD Officer Johnathan Burger is facing preliminary charges of domestic battery and battery causing physical injury according to various news reports. WISH-TV says the arrest took place around 10:00 p.m. last night. The east district officer has been placed on administrative leave. Burger had not yet been released from the Arrestee Processing Center as of noon today according to WISH-TV.

Indianapolis City-County Council Set To Pump Over $18 Million Into Angie's List

The Indianapolis City-County Council doesn't have money to fix potholes that line city streets in your neighborhoods, build and replace broken sidewalks and install street lights or perform any number of other basic city services, but it has money in its pockets to burn on a Ponzi scheme known as Angie's List. Yes, our esteemed Indianapolis City-County Councilors will vote tonight at a committee meeting to approve $18.3 million in public subsidies for a company that has yet to turn a profit over the past 20 years when it has racked up losses totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The Star's Brian Eason has a lengthy story today with these opening paragraphs:
Spurned of late by Wall Street, Angie's List has turned to Indianapolis taxpayers for an investment in the company's future.
A City-County Council panel on Monday will consider up to $18.3 million in public assistance that Angie's officials say is critical to the consumer rating service's planned expansion on the Near-Eastside.
Leaders in both parties say there's a lot to like in the proposal. Angie's promises to add 1,000 jobs, for starters. On top of that, it plans to relocate 800 more to its headquarters on East Washington Street, a run-down corridor that serves as a key gateway to Downtown. And it would transform the old Ford assembly plant back into the economic engine it once was.
In return, the city would spend $2 million on streets and other infrastructure work, plus as much as $16.3 million in tax-increment financing funds to build a parking garage and relocate an Indianapolis Public Schools warehouse from the Ford building.
But ironically for a company that makes its money off of consumer ratings, the biggest hang-up may be others' recent reviews of Angie's.
Since its founding in 1995, the company has never turned an annual profit, a red flag that until recently investors had largely been willing to overlook thanks to steady growth.
But against a backdrop of disappointing earnings, controversies and lawsuits, the company's stock price has plummeted over the last year and a half. It dropped to what was then a record low in July and continued to tumble, settling Thursday at $5.22 per share. 
That's less than a third of the $15.80 the stock fetched at its initial public offering . . .
Just four years ago, then-Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard announced more than $14 million in public assistance to Angie's List based on a promise to create 500 news jobs that never materialized. The company's CEO and co-founder, Bill Oesterle, formerly served as Daniels' campaign manager and has lavished large campaign contributions on the Republican Party and its candidates. While the company has racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in losses during its 20-year history, Oesterle and the company's name sake, Angie Hicks, have become multi-millionaires. Those old buildings the company bought on the near east side were purchased by a company controlled by Oesterle, who leased them for years at inflated prices to Angie's List before later selling them to the company at inflated prices with money Wall Street investors foolishly pumped into the company.

Imagine if Ponzi schemer Tim Durham had been able to use his political clout with state and local officials prior to the FBI's raid on his offices after potential investors began to sour on his businesses to get a multi-million dollar infusion of public tax dollars. It really is no different. Yet one City-County Councilor after another stumbles over one another to sing the praises of the company in defending their planned decision to invest money in the company Wall Street wouldn't invest, including Zach Adamson (D), John Barth (D) and Mike McQuillen (R). Until you start getting in the faces of these elected officials and making them fear for their political lives, they will continue to ignore you and your concerns and give away your public tax dollars to take care of the people who are stuffing campaign contributions in their pockets.

Democratic mayoral candidate Larry Vaughn wasn't too far off the mark when he told Indianapolis City-County Councilors at a recent meeting that Angie's List does little more than "sell bumper stickers with a syndication on the side." It's pretty sad when a guy they call crazy and laugh at when he speaks at council meetings makes more sense than the elected representatives we've entrusted to spend our tax dollars.

UPDATE: No vote tonight. Angie's List asked to continue consideration of its public subsidy until a February 23 meeting of the committee to allow it to gather more information regarding its plans.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Showdown In Digital Billboard Debate Tomorrow Night

The controversial digital billboard ordinance, Proposal No. 250, drafted by lobbyists for the benefit of the billboard industry heads back to the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee for a vote tomorrow night. Neighborhoods across the City of Indianapolis have united in opposition to convince members of the City-County Council to reject an attempt by the industry to get the council to approve new zoning rules it wants the Metropolitan Development Commission to adopt.

Neighborhood groups are particularly peeved that lobbyists went directly to City-County Council members and conducted private discussions to rewrite the City's billboard zoning regulations in an attempt to sidestep the normal process set out in the law. State law vests the Metropolitan Development Commission and its staff with the authority to write zoning laws through a transparent process that requires public input. Lobbyists for billboards have been successful in selling many council members on their approach without any public input, aided by their deep pockets to make large campaign contributions and spend lavishly entertaining council members, in a process that locked out the public until the introduction of Proposal No. 250.

The neighborhood groups make a compelling argument that the new zoning rules proposed by the billboard industry are badly flawed and will undoubtedly result in costly litigation. The rules are clearly written to financially benefit the billboard companies behind it at the expense of potential competitors. Proposal No. 250 guarantees a certain number of conversion from static to digital billboards each year but only certain billboard companies would have the right to erect digital billboards. The guarantees written in the law would make it difficult for future city leaders to halt the erection of more digital billboards without encountering costly litigation. Locked out billboard companies successfully sued the City of Los Angeles when it adopted a similar ordinance in 2006 which limited the right to erect digital billboards to certain companies.

Opponents of digital billboards argue digital billboards impair driver safety by distracting drivers, and their bright lights adversely impact the aesthetics of nearby neighborhoods. The rules would allow for interactive ads which encourage drivers to text a code in order to qualify for a product discount. Sequencing ad messages in a manner reminiscent of Burma shave signs of bygone years will be permitted, further compounding the problem of driver distraction. The proponents tout the fact that digital billboards make public service announcements possible, such as Amber alerts for missing children, but the proposal doesn't actually require the companies to run those ads.

Neighborhood groups have discovered that many current static billboards eligible to be swapped out and replaced with digital billboards were never properly permitted or were oriented to the wrong street. Existing sign locations are grandfathered in, eliminating the need for an improvement location permit. Some current signs are situated closer together than appropriate standards might allow. Neighborhood groups have also uncovered the fact that billboards are likely not being taxed in Marion County currently as personal property, even though billboard companies have to be compensated for them as real property when they are subject to condemnation proceedings. Unless the property owner reports the existence of the billboard on their property, no personal property taxes are being paid.

The proposed swap-out conversion rate in Proposal No. 250 is the elimination of two static billboards for every new digital billboard put into use. Opponents point out that this conversion ratio is much more favorable to billboard companies than what the industry has negotiated with other municipalities. They give several examples, including St. Petersburg (15:1); Tampa (10:1); St. Paul (6:1); Orlando (4:1); and San Antonio (3:1). Opponents note the trend is towards requiring greater swap-out ratios, not less. In addition, many municipalities require the billboard companies to enter into revenue-sharing agreements with the city, a requirement noticeably absent from Indianapolis' proposed rules. At a minimum, the council members who negotiated this deal with the billboard companies' lobbyists left a lot of money laying on the table.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Another Colts Player Arrested

Colts linebacker Andrew Jackson, a rookie this past season, was arrested early Friday morning in Bowling Green, Kentucky for driving while under the influence of alcohol and driving carelessly. According to a Daily News report, the arrest took place at 4:15 a.m. after a police officer observed a car driven by Jackson swerving from one side of the street to another. The arresting police officer wrote in his report that Jackson had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the odor of alcohol on his breath. A breathalyzer test showed his alcohol level to be .088.

Last May, Jackson was arrested in Muncie for driving while under the influence. As a high school student, he was arrested for attempted burglary. During his senior year at Western Kentucky University he was suspended for not complying with team rules. The Daily News, citing court records, says Jackson has already pleaded guilty to the charges and been sentenced to 14 days of home detention and had his driver's license suspended for one year. That seems like awfully swift justice.

Who's Paying For Added Security At Castleton Square Mall?

An Advance Indiana reader sends a tip that if accurate raises some serious concerns about who is paying for beefed up security at Castleton Square Mall. The tipster claims Marion Co. Sheriff John Layton's department is providing extra deputies to police the mall, some of whom are receiving overtime pay. The reader wants to know why taxpayers are paying to provide extra security to the Simon-owned mall.

The reader notes that the sheriff's law enforcement responsibilities were taken away from his department with the merger of deputies who formerly provided policing services with the former Indianapolis Police Department to become IMPD back in 2005. Remaining deputies in the sheriff's department act only as "special deputies," which provides them law enforcement duties limited to their assigned duties. "If they are assigned duties for which the sheriff does not have, are they law enforcement officers," the reader asks.

All good questions. Perhaps someone from the Sheriff's Department can respond to them. Various news reports following the weekend brawl that broke out earlier this month quoted mall officials as saying the mall was paying for extra security at the mall, along with some additional IMPD officers who would be assigned to patrol the area.

The public should also be very concerned that it appears the extra $29 million you're paying in higher taxes this year to hire more police officers is being spent elsewhere. Despite claims money was set aside in last year's budget to hire more police officers, the net increase in staffing was fewer than 10 police officers because of the high attrition rate attributed to retirements and voluntary and involuntary terminations. I've said all along the tax increase was nothing but a bait-and-switch just like the massive 2007 tax increase supposedly intended for public safety. If a $90 million tax increase resulted in fewer, not more police officers, does anyone believe a tax increase a third that size will result in the hiring of hundreds of additional police officers?

The administration is banking on having those additional tax dollars to pay for the costly new criminal justice center it is proposing, which will require additional payments of close to $50 million a year. I continue to hear rumors that City-County Councilors are being bribed, if not heavily coerced by threats, into supporting the controversial P3 project, which I've already proven to our readers was a rigged bidding process no matter how much our useless local media chooses to ignore that fact.

Swarens Likes Brewer

The Indianapolis Star's opinion editor Tim Swarens sat down with the little-known businessman local Republicans have anointed as their Republican candidate for mayor and gives him his seal of approval. Swarens quick take on Chick Brewer is predictable, if superficial.

He ticks off a checklist of requisites that make Brewer the ideal candidate: a decorated Marine veteran with combat leadership experience from two tours of duty in Iraq; impressive education credentials; management experience with a Fortune 500 company; and downtown small business owner.

The fact that Brewer only recently moved to Indianapolis (a little more than three years ago) doesn't bother Swarens in the least. How could it? Most of the Star's high turnover staff are recent Gannett transplants who lack any historical knowledge of the city. "But really, that should be a minor factor at most for a city that needs to welcome fresh talent and avoid erecting artificial barriers to advancement — even advancement to the mayor’s office," Swarens opines.

Brewer tells Swarens he's "a big fan of Ballard." "And a lot of folks will look at the similarities between the two — Marine officer, unconventional candidate, new face to Indy politics — and conclude that a Brewer administration would be an extension of Ballard’s eight-year tenure in city hall," Swarens said.

Attracting and retaining talent to the city top Brewer's list of goals. Improving public safety, creating jobs, promoting excellence in education and redeveloping neighborhoods is how he intends to accomplish that goal. Swarens admits Brewer was lacking in details on how to achieve that objective, but he tells us his likely Democratic opponent, Joe Hogsett, who has been running for office much longer, didn't offer many details when he recently sat down with him either.

Swarens says Brewer is ready "for the personal, often unfair, attacks that come with running for political office, especially from partisans on the other side," which Ballard didn't handle well. "My perspective on management, on leadership is inclusiveness," Brewer said. "I don’t know how it’s been handled in the past, but I would meet regularly with Democrats and Republicans to ensure that all voices are heard. Good ideas always have a seat at the table."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

CNBC's American Greed Tim Durham Episode A Total Whitewash

The "Playboy of Indiana" episode featured tonight on CNBC's American Greed was pretty much what you would expect from a GE-produced media story--a complete whitewash of events from start to finish. Feed the sheeple what you want them to believe by covering up the real story behind Tim Durham's more than $200 million Ponzi scheme.

To buy the load of crock CNBC fed you tonight required a suspension of disbelief. Durham acted alone driven by raw greed we're told. Nowhere mentioned are the names of the politicians who curried his favor and helped protect him, in particular the corrupt former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who remains at large for his long-running crime spree, thanks in large part to the same law enforcement folks taking bows in tonight's broadcast. His stable of attorneys and accountants played no small part along the way as well.

The infamous Pajama Party was titillating to viewers, but what happened to that list of prominent politicians, civic and business leaders who enjoyed the entertainment of the working girls and boys? That was buried just like the video recordings made by the sophisticated surveillance system installed throughout Durham's palatial home, including the guest bedrooms, which come in handy when a little extra convincing is needed to get someone to do what you expect of them. Beurt SerVaas' introduction of the dirty world of using front companies to launder the CIA's ill-gotten proceeds to his former son-in-law and spreading the wealth around to a select few likewise got lost on the cutting room floor.

The illegal boiler room stock-pumping operation on Bright Point stock that made tens of millions for not only Durham but a large cast of Indianapolis' ruling elite who regularly engage in illegal stock trading with impunity was portrayed as a legitimate stock investment that helped launch Durham's meteoric business career. Please. The fact that Dan Laikin, the brother of Bright Point's CEO, wound up as CEO of Durham's National Lampoon and got caught engaging in the same illegal stock price manipulation got lost somewhere in production.

To believe the disingenuous FBI agent, federal law enforcement officials acted immediately based solely on the information it had been provided by Laikin on how Durham used Fair Finance like a Ponzi scheme to bankroll his lifestyle. The reality was that complaints of whistle blowers alerting the SEC, the FBI, the Indianapolis U.S. Attorney's Office and the Ohio Securities Division to Durham's fraud had been ignored for years, allowing more innocent Ohio investors to be lured into investing their life savings in Fair Finance. When the feds finally moved after it was too late, the U.S. Attorney's Office withdrew a critical civil forfeiture action, allowing Durham's equally as corrupt enablers the time they needed to ensure those defrauded investors would never see a dime of their money.

And about the fellow from Indianapolis Monthly featured prominently in tonight's broadcast, the one who drooled all over Durham before his downfall. How much money did Durham spend entertaining you for writing those puff pieces about him? Aren't you the same guy who refused to speak to whistle blowers? Yeah, I thought so.

So the "Playboy of Indiana" was entertaining, part reality and part fiction, just like the news fed to us by the lamestream media. As long as it entertains while re-directing your attention from the real story, that's all that really counts.

New York's Long-Time House Speaker Arrested, Accused Of Taking Millions In Bribes Over A Decade

Sheldon Silver facing reporters following his arrest (New York Times/Sam Hodsgon Photo)
Manhattan federal prosecutors took New York's long-time Speaker of the House Sheldon Silver (D) into custody this morning to formally charge him with accepting millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for legislative favors over the past decade. According to federal prosecutors, Silver used his law practice to mask bribes paid to him as legitimate income earned as referral fees. From the New York Times:
 . . . “For many years, New Yorkers have asked the question — how could Speaker Silver, one of the most powerful men in all of New York, earn millions of dollars in outside income without deeply compromising his ability to honestly serve his constituents?” Mr. Bharara said at a news conference. “Today, we provide the answer: He didn’t.” 
Mr. Bharara said Mr. Silver had produced “a nice profit on being a public official.” He added, “Politicians are supposed to be on the people’s payroll, not on secret retainer to wealthy special interests they do favors for.” . . . 
“As alleged, Silver took advantage of the political pulpit to benefit from unlawful profits,” he said. “When all was said and done, he amassed nearly $4 million in illegitimate proceeds and arranged for approximately $500,000 in state funds to be used for projects that benefited his personal plans.” 
The criminal complaint outlining the charges accuses Mr. Silver of “using the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.” 
He is charged with honest services mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, extortion “under the color of law” — using his official position to commit extortion — and extortion conspiracy. 
The complaint maintains that for more than a decade, Mr. Silver devised a scheme “to induce real estate developers with business before the state” to use a real estate law firm controlled by a lawyer who had once worked as Mr. Silver’s counsel. That lawyer, according to the complaint, orchestrated payments to the speaker for referrals to the firm . . 
I'll let you in on a secret. This same practice has taken place in Indiana for decades; it's just that the corrupt politicians are lucky only political hacks are appointed as federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Indiana, who effectively insulate the ruling corrupt establishment from prosecution for their criminal transgressions.

Former Hawaii Governor Picked By Rauner To Be His Chief Operating Officer

Obama posing with former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle while both mockingly display the horns of Satan
For those of us who knew Obama presented a phony biographical narrative when he first ran for president in 2008, his Hawaiian home state's then-Republican governor, Linda Lingle, will never be forgiven for the key role she played in the cover up. She was a vocal critic of anyone who questioned Obama's biographical narrative despite overwhelming evidence that virtually his entire life story as described in his autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," had been concocted out of whole cloth by ghost writer and renowned terrorist Bill Ayers.

Lingle claimed her administration had confirmed a record in Hawaii's vital records documenting Obama's birth in Hawaii, although the state kept all of those records under lock and key and the short-form birth certificate produced by Obama was exposed as a bad forgery. In April 2010 after Donald Trump took up the so-called birther cause, Obama produced for the first time an alleged long-form birth certificate issued by the state. Document experts soon established that document was a forgery as well, and the state's Health Department officials, who answered to Lingle's successor, long-time Obama friend Gov. Neil Abercrombie, refused to document its authenticity, only saying there was a recording of his birth in the state's health records, which means little since Hawaii law, unlike other states, permitted parents to record births of children that had occurred outside the state. Later, Abercrombie's health director, Loretta Fuddy, the first non-physician to hold that post, turned up dead from a suspicious, soft plane crash landing on the water near the shore, which claimed her life while the pilot and every other passenger aboard the plane escaped with only minor or no injuries at all.

Lingle was Hawaii's first governor of Jewish ancestry, who served as Maui's mayor before her election as the state's first Republican governor in 2002, a post she held for two terms. The former St. Louis resident is now turning up in Chicago politics where she has been named as chief operating officer for the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner, a nominal Republican with very close ties to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), Obama's first White House chief of staff. Rauner, of course, was Emanuel's chief benefactor, helping him score a nearly $18 million fee on a business transaction he steered to a Chicago investment firm where Emanuel was employed for a mere 18 months between serving in the Clinton White House and succeeding Rod Blagojevich in the House of Representatives when Blavojevich gave up his congressional seat to become Illinois' governor. Emanuel scored the multi-million dollar investment banking fee despite having zero prior business experience prior to joining the investment firm. It looks like Rauner is now taking care of Lingle just like he did Emanuel for her role in paving the way for Barack Obama.