Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rand Paul Wins CPAC Presidential Straw Poll Again

Sen. Rand Paul was the choice of about 3,000 conservative activists in attendance at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. He led the field  in a straw poll of potential candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination with 25.7% followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who polled a close second at 21.4%. Sen. Ted Cruz was a distant third with 11.5%. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush got edged out by political novice Ben Carson for fourth place. Carson had 11.4% to Bush's 8.3%. All other potential candidates, including Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Mike Pence polled less than 5% of the vote.

First Circuit Court of Appeals Refuses To Move Boston Bombing Trial

Having long ago concluded that our own government was behind the staged bombings at the Boston Marathon in April 2013 as one of a long line of false flags perpetrated on the American people, I never really expected the only surviving person framed by the federal government as being responsible for the crime to get a fair trial. The federal trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been assigned to Judge George O'Toole, a Clinton appointee, in Boston's federal district court. If Tsarnaev is found guilty of the charges, he potentially faces the death penalty.

Judge O'Toole has on three separate occasions turned down a request by Tsarnaev's attorneys for a change of venue due to the obvious reason he can't get a fair trial in Boston. The First Circuit Court of Appeals for the second time yesterday sided with Judge O'Toole in denying a change of venue. Seriously, an Indianapolis judge grants the Richmond Hills subdivision explosion defendants a change of venue, a much smaller event in a major city, but the 24x7 media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings that resulted in a complete lockdown of the city while police conducted searches door-to-door for the accused without a warrant doesn't qualify for a change of venue? Please. The three-judge panel's decision was rendered by Chief Judge Sandra Lynch, a Wellesley classmate of Hillary Clinton who was appointed to the bench by Bill Clinton and Judge Jeffrey Howard, an appointee of George W. Bush.

In both decisions, Judge Juan Torruella, a Reagan appointee, has offered sharp dissenting opinions in which he makes the case for moving the case out of Boston. The following is a summation of the background facts Judge Torruella made in his dissenting opinion:
On April 15, 2013, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street in downtown Boston. Three people were killed and approximately 264 others were injured. Countless others ran from the scene in terror. Over the next four days, a massive manhunt for those responsible ensued. On the third day, April 18, authorities released video surveillance and photos of the suspects: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. That night, while the brothers were trying to flee Boston, they allegedly carjacked an SUV and killed an MIT police officer. In a subsequent shootout with police, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was seriously injured. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (hereinafter, "Tsarnaev") was able to temporarily escape, in part by allegedly driving over his brother.
Finally, on April 19, the search had narrowed to the Boston suburb of Watertown. In an unprecedented move, authorities called for a "shelter-in-place" advisory, effectively placing the city in lockdown: residents in Watertown and the surrounding areas -- Boston proper, Cambridge, Newton, Belmont, and Waltham -- were ordered not to leave their homes. The T (Boston's public transportation system) was shut down, as were most businesses and public offices. While residents were confined to their homes, FBI agents, local police officers, and SWAT team members went door-todoor in a twenty-block radius of Watertown searching for Tsarnaev. Hours later, he was found hiding in a boat in a resident's backyard. Tsarnaev was bloodied from a firefight with authorities and had written a note on the boat claiming that "[w]hen you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims" and that the Marathon victims were collateral damage. Immediately upon his arrest, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino tweeted "We got him"; the Boston Police Department tweeted "CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won." Meanwhile, Watertown residents "flooded the streets, cheering every passing police car and armored vehicle in an impromptu parade" and residents "danced in the streets outside Fenway Park.  
Most -- if not all -- of this four-day ordeal was shown live on television and reported real-time on the internet . . .  
The reporting focused not only on Tsarnaev, but on the city as a whole. Coverage included stories of the victims and their family and friends, those who bravely risked their lives to help the victims, and how the entire community came together. This phenomenon and sentiment were embodied in the "Boston Strong" campaign which "rallied a city," became "shorthand for defiance, solidarity, and caring," and "present[ed] a unified front in the face of [a] threat." Indeed, one could not go anywhere in Boston in the bombing's aftermath without seeing the slogan on a car, tshirt, bracelet, tattoo, or even mowed into the outfield of Fenway Park. It spurred concerts, fundraisers, and rallies throughout the city. A website,, was also formed "with the purpose of helping those most affected by the tragic Boston Marathon bombings" by raising money and providing a forum to "gather[] encouraging stories of strength, recovery, and hope from survivors."
These stories and the "Boston Strong" campaign continue to this day, almost two years later . . . 
Unfortunately, Judge Torruella botched the facts. He asserts Tsarnaev was bloodied from a firefight with authorities when he was found hiding in a boat in a resident's backyard. That is the false narrative initially put out by the government. In fact, Tsarnaev was unarmed at the time and was unable to return any fire as authorities repeatedly fired on him and launched flash bangs into the boat. The story about him writing a note in his own blood on the side of the boat has always been suspect to anyone with a modicum of discernment. Dzhokhar was likely not intended to survive his injuries to face a trial like his brother, who turned up dead after a supposed shootout with police despite video evidence he was captured by police alive, forced to strip naked, handcuffed and put in the back of a police car. The brothers' friends have been threatened and prosecuted by federal agents on trumped up charges or kicked out of the country to prevent them from testifying at Tsarnaev's trial. In the case of one friend, Ibragim Todashev, he was executed by an FBI agent during an unlawful interrogation that ran on for hours without the presence of his attorney while federal agents were trying to coerce his confession for participating in an unrelated triple homicide with the Tsarnaev brothers, a case federal agents now admit they have no evidence tying Todashev or the Tsarnaev brothers.

Judge Torruella next went to great length to demonstrate just how badly the jury pool had been tainted, enumerating a number of the many biased statements made by the jurors while answering questions to the court. Among those were the following:
  • "[H]ow could I possibly find the defendant not guilty with all the news information. I have trouble accepting him getting housing & living assistance from the state of MA, education without paying, taking the oath of citizenship and then committing crimes against innocent everyday people who are also citizens of USA. Not to mention taxpayers['] $$$" 
  • "He does not deserve a trial." 
  • "Caught redhanded should not waste the $ on the trial." 
  • "[T]hey shouldn't waste the bulits [sic] or poison; hang them." 
  • "[W]e all know he's guilty so quit wasting everybody's time with a jury and string him up."
  • "You don't [sic] want to know [what I thought when I received my summons]! I have close friends that work the emergency room at MA General! What I really thought? We give you home, money eduat [sic] & this is how you pay us back? I'm sorry I'm all for the death penity [sic] on this -- my friends still have nightmare [sic] of that day!" " 
  • "My husband and I watched the events on TV [live], including lockdown and capture -- it was very upsetting, traumatizing, made you feel not safe in your own 'back yard.'"
Bear in mind that any potential juror who stated in their jury questionnaire they don't believe in the death penalty is summarily dismissed from the pool of potential jurors so the pool of jurors is limited to those persons who believe in the death penalty as a form of criminal punishment. That gives the prosecution a big advantage right out of the starting gate, let only the influence the jury pool already had from the saturated media coverage pointing to Tsarnaev's guilt. If you doubt the media bias, check out this YouTube clip of journalists in Boston recently discussing Tsarnaev's trial wherein they debate whether the media should even put on a facade of partiality respecting Tsarnaev's presumed innocence until proven guilty.
Judge Torruella sums up why Tsarnaev cannot get a fair trial in Boston and what that portends for the American judicial system.
The press coverage of this case -- beginning with the bombing itself and the subsequent manhunt culminating with the shelter-in-place order, continuing thereafter with stories of the victims, Boston's coming together and healing as one united city, and the coverage of the pretrial events -- is unparalleled in American legal history. Given the impact of the bombing and subsequent press coverage on the entire city, it is absurd to suggest that Tsarnaev will receive a fair and impartial trial in the Eastern Division of the District of Massachusetts. There is no sound basis for refusing to apply a presumption of prejudice to a high-profile, omnipresent, emotionally-charged case like this -- particularly where the entire Boston community has been terrorized, victimized, and brutalized by such a horrendous act of violence. No amount of voir dire can overcome this pervasive prejudice, no matter how carefully it is conducted.
The whole world is watching to see how the American legal system treats Tsarnaev, even if he is allegedly the most dreadful of defendants. Every move taken is scrutinized to see if the bedrock American rights of "innocent until proven guilty" and the "right to a fair trial by an impartial jury" are given to a foreign-born defendant accused of terrorism -- among the most heinous of crimes. Unfortunately, both the district court and majority fail to uphold these rights, and this failure damages the credibility of the American judicial system.
A lot of people scoff at the notion that these events are planned out in advance for the specific purpose of convincing Americans to submit to a form of government absent the founding principles embodied in the Bill of Rights for the sake of national security. Seth MacFarlane's "Family Guy" seems to rub in our faces too often what is taking place in plain sight. I think Betsy McGee's YouTube video explaining how his animated cartoon is used as a form of predictive programming is hard to ignore, particularly the episode which ran less than a month prior to the Boston Marathon bombings that accurately predicted every key element of that false flag event--right down to the accused Muslim terrorist who befriends Peter Griffin getting a fair trial after he's captured by authorities. Listen closely as Peter asks his friend, Joe, the wheel chair-bound police officer, whether he will get a fair trial.

By the way, the Family Guy also predicted in 2009 Bruce Jenner's sex change. Don't miss Peter Griffin's line at the end of the clip telling American soldiers not to forget what they're all fighting for.

Pence Tells CPAC We Need Dramatic Increase In Defense Spending

Addressing the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington last night, Pence told the crowd we need to dramatically increase defense spending according to our Gannett newspaper's Washington correspondent. "Weakness arouses evil," Pence said. Other memes included: "put[ting] the promise of federalism and state-based reform back at the center of the conservative agenda . . . empower[ing] the states with renewed flexibility to develop positive, substantive alternatives grounded in our conservative principles . . . and fight[ing] to make it more possible for the next person leading my state to govern with more freedom and flexibility."

Only a tool of the military/industrial complex would be calling for a dramatic increase in defense spending after we've just spent trillions of dollars on wars in the Middle East totally concocted by the most evil forces brought about by our nation's massive spending on defense following 9/11. You can't embrace freedom in the same breath as you claim you want more spending on the very industries that are holding hands to erect the largest, most intrusive military-run government known to mankind that is squeezing the life out of the middle class of this country, and that is setting fire to what little remains of the Bill of Rights. And what does Pence want more freedom and flexibility as a governor to do? The ability to take more of our tax dollars and direct them to his political cronies and campaign contributors. No thanks, Mr. Pence. You don't know the meaning of conservatism.

Check out Ben Swann's latest video on the origins of ISIS, the latest faux enemy created by this military/industrial complex Gov. Pence wants to feed more of our tax dollars as the American middle class teeters on extinction.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Chief Hite Does About Face On Detective's Work On Cold Case

Yesterday, news emerged that IMPD brass yanked Sgt. William Carter from work on the cold case murder investigation of Carmen Van Huss in 1993 after it learned he set up a page to raise money for a DNA test the department said there was no money to pay. Within hours, enough money had been raised to pay for the test, but Chief Rick Hite yanked him off the case. That news angered the family of Van Huss. "He said (the order) came from his chief," said Jimmy Van Huss, who was 15 when his sister was killed. "If Carter's off the case, the case is over. She's been dead for 22 years."

By this evening, Chief Hite was singing a different tune at a hastily called press conference. "Sometimes people assume things they hear," Hite was quoted by the Indianapolis Star as saying. "I can tell you that the (deputy) chief never brought that to my attention, that he wanted to remove anyone." The Star continued, "But Hite said Friday that he did not know why the family believed that Carter had been pulled off their relative's investigation." "Pressed further, Hite said Carter may have been told to 'temporarily' cease investigating while officials came together 'to talk about where we are in the investigation.'"

Sgt. Carter typically works on the Nuisance ad Abatement Unit, but he's been volunteering time working on cold case investigations since 2013. IMPD told the Star and other media yesterday that Carter had been pulled from the case after he set up the Gofundme page to pay for the DNA test, and that the case had been reassigned to Sgt. Dave Ellison. "When asked whether Carter was still being allowed to work on the case," Maj. Chris Bailey told the Star, "He probably shouldn't be. It should be a case for the investigator." "We just want to make sure that people stay in their lanes," Bailey said. "We have cold case investigators, and we want to let them do their job."

Speaking of people staying in their lanes, Advance Indiana heard an interesting tale about that certain high-ranking police officer having another affair with a female police officer--the same one involved in the cover up of that captain who allegedly impersonated another police officer after a citizen spotted him driving his police car erratically down the street while under the influence of alcohol. It seems the lady officer had to leave the superior officer's home on short notice when word came the wife was on the way home. Backing out of the drive, the officer struck an object and tore the side mirror off her police car. Advance Indiana is told the incident was reported by the officer as a hit-and-run by a car traveling in the opposite direction. A crash scene investigator was a bit perplexed given his conclusion the mirror was struck from the opposite direction. Whoops.

Rahm's Re-Election Nightmare: Chicago's Bond Rating Lowered Just Two Clicks Above Junk Bond Status

This cannot be good news as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces a run-off election with Cook Co. Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia on April 7. Moody's Investor Service downgraded the city's bond rating to Baa2 with a negative outlook because of the city's inability to rein in the soaring cost of its workers' pensions. Emanuel's office is pointing to the fact that two other rating agencies, Standards & Poor and Fitch, affirmed the city's credit rating; however, S&P warned it still might lower its rating more than one notch. Some recent pension reforms undertaken by the city face legal challenges in the court, and the credit agency is weary of more than $550 million in additional pension payments the city will be forced to make starting in 2016. His opponent quickly seized on the news as evidence of his "lack of fiscal stewardship."

Former State Senator Sue Landske Dies

Just saw this note from Suzy Barnhart on Facebook on the passing of former State Sen. Sue Landske (R-Cedar Lake):
It's been a very sad morning to learn of the home going of former Sen Sue Landske. She was kind, helpful yet strong, smart and a TRUE public servant. Her home community of Cedar Lake had a nice, well attended Appreciation Dinner for her last year attended by Republicans and Democrats alike. 
She was a good political friend to my son & I early on. In the years my son paged for Sen Brandt Hershman, she would come & ask how I was doing. She would then pull a Indiana flag pin out and place it on his shirt or suit jacket. 
Many visits at the State House I would bring her a jar of my homemade jam and we would sit in her office and talk politics for a little bit. It became a tradition of ours. Her favorite was my homemade strawberry or pear honey jam. I don't know if I looked forward to the visit more or if she looked forward to my homemade jam more. 
She will be sorely missed!
The Northwest Indiana Times has more here.

Missouri State Auditor, Gubernatorial Candidate Takes Life

Schweich and home
The Missouri 2016 Republican gubernatorial race took a sad twist when the leading candidate, State Auditor Tom Schweich, took his own life yesterday by self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Schweich had called reporters for the Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to come to a press conference at his home in Clayton, Missouri yesterday morning shortly before he took his life. Schweich, a highly-regarded politician known for fighting corruption, was reported to be upset about a Republican political consultant and incoming state GOP leader raising his Jewish ancestry in a way he viewed as anti-Semitic and planned to address that issue at the afternoon press conference with the two reporters. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“What we know at this point suggests an apparent suicide,” Clayton Police Chief Kevin Murphy told reporters in a news conference Thursday afternoon. He said there was “nothing to support anything other than that at this point,” and said Schweich died from a single gunshot wound . . .
Earlier in the day, a police source told the Post-Dispatch that Schweich’s wife was in another room of their house when she heard her husband making phone calls, followed by a gunshot. Schweich had been shot in the head, the source said.
A 911 call was made from Schweich’s home at 9:48 a.m., seven minutes after Schweich had left a voicemail requesting an interview with a Post-Dispatch reporter.
Schweich was taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital where he was pronounced dead, Murphy said.
Schweich, 54, had a cadre of mentors and supporters in his gubernatorial run that included former U.S. Sens. John Danforth and Jim Talent, both Missouri Republicans, and friend and wealthy campaign contributor Sam Fox, the former U.S. ambassador to Belgium. “I was never so surprised in my entire life to find out this happened,” Fox told the Post-Dispatch Thursday. “This guy was brilliant. This guy was unique. He had so much talent.”
Fox said he had scheduled a fundraiser at his house for Schweich. “He was raising money,” Fox said. “The money was pouring in.”
He said Schweich had not expressed any signs of personal or professional turmoil.
“None whatsoever,” Fox said. “Not to me nor to any friends that I’m aware.” . . . 
On Tuesday morning, Schweich confided in Post-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor Tony Messenger that he believed that John Hancock, the newly elected chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, had spread disinformation about Schweich’s religion. That topic was what Schweich wanted to discuss with reporters for the Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press Thursday.
In several conversations via text and phone in the days leading up to Thursday morning, Schweich told Messenger that Hancock mentioned to people in passing that Schweich was Jewish. Schweich wasn’t Jewish. He was a member of the Church of St. Michael & St. George, an Episcopal congregation in Clayton.
Schweich told Messenger he believed the mentions of his faith heritage were intended to harm him politically in a gubernatorial primary in which many Republican voters are evangelical Christians. He said his grandfather was Jewish, and that he was “very proud of his connection to the Jewish faith.”
“He said his grandfather taught him to never allow any anti-Semitism go unpunished, no matter how slight,” Messenger said in a written statement . . . 

Fort Wayne Mayoral Candidate Mitch Harper Cites Overly-Generous Tax Abatement For School Funding Woes

It's refreshing to hear more straight talk from a politician about why some of our schools are really struggling to pay for the cost of educating our state's children. Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Mitch Harper says tax abatements have contributed to the problem in spite of a reporter for a local TV station insisting that property tax caps are to blame.
This all stems from the state constitutional amendment that put a cap on the property taxes you pay.
Republican city councilman and Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Mitch Harper says the city and county have been so eager to attract businesses that they've granted too many tax abatements.
That means those properties can't be taxed, which means less available money for schools.
"We're rapidly approaching in Allen County in terms of tax abatements nearly a half billion dollars' worth of assessed valuation that's not being made available for assessed valuation," Harper says.
He says his mayoral campaign will include putting more controls in place for new tax abatements.
"One of the great victories we've had over the past year is actually being a little more vigorous in auditing that companies that have applied for tax abatements in the past have carried out what they've said they were going to do," he says.
The reporter also talks about legislation being offered by State Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne), which would allow Fort Wayne schools to tap TIF funds to help pay for school transportation costs. "One of freshman Republican State Senator Liz Brown's bills would provide additional funding for Fort Wayne Community School bus service, " the report says. "The money would come from property taxes collected in certain economic development areas called TIF districts." "Brown says she knows it's not a perfect solution, and hopes new legislation next session could provide a more permanent revenue source for schools."

High-Flying Illinois Congressman's Days Numbered

Aaron Schock is pictured. | Getty
This Aaron Schock character from Peoria, Illinois has demonstrated to me the corrupting influence of our nation's capital embracing the Kardashian Culture. The attractive and buff 33-year old congressman had become the darling of the Washington media, which found any excuse to show us pictures of the well-dressed politician who seems to have always been more about form over substance, including shirtless pictures to show us just how buff and beautiful he is. After building up the show horse into mega celebrity status, the powers that be have now decided to throw him under the bus. It began with a report about him lavishly decorating his Capitol Hill office inspired by the "Downton Abbey" British television series, which led to an ethics complaint being filed against him.

That was followed by an Associated Press report questioning hundreds of thousands of dollars on questionable expenses he made using his congressional budget and campaign account for travel and entertainment charges. The AP pieced together Schock's travel itinerary by tracking the frequent Instagram photos he uploaded to the Internet to keep his fans and followers up to do date on his globetrotting. There was a lot of flights on private planes of corporate donors, concert tickets for him and his staff to a Katy Perry concert and even a large tab at a massage parlor. Whoa!

Today, Politico reports that Schock, who is single, took one of his male congressional staffers rumored to be more than that along with him on a trip to London in 2011 that included stops at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and a swank nightclub but failed to report any gifts on his financial disclosure form. Schock supposedly made the trip as the guest of a friend who was invited by the Prince of Wales Foundation to attend several elaborate dinners in London, including dinner with Prince Charles and Camilla. Guests received customized china as a gift at the end of the affair. Congressmen supposedly aren't allowed to accept gifts valued at more than $50, including food and beverage. The Prince of Wales Foundation head declined to say who invited Schock to come along to the ritzy affair as a guest. Last September, he hosted a fundraiser at a private golf course in Maryland owned by a wealthy political supporter but never reported any expenses for hosting the fundraiser. The fundraiser raised $125,000. The owner of the golf course is William Stone, who owns SS&C, a computer software company. Stone contributed $50,000 to Schock's PAC shortly after the fundraiser.

Schock has reportedly hired two high-profile attorneys in Washington to conduct an internal investigation of his office expenditures and campaign expenditures, as well as defend him in a potential ethics investigation. So how is it playing in Peoria where Schock has been very popular? If the local newspaper is any indication, not good. The stories have been front-page fodder as of late. A story in today's Peoria Journal-Star talks about him being mentioned on the Daily Show but not in a good way. I have a feeling this guy isn't going to survive his two-year term to which he just go re-elected last fall. The best defense Schrock can muster up, "Haters are going to hate." Yeah, gotcha.

UPDATE: More bad news for Schock. The AP reports Schock reimbursed the government $40,000 for re-decorating costs for his Capitol Hill office. Actually, his interior designer, Annie Brahler of EuroTrash, reimbursed the government for fees she had already been paid as of December 31, 2014, and Schock repaid her out of his persona account. Schock's office originally told reporters the designer had donated the services for free.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ballard Giving Away City Hall To Private Developer

The Indianapolis Star is giddy today because your precious public assets are once again being gifted by our generous mayor to a private developer. This time it's our treasured former City Hall, one of the finest and best built buildings in the City of Indianapolis that is currently sitting vacant. Rather than use it for the governmental purpose as it was intended, Mayor Greg Ballard would rather just give it away to a private developer for use as a boutique hotel.
A sleek, new boutique hotel, rising eight to 10 stories with about 150 rooms, will be built on a parking lot north of the old City Hall on Alabama Street as part of a multimillion-dollar redevelopment. 
The old City Hall will serve as hotel lobby and public art gallery, said Adam Thies, director of the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development. It also could house several arts and community groups, although no agreements have been signed. 
"We really are interested in this project becoming a symbol for Indianapolis as an arts and culture hub," Thies said.
The most important information from the standpoint of taxpayers is missing from the story: How much will it cost us?
The city will continue to own the old City Hall and will provide the building under a long-term lease to the hotel developer, a small specialty chain called 21c Museum Hotels LLC, based in Louisville, Ky. 
Thies declined to say Wednesday how much will be spent on the project. Nor did he say what kind of incentives the city, state and federal governments plan to give 21c, saying that information would be released Thursday. 
Stephanie Greene, a spokeswoman for 21c, declined Wednesday to give details or even confirm the project, referring questions to city officials. "The mayor's office is handing this," she said.
Yes, the mayor's office handles all development in the City of Indianapolis these days it seems. You can bet the terms of the deal aren't favorable to taxpayers; otherwise, why hold back the most important details--at least if you care about taxpayers?

UPDATE: The Star's John Russell has a new story online, "Big splash, big price tag for old City Hall project," It says half the $55 million cost will come from a mix of government support, including a $9 million loan from the city backstopped by the downtown TIF slush fund. The terms of the long-term lease of the old City Hall building aren't disclosed in the story, presumably because the developer will pay a nominal fee of like $1 a year. There's also no mention of the price tag for the extremely valuable city-owned surface lot on which the new hotel will be constructed at the corner of Alabama and New York Streets, presumably because the City will simply donate the land to the out-of-town developer. The feds are providing a loan of $9 million, while the project will qualify for $4 million in federal tax credits. The Central Indiana Community Foundation will kick in a donation to the project as well. Nice use of charitable contributions, eh? I'm in the wrong business. I need to get a gig where the government just passes out tens of millions of dollars to me to play real estate developer.

Our buffoon of a mayor believes landing this hotel by giving away the store again means our city is "prepared to compete on a global stage for talent."

Billboard Lobbyist Bankrolling And Running City-County Council Committee Chairman's Campaign

The stench at the City-County Building is competing with the sewer gases emanating from the State House dome these days. We already knew that lobbyists for the billboard industry had started flooding key members of the City-County Council with campaign contributions over the past year as they set about to turn the zoning process on its head by having the council to approve a zoning ordinance allowing for digital billboards to send to the Metropolitan Development Commission with instructions to approve, but it's much worse than that.

As Advance Indiana exclusively reported, a lobbyist for the billboard industry, Carl Drummer, was allowed to appoint a bunch of mummy dummy precinct committeemen shortly before the Democratic slating convention held earlier this month to outvote the elected precinct committeemen in District 1 who supported the re-election of their long-time council member, Angela Mansfield, and win the party's backing as its slated candidate in District 1. LeRoy Robinson, an at-large member of the City-County Council, moved from the home on which he's claimed a homestead exemption since he purchased it more than a decade ago, to an apartment in Washington Township simply to run against Mansfield in the Democratic primary. Robinson is the chairman of the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee which is hearing the controversial billboard ordinance.

Fellow blogger Pat Andrews reports that Robinson held a fundraiser for his campaign the day after he released the agenda for his committee's November 17 meeting, the first time Proposal 250 appeared on the committee's agenda for consideration. About a third of the tens of thousands of dollars the billboard lobbyists plowed into councilors' campaign committees went to Robinson. Andrews notes that Proposal 250 languished for more than three months before it was placed on the committee's agenda in violation of council rules.

Andrews further reports a recent change in Robinson's campaign committee. He filed a statement of organization on January 20, 2015, which was executed on January 7, 2015 naming Greg Hahn of Bose Public Affairs Group as his committee's treasurer. Hahn, of course, is one of the key lobbyists hired by the billboard industry to pass Proposal 250. "That's right - a billboard lobbyist doing business before the Council committee that Robinson Chairs - is now the keeper of Robinson's campaign cash," Andrews writes. "Hahn is kind of a one-man band - donating, throwing fundraisers, and now logging the checks." Hahn, along with Ice Miller's Lacy Johnson, hold sway over the Marion County Democratic Party and were instrumental I'm told in the decision to recruit Robinson to move into Mansfield's District 1 in order to take her out because of her independent streak on issues, including her opposition to digital billboards and the criminal justice center project, two matters for which Hahn and Johnson are lobbying.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Retired Barnes & Thornburg Partner Unloads On Indy Eleven Soccer Stadium Deal And Former Colleagues

Tom Huston
When an Advance Indiana reader forwarded to me a column Tom Huston penned over at Indiana Policy Review's blog, I had to do a double take. Huston's scathing critique of legislation authored by his nephew, State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), to force taxpayers to finance a nearly $90 million, 18,500-seat soccer stadium for Ersal Ozdemir's Indy Eleven minor league soccer team could have been written by me, but I assure you I had no part in authoring it. Huston, a retired Barnes & Thornburg partner whose practice area focused on real estate development, had particularly harsh words for his former colleagues' role in aiding the passage of HB 1273.

State Rep. Todd Huston
Huston opens his column by telling readers not to "believe a thing you are told by its proponents or their mouthpieces at the Indianapolis Star." "They are in a Putin frame of mind, and if you are inclined to believe that the Legislature has the slightest interest in protecting taxpayers from the rapacious grip of Ersal Ozdemir and his fellow schemers, you have lost contact with reality," he writes. And that's just for starts.

Huston doesn't mince words in describing the amendment authored by his former colleague at Barnes & Thornburg, State Rep. Ed DeLaney, which DeLaney claimed would put Ozdemir on the hook for half of the debt. Huston's analysis of the DeLaney amendment mirrors mine. "Actually, his proposal won’t do any such thing since there it incorporates no requirement that the guarantor possess assets of a minimum amount," Huston said. "Unfortunately, DeLaney has spent his legal career as a litigator, and he doesn’t understand the fine art of theft through public-private deal-making." Ouch! "As to these statements, I simply blanch in embarrassment for my friend and former law partner: DeLaney said he didn’t ask for a 100 percent guarantee because he wanted a 'fair and measured approach' . . . DeLaney is oblivious to the reality that the only obligor/guarantor who is going to be of interest to buyers of bonds issued to finance the stadium is the deep-pocketed Capital Improvements Board," Huston said. "Any guaranty from others will be simply window-dressing for boobs."

Huston isn't buying assurances from the stadium's proponents of transparency in financing the stadium and then takes aim at Indianapolis' mayor: "Mayor Greg Ballard has refused to turn over documentation relating to either the special operations center lease or the financing structure for the proposed criminal justice center (both multi-million dollar deals) and has conducted as much of the public business in secret as his handlers thought he could get away with." Huston continues, "I am undecided whether those pushing this scheme are in on the action or are simply reading from a script prepared by the lobbyists (which, incidentally, include every major lobbying outfit in Indianapolis)." That team of lobbyists hired by Ozdemir includes some of his former partners at Barnes & Thornburg. Huston also includes some specific, spot-on analysis of the tax-shifting implications of the expanded downtown TIF and the creation of a new White River Revitalization District to sweeten the pot.

In concluding remarks, Huston say, "It is certainly true that the measure before the House is merely 'enabling' legislation: it will enable Ozdemir and his cronies to continue the rape of taxpayers that Mayor Ballard has enabled over the past seven years and which, apparently, the new Democratic administration of Joe Hogsett intends to also facilitate." He continued, "Millions of dollars in fees and commissions will continue to flow to favored law firms and their engineering and construction company clients. In the meantime, the legislators who expedite this fraud upon the public will continue to profess their commitment to free-market principles." He closes, "Lady Liberty weeps." I couldn't have said it better myself.
Ersal Ozdemir (Indianapolis Star/Danese Kenon Photo)

House Speaker Reveals For First Time He's On Ersal Ozdemir's Payroll As Well

Well just how many state lawmakers are on Ersal Ozdemir's payroll? Advance Indiana exclusively reported to you that State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) has been on Ersal Ozdemir's payroll as his attorney of record in contentious litigation Ozdemir is engaged with a former business partner, Jason Ellis, who alleges Ozdemir defrauded him out of his 20% interest in his construction and real estate development business. Despite that conflict of interest, Rep. Steuerwald supported and voted for legislation authorizing the public financing of a new stadium for Ozdemir's Indy Eleven minor league soccer stadium when it came for a vote before the House last year. Steuerwald reversed course and abstained when the legislation came before the House this year following Advance Indiana's report of his conflict of interest. Even more disturbing is a very cavalier disclosure today by House Speaker Brian Bosma that he too has performed legal work for Ozdemir, prompting him to join Steuerwald in abstaining from a vote on the passage of HB 1273.

The troubling disclosure of Bosma's conflict of interest is tucked away in an online story on the Indianapolis Star's website concerning the passage of HB 1273 on a 73-21 vote this afternoon. "House speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, did not vote on the bill Wednesday, the Star's Mark Alesia and Tony Cook report. "He disclosed after the vote that he had done legal work for the Indy Eleven and has remained neutral." "That work involved trademarks and contract negotiations." "I don't have an (ownership) interest in it," Bosma said. "Honestly, I'm just trying to set the example for others and felt it was appropriate for me to file a letter (with the House ethics committee) and be excused."

He's remained neutral? Hah. This man controls the calendar and all bills heard in committee and called up for vote on the floor. His unilateral action can block a bill from being heard at any point along the way. By not disclosing at the beginning of the legislative session his conflict of interest, he has opened himself up to a heap of criticism that he has helped engineer passage of this bill for his client. This is even more troubling if the legal work he performed for Ozdemir occurred prior to consideration of last year's legislation. More interesting is the fact that Bosma's practice area at his law firm does not traditionally include trademark work. According to the firm's website, Bosma describes his practice area as follows:
With an extensive background in engineering, business, law and government, Mr. Bosma’s practice is concentrated in the areas of complex business and municipal transactions, municipal finance and environmental matters. He chairs the Government Practice Group of Kroger Gardis & Regas, and serves as general or special counsel to dozens of municipalities and business entities throughout the State of Indiana. 
An engineering graduate of Purdue University, Mr. Bosma represents both public and private sector clients in real estate and construction projects, public sector joint ventures and Brownfield redevelopment. He has served as lead counsel for more than fifty public and economic development projects ranging from small facilities to major public private utility projects. He is nationally recognized bond counsel and an active member of the Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association and the National Association of Bond Lawyers.
His government-related work alone raises all sorts of red flags since he has rarely disclosed a conflict of interest in participating on any matters before the General Assembly. Unlike Steuerwald, Bosma did not actually abstain from the vote; rather, he simply didn't vote on HB 1273. Steuerwald actually stood and requested permission to abstain from voting ahead of the vote, whereupon he was instructed to state the reason in writing for his abstention. Is there any wonder why those of us on the outside looking in see nothing but a public auction taking place over at the State House where financial benefits to lawmakers are regularly traded for favorable consideration of legislation before the General Assembly?

Last month, federal prosecutors in New York indicted the Empire State's long-time Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, on multiple public corruption charges accusing him of accepting legal referral fees from clients with matters pending before the state legislature in exchange for favorable legislative consideration. Silver was accused of failing to disclose the sources of his income on state ethics statements. Indiana's weak ethics laws do not require lawmaker attorneys to disclose clients with matters pending before the legislature. In fact, both Bosma's and Steuerwald's financial disclosure statements claim attorney-client privilege and the rules of professional conduct governing attorney conduct prohibits them from making such disclosures.

UPDATE: A vote yesterday was also taken on HB 1540, the big gaming bill all of the high-powered gaming lobbyists have been working the hallways hard this session to pass. It allows riverboat casinos to become land-based casinos, and it allows live dealers at the state's two racinos at the horse race tracks in Anderson and Shelbyville, effectively turning them from the "slots at the tracks" to full-blown casinos. The recorded roll call vote shows that only one lawmaker present did not participate in the vote. That lawmaker was Mr. Speaker. Does that mean Speaker Bosma is also doing legal work for the powerful gaming interests? The public has the right to know. I understand the Speaker often doesn't vote in Indiana, which I've always found a bit odd, but if the Speaker doesn't explain his non-participation, how would the public know whether he was not voting because he's the presiding officer or because of a conflict of interest. When are the useless State House reporters going to actually start doing their jobs and reporting on the rampant corruption taking place under their noses?

House Foolishly Votes 73-21 To Pass Indy Eleven Soccer Stadium Deal

The House of Representatives just voted 73 to 21 with virtually no debate to pass the Indy Eleven soccer stadium legislation that will force state and local taxpayers to subsidize a nearly $90 million, 18,500-seat stadium for a minor league soccer team owned by a shadowy Turkish immigrant about whom little is known other than he seems to have bucket loads of money to lavish on politicians to extract public financing for his private business endeavors to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. That's an even larger margin than it passed last year, proving just how thoroughly corrupt your state lawmakers have become.

Only State Rep. John Bartlett took to the floor to speak in opposition to the legislation, noting that Indianapolis is the 9th poorest major city in America with many unmet needs that should have a higher priority than another sports stadium.

Our corrupt mayor, Greg Ballard, visited the State House today for the first time this session to personally lobby on behalf of Ozdemir. Obviously, the Carmel resident is Ballard's master, not the city of the people he supposedly represents.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) again recused himself from participating in the vote--only because Advance Indiana exclusively reported he's been on Ozdemir's payroll for the past few years representing him in contentious litigation with his former business partner. The only hope lies in the Senate, where Senate President David Long says the legislation is not a priority.

Top State Department Official Busted For Soliciting Sex With A Minor

Daniel Rosen speaks at a 2012 terrorism review event. The 45-year-old was arrested Tuesday, accused of attempting to solicit sex from a minor.
Fairfax County Police arrested a top State Department official yesterday at his suburban Virginia home on charges of soliciting sex with a minor. Daniel Rosen, 44, a director of the Department's counter-terrorism programs and policy, was arrested and taken to a D.C. jail on Tuesday night. Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Fox News late Tuesday, "We are aware that a State Department employee has been arrested and charges have been issued. "For issues related to Department personnel and for privacy reasons, we are not able to confirm the identity of the individual or specific charges. "His security clearance will be suspended and he will be put on administrative leave while this proceeds to its end through any judicial process. We are following standard procedure in this case."

Shocker: Tully Abandons Support For Indy Eleven Soccer Stadium

In a rather unexpected turn of events, Ersal Ozdemir lost one of his biggest supporters of a publicly-financed soccer stadium for his Indy Eleven minor league soccer team. Last year, Indianapolis Star political columnist Matt Tully was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon when Ozdemir's team of powerful lobbyists hit the State House hallways pushing for a nearly $90 million stadium before the team has played its first game. A couple of weeks ago, Tully penned another column supporting the plan, although he conceded his support for the stadium deal last year was a bit premature, a fact he blamed on the drugs he was taking for a recent injury he had suffered. Today, he does the unlikely. He did an about face and pulled his support for it, now admitting the sales pitch of Ozdemir's lobbyists doesn't add up.

Tully pinpoints the moment he pulled his support for the plan when the bill's sponsor, Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), asked members of the House Ways & Means Committee to adopt an amendment to the bill adding revenues generated by an unrelated hotel being developed by Ozdemir in downtown Indianapolis to the mix of revenues that would be relied upon for the stadium's financing. "That development in the stadium debate was troublesome both because it threatens tax revenue that could fund other projects and needs, and because it contradicts the long-stated promise of stadium backers that only those who use the stadium would pay taxes on it," Tully writes. "If you don't go, you won't pay a penny. Or so went the sales pitch."

Tully also offers other reasons for his newfound skepticism, all points raised by this blog. He says the idea of requiring the team's owner to back part of the financial debt sounds great, but he concludes as I do that if the revenues relied upon prove insufficient, the taxpayers could still be on the hook if the team goes under like the last minor league soccer team. Like me, he finds something wrong with the fact that a lawmaker from Fishers whose constituents aren't shouldering financial responsibility for the stadium is the bill's lead sponsor. He also now concedes that relying on the team's first-year attendance figures is likely not a good idea. A wait and see approach might be a better idea. He said that view was bolstered when the team's leaders argued to the Star's editorial board that a new stadium was critical to sustaining the team's popularity. If the team's support is here to stay, Tully doesn't think its support should rest on having "a larger and glitzier stadium." Even better, Tully thinks other options should be considered, such as improvements to Carroll Stadium where the team is now playing, which would cost much less.

"So, yes, I'm officially off the new stadium bandwagon," Tully writes. "For now. It's taken me a long time to get here, but, to quote a friend who used to work in the mayor's office," something just doesn't seem right about this plan." It doesn't really matter how he arrived at that opinion. It's just refreshing to read a column he's written upon which we agree.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rahm Denied, Faces Runoff Election

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (Credit: CBS)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's more than $30 million campaign war chest wasn't enough to vanquish a crowded field of candidates in today's primary election to avoid a runoff election with his nearest opponent. Emanuel was held to a little more than 45% of the vote with more than 80% of the ballots counted. The shape-shifting reptilian will face Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, a Cook County Commissioner, in the runoff election. Garcia captured about 34% of the vote in the five-man field of candidates in a near-record low turnout election.

Indy Eleven Publicly-Financed Stadium Gets Worse, House Ethics Committee Chairman Abstains Following Advance Indiana Disclosure Of Conflict

The Indiana House of Representatives is doubling down on its efforts to totally screw over state and local taxpayers to publicly-finance a new soccer stadium for the shadowy Turkish immigrant who owns the Indy Eleven minor league soccer team, who by all appearances has bought off corrupt members of the Indiana legislature lock, stock and barrel with his team of high-powered lobbyists. The House approved an amendment to HB 1273 sponsored by Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers) that further exposes public liability for the riverboat gamble the massive $90 million investment in a new stadium for a little-tested professional sports franchise represents.

Huston's amendment adopted on a second reading would create a new White River Revitalization District, which would encompass the former GM Stamping Plant site where corrupt Ballard administration officials are pushing to redevelop the land for the new privately-built Marion County Criminal Justice Center and a new outdoor concert venue promoted by Dave Lucas, one of those 15 people the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star told us to watch in 2015--obviously having advanced pre-approved knowledge of the massive taxpayer heist planned for this year's legislative session. The revitalization district, which would be bound by the White River on the East, Harding Street on the West, Washington Street on the North and I-70 on the South, would be entitled to capture all incremental state and local income tax revenues within this development area, which will be used exclusively for infrastructure improvements of up to $5 million within the development area.

The amendment gets worse. It presumes a major expansion of Indianapolis' massive downtown TIF to encompass all of the undeveloped property surrounding Lucas Oil Stadium bounded by the White River on the West, East Street on the East, McCarty Street on the North and Raymond Street on the South. If the consolidated allocation area is expanded to include this territory, $10 million is to be deposited into the neighborhood stabilization fund to fund infrastructure improvements within this expanded TIF area. That's a massive expansion of the downtown TIF district that will siphon off property tax revenues from any new development for decades to come. This amendment seems to pave the way for the new soccer stadium to be built either near Lucas Oil Stadium or at the GM Stamping Plant site where Lucas wants to build his outdoor music venue, which is needed no more than the costly new stadium. This expanded TIF area is premised on an agreement being reached between the CIB and Indy Eleven to issue bonds and build the 18,500-seat stadium proposed by the team's owner, Ersal Ozdemir, who has unleashed a team of powerful lobbyists on the General Assembly the past two years to force taxpayers to build the stadium he has demanded.

An amendment adopted to HB 1273, at first blush, appears to help protect taxpayers by forcing Ozdemir to have some "skin in the game" as the pols use that term over at the State House; however, it's really just an empty promise. Rep. Ed DeLaney's amendment provides that "the owner of a professional soccer franchise that would be the primary tenant of a facility or complex of facilities constructed in the tax area; the professional soccer franchise;  the professional soccer league in which the professional soccer franchise competes; or any combination of the owner, the franchise, and the league; have guaranteed at least fifty percent (50%) of the amount that is financed under this chapter for a facility or complex of facilities that includes a soccer stadium. That offers no real protection to taxpayers. The franchise owner's newly-created business entity could simply file bankruptcy and walk away, leaving taxpayers holding the bag. DeLaney knows his amendment is nothing more than a phony attempt to reassure taxpayers, but that's just the kind of crafty lawmaker he is. An amendment offered by Rep. Cherish Pryor to give the City-County Council an opportunity to review and approve any stadium deal was voted down overwhelmingly.

Advance Indiana exclusively reported on the financial entanglement the House Ethics Committee Chairman, State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon), has with Ozdemir. Steuerwald has been immersed as one of several attorneys representing Ozdemir in contentious litigation between Ozdemir, his various companies and a former business partner, Jason Ellis, who has accused Ozdemir of defrauding him out of his 20% stake in his business, along with other serious allegations of wrongdoing. Ozdemir is also represented by Barnes & Thornburg, which is also one of sevearl law firms lobbying on behalf of Ozdemir's Indy Eleven soccer stadium deal. Despite his glaring conflict of interest. Rep. Steuerwald supported and voted for legislation last year pushed by Ozdemir's lobbyists to pave the way for his publicly-financed soccer stadium.

When amendments were heard on second reading today, Rep. Steuerwald asked to abstain from participating in those votes, a request granted by the Speaker with the understanding he would put his abstention request in writing. The State House news media, which excoriated former State Rep. Eric Turner's conflict of interest over nursing home legislation affecting his family's business because of their animosity towards him stemming from his opposition to same-sex marriages, has been noticeably silent on Steuerwald's equally-troubling conflict of interest, particularly as the key lawmaker tasked with hearing an ethics complaint against Rep. Turner and helping craft tougher ethics rules for lawmakers in the face of public outcry over lax ethics rules that permitted Turner's self-dealing.

The House will hear HB 1273 on third reading final passage tomorrow. I presume its passage is a foregone conclusion since this corrupt body passed similar legislation last year with even less review than they've taken this year and could give a damn less what their constituents think. The bottom line is that your legislators auction off state and local tax dollars to the highest bidder in exchange for campaign contributions and other benefits shielded from public disclosure. In the absence of any real federal or state prosecutors to act as guardians of the public, a total free-for-all atmosphere permeates our State House hallways. Why is nobody asking any serious questions about who Ersal Ozdemir is? Where is all of his money and clout being derived? Where have all the State House investigative journalists gone?

UPDATE: This online story on the Indianapolis Star's website can be described as nothing but a deliberate misrepresentation of what the Huston and DeLaney amendments to HB 1273 accomplished. Here's how Mark Alesia describes Huston's amendment:
Another amendment--introduced by Huston--that passed included language to prohibit stadium money from going toward Ozdemir's hotel.
Well, duh, that was never in the original proposal. What was done in committee was language was added to the bill to allow state and local tax revenues generated by Ozdemir's hotel to be captured by an expanded Professional Sports Development Area, which allows the CIB to capture up to $5 million in tax revenues annually to apply towards the debt on the stadium bonds from the area developed for a new stadium and his hotel at an entirely different location. Of course, nothing in Huston's amendment prevents Mayor Ballard from passing out money for Ozdemir's hotel from his TIF slush fund he uses to reward his campaign contributors. The DeLaney amendment is similarly mischaracterized.
The House is scheduled to vote on the Indy Eleven stadium deal on Wednesday, after an amendment passed requiring the team owner to guarantee half of the debt . . .
The purpose of this amendment is simply to make sure the public is left to foot the bill for an underused stadium," Rep. Ed DeLaney, (D-Indianapolis), said Tuesday on the House floor. 
DeLaney said he didn't ask for a 100 percent guarantee because he wanted "a fair and measured approach."
"A fair and measured approach" would require the owner to build his own damn stadium, not force taxpayers to build another costly sports stadium when there are already costly, under-utilized sports facilities available to the greedy team owner for his team's use at which he's turned his nose down. Quite arrogant, we might add, for someone who only recently immigrated to this country and about whom little is known other than much of his business endeavors to date have been publicly-subsidized by politicians upon whom he's showered campaign contributions and other gratuities hidden from public disclosure. What DeLaney's amendment reinforces up front is the fact that all concerned already know that the taxes generated from this new soccer stadium and his totally unrelated hotel will, at best, generate half the cost of paying debt service on the bonds issued for the construction of the stadium. That guarantee does NOT extend to the multi-million dollar a year ongoing maintenance expense we already know taxpayers will be shouldering just like we do for the stadium and arena used by the billionaire owners of the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. If Indy Eleven fails as a sports franchise, Ozdemir can walk away without owing a dime with or without DeLaney's amendment. Only the full faith and credit of Indianapolis taxpayers will backstop unfulfilled expectations.

Guardian: Chicago Police Using Black Op Sites To Conduct Off-The-Books Interrogations Of Criminal Suspects

There is a shocking story in today's Guardian about a black op site the Chicago Police Department has been operating for years, known as Homan Square, where criminal suspects are disappeared for up to 1 to 2 days, interrogated for hours at a time, not permitted assistance of counsel, not read their Miranda rights, physically tortured and the list of constitutional abuses goes on. This revelation is shocking for no other reason than the City of Chicago has paid out tens of million of dollars in recent years to settle lawsuits brought by persons wrongfully convicted after it was determined police had employed extraordinary rendition techniques to obtain confessions from them. It's further evidence America has morphed into a full-blown Nazi-like state.
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. 
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
* Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases. 
* Beating by police, resulting in head wounds. 
* Shackling for prolonged periods. 
* Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility. 
* Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15. 
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead . . . 
Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside. 
“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.
Ironically, this story breaks on a day when Chicago voters head to the polls where the incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanual has raised tens of millions of dollars for his re-election campaign, far outpacing the amount raised by a crowded field of all Democratic-identified opponents. If Emanuel captures one vote more than 50% of the ballots cast in today's primary, the election is over before it really even got started.

University Of Illinois Student Uses "Fifty Shades" Defense In Sexual Assault Arrest

Mohammad Hossain
A 19-year old University of Illinois student at the school's Chicago campus told police he was only re-enacting scenes from "Fifty Shades of Grey" after he was arrested for sexually assaulting a 19-year old female student in his dorm room. The first-year student, Mohammad Hossain, "appeared shocked" according to the Chicago Tribune after a judge ordered his bail set at $500,000 before he was sent back to the lock-up after his initial appearance. Judge Adam Bourgeois, Jr. asked Hossain's counsel, "Sandra, how can someone involved in all that let a movie persuade him to do something like this?" "He would say that it was consensual," she replied. The Tribune describes the sexual assault Hossain is accused of committing:
Once inside his dorm, in the 900 block of West Harrison Street, Hossain allegedly asked the woman to remove her clothing and she did, keeping on her bra and underwear, Karr said. He then bound her hands above her head and to a bed with a belt, used another belt to bind her legs and stuffed a necktie into her mouth, Karr said. 
Hossain used a knit cap to cover the woman's eyes, Karr said, and removed the woman's bra and underwear. He then began striking the woman with a belt. After hitting her several times, the woman told Hossain he was hurting her, told him to stop "and began shaking her head and crying," said Karr. 
Hossain continued striking the woman — including with his fists, according to an arrest report — and she managed to get one arm, and then another, free. But he then held her arms behind her back and sexually assaulted her as she continued to plead for him to stop, according to Karr. 
Hossain's roommate came home soon after the assault and, prosecutors said, Hossain held the door shut to prevent him from entering. The woman then left and told another person what happened, then called police. 
Police arrested Hossain later that night in another dorm building in the 700 block of South Halsted Street, according to an arrest report. He was interviewed by UIC detectives and, according to Karr, admitted assaulting the woman and "doing something wrong." He allegedly told police he and the woman were re-enacting scenes from "Fifty Shades of Grey."
Yep, just exactly what was predicted. The irony is that some of the biggest fans of this movie are feminists with liberal political views. Fellow blogger Debbie Schlussel, who reviewed the movie on her blog recently, which Advance Indiana summarized:
Schlussel wonders when the next NFL player busted for domestic violence will use the "Fifty Shades of Grey" defense: "'She asked for it' now has a new meaning because now, in many cases, specifically because this book glamorized it, she did ask for it. Hey, if I were Ray Rice, I’d use that defense and ask my employer why they promote this stuff and yet tell me I’m bad for doing a lot less." I think Debbie best sums it up when she says, "Welcome to American culture in Kartrashian Age." Schlussel gives the movie four Marxes, plus four Betty Friedans plus four ISIS beheadings.

Westfield Scraps Vote On Taxpayer-Funded Soccer Arena, Confident Of Favorable Court Ruling

Westfield city council members are so confident that Hamilton Circuit Court Judge Paul Felix plans to rule in their favor that they tabled a planned second vote on the controversial Grand Park soccer arena the mayor and key council members negotiated in secret with the politically-connected Holladay Properties before awarding the developer a 25-year, $53 million contract to build a new indoor soccer arena. Mayoral candidate Jeff Harpe filed a lawsuit seeking to block construction of the soccer arena after the state's Public Access Counselor indicated council committee meetings at which the deal were discussed prior to the initial public vote on it violated the state's Open Door Law.

The council restarted the hearing process and planned another vote on the project in January, but an agreement to dismiss the lawsuit was scuttled after the city's attorney said the city would seek sanctions against Harpe for filing the lawsuit. Harpe's lawsuit omitted his most powerful agreement for scuttling the deal. Mayor Andy Cook was mandated by a state law to conduct an RFP process that allowed prospective developers to participate in a competitive bidding process, a process that he skipped entirely. An out-of-state professional soccer arena operator, which Cook had originally lined up to manage the indoor soccer arena, walked away from the deal only weeks before Cook publicly announced the deal because it complained the project was being artificially inflated by as much as 25% through excessive development fee payments being made to Holladay Properties.

Under the 25-year deal, Holladay Properties is taking out a loan to construct the arena under a credit tenant-financing type agreement that puts Westfield city taxpayers on the hook to make lease payments to the developer under one-sided, "hell or high water" terms under which the City will own the facility at the end of the contracted lease term. The city is entering into a contract with a third party, Indiana Sports Properties, to manage the indoor soccer arena and hopes that revenue generated from the indoor soccer arena, including rental fees and a lease agreement with Jonathyn Byrd's for a restaurant will generate sufficient revenues to make the mandatory lease payments totaling $53 million. If those revenues are insufficient, Westfield taxpayers will be on the hook to backstop those expenses. Harpe has filed a second Open Door lawsuit claiming those lease agreements were secretly-discussed by the council's finance committee in violation in violation of the law before being approved by the full council.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Council Committee Gives Approval For $18.5 Million Give-Away To Angie's List

It matters not that Angie's List has never made a dime in its 20 years of operation or the questionable business ethics the company employs to shake down service providers for whom they supposedly offer objective business reviews for advertising dollars. What matters is that the company's founder and CEO has a lot of political clout with the politicians because of the campaign money he and his high-paid lobbyist spread around. Yes, Democratic mayoral candidate Larry Vaughn has more common sense than the members of the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee who voted to misappropriate tens of millions of our public dollars for the use of this tramp corporation as Vaughn aptly calls it.

Delaware County Treasurer Reaches Plea Agreement, Resigns From Office

About ten months ago, the Delaware Co. Prosecutor filed a 47-count indictment against the county's treasurer, John Dorer (D), in which he accused the office-holder of theft, conversion, official misconduct and failing to properly deposit public funds. The original multi-felony count indictment seemed like over-kill. Dorer was accused of stealing just a paltry sum of $80.

Today, Dorer went into court and agreed to plead guilty to just one official misconduct charge, a low-level felony eligible for alternative sentencing under which the felony will be reduced to a misdemeanor if he satisfies the terms of his probation. That sole remaining charge relates to his failure to timely deposit county funds 44 times over a 5-year period. In exchange for the plea agreement, Dorer agreed to resign his office effective immediately as part of the settlement of a civil lawsuit the county filed against him last year.

Indianapolis Star Belatedly Mentions Indy Eleven President's Chicago Soccer Stadium Debacle

They're a little bit too late to the game as usual. The Indianapolis Star posted a story late today that sort of touches on the fact that the last soccer stadium deal the Indy Eleven's Peter Wilt sold to a community was a colossal failure. Advance Indiana told readers last year about Wilt's Toyota Park stadium deal before he got fired by the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer team and how its utter failure to live up to the promised expectations caused tax rates in Chicago's Bridgeview community to skyrocket after Wilt and Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir's team of high-paid lobbyists descended on the State House to coax easily duped state lawmakers into approving public financing for the minor league soccer team's nearly $90 million, 18,500-seat soccer stadium. Every single media organization in Indianapolis ignored the albatross Wilt left behind with his last soccer stadium deal.

The Star's Mark Alesia in a story titled, "Last Stadium sold by Indy Eleven President has been financial drain," acknowledges what a "financial albatross" Toyota Park has become for Bridgeview residents without going into any detail other than to mention the city's bond rating was lowered due to the financial stress the under-performing soccer stadium was placing on the city's financial picture. Wilt had plenty of excuses for why nobody should pay any attention to Toyota Park. He wants people to know he had moved on by the time the stadium opened for business, but he's the one who was on the ground selling it when the decision was made to build it, which was developed by AEG, a giant sports and entertainment company that manages sports and convention facilities all over the country. He also wants you to believe that this stadium deal is "so dissimilar to the Indianapolis situation that it should be taken with a salt shaker full of salt." Yeah, Bridgeview sits smack dab in the middle of the nation's third largest metropolitan area with an immigrant population ten times the size of Indianapolis' which favors soccer as the sport of choice over football, baseball or basketball.

The most telling admission by Wilt is his reference to the backstop Indianapolis will have to prevent a downgrading of the City's bond rating. "If Bridgeview had the same (financial) backstop that is being proposed for Indianapolis, Bridgeview's Standard & Poor's rating would be fine," Wilt said. He can say that because he's relying on the full faith and credit of the Capital Improvement Board of Managers, which has a host of tax revenues to fund an endless demand for additional spending on sports and entertainment facilities downtown, as well as a healthy annual subsidy of state tax dollars flowing through the Professional Sports Development Area, which the Indy Eleven want expanded to include the new soccer stadium, as well as a new hotel Ozdemir is establishing in the old Illinois Building at the corner of Market and Illinois Streets.

The bill is on second reading in the House where a bunch of amendments have been filed. Alesia's story mentions that State Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) has an amendment that would require Ozdemir to guarantee half of the debt issued to build the new stadium. State Rep. Cherish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) has offered an amendment that would require the City-County Council to approve the issuance of bonds. An amendment offered by State Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis), one of the bill's sponsors, would appear to pull in land of the former GM Stamping Plant where the proposed criminal justice center is proposed to be built and where Dave Lucas wants to build a new outdoor music venue. That might suggest Lucas and Ozdemir have formed an alliance in hell to push this deal through the legislature.

Brewer Won't Get Charlie White Treatment, Election Board Dismisses Complaint

An attorney representing the slated Republican candidate for Indianapolis mayor Chuck Brewer produced an affidavit from his client, along with other evidence he said established his intent to reside at the Slate Drive apartment in Perry Township he established last July in order to prove he lived there and not the luxury downtown condominium in the Athletic Club the complaint filed by his Republican opponent, Jocelyn-Tandy Adande, claimed he actually resided when he registered to vote in Perry Township. After hearing evidence offered by Adande and the evidence submitted by Brewer's attorney, David Brooks, the Marion Co. Election Board voted unanimously to dismiss Adande's complaint.

During today's hearing, Brooks conceded his client had moved to Perry Township last March with the intent of running for District 23 but mistakenly rented an apartment in District 20 on Dakota Ridge Drive just outside the district. Brewer amended his voter registration from the Dakota Ridge apartment to a second apartment last July. Brooks said there was still uncertainty over whether the district boundaries he drew when the Republicans still controlled the City-County Council would stand at the time because of an an appeal pending before the Supreme Court. As Adande's complaint asserted, however, Brewer failed to remove the homestead exemption he claimed on his downtown condominium where he registered to vote on March 27, 2012 as required by law, which allowed him a substantial break on his property taxes. Brewer filed paperwork last week to remove that homestead exemption only after Adande filed her complaint against him. Under Indiana law, he was required to file that form within 60 days of moving to an apartment in Perry Township last year. The election board did not consider Brewer's violation of the homestead exemption law within its jurisdiction, although it was the key piece of evidence presented by Adande to prove his intent to make it his primary residence and not either of the apartments where he registered to vote last year in Perry Township.

Evidence Brooks attached to Brewer's affidavit to prove his intent to live at the Slate Drive apartment included photos taken after Adande's complaint was filed showing a fully-furnished apartment there, photos showing his downtown condominium empty, proof that he received mail at that address, a driver's license issued in 2014 at the Slate Drive address and evidence of his intent to sell the Athletic condominium, including real estate listing agreement and evidence it had been shown by realtors during the past year at least 40 times. Interestingly, Brooks did not include with Brewer's affidavit what should have been his strongest piece of evidence, a lease for the Slate Drive apartment. After board members requested it, he produced a copy of it after shuffling through his papers. Brooks didn't offer to produce a lease for the Dakota Ridge apartment.

The election board's attorney, Andy Mallon, instructed members that they only needed to find that Brewer established sufficient intent to reside at the Slate Drive apartment as of the date he filed his statement of candidacy on February 6, 2015, even though the law required him to state under penalties of perjury he actually resided in the Dakota Ridge and Slate Drive apartments on the dates last year when he twice filed change of voter registration forms with the Marion County Board of Voter Registrations. Records obtained by Advance Indiana showed Brewer voted absentee in last year's primary at the Dakota Ridge apartment in the Republican primary and also cast an absentee ballot at the Slate Drive address in last year's general election. Brewer, who moved to Indianapolis from Chicago in 2011, did not register or participate in Indianapolis' 2011 municipal election. The first municipal election in which he will cast a ballot will feature his name at the top of the ballot for mayor.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Election Law Enforcement Disparity

Advance Indiana has provided countless examples of people violating candidate and voting residency requirements over a number of years which resulted in no enforcement action compared to the draconian action taken against former Secretary of State Charlie White for registering and voting in one election at the home of his ex-wife when he was in between homes, which resulted in 7 felony charges against him, six of which he was found guilty and forced to give up his office. He later got the Indiana Court of Appeals to toss three of those convictions, but three of those felony counts still stand. Two years later, the Marion Co. Election Board determined that Sen. Richard Lugar and his wife, Charlene, had been illegally registered and casting votes in a precinct in which they had moved out of 35 years earlier. The board determined the Lugars relied on legal advice in continuing to vote using a home for their voting residence at which they no longer owned or resided and did not intend to violate Indiana's vote fraud laws. The board allowed them to re-register in a precinct in which they owned a home and not to refer their voting law violations to the prosecutor for further investigation.

Similarly, technical violations of candidate filings have resulted in differing outcomes. In 2010, Sue Ellspermann, now the state's elected Lt. Governor, filed to run in the Republican primary for the Indiana House of Representatives to represent District 74. In the 2008 primary election. Ellspermann cast a ballot in the Democratic primary. Under Indiana law, she could only run as a Republican for state representative if she filed a certification from the Republican Party leader that she was a member of the Republican Party at the time of her filing. Declaration of candidacy forms in primary elections require a candidate to swear that one of the two following statements is true: 1) the most recent primary election in which the candidate voted was the same party to which the candidate is seeking office; or 2) the county chairman of the party certifies that the candidate is a member in good standing of the political party.

A Democratic voter in District 74 filed a challenge to Ellspermann's candidacy for failing to qualify as a candidate for the Republican Party ballot under state law. Ellspermann admitted making a false statement on her statement of candidacy she filed with the state's Election Division. "I typically vote Republican, and so when I filled out that form, I checked that box without giving it another thought," she said. Nonetheless, the Indiana Election Commission dismissed the complaint against Ellspermann since the Republican Party certified they viewed her as a candidate in good standing, even if such certification did not come until after the complaint had been filed against her. The false statement she made on her statement of candidacy was viewed as an honest mistake and not referred to the prosecutor for further investigation.

Last week, there were two election complaints filed against candidates who filed for the Democratic municipal primary ballot in Marion County heard by the Marion County Election Board. Floyd Covington was removed from the ballot to run against Monroe Gray in District 8. In the race for Beech Grove mayor, the election board removed Richard Byland, the only opponent who filed to run against incumbent Mayor Dennis Buckley. Both Covington and Byland checked off the box indicating the most recent ballot they had cast in a primary election was a Democratic ballot, neither of which was true.

The board also voted to refer Byland's case to the Marion Co. Prosecutor for prosecution either for perjury or providing false information to the election board. Covington didn't appear at the hearing, and his case wasn't referred to the prosecutor. Byland appeared with his attorney. According to an election board employee, Will French, Byland had asked questions of him about the form before completing it and having French to notarize it for filing. Byland had told French he had never voted in a Democratic primary previously. Byland's attorney clarified that French understood the information on Byland's form was not true based on Byland's statements to him before French agreed to notarize it. The statement of candidacy form does not provide that the statements provided therein are made under penalties of perjury, only that the candidate affirms they are true. Byland's attorney noted the candidate's grandfather had been elected as a Democratic mayor of Beech Grove, and that Byland has always considered himself a Democrat. It's also the case that there is a great deal of animus between Buckley and Byland, with Buckley demanding and getting Byland prosecuted for intimidation after he made an angry phone call to the mayor's office to complain about the job he was doing as mayor. Would it be fair to prosecute Byland, in addition to removing him from the ballot, for simply filing a statement of candidacy to run for mayor?

IBJ Thinks City Taxpayers Should Save Circle Centre Mall

Who didn't see this coming? Last week, the IBJ had a story about the struggling Simon-run Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis. Indianapolis taxpayers were forced to put up $187 million of the $320 million it originally cost to build the mall. Taxpayer debt on the mall after 20 years stands at $145 million. This week, the business publication, which has been transitioning from a serious news publication that used to have good investigative journalism to a publication which publishes press releases for a fee, has an editorial demanding city leaders step forward with a plan to save the mall.

The City, without any public debate, exempted the mall's anchor from paying property taxes on their share of the mall late last year. The constitutional notion of equal treatment under the law is pretty much dead letter law in this country when it comes to taxation. The billionaire Simons, whose equity in the mall stands at just 14.7%, and some of their downtown mafia friends may be the only ones making any profit from the heavily-subsidized mall, but it's apparently the responsibility of the working class population to pony up the money to keep it viable since the mall was built on their dime originally, not the 1% class of freeloaders who profit from it.

The IBJ runs story after story, week after week, talking about all of the new development downtown and the great numbers of people moving downtown, but those tens of thousands of new downtown residents apparently don't feel strongly enough about the mall to do their shopping there. Yet downtown cannot remain viable without it, or so we're told, and if downtown fails, the entire city fails. Cost is no objective. We count more than $3 billion in investments made in downtown over the past few decades, but still more investment is needed there no matter how badly other neighborhoods throughout the city are deteriorating. After all, how could we be a world class city if we don't have ample shopping opportunities for our out-of-town visitors?

Adams And Hunter Want Action On Criminal Justice Center Project Delayed Until After Election

Supposedly an op-ed piece penned by Councilor Mary Moriarty Adams (D), chairman of the City-County Council's Public Safety Committee, and Councilor Ben Hunter (R) calling for the delay of any action on the proposed Marion County Criminal Justice Center project until after the election appeared in the print edition of the Indianapolis Star but is nowhere to be found on the newspaper's online edition. The two council members argue that the new mayor should have the opportunity to review it and allow council members sufficient time to analyze the proposal to determine if it meets the long-term public safety needs of the city-county government. This seems to be a pretty significant shift in opinion that seems to have gone unnoticed by the local media, including the Star. Here's the text of the opinion piece that was furnished to me by a reader:
Public safety is the standard by which all communities are judged, and clearly is the most important issue facing our city right now. Over the last several decades, numerous studies have been completed to assess our current jail and court facilities, and to plan for new facilities and upgrades. Now the City-County Council is being asked to approve an extremely complex, public-private partnership to build a $1.7 billion Justice Center Complex—with a 35-year mortgage—here in Marion County in the next two months. 
Mayor Greg Ballard deserves credit for taking action on a number of important public policy issues during his tenure as mayor, not the least of which is his effort to improve our criminal justice facilities. It has never been a political question for the Mayor or his team, but rather a question of what is best for the citizens of Indianapolis. They have taken a non-traditional course and entered into discussions with various business interests to provide a plan to design, finance, construct, and operate a new Justice Center Complex. 
The Complex would include space for many local criminal justice operations including a new jail, criminal courts, and community corrections. The idea is to take advantage of cost savings associated with transportation, technology and co-location of key offices. 
There are still many significant assumptions associated with these forecasted efficiencies. There must be stronger transparency with elected officials, providing us with the opportunity to review, test assumptions, and ensure projected costs saving are accurate. The folks involved in putting the plan together certainly have the best interest of the City in mind, but open access to information is imperative. 
As local officials who represent your interests, it's our responsibility to make sure promises made today don't turn into public safety pitfalls and tax increases tomorrow. An appropriate vetting process requires time and transparency. We do not yet have all the information necessary to determine whether this project will meet our long-term public safety needs, nor the impact it will have on the surrounding neighborhood and Downtown. 
We acknowledge the pressing need for a modern jail that can house inmates more efficiently, and are committed to working together with the Mayor, Clerk, and Sheriff to find a sustainable solution. But it would be irresponsible for us to act on the current timeline without knowing more. 
There is one thing we do know, and that is, this issue is not and should not be about politics. We believe the best way to keep politics out of this debate is to postpone any final action until after the municipal election if possible. We do not know which party's candidate will prevail, but we know we will elect a new Mayor in November. That person must have an opportunity to review, provide input, and align with this decision. This small but important delay will give us adequate time to go back to gather and analyze the necessary information, and to determine whether this proposal meets our long-term public safety needs in a fiscally-responsible manner. 
If it does not, we will work together on an alternative plan that brings all of the stakeholders to the table. The Council has hired an independent firm to review the numbers in an effort to validate proposed savings and we both support this process. We have to get this right. And, with so much money at stake, we simply can't afford to get it wrong. 
Hon. Benjamin Hunter, Council Member, District 21 
Hon. Mary Moriarty Adams, Council Member, District 17