Wednesday, September 30, 2015

McMillin Blasts Critics Who "Spew Hatred"

The 38-year-old has a wife, Natasha McMillin
McMillin (left) shown with his wife, Natasha
One day after his abrupt resignation from the Indiana House of Representatives where he served as Majority Leader, State Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) took to Facebook to blast critics whom he says "spew hatred." McMillin admitted "making mistakes," an apparent reference to a sex video sent from his cell phone after he says it was stolen, and that he is working with his family to remedy those mistakes.  The full statement McMillin posted on Facebook reads:
"I make mistakes. When I do, regardless of how big or small they are, I do my best to admit them, own up to it, and then start doing my best to remedy them. That's what I am doing right now with my family. With that being said I will never understand the need for some people to spew hatred. I hope it makes those people feel better about themselves because there is no other discernable (sic) benefit. What a sad place for society to be. On the other hand, I am constantly amazed at how good hearted so many people are. The outpouring of support I have received from so many gives me faith and hope in humanity as a whole. To those who choose this path, I encourage you to maintain your approach not only towards those you agree with and like, but towards those you disagree with as well. This is the only approach that can possibly help make the world a better place."

Pope Francis Is A Conspiracy Theorist And Likes Kim Davis

Pope Francis with Vice President Biden and congressional leaders last week (AP Photo)
It was quite entertaining watching the mainstream media and liberals in particular fawning all over Pope Francis and every word he spoke or baby he touched or kissed during his visit to the United States last week. New details are emerging about his visit that suggest it wasn't scripted to the establishment's liking so much after all. The intrepid investigative reporter Wayne Madsen caught an important mention in Pope Francis' address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress overlooked by everyone else. Madsen noted that Pope Francis singled out four Americans who had a significant impact on the world, including Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., social activist Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Thomas who?

The part the mainstream media mentions about Merton, a Trappist monk, was his advocacy of interfaith dialogue and outspoken anti-Vietnam War views. The most intriguing part about Merton ignored by the media is his coining of the phrase "The Unspeakable" Madsen says in Merton's book, "Raids On The Unspeakable," delves into the plots Americans fear raising in public. As Madsen explained in a column titled, Is the Pope a Conspiracy Believer," Merton was one of the early conspiracy theorists in this country, the term the CIA chose to derisively describe anyone who questions the official government narrative. Merton believed in government plots to assassinate President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy and the big lie Americans were told for entering the Vietnam War. Merton himself died under questionable circumstances while visiting Bangkok in 1968.
Merton believed that included among “the Unspeakable” crimes of the 1960s were the interwoven murders of the two Kennedys and King. In other words, Merton was a conspiracy realist at about the same time the Central Intelligence Agency came up with the pejorative term “conspiracy theorist” to describe those, including Merton, who questioned the official stories on political assassinations and the reasoning behind America’s entry into the Vietnam War.
Merton wrote in his book that The Unspeakable “is the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said, the void that gets into the language of public and official declarations at the very moment when they are pronounced, and makes them ring dead with the hollowness of the abyss.”
Author Jim Douglass picked up on Merton’s theme in his detailed work on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, titled JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.
Pope Francis has taken on many powerful and secretive enemies since becoming pontiff. He has elected to live in a guest apartment in the Vatican and not the official papal quarters, the scene of many intrigues of the past, including the questionable 1978 death, some would call it an assassination, of Pope John Paul I on the 33rd day of his papacy. Was Francis sending us all a message in his praise of Merton? The Washington Post, in its coverage of Francis’s speech and his reference to Merton, made no mention of Merton’s strongly-held belief in wider conspiracies surrounding the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK. This should come as no surprise since, historically, the Post has been a major element in the cover-ups of the three state-sanctioned and state-sponsored murders.
At the height of the Vietnam War, in 1968, Merton attended an interfaith meeting between leading Catholics and Buddhists near Bangkok. Merton had become quite an expert on Jainism, Sufism, Hinduism, and Taoism and, especially, the Buddhist religion. Merton established close contacts with the Dalai Lama and other leading Tibetan Buddhists.
On December 10, 1968, Merton is said to have been electrocuted by a faulty fan while stepping out of the shower of his guest house at the conference venue some 30 miles south of Bangkok. Merton’s death at the age of 53 is clouded in mystery, with some accounts saying he was electrocuted and others claiming he died of a heart attack. When Merton’s body was discovered, there were severe electrical burns across the torso. Witnesses reported voice coming from Merton’s room shortly before his death. The Thai coroner’s report stated the following about Merton’s death: “death was caused as a result of fainting—due to acute cardiac failure.”
And Pope Francis just wasn't indulging members of Congress to take seriously the unsettling, devious plots of their own government while he was in Washington. He also had a private meeting with the controversial county clerk in Kentucky, Kim Davis, who was jailed by a federal judge after she refused to sign same-sex marriage licenses, according to Davis' attorney. Pope Francis reportedly spoke to Davis in English at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, saying "thank you for your courage" and "stay strong." I wonder if Pope Francis was told how many times Davis had been married herself.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

House Majority Leader Resigns From Indiana House


UPDATED: In a surprising move, House Majority Leader Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) announced he was resigning as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives immediately after five years of service. McMillin stated in a release to his constituents that the "time is right for me to pass the torch and spend more time with my family." House Speaker Brian Bosma said he fully supported McMillin's "decision to step down in order to focus on his family" and thanked him for his service.

In 2013, an Indianapolis Star report questioned Rep. McMillin's influence in steering casino grant money to businesses that benefited him and his family. The report claimed at the time the FBI was investigating the matter. Internet blog reports had also raised questions about his prior role as a prosecutor in Ohio and whether he used his position inappropriately to engage in sexual relations with a witness assisting him in a case he was prosecuting. The witness with whom he engaged in sexual relations later accused him of sending her graphic nude selfie photos  depicting McMillin pleasuring himself and shoving a dildo up his butt.

The Indianapolis Star is now reporting that McMillin's abrupt resignation followed a strange text message he sent to friends claiming his cell phone had been stolen. "My phone was stolen in Canada and out of my control for about 24 hours," the text message read. "I have just been able to reactivate it under my control. Please disregard any messages you received recently. I am truly sorry for anything offensive you may have received." Wow! History repeats itself?

Yep, the IBJ reports a video of McMillin engaged in a sex act was forwarded to some of his friends.
Sources close to the Republican caucus said someone obtained McMillin’s phone and discovered at least one video that showed the lawmaker involved in sexual contact. The sources did not detail who else was involved.
The sexual act he was performing in the video allegedly involved someone other than his wife. Imagine that. Read more on McMillin's sordid past here.
Cover-up attempt? On September 21, McMillin sent this text message to his contacts, claiming his phone had been stolen  

Feds Arrest Sullivan County Council Member For Vote Fraud And Witness Tampering

In a very rare prosecution, federal agents have charged Max Judson, a Democratic member of the Sullivan County Council, with vote fraud and witness tampering. Judson, who won his 2014 Democratic primary race by just 18 votes, is accused of enabling a person who didn't reside in Sullivan County to illegally cast a vote in the Democratic primary and improperly assisting 15 other registered voters in casting absentee ballots in that race. Judson is also accused of tampering with witnesses. According to WTHI-TV, Judson faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the vote fraud and witness tampering charges. It is highly unusual to see a case like this brought by federal authorities. State prosecutors typically handle election law violations.

Downtown Mafia Now Wants To Expand The Convention Center Again

Last year, the Indiana Convention Center built with taxpayer dollars saw an occupancy rate of just 54%. Nonetheless, the corrupt downtown mafia that is holding our city hostage is now demanding the convention center be expanded yet again to keep up with expanding convention centers in other cities, which are now playing the same game they play with professional sports team owners. Yes, force the public at large to dig into their pockets to ensure great wealth and success for the few. The IBJ's Anthony Schoettle shares with the business newspaper's readers the whispers of those ready to cash in on another expansion.

Critics are warning that as cities nationwide continue expanding their convention centers to play to a bigger audience, the trend within the convention industry is to demand huge subsidies from host cities to land conventions. Some cities are no longer charging rent to conventioneers to offset the costs of operating their convention centers simply so the publicly-financed facilities don't sit empty. But that's not stopping the taxpayer-paid puppets whose strings are pulled by those profiting handsomely from Indianapolis' convention racket to sing the tune, "Bigger is Better."
. . . “We almost doubled the space, and we’ve been able to fill it with meaningful events,” said Barney Levengood, executive director of the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium. “It’s very, very encouraging.” . . .
Levengood isn’t the only one talking expansion. So is Visit Indy President Leonard Hoops.
Indeed, the two say the numbers demonstrate the need for an eventual expansion.
In early 2011, Visit Indy and the city’s Capital Improvement Board, which owns the convention center, raised the curtain on a $275 million, 400,000-square-foot expansion.
Combined with the 2008 opening of the adjacent Lucas Oil Stadium, the expansion rocketed the center from 32nd largest in the nation to 16th . . .
Trepidation about filling the center coming out of the Great Recession has given way to confidence as the economy grows . . . 
Time needed for conventions to set up and tear down makes 100-percent occupancy impossible; 70 percent is considered a full house. In 2007 and 2008, before expansion construction began, the convention center’s occupancy ran at about 60 percent; last year, it was 54 percent . . . 
In 2008, the facility hosted 42 national conventions; in 2014, it hosted 106. Attendance from those events grew from 317,815 in 2008 to 635,701 in 2014 . . . 
To his credit, Schoettle talked to a critic of these convention expansions who wondered just how much Indianapolis is paying to land big conventions. The critic noted what I've discussed previously on this blog about the Chicago Sun-Times' reporting on the massive public subsidies Chicago officials are now offering to lure big conventions to the Windy City. The Sun-Times uncovered the fact that Chicago officials had spent $27 million over a 3-year period to land conventions, and are now spending about $15 million annually for that purpose. "Indianapolis officials—for competitive reasons—declined to say what incentives they offer," Schoettle writes. Sigh. Hey, it's our money they're spending. Don't take no for an answer. Demand they provide the information or file a lawsuit to force its disclosure. Indianapolis taxpayers have a right to know how much of our money Visit Indy is spending annually to bribe organizations to host their conventions in Indianapolis.

Schoettle's story also notes that other cities that have expanded the size of their convention space have actually experienced a decline in use, including big cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Las Vegas. The problem is that convention center space is rapidly growing, while demand for their use is remaining stagnant. But since we're spending other people's money, the CIB and Visit Indy have no qualms about borrowing more money and expanding the growing subsidies to Indianapolis' convention/hospitality/entertainment industries to the detriment of the rest of the city, which derives absolutely no value from more convention business. Why? Because the convention center pays no taxes,  and taxes paid by new hotels and restaurants built within the downtown area are virtually all consumed by either the downtown TIF district or the CIB. Indianapolis taxpayers get stuck footing the bill, though, for increased public safety and infrastructure costs needed to support the free-loading industries that benefit from this massive public investment.

Monday, September 28, 2015

WTHR's Investigative Reporter Upset Pence Announced Subaru Incentive Before IEDC Board's Formal Approval

WTHR's Bob Segal is suddenly making an issue of a practice that's been going on for many years where the state's governor or a local mayor will announce economic development incentives being offered to a business before their formal approval. He thinks there's something wrong with Gov. Mike Pence's decision, in particular, offering Subara $7.9 million in state economic development incentives accompanying a $140 million investment expected to create 1,200 new jobs before IEDC's board, which is controlled by the governor's appointees, has formally approved the award.
 . . . But 13 Investigates has learned the IEDC skipped an important step – and forgot to mention some important details – before announcing it had awarded the economic incentives deal: the IEDC Board of Directors has not yet reviewed or approved the money . . .
.  . . a week after the Subaru incentives were announced in an IEDC news release, the agency admits it has not sent the $7.9 million incentive package to the board for a vote -- and that probably won't happen for several more months.
"No, the board has not approved it yet. We hope that will happen at the board's next meeting in December," said IEDC executive vice president Chris Cotterill. He told WTHR it is not unusual for the IEDC to publicly announce it has offered incentives to a company before the board takes formal action.
"More often than not, companies make an announcement after the board has given approval. But it can happen the other way, too," Cotterill explained.
"By saying the subsides have been ‘offered,' IEDC staff is speaking for a board action that has not yet been voted. That suggests the board is rubber-stamping the staff's work and begs the issue of the board's actual oversight and authority, said Greg LeRoy, director of Good Jobs First, a non-partisan policy resource center that promotes government accountability in economic development. "It's ironic that privatized state development agencies like IEDC are touted for being more ‘nimble' than public offices, yet it has no board mechanism for voting on major deals outside its quarterly calendar. That's the opposite of nimble."
So Segal is shocked, shocked to learn the IEDC board is just a rubber stamp for the governor? Please. This investigative reporter hasn't said a word about Mayor Greg Ballard illegally entering into a 15-year agreement with Blue Indy that involved the theft of tens of millions of dollars in public assets, including a $6 million subsidy to the French-owned company that Ballard included in the City's agreement awarding the company the right to operate a monopoly electric car sharing business. Ballard broke multiple state and local laws and obligated the City to give the company $6 million before the Board of Public Works, let alone the City-County Council, had given its blessing to the deal. The mayor also announces incentive packages at big press events before the Metropolitan Development Commission has given its approval to them. It's the way business has been conducted for years on these matters, Bob. There's so many cases of real corruption taking place in this state and city. Why do you have to manufacture controversies, Bob?

Tabloid Takes A Shot At Jeb's Troubled Daughter

Jeb Bush White House, Noelle Bush
The National Enquirer took a low blow at Jeb Bush's daughter, Noelle Bush, who has struggled with drug addictions. The tabloid sent a photographer to her place of employment, a software company near Orlando, to capture an unflattering photo of her on a smoking break. The headline reads, "Jeb Bush's Girl Caught Loafing on the Job."
. . . The Sept. 9 pictures were shot outside the Orlando, Fla., offices of Empower Software Solutions, where her duties are listed as answering phones and office support and management.
“Noelle, a former druggie, appears overweight and dowdily dressed. I saw her slumped on the back steps puffing on one Marlboro cigarette — one after another,” an eyewitness told The ENQUIRER.
In 2002 The ENQUIRER revealed that Noelle was busted for prescription fraud, sent to rehab and then served two separate stints in jail.
A Florida political insider told The ENQUIRER Noelle’s current job was arranged with the help of Empower Software founder Seth Bernstein, a longtime Jeb supporter who is raising money for his presidential bid.
“The job was a favor to Jeb. She doesn’t really have to do much work. She spends quite a bit of the day outside, chain-smokin’,” said the insider.
“Jeb is big on campaigning on family values, but Noelle is one of his weak spots. When she was a teenager, his marriage nearly fell apart. He was rumored to be off womanizing and (his wife) Columba was spending a lot of her time shopping,” noted the insider. “You might ask, who was at home raising the kids?”
The tabloid must have forgotten what happened the last time it took cheap shots at one of the Bush kids. After running unflattering photos of Jenna Bush falling down drunk at a fraternity party in Austin, the tabloid's photo editor, Bob Stevens, was the recipient of one of those letters mailed after 9/11 laced with high-grade, Anthrax spores produced at the U.S. Army's Fort Detrick biodefense weapons lab. Investigators found Anthrax spores on Stevens' computer keyboard after he died from the Anthrax poisoning he got after opening a handwritten letter to "Photo Editor, National Enquirer" mailed from Trenton, New Jersey to the tabloid's offices in Boca Raton, Florida. Other Anthrax-laced letters were sent to the New York Post, which had also run numerous unflattering stories about Bush's daughters, NBC's Tom Brokaw and two Democratic senators, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Pat Leahy.

Chicago Tribune Continues Campaign To Oust Illinois' Lone Disabled Republican Senator

I'm not quite sure what the Chicago Tribune's problem is with Sen. Mark Kirk (R). He survived a life-threatening stroke and pretty much always puts up a vote for the Democrats whenever his vote will make a difference in the Republican-controlled Senate. Last month, The Tribune was questioning why the single, disabled senator should pay a caregiver partially out of campaign funds to accompany him on his travels back and forth to Illinois from Washington. Now it seems their reporters are badgering staffers and even his elderly mother to discuss how poorly he supposedly treats people who work for him.

In an usual move, Kirk's campaign manager, released a statement to others in the media discussing a negative story he claimed The Tribune's reporter Todd Lighty was pursuing to further damage his re-election campaign.
For the past five weeks, Chicago Tribune Reporter Todd Lighty has called over 15 current and former staffers of Senator Kirk along with harassing Senator Kirk’s 79 year-old mother and his sister in an attempt to validate a story that Senator Kirk has been verbally and physically abusive to staff. Lighty has identified four staffers whom he says were verbally or physically abused, however staffers involved have said the incidents never occurred, including Patrick Campion whom Mr. Lighty identified as his only “on the record” source . . . 
Patrick Campion: Signed a sworn affidavit that said he enjoyed working for Senator Kirk and that at no time was there verbal and physical abuse. 
Campion also attested in his affidavit that Chicago Tribune Reporter Todd Lighty “twisted his words” when they talked. (affidavit attached)
Seth Jansen: Issued the following statement, “The inference or accusation that Senator Kirk acted inappropriately towards me is simply false. “
James Zenn: In text messages responding to Mr. Lighty, James Zenn told Lighty that his facts were wrong and the incident he was alleging never happened. Zenn added: “Mr. Lighty, I am unsure of where this is coming from. I would have never told anyone that story as it did not happen. I enjoyed my time with Senator Kirk, during which I learned a lot and during which he treated me with nothing but respect. Though I moved on for another opportunity I am proud to have worked for him and I support him 100%.” (screen shots attached)
Dan Bower: No sources to support Mr. Lighty’s assertion.
Official Campaign Response
“Terrible journalism written by a biased reporter about an event that his own source signed an affidavit saying never happened.” Kevin Artl, Campaign Manager, Kirk for Senate.
Bottom Line
As indicated from affidavits, statements and conversations Mr. Lighty is fully aware of, the incidents he is alleging did not occur according to those involved. Should Mr. Lighty continue with his story, Kirk For Senate will not hesitate to avail itself of all available legal remedies.
The Capitol Fax's Rich Miller lends credence that he's being singled out by the Tribune reporter. Since 2010, Lighty has conducted 11 investigative stories on Illinois politicians. Six of those stories pertained to Sen. Kirk. Only two investigative stories pertained to former Rep. Aaron Schock, who is currently under investigation by a federal grand jury in Springfield hearing evidence that he misused campaign and congressional resources. Lighty had just one story about former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who is under indictment currently. The Tribune is standing behind their reporter:
Tribune Editor Gerould Kern said in a statement Friday, Kirk’s “campaign and the conduct of his office are subjects of legitimate inquiry, and the Chicago Tribune stands fully behind our reporter, Todd Lighty.” 
“We will not comment on unpublished reporting, but we can say that the Kirk campaign has wholly mischaracterized Lighty’s diligence and thoroughness. “Lighty has been direct, open and honest at all times with the Kirk staff in his reporting. He is a meticulous and professional journalist. Good reporters ask tough questions.
“We will not allow the Kirk campaign to attack unchallenged the professionalism and integrity of Lighty and the Tribune.”
Imagine if the Chicago Tribune was covering Chuck Brewer's bid for Indianapolis mayor. They would be having a field day with all of the salacious filings in his ongoing child custody and support battle with his ex-wife.

More On Tweedle Dee Versus Tweedle Dum For Indianapolis Mayor

In case you were undecided about there being no real choices in this year's Indianapolis mayor's race, check out the uninspiring, soft-pedaled interviews Fox 59 conducted this weekend on its InFocus program with Joe Hogsett and Chuck Brewer. Hogsett's interview can be viewed here, while Brewer's interview can be viewed here. They're both going to hire that magical number of 150 new police officers to deal with the City's crime problem and use "smarter policing" to get better results. There are no other issues worth discussing. How do the "journalists" in this city covering this mayor's race look at themselves in the mirror with any respect?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

That Time Bill Had Steven Spielberg Try To Make Hillary Appear Warmer And More Likeable

Hillary enlisted Steven Spielberg to make her more likeable
At the request of former President Bill Clinton, his good friend and Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg agreed to provide free coaching services to Hillary Clinton in an effort to make her appear to be a warmer and more likable person. Spielberg's attempts at "Saving Private Rodham" came to an abrupt end after Hillary became frustrated and knocked over a camera according to an excerpt from Ed Klein's new book reported in the New York Post.
A couple of weeks after Hillary began her likeability lessons, she invited several women friends to Whitehaven. When one of her friends noticed a video camera standing on a tripod in a corner of the room, she asked Hillary what it was for.
“Speech practice,” Hillary said, according to the recollection of one of the women. “My coaches tell me I’m supposed to pretend when I speak.
Pretend that I actually like the audience. I’m supposed to force myself to keep a smile on my face. I’m supposed to think happy thoughts. To think of Chelsea or Charlotte or my [late] mother. But not about Bill, because even though I love him to death, he makes me tear my hair out.” That got a laugh from the women.
But as the campaign heated up, one of the first casualties was the Spielberg likeability lessons. Everyone agreed they weren’t working.
“For more than a decade, Mrs. Clinton has tried to swat away a persistent concern about her ability to connect with voters,” noted The New York Times. “ ‘Saturday Night Live’ recently captured that problem in a sketch featuring an actress playing Mrs. Clinton, who said of herself at one point, ‘What a relatable laugh!’ Years of security-infused Bubble Wrap around her travels and a wealthy lifestyle have done little to pull Mrs. Clinton closer to voters.”
“Given that [Hillary] has been in public life since 1992, it’s a bit incongruous to consider that her speaking style is ­often so lacking,” wrote The Washington Post. “She has yet to master ‘the big speech,’ which is part of the toolbox of any ­major politician.”
When Hillary spoke in public, she still had trouble making eye contact with her audience. Her eyes wandered from the text of her speech or her talking points to some unfocused spot on the ceiling and back again. Her voice was flat and uninflected. In exasperation, Hillary quit taking the likeability lessons.
“I decided I had enough with the camera and the recordings and the coaches,” Hillary told a friend. “I got so angry I knocked the f- -king camera off its tripod. That was the end of my Stanislavski period.”
The New York Post excerpts have been picked up by numerous media outlets. None of them have raised questions about the legality of Spielberg's free services, not to mention the free use of his luxury apartment in Trump Towers during her 2000 Senate campaign. That item comes out in the book when Klein explains how Hillary had attempted unsuccessfully to get use of a private elevator in the building so she wouldn't have to come face-to-face with the other wealthy tenants in the building.
From the collection of videos, she selected the ones she liked and sent them off to Steven Spielberg’s office, with a reminder that everyone ­involved in the project was sworn to secrecy.
Not that she had any reason to mistrust Steven. He’d always been more than generous to her. Spielberg let her use his corporate apartment in the Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue when she ran for a Senate seat from New York in 2000. Hillary felt right at home in the lavish surroundings, and she crashed at Spielberg’s pied-à-terre more than 20 times.
Accustomed as she was to being treated like royalty, she asked the management of Trump Tower to give her the exclusive use of one of its elevators. The management ­refused. She had to share an elevator with the skyscraper’s other millionaire peons.
When the Hollywood coaches sent back their critiques of Hillary’s video sessions, they noted that she looked irritated and bored. Most times, after she glanced at the printout of their notes — she called them “notes from La-La Land” — she tossed them in the wastepaper basket.
Oh well, Bill and Hillary have always been above the law.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Citizens Energy Seeking More Than 50% Increase In Wastewater Fees

If Citizens Energy gets its way, your wastewater bills you pay along with your water bills will increase by more than 50% over the next two years, increasing average monthly fees from $35 a month to $48 a month. When you add the double-digit increases approved following the purchase of the water and wastewater utilities from the City of Indianapolis, wastewater fees will have tripled since 2011.

Advance Indiana was alone in warning Indianapolis residents that the sale of the water and wastewater utilities to Citizens Energy was nothing more than a massive fraud on the public to flip the utility's ownership for the third time in a period of a decade simply for the purpose of generating multi-million dollar payoffs to the corrupt SOBs who use Indianapolis' consolidated government as their personal profit center to the detriment of the city's residents.

That absurd sale required Citizens Energy, which is allegedly a public benefit corporation, to grossly overpay the City for the utility for the sole purpose of creating a half billion dollar pot of money Mayor Greg Ballard could use to pass out to his campaign contributors to win re-election in 2011. The Attorney General brought civil RICO charges against City of East Chicago officials for conducting similar schemes for electoral victories in a scandal dubbed "Sidewalks for Votes." But the state's Attorney General, our Marion Co. Prosecutor and federal prosecutor all turn a blind eye to all of the corruption taking place in Indianapolis because they are personally beholden to the people stealing from us.

The quid pro quos from that 2011 deal were unmistakable. Two key council members who steered approval of the deal through the council, former CCC President Ryan Vaughn and Councilor Jackie Nytes, were subsequently awarded with big six-figure jobs. Nytes got the CEO job at the Indianapolis/Marion County Public Libary and a paid board position on Citizens Energy. Vaughn was awarded with the job as executive director of the Indiana Sports Corporation after a short stay in a six-figure job as the mayor's chief of staff. Vaughn's law firm employer, Barnes & Thornburg, represented Viola, the private operator of the water utility, which was rewarded with a $29 million break-up fee despite overwhelming evidence it had repeatedly breached its operating agreement with the utility and fraudulently overbilled Indianapolis water customers. Prosecutors refused to investigate allegations Vaughn illegally took actions to benefit Barnes & Thornburg and its clients while serving as the council president.

Other rumors about about payoffs, kickbacks and bribes accompanying the City's approval of the sale of the water and wastewater utilities have been ignored by federal and state prosecutors, and our worthless local media true to form has refused to allocate any resources to investigate the allegations for the benefit of the public. Whistle blowers who've complain to prosecutors are ignored. This traces all the way back to the original sale of the water company to NiSource. At that time, the utility was run by James Morris. Yes, that James Morris who has been at the center of the hundreds of millions of dollars in shakedowns in his role as Pacers Sports & Entertainment CEO to provide subsidies to the Pacers.

By state law, the utility should have been offered to sale to Citizens Energy before any other buyer. That law was ignored not once but twice. The second sale was made to the City of Indianapolis under Mayor Bart Peterson, who conspired with former CCC President Beurt SerVaas to purchase the utility for an inflated price from NiSource after it was stripped of its most valuable, profit-making assets. NiSource paid $288 million for the water utility, sold off assets worth about $100 million, neglected infrastructure needs and then sold the water utility a few years later to the City for $525 million. The City had to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to begin dealing with the ignored infrastructure needs, in addition to paying a hefty annual fee to a private operator. The City had already privatized wastewater management services to United Water back under the Goldsmith administration, which was supposed to achieve savings that never materialized.

Morris, who had received more than $6 million of the $20 million paid to the utilities' executives as part of their golden parachute packages, was also rewarded with a lucrative seat on NiSource's board of directors. Both Peterson and SerVaas had personal business interests that created a conflict of interest for them, neither of which disclosed those conflicts. The two then agreed to turn over its operation to the French company, Veolia, on one-sided terms in favor of Veolia. The privatization deal was accompanied by more payoffs and kickbacks to the usual suspects.

By the time Citizens Energy had acquired the water and wastewater utilities, there was nearly $1.5 billion in debt. There was no justification for a sale merely assuming the debt, let alone the half billion dollar cash premium Citizens Energy added to the pot, further burdening the nonprofit utility with debt that is now being passed on to consumers, whose water rates have tripled and now the wastewater rates will have tripled. Citizens Energy has created dozens of high-paying jobs for political insiders as favors to the downtown mafia. Additionally, the utility blows an absurd amount of money on advertising and corporate entertaining, including suites and premium seats at Lucas Oil Stadium and Banker's Life Fieldhouse, none of which provide any benefit to consumers.

This is what happens when you live in a City where nothing but crooks who steal our public assets are allowed to hold positions in our local government and when you have a news media that aids and abets the thieves and crooks every step of the way. The little people get stiffed at every turn, and the fat cats keep getting richer and richer as we suffer through it. When will the people of this city finally get fed up enough about always getting the short end of the stick and do something about it? You sure as hell aren't going to get any help from the people you've entrusted to run your government.

RIP Former State Rep. Bill Crawford

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Indiana House Democrats announced a short while ago the passing of former State Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis), who served in the legislature over a span of four decades from 1972 to 2012, including a period where he chaired the House Ways & Means Committee. Crawford was 79 years old.

John Boehner Resigning As Speaker And Member Of Congress

There won't be many people shedding tears over this announcement. House Speaker John Boehner announced he will step down as Speaker and resign his seat in Congress effective October 30. Conservative members have been threatening to act on an effort to oust the Speaker because of his repeated capitulation to President Barack Obama. Boehner has never been trusted by conservatives and has long been suspected of being corrupted by Washington lobbyists.

IMPD Officer Strikes And Kills Pedestrian, Alcohol Impairment Suspected

UPDATED: An off-duty, 7-year IMPD veteran police officer has struck and killed a pedestrian on E. Southport Road. The accident happened just before midnight last night. Police say a 911 call had been placed of a pedestrian walking in the street. A few minutes later, the off-duty police officer struck and killed the pedestrian with his police cruiser.

When other police officers responded to the scene, they found the officer attempting to render first-aid to the victim. Investigating officers noticed the smell of alcohol on the off-duty police officer's breath. The department's fatal alcohol team and DUI unit were then called to the scene. The officer was transported to Eskenazi Hospital at 1:30 a.m. where his blood was drawn to be tested. Police told the Indianapolis Star the blood test was performed within the 3-hour limit permitted by law.

IMPD has identified the officer as Bernado Zavalza, who has been suspended and placed on administrative leave. The department has a zero-tolerance police for operating a police-issued vehicle while under the influence of alcohol regardless of whether an officer is on or off-duty. The prosecutor's office has not made any charging decisions at this time.

This latest alcohol-related crash involving an IMPD officer is the second within a week and at least the tenth such incident within the past two years. Officer Daniel Greenwell crashed his personal vehicle 3:20 a.m. last Sunday morning. He had a female passenger in his car at the time. Officer Greenwell tested positive for an alcohol level of at least .08 but less than .15. He was placed on leave without pay.

Here's a press release issued by IMPD shortly before noon identifying the police officer:
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department expresses our sincere condolences to the victim’s family as a result of last night’s fatal accident. Currently, IMPD has a very strict alcohol policy in place, and officers are expected to strictly adhere to this policy. The off-duty officer has been identified as Bernardo Zavalza. Officer Zavalza is a seven-year veteran of IMPD and is assigned to the Northwest District. Officer Zavalza is currently on administrative leave, and his police powers were immediately suspended. Officer Zavalza is prohibited from performing any functions that require police powers. Investigators are conducting a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding last night’s accident. Once the investigation is complete, the case will be referred to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office for consideration of criminal charges.
The victim has now been identified as 53-year old Ronny Bowling. News reports don't indicate whether he was a local resident or someone just passing through.

WTHR has some more facts that are very favorable to the police officer about the circumstances of the pedestrian being in the street at the time his car struck him, including street lights in the area being out at the time:
Officers said that they were already on their way to the scene before the crash even happened because another driver had called in saying a man was walking in the middle of the road.
"I lay on my horn, swerved out of the way; he doesn't flinch, doesn't move a muscle, just keeps on walking," said Adam Goff, the 911 caller. "I was thinking, 'If this guy stays in the middle of the road, he's going to get hit'." . . . 
Two street lights in the area of the crash were not working at the time of the crash. In fact, they still were not working when Eyewitness News returned to the scene 24 hours later. Not only would that have made the entire area much darker, the victim was said to be wearing dark clothing at the time, making him even harder to see. "It was pretty dark. I could barely see him even when he was in my headlights," added Goff. 
The Department of Public Works told Eyewitness News it pays IPL to maintain those street lights. IPL said they were checking into the issue.
WTHR also says the blood alcohol test for the police officer registered only .02, well below the legal limit; however, the length of time IMPD waited to have the officer tested raises further questions about their intentions. Police waited 2 hours and 45 minutes before testing the officer's blood.
When Zavalza's tests came back, he had tested .02 for blood alcohol level. However, police did not take him from the scene to the hospital for those blood tests until around 2 hours and 45 minutes after the accident happened.
"By law, we have three hours from when a crash happened to conduct a DUI investigation. We are still, as we speak, standing here right now in that three-hour window," Riddle told media gathered at the scene shortly after the crash.
So Zavalza should not face any criminal charges. His only problem is going to be the department's zero-tolerance policy, which prohibits him from driving his police-issued vehicle with an alcohol level of more than .02. Since he's not over .02, he would appear to be in the clear.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chicago Tribune Sues Rahm Emanuel For Using Private E-Mail Account For Official Communications

It looks like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Hillary Clinton have something in common. The Chicago Tribune says Mayor Emanuel is violating the state's open records law because he uses a private e-mail account and text messages to conduct official city business and it's suing him to make those records public. The Tribune's lawsuit says its public records requests from Mayor Emanuel's office "have been met with a pattern of non-compliance, partial compliance, delay and obfuscation." It accuses Emanuel of using his private cell phone and personal e-mail account to do the public's business without scrutiny, leading to a "lack of transparency."

This is the second lawsuit The Tribune has filed against Emanuel this year. It earlier sued him for refusing to produce e-mail communications discussing a no-bid contract for the Chicago public schools that is currently the subject of an ongoing federal investigation. "We are seeking the release of public records on matters of great interest to citizens, but the city refuses to divulge them," Tribune Editor Gerould Kern said in a statement. "Regrettably, the city's denial is part of a pattern of resistance to releasing public documents covered by the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. We are compelled, therefore, to go to court for the second time in three months to force the city's compliance."

The Illinois Attorney General's Office has taken the position that written communications public officials make about public matters using their private e-mail accounts and cell phones are subject to the state's public records law. Other legal scholars disagree on whether the law extends to such communications.

Plea Deal Drops Attempted Murder Charges Against IMPD Officer To Criminal Recklessness

The Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office charged IMPD Officer Justin Beaton with attempted murder, domestic battery, obstruction of justice, and pointing a firearm at another person earlier this year nearly six months after he shot a gun at his girlfriend, Nikki Payne, causing her serious facial injuries, including a broken nose, cheek and jaw bone that caused her to swallow teeth and glass shards from a broken door window through which he fired the gun at her.

Beaton lied to police and blamed his girlfriend's injuries on an accident at the time she was originally treated for her injuries. Fearing Beaton, Payne also initially lied about the cause of her injuries before later telling prosecutors what really happened.

Now just five days before he was scheduled to go on trial, the prosecutor's office reached a plea agreement with Beaton under which he has agreed to plead guilty to just one count of criminal recklessness, a low-level felony crime under which he could be sentenced to as little as one year but no more than six years in prison.

It's too bad Beaton's attorney, Jack Crawford, couldn't have obtained such a sweetheart plea deal for poor Gus Mendenhall, who is serving a 40-year sentence for attempted murder and aggravated battery after beating up State Rep. Ed DeLaney but never firing a single shot at him. DeLaney's life must be more important than Nikki Payne's life. Or is it because Beaton is a police officer?

UPDATE: WTHR is reporting that Payne was refusing to testify against Beaton, which is why the prosecutor's office agreed to this outrageous plea agreement. I guess she wants to give him another chance to finish the job he started.

South Park Episode Depicts Trump Being Raped And Murdered

Shocking: Satirical cartoon South Park has aired an inflammatory new episode which mocks Donald Trump before showing the presidential candidate being raped to death in a shocking scene
Decency standards reached a new low last night when the Comedy Central channel aired an episode of South Park, arguably the smuttiest animated TV show in American history, in which Donald Trump is savagely raped and murdered by one of the show's regular cast members, Mr. Garrison, a school teacher.

The episode was an apparent attempt to mock the Republican presidential candidate's views on immigration and his pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border. The show depicts the U.S. being overrun with illegal immigrants from Canada. Mr. Garrison is fired from his job as a teacher after referring to Canadians as "canucks" and then launches a campaign for president using the slogan, "Where my country gone."

Garrison tells a CNN reporter at a campaign event that he proposes "f_ _ _ing them all to death" in reference to the illegal Canadian immigrants. Garrison becomes angry when he learns Canada has already built a wall along the U.S. border. The show suggests Trump has been elected president of Canada, which caused all of the Canadians to flee to America. "He didn’t really offer any solutions, he just said outrageous things," a Canadian explained. "We thought it was funny. Nobody really thought he’d ever be president. It was a joke! But we just let the joke go on for too long."

The show then depicts Garrison showing up at Trump's office wearing a wrestling singlet where he brutally rapes and kills him. At one point, Garrison pauses to huff the Rush brand of poppers once manufactured and illegally distributed as a recreational drug by Indianapolis' Joe Miller, a renowned pedophile, before he took his own life by overdosing on the inhalation of the alkyl nitrate liquid chemical.

Upon learning Trump had been f_ _ _ed to death, Canadians return home in jubilation. Garrison continues his own presidential campaign with Caitlyn Jenner as his running mate. Jenner is shown running over a pedestrian in another scene, an obvious reference to Jenner's pre-op fatal car accident in which a vehicle he/she rear-ended was shoved into oncoming traffic and the driver killed.

This is what passes for entertainment in this sick country today.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Indy Chamber Endorses Hogsett

I'm not sure it's an endorsement any respectable public servant would want given the organization's corrupt role in aiding and abetting in the theft of public funds for a select group of downtown insiders, but the Indy Chamber has given its endorsement in the Indianapolis mayor's race to Democrat Joe Hogsett, along with a collection of Democratic and Republican council candidates. Unless you are committed to stealing our tax dollars and giving them to these thieves, you cannot get the Indy Chamber's endorsement, which is a bit ironic since Hogsett claims he intends to end that practice. The Indy Chamber must know that's just campaign rhetoric. The Indy Chamber is also big on higher taxes and more government regulation--so long as its chosen businesses receive generous tax abatements and public subsidies for their private endeavors.

The endorsement committee was chaired by Ice Miller's Melissa Proffitt, whose job at the law firm seems to consist primarily of wining and dining politicians and helping organize overseas junkets for the governor and mayor. "We believe these candidates have the vision to continue the great momentum our city has seen recently in cultivating a competitive business environment that is attractive to talent and encourages our home-grown entrepreneurs," said Proffitt. "Our committee was encouraged by discussions with candidates on both sides of the political spectrum and believe our political, civic and business leaders have a shared nonpartisan vision for the future of Indianapolis."

Thankfully, my councilor, Zach Adamson (D), did not receive their endorsement. He should wear their non-endorsement in his race like a badge of honor. Naturally, Christine Scales (R), the conscience of the council, was not endorsed. Here's the list of those who were endorsed.

• District 2 - Kip Tew (D)
• District 3 - Pamela Hickman (D)
• District 4 - Michael McQuillen (R)
• District 6 - Janice McHenry (R)
• District 10 - Maggie Lewis (D)
• District 11 - Vop Osili (D)
• District 12 - Blake Johnson (D)
• District 16 - Jeff Miller (R)
• District 19 - Ben Hunter (R)
• District 21 - Frank Mascari (D)
• District 23 - Scott Kreider (R)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Straub Fired As Spokane Police Chief

UPDATED: The controversial leadership style Frank Straub earned as Indianapolis' Public Safety Director followed him to his new job as police chief for Spokane, Washington. Mayor David Condon (D) fired Straub today after his controversial tenure in Spokane began weighing down his re-election bid this fall. In the end, it was his relationship with a female member of his staff, in part, that sent him over the edge according to the Spokesman Review.
. . . Mayor David Condon asked for Straub’s resignation amid complaints about Straub’s leadership style and personnel moves involving two women who were transferred out of the police department . . .
And earlier this year the City of Spokane transferred Monique Cotton from her job as police spokeswoman to a higher-paying job with the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department. Yet her $90,000 salary continues to be paid from the police budget.
City Council members raised questions about the transfer, but Condon’s chief of staff, City Administrator Theresa Sanders, said Cotton’s skills were needed at the park department to “tell the story” of Riverfront Park, which is about to undergo a vast transformation after voters approved a parks bond last year.
Sanders said last month that Cotton’s $9,000 salary increase was an “enticement” to persuade her to change jobs.
However, city officials first attempted to move Cotton to the Spokane Fire Department, an effort rebuffed by fire officials.
Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said city administration officials approached him in April about transferring Cotton.
“The discussion of creating a public safety (public information officer) position and assigning Cotton in there was discussed,” Schaeffer said in an email. “We did have a meeting and decided that we would prefer to do recruitment for someone that was better fitted for fire.”
Cotton, who was hired by Straub in 2013 to lead the department’s communications and marketing strategy, was not the first to be moved while still getting a check from police.
Carly Cortright was paid her annual salary of $82,494 by the police department for 15 months after leaving her position as the police business services director in October 2013 to work as the director of the 311 project, a customer service program under the city’s Office of Neighborhood Services.
Cortright said she was pleased with the transfer because of Straub’s “constant negative feedback and belittling.”
“I left SPD because I was offered an opportunity to be part of a project that could make a real difference in the community,” Cortright said. “I was no longer making that difference at the SPD due to the constant negative feedback and belittling I was receiving from Chief Straub.”
Since Cotton’s transfer was reported, the move has been raised as a campaign issue by Shar Lichty, who is challenging Condon in his bid for re-election . . . 
The Spokesman Review tiptoed around the rumor mill over Straub's alleged relationship with Cotton, which people speculated had led to her transfer out of the police department. Monique Cotton has responded to social media comments regarding the rumors as untrue and libelous. Her husband, a local TV station sales manager, also stated the break-up of their marriage had nothing to do with Straub.

Rumors had circulated about inappropriate relationships with female staff members he supervised while he was employed as Indianapolis' Public Safety Director. Shortly after Straub was forced out of his job here, he and Amber Myers, director of Animal Care & Control, announced their engagement to be married. Myers, who later resigned her city job and moved to Spokane to wed Straub, claimed she and Straub didn't become romantically involved until after he announced his resignation. Other people doubted Myers' claims. Straub had elevated Myers to her role as Animal Care & Control director. Myers, an attorney, now works as an administrative law judge for Spokane's Office of Administrative Hearings.

Straub's short tenure in Spokane was marked by constant turmoil and turnover in his command staff much like occurred during his tenure in Indianapolis. Police complained about emotional outbursts and profanity-laced, heated exchanges. While Straub's termination as police chief is effective immediately, he is being reassigned to another job that will last until January 1.

A local Spokane TV station, KXLY, attributes Cotton's departure to Straub's "abrasive leadership style" and provides a laundry list of complaints senior police staff had against him:
The coup de grace on Straub's tenure was fired by his own command staff, which, in a report signed by Assistant Chiefs Rick Dobrow and Selby Smith, focused on his leadership style and a series of shortcomings which included:
  • Unreasonable emotional outbursts
  • Personal attacks 
  • Threats regarding employment and position 
  • Scare tactics 
  • Retaliation 
  • Degradation of character 
  • Demeaning, condescending treatment 
  • Profane and highly inappropriate language
Prior to the command staff's letter, the Police Captains and Lieutenants Association also complained about the chief's abrasive leadership which allegedly included profanity-laced screaming at subordinates.
Additionally, the recent departure of the department's public information officer, Monique Cotton, is related to the chief's abrasive leadership style, according to KXLY sources.

Franklin Native Austin Armacost Has Meltdown On Britain's Celebrity Big Brother

Big Brother Day 25
Internet traffic to Advance Indiana exploded over the past 24 hours so we checked the good ole Sitemeter application to see what was driving the traffic to the blog. Hits from Great Britain were off the charts searching old posts about Franklin, Indiana's pseudo celebrity/ reality TV cast member, Austin Armacost. Ugh!

Viewers of Celebrity Big Brother across the pond were apparently checking out old posts about the arrest and prosecution of Austin's mother, Karen, who is currently serving a 6-year prison sentence for embezzling over $680,000 from her former employer. Prosecutors alleged Austin's mother used some of the money she stole from her former employer to pay off her sons' credit card debts, including those belonging to Austin, although he claimed he had no idea she had paid debts owed on his credit cards. Interest in Austin's background piqued when he had an on-air meltdown in which he talked about having to "bury his brother" and "send his mother to prison."

These network executives know what happens when you put a group of self-indulgent, narcissistic and self-destructive people under one roof and put a camera on them 24x7 for the TV-viewing public's entertainment: dysfunction on steroids. Reality TV shows are relatively inexpensive to produce when you rely on has-been celebrities and wannabes who thrive on being in the public spotlight regardless of whether they have anything of value to contribute to the betterment of humanity. The cast members earn a few hundred thousand dollars for a few weeks' work putting on a live freak show that earns them no respectability in the minds of normal, breathing human beings.

Viewers of CBS's Celebrity Big Brother, which is being filmed in London, features pseudo celebrities from America and Great Britain competing to benefit their favorite charity. They compete in silly competitions and then nominate cast members for eviction from the losing team until they have a winner. How any respectable charity can accept money attained through such means is an entirely different subject. Armacost, is known mostly for being a former rent boy for fashion designer Marc Jacobs and a short run on the misnamed reality show, The A-List.

Armacost, who is gay and married, quickly become one of the show's favorites because he's not shy about baring it all and partly because of a bromance that developed between him and another house mate, the Apprentice's James Hill, who is supposedly straight. The two mates have shared a bed sans clothing and are constantly fawning over each other's mostly-naked bodies to the delight of the show's viewers, including Armacost's British husband. The F-bomb and name-calling seem to be daily rituals at the house based on highlights of the show uploaded to YouTube, but things took a nasty turn when Hill blindsided Armacost by nominating him for eviction this week.

His friendship with Hill being tested, Armacost accused him of lacking any balls and being brainwashed by one of his fellow American mates, washed-up super model Janice Dickinson, who received a warning in an earlier episode after she spat on Austin during an earlier row with him. But Austin saved his worst epitaphs for Dickinson, whom he referred to by the four-letter word beginning with "c" and described  as "a terrible example of a woman and a mother" whose "children would be so embarrassed." "You're f_ _ _ing the worst excuse for a woman ever." His petty insults against Dickinson continued to escalate. "What an embarrassment to society, [you] run around with your tits out and you’re spreading your legs." "“You’re just such a nasty excuse for a woman… miserable… who has to pop from reality show to reality show like you do to f_ _ _ing get a pay check. Get a job, learn a trade, get some education, you stupid f_ _ _ing bitch.” Pot calling the kettle black?

So when he realized his tirade against Dickinson had turned the entire house against him, the tears started rolling. His problem wasn't with his housemates; it was problems at home with his Franklin family. "I had to bury my brother and then send my mom to prison," the 27-year old man cried out. His self-destructive family was to blame for his meltdown he reasoned. Yep, throw the family back home under the bus. Well, the crocodile tears worked. His house mates decided to evict his leading nemesis, Dickinson, and former porn star Jenna Jameson, instead of the foul-mouthed boy from Franklin. Austin and  his "straight" mate James quickly made up and hopped back in bed and cuddled up together after putting on an erotic shower show for their viewers' more prurient side. And Dickinson said she harbored no ill feelings towards Austin. After all, it's all just entertainment. So inspiring.

Is American Senior Communities COO Out?

Dan Benson Interview with Assisted Living Directory
A reliable source within the long-term care industry tells Advance Indiana that American Senior Communities COO Dan Benson is the second top official of the company to exit the company following last week's raid of former CEO James Burkhart's sprawling Carmel mansion and the company's headquarters by federal investigators. Late last Friday, ASC announced the firing of Burkhart, offering assurances that the decision to terminate the CEO's employment had nothing to do with the company's operation of any nursing homes serviced by ASC. Advance Indiana could not confirm the rumor of Benson's departure. Advance Indiana contacted ASC earlier this afternoon seeking confirmation of the rumor, but the company did not return a message left with its spokesperson.

IMPD Gets Another COPS Grant Despite Past Violations

Under the leadership of former Public Safety Director Frank Straub, IMPD repeatedly used federal grant money it received under the COPS program to fund existing police positions rather than funding new positions in violation of the program. Nonetheless, the feds kept awarding the grant money because it just likes giving away money to fund programs it doesn't have money to fund.

Last year, the Ballard administration chose not to re-apply for the grant money to deliberately exacerbate funding for the department as a way of pressuring the City-County Council to pass yet another local income tax increase to fund the hiring of more police. The administration had been relying on COPS grant money to fund 50 positions. Despite the millions in additional funding the city received from the COPS grant, staffing levels for IMPD actually fell.

Yesterday, our federal prosecutor, Josh Minkler, joined IMPD Chief Rick Hite to announce the City had been once again awarded $1.8 million in COPS grant funding to hire 15 police officers, along with other assorted grant money, raising the total grant funding to $2.5 million. The COPS funding is supposed to pay the salary and benefits for 15 officers for a three-year period. So the City will simply shift funding for new positions it planned to hire with the increased income tax revenues to the COPS grant funding and use the the tax increase money elsewhere like it's done in the past.

IMPD had hoped to win federal grant money to purchase body cams for police officers, the total cost for which is estimated between $2 and $4 million. Two other Indiana cities were chosen, including Fort Wayne and West Lafayette, to receive that federal grant money according to Fox 59 News. The City should have used the $6 million it's giving to Blue Indy to purchase body cams for police officers if it had its priorities straight. On that point, has anyone else heard the rumor that Ballard has lined up a new job when he leaves office that is directly related to the local folks who are benefiting financially from the illegal contracts he awarded to Blue Indy and Vision Fleet?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Scott Walker Dropping Presidential Bid

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was scheduled for a campaign stop in Indianapolis where he was supposed to be holding a fundraiser for his Republican presidential campaign at the Conrad Hilton ahead of tonight's season-opening home game for the Colts. Instead, Gov. Walker is holding a press conference in Madison, Wisconsin this evening to announce he's dropping out of the race. Walker becomes the second governor to drop out of crowded GOP field. Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he was suspending his presidential campaign last week.

Subaru Expanding Lafayette Plant And Adding 1,200 New Jobs

Gov. Mike Pence announced today that Subaru of Indiana Automotive plans to invest $140.2 million at its Lafayette plant to expand its annual production by nearly 100,000 vehicles annually. The expansion is expected to create 1,200 new jobs by 2017 with an average hourly wage of $17.

The Lafayette plant is Subaru's only plant outside of Japan. The plant currently employs 3,800 and produces 300,000 cars annually. The Indiana Economic Development Corporate will aware Subaru $7,650,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $250,000 in training grants.

Contrast that news with Mitsubishi's announcement earlier this summer that it would shutter the doors of its Normal, Illinois plant, putting nearly 1,300 auto workers out of a job. Illinois state and local officials lured that automotive plant in 1989 by offering nearly $250 million in taxpayer subsidies. Union workers at Mitsubishi's plant earn between $24 and $28 an hour, considerably more than Subaru's workers even after the union agreed to wage cuts several years ago in an effort to entice the company not to close the plant.

Indianapolis Taxpayers Expected To Pick Up Part Of Tab To Refresh Circle Centre Mall

The billionaire Simons are back seeking yet another public handout for their private business endeavors. Simon Property Group wants to spend $20 million to refresh Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis, the bulk of whose $320 million construction costs were borne by Indianapolis taxpayers. The IBJ's Greg Andrews has a story containing only the downtown mafia's talking points on the plans, not questioning further welfare payments to the state's wealthiest citizens.
. . . Simon Senior Executive Vice President David Contis would not quantify the cost other than to say it is in the millions of dollars. However, parties briefed on the plan say the improvements would run roughly $20 million, with the city potentially picking up part of the tab. City officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment by IBJ deadline.
The mall is owned by about 20 local companies that pumped $75 million into the $320 million project in the early 1990s, when a recession and other obstacles threatened to derail former Mayor Bill Hudnut’s longtime dream of creating a bustling enclosed downtown shopping center.
Retail observers say the mall needs a burst of investment to stave off further decline. It suffered a big blow when Nordstrom closed its Circle Centre location in 2011, and over the years it has lost other higher-end retailers, including Coach and Nine West. Last year, the city struck a deal with the sole remaining department store tenant, Carson’s, to cut its rent $300,000 annually through January 2018 to keep it from leaving . . . 
Sherry Seiwert, president of the not-for-profit Downtown Indy, said in an email that the proposed investment would help boost the mall’s appeal to downtown’s rapidly growing residential population.
“We are so pleased by the proposed improvements and upgrades to Circle Centre by Simon, especially the prospect of adding a significant mall entrance off of Georgia Street,” she said. “Maintaining and increasing retail density in our downtown remains a priority for us, so we are encouraged by Simon’s plans for continued investment.” . . . 
What happened to the Greg Andrews who used to do real investigative reporting? It's not hard to figure how where the Indianapolis Star will come down on yet another public subsidy for the Simons. The newspaper is now a tenant in the mall in addition to being one of the mall's original investors. Isn't it about time a copy of their lease was made available to the public so we can determine whether it was negotiated at arm's length? Mayor Ballard has been doing somersaults for the Simons the past 8 years and our next likely mayor, Joe Hogsett, is that close to the Simons so we can expect more unabated grifting by the greedy billionaires and their public stooges for the foreseeable future.

Joe Hogsett Mows His Own Lawn

Joe Hogsett has another TV commercial for his Indianapolis mayoral campaign. This time we hear from his wife, Stephanie, who tells us Joe insists on mowing their yard, won't buy a car with power windows or door locks, wears 30-year old sneakers and has a pair of 40-year old basketball shoes. Yeah, it's that kind of a campaign.

Uber Hires Former NSA Employee/Hacker

Charlie Miller, a security researcher for Twitter and ex-NSA computer hacker, and Chris Valaseck, a vehicle security expert, made news recently when they demonstrated for Wired their ability to remotely hack into a Jeep Cherokee while it was being operated, potentially killing the driver of the vehicle. Fortune magazine is reporting the duo have been hired to work in a research lab for the popular car ride service, Uber. WhoWhatWhy explains their concerns about this development:
Nonetheless, we note with interest this development: A former NSA employee has now joined the staff at Uber, the rapidly expanding — some might say exploding — provider of ride shares.
Perhaps the word “exploding” should be used advisedly: This ex-NSA fellow, Charlie Miller, made a name for himself recently when he and another man — Chris Valasek who, like Miller, also just joined Uber — demonstrated that they could mount a remote hack on an automobile, essentially take it over and, potentially, kill the driver.
At WhoWhatWhy, we’ve been especially interested in the potential threat from car hackers because of the mysterious death of journalist Michael Hastings, whose Mercedes suddenly sped up, left a straightaway, mounted a curb, plunged into a tree, and exploded, sending the engine flying a long distance, something engines aren’t known to do.
We have no idea how Uber plans to use Miller’s talents. Presumably the company has no particular reason to fear that the cars of its “independent” drivers would be hacked — though perhaps such a concern was indeed the reason for these hires.
In any case, one could certainly imagine how Miller’s former employers might like to know more about where we all travel and who we are with.
At NSA, Miller was a “global network exploitation specialist.” defines network exploitation as “a technique through which computer networks are used to infiltrate target computers’ networks to extract and gather intelligence data….”
Interestingly, a major investor in Uber is the William Morris Endeavor talent agency based in Beverly Hills whose CEO is Ari Emanuel, brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It has been estimated the talent agency's original investment of between $5 and $10 million in Uber has grown by 60 times from its original value.

Another IMPD Officer Arrested For Drunk Driving

greenwell, daniel
A police officer assigned to IMPD's east district was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated early Sunday morning. Officer Daniel Greenwell was booked on charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and endangering a person and operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of at least 08 but less than .15 according to online court records (49G19-1509-CM-033614). I think this makes about 9 IMPD officers who have been arrested for drunk driving in the past couple of years.

UPDATE: Various local news sources are now reporting on Officer Greenwell's arrest. IMPD says Greenwell was off-duty at the time of his arrest 3:20 a.m. Sunday morning in the 7600 block of Sargent Road when the Porsche automobile he owns was stopped with a female passenger. Fox 59 News describes his arrest as occurring "following a crash" of his car. Officer Greenwell has been suspended without pay.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Prominent Gymnastics Coach Marvin Sharp Found Dead In Marion County Jail Cell

A prominent Indianapolis gymnastics coach who coached Olympic competitors has been found dead in the Marion County Jail where he was being held on pending charges of child molesting, sexual misconduct with a minor and possession of child pornography. Marvin Sharp, 49, died last night due to an apparent suicide according to various news reports.

Sharp had retained the services of high-profile criminal defense attorney James Voyles following his arrest on August 25. Court records indicate a "no bond hold" order was issued at that time along with a no contract order. Online court records don't indicate what, if any, bond amount had been set. A jury trial date of October 28 had been scheduled.

UPDATE: WTHR is reporting Sharp's apparent suicide came days after federal investigators decided to file nine additional child pornography images based on the discovery of nude images he had allegedly taken of several of his former gymnastic students who were all underage at the time.
. . . In all cases, Sharp asked to take pictures of the girls. It doesn't appear that the girls' parents were present during the photo shoots. Sharp allegedly showed the parents photos from the shoot that appeared to be appropriate, but kept others for himself that showed the genitals or pubic area.
The girls were wearing leotards, adult dress shirts, sundresses, swim suits and various other clothing in the photo shoots. In at least a couple of cases, the photos showed girls jumping in dresses without underwear.
According to court documents, Sharp took hundreds of photos of some of the girls, although it was a much smaller number of photos in which their private areas were exposed. (For example, of 425 photos Sharp took of one victim, 15 were inappropriate.) In all, investigators found over 125 images of children under 12 from Sharp's Gym that showed their private parts exposed.
Sharp was also found to be in possession of pornography that showed toddlers in sexually explicit conduct. Investigators say Sharp had been collecting photos of child pornography for "a very long period of time."

INDOT Discovers Some Asphalt Paved Roads Are Crumbling Years Ahead Of Schedule

The Indiana Department of Transportation believes as much as $71 million in asphalt paving work on nearly 200 recent highway projects around the state is crumbling and cracking years ahead of schedule because contractors failed to include enough binder material in the asphalt.

The asphalt paving industry is challenging INDOT's conclusion, blaming the problem on the use of recycled asphalt. According to the Indianapolis Star, INDOT officials aren't certain the problem is not more widespread. The focus right now is on work performed in 2014.

INDOT is not disclosing the identity of the contractors or a list of the projects under review. INDOT officials say they plan to either make contractors responsible for the problem to replace it or take a pay cut on future work corresponding to the reduced life of the road.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

CIB Officials Still Don't Know Cause Of Falling Bolts From Stadium's Retractable Roof

More than two weeks after bolts from the retractable roof at Lucas Oil Stadium broke and rained down on fans causing injury to three while the roof was retracting during a pre-season game, CIB officials still are unsure of the source of the malfunction but assure the public the facility is safe for use with the roof remaining closed. That was the official line given at a press conference conducted yesterday by the CIB's executive director Barney Levengood and the state stadium authority's John Klipsch.

The CIB says there was actually just one bolt that broke and fell. That one 7/8" bolt broke into several pieces. Officials also discovered at least seven other bolts that were loose upon further inspection. Klipsch assured reporters a problem of this sort for a 7-year old stadium is not unusual, although he conceded the mechanism should have been inspected prior to its use during half-time at the pre-season game on the orders of the billionaire Colts owner Jim Irsay. “It’s a huge building,” Klipsch said. “All brand new structures have a loose screw or bolt after seven years. It’s not something that’s unusual in all construction or manufacturing.”

I came across this video Uni-Systems, the company that designed the retractable roof, posted to YouTube. It says four camera had to be installed on each of the roof's retractable panels to show the retractable roof's progression during opening and closing. In the event of a malfunction, the cameras wirelessly transmit the video to the stadium's control center. Someone from the media should ask the CIB to release to the public those video feed's the stadium's control center received at the time of the malfunction. That's assuming the cameras are still operable after 7 years.

Advance Indiana also recalls the CIB approving the awarding of a costly contract this past year to an Illinois company to repaint all of the steel trusses supporting the retractable roof. Who was monitoring the progress of that work. Who inspected the work to assure it was done in accordance with the CIB's requirements? Is it possible damage to the retractable roof might have occurred during the repainting project?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Deborah Daniels Needs To Resign From Health & Hospital Corporation Board

Deborah Daniels, sister of former Gov. Mitch Daniels and managing partner of Krieg DeVault, sits as one of Mayor Greg Ballard's appointees to the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County's Board of Trustees. She also has a conflict of interest that requires her immediate resignation from that board.

Daniels has served as an HHC board member despite the key role she and her law firm have played in representing the interests of the HHC's key private sector partner, American Senior Communities, the company at the center of a federal investigation that today claimed the job of its long-time CEO, James Burkhart.

Publicly-available court records show Daniels' law firm has represented ASC in litigation matters. Additionally, it has been registered at least for more than a decade to represent ASC's interests at the Indiana General Assembly. State lobbying records show Daniels was among several Krieg DeVault employees registered to lobby on behalf of ASC. Krieg DeVault and Daniels have lobbied on behalf of ASC at least since 2001 according to state lobbying records.

For a number of years, Krieg DeVault and Daniels simultaneously represented both ASC and HHC before the Indiana General Assembly. Daniels' law firm had shared lobbying responsibilities for HHC with Barnes & Thornburg until 2012 when Barnes & Thornburg alone began representing HHC. Shortly after FBI and other federal agents raided ASC CEO James Burkhart's sprawling Carmel mansion earlier this week, a high profile criminal defense attorney for Barnes & Thornburg, Larry Mackey, emerged to say he was representing Burkhart.

Mackey's representation of Burkhart also raises conflict of interest questions. News reports have suggested the federal investigation revolves around potential Medicaid/Medicare reimbursement issues. HHC's CEO Matt Gutwein could not ensure members of the City-County Council's Municipal Corporations Committee that the investigation might not impact revenues HHC has received in the past from the 78 nursing homes ASC operates on behalf of HHC. Gutwein assured council members that neither the HHC nor its employees are the subject or targets of the federal investigation. HHC relies on the revenues generated from the ASC-operated nursing homes to pay debt service on its $750 million Eskenazi Hospital. If that revenue source is jeopardized, large property tax increases will have to be levied on Marion County property owners to pay that debt service. Both Burkhart and Daniels, incidentally, serve on the Eskenazi Foundation board that supports the hospital.

City-County Councilor Kip Tew (D), who is a partner with Daniels at Krieg DeVault, also is registered to lobby on behalf of ASC. When HHC's Matt Gutwein and Dan Sellers testified Thursday night before the Municipal Corporations Committee about the ongoing investigation before the HHC's budget hearing, Tew queried Gutwein about the "unique relationship" HHC has with ASC without disclosing his role in representing ASC.

American Senior Communities Sacks CEO In Wake Of FBI Raid

Burkhart Board Photo_DSC_8635.Burkhart_compressed
The man who helped build American Senior Communities into the large provider of long-term services it has become is out of his job as the company's CEO. ASC announced it had fired Burkhart today in response to a raid FBI and other government agents conducted on the company's corporate offices and Burkhart's sprawling Carmel mansion earlier this week. Here's their statement:
As has been reported in the media, the federal government conducted searches earlier this week at the home and office of American Senior Communities’ CEO. The government has not commented on that investigation.
As the result of ASC’s internal review, this investigation does not touch upon the operation of any nursing home serviced by ASC. However, ASC has terminated the employment of its CEO, James G. Burkhart, effective immediately. While this is a difficult situation, it will not affect ASC’s operations, including its employees, other healthcare providers, and, most importantly, its residents.
American Senior Communities is launching an immediate search for an interim and permanent CEO who will embrace ASC’s core values of C.A.R.E. – Compassion, Attentiveness, Relationship, and Excellence – and promote and maintain the ASC culture of caring for others while demonstrating the highest level of integrity. Meanwhile, the chief executive functions have assumed by the American Senior Communities’ board of managers, each of whom has long-term experience in the healthcare business, and senior care in particular.
This news does not bode well for Burkhart's fate. It is unlikely the company would have moved to sack him so quickly unless it did not expect a good outcome from the investigation. ASC is a privately-held company. Dan Benson is identified as the company's COO, but I have no information on who the principal owners of ASC are besides Burkhart. If anyone has that information, please share it.

UPDATE: A few observant readers pointed out that Wes and Blake Jackson are the monied people behind ASC. They're also the owners of Turtle Creek Management. The Jacksons are big conservative Christians who donate big bucks to Republicans, while Burkhart was the guy funneling money to the Democrats. Wes Jackson even donated $22,000 to Eric Miller's campaign when he ran for governor. The Jacksons are founding members of the National Christian Foundation. Don't be fooled by the name.

Blue Indy Triggers Neighborhood Parking Wars On Old North Side

Mayor Greg Ballard's decision to illegally appropriate hundreds of valuable public parking spaces all over the City of Indianapolis for Blue Indy's exclusive, for-profit use is now turning neighbor against neighbor. In the Old Northside neighborhood, Blue Indy has consumed dozens of what had been free, on-street public parking for area residents. That's forced some residents, most of whom are apartment dwellers, to find new public parking further away from where they live. Single family homeowners are taking matters into their own hands and issuing faux warning tickets to motorists parking in front of their homes threatening to have their cars towed.

The homeowners are citing a city ordinance prohibiting motorists from parking for more than 6 hours at a time in public parking spaces abutting a homeowner's residence without the consent of the impacted homeowner or tenant. "[H]omeowners proximate to Englewood Lofts have been waging a battle of bullying and 'faux police' parking tickets to intimidate and force residents away from the curbs in front of these homes and 'their' parking spaces," neighborhood activist Chas Navarra tells Advance Indiana.