Monday, January 26, 2015

Another IMPD Officer Arrested

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Showdown In Digital Billboard Debate Tomorrow Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Another Colts Player Arrested

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swarens Likes Brewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 22, 2015

CNBC's American Greed Tim Durham Episode A Total Whitewash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media's Gay Rights Darling Busted For Drunk Driving

The local news media kept this story under wraps for quite some time. The Indianapolis Star told us their anointed star in the gay marriage battle, political consultant Megan Robertson, was on their list of fifteen people to watch in 2015--just not the reason we were told. It turns out that Robertson had been busted weeks before for drunk driving after she smashed her vehicle into a Hardees restaurant on East Washington Street. A blood alcohol test found she was more than double over the legal limit. The irony is that Robertson is helping lead the legislative effort this year to overturn the state's law banning Sunday alcohol sales. The Star's Tony Cook provides these details:
Megan Robertson, the Republican political operative who was hired to run the campaign to legalize Sunday carryout alcohol sales, is facing drunken driving charges after police say her vehicle crashed into a Near Eastside fast food restaurant on Christmas Eve. 
Robertson, 32, lost control of her Chevrolet Equinox and struck a Hardee's restaurant at 921 E. Washington St., according to a probable cause affidavit. Robertson told police she was on her way home from a Fountain Square bar at about 1 a.m. after drinking two beers. 
A breathalyzer test later showed she had a blood alcohol content of 0.168 percent, the affidavit said. That is more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent for driving in Indiana. 
"I am incredibly ashamed of my poor judgment in this situation," Robertson said in a statement to The Star. "I am very grateful no one was injured, and I am very sorry to those I have let down. This lapse in judgment should not reflect on the causes that I have worked on over the course of my career." 
She is charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person and operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to 0.15 percent or more. Both charges are class A misdemeanors and carry a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $5,000 fine . . . 
Robertson has a string of prior traffic arrests for speeding, failure to wear a seat belt and operating a vehicle while her driver's license was suspended, the most recent of which occurred on September 25 of last year. That case was still pending when she was charged with drunk driving on Christmas Eve. She is represented in both cases by Jennifer Lukemeyer of high profile attorney Jim Voyles' law firm. Robertson managed Mayor Greg Ballard's 2011 re-election campaign before she headed up Freedom Indiana as a paid lobbyist to fight the passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in Indiana.