Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Clarian's Odle Has Stake In Airport Hotel

One would think the CEO of Clarian Health Partners, the state's largest nonprofit health firm, would have plenty of things on his plate and would not be dabbling in insider real estate deals. But that's not the case with Samuel Odle. The Star's Jeff Swiatek drops this little item in his story today about the Indianapolis Airport Authority's decision to award a hotel project at the new midfield airport terminal to Mansur:

Mansur's team includes hotel operator Concord Hospitality Enterprises, of Raleigh, N.C., and equity partner Samuel L. Odle, an executive of Indianapolis-based hospital group Clarian Health Partners.
Odle, of course, is closely associated with the Julia Carson crowd. Close Carson confidante Lacy Johnson is the president of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. Let's take another look at a story from the June 4, 2004 edition of the Star about a lawsuit former airport director David Roberts brought against the airport authority claiming he had been wrongfully terminated:

The former airport director at Indianapolis International Airport alleges he was fired last year for calling attention to "political opportunism" in airport hiring and contracts by an influential Democrat that Mayor Bart Peterson named as airport board president in 2000.

Indianapolis Airport Authority board President Lacy Johnson and board members attempted to influence airport staff to hire political favorites of Johnson, including an embalmer for whom there were no suitable job openings, according to a five-page notice of the former director's intention to file a lawsuit, which was recorded with the state and obtained by the Indianapolis Star."

Johnson attempted to influence employment of minorities, unionization of employees, allocation of space to airlines and concessionaires . . . engagement of favored contractors and suggested removal of BAA employees who were considered politically too Republican.

The former airport director, David Roberts, claims that in 2001 Johnson asked him to employ a "female state representative who was unqualified as an embalmer and who was a protege of Mr. Johnson's godmother.

"The godmother "is also a Congresswoman," the complaint states, in an apparent reference to Indiana's only congresswoman--Julia Carson, a Democrat who represents Indianapolis.

When Mr. Roberts told Mr. Johnson there were no suitable vacancies, Mr. Johnson said, "Other companies do this," according to the complaint.

Johnson, an attorney at prominent Indianapolis firm Ice Miller, was out of the office and could not be reached for comment Thursday . . .

Roberts' suit against the airport authority was dead-on about sleazy cronyism going on in this city with these various projects. As I said the other day, it's really cozy in Mayor Bart Peterson's little world of local real estate developers. The problem is only going to get worse as the local Republicans bypassed an opportunity to field a credible candidate to oppose Peterson, effectively ensuring his re-election.

Odle has absolutely no experience in the hotel industry. His unlikely participation has Lacy Johnson's fingerprints all over it. By participating in this insider deal, Odle erodes public confidence and detracts from the critical job he has running Clarian Health Partners. If he values the public's confidence, he will immediately divest his ownership interest in the hotel project. And it's about time the feds stepped in and started investigating this crap. It's our taxpayer dollars which are being thrown around to line the pockets of Peterson's cronies. Who's looking out for our interests? It clearly isn't Mayor Bart Peterson or Lacy Johnson.


Wilson46201 said...

Kinda like the Republican owners of St. Elmo's cutting in their buddy Prosecutor Carl Brizzi with a 10% share of a Prohibition-era themed saloon out of the goodness of their hearts? Did Brizzi want to be a law-enforcement officer or a bartender?

dave said...

At least Brizzi stood up and did the right thing by withdrawing his interest....NO WAY in hell a crony of Johnson's would do the same thing. Once again, Wilson tries to change the subject when members of the corrupt administration and their buddies do wrong.

Advance Indiana said...

Nice try, Wilson, but the two situations are hardly analagous. Ogle's deal involves a public-private partnership between the developers and the airport authority, which is owned by the taxpayers. Brizzi's deal was 100% private. And as Dave notes, he divested his interest in the enterprise.

Wilson46201 said...

When well-connected downtown businessmen try to cut in the County Prosecutor in a business deal, one should ask why the generous offer was made. Altruism? Brizzi reluctantly backed out only after it was made very clear it was illegal.

Are you implying anything illegal is going on with Odle's participation? Or are you just kicking up mud for general principles?

Anonymous said...

If any person of color gets implicated in anything remotely unpopular, one thing is certain: Wilson will run to their defense. Often without full fact,s but hey, who cares, right?

Here's the difference, Wilson: Brizzi paid $80K for his stake, which seems reasonable for 10% of a new enterprise such as this. That would make him (hang with me here, it's the private sector, and I know it's Greek to you) a limited partner. Subject to taxation on profits or distributions of income.

And subject to a cash call if they need more money.

Sounds like a perfectly good investment possibillity to me: he invested his money with a solid, tried-and-true bar and restaurant operator. Not a bunch of political hacks ganged togther to open a private club-turned-public-only-under-pressure. Re-read those old 300 East articles. The investors wanted this to be their exclusive domain.

Brizzi wisely backed out. Maybe he should've never invested that kind of money.

But he behaved honorably. He didn't bully neighbors to accept something they don't want. He didn't push through construction permits before they should've been. He didn't cry discrimination when things got public and uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

So the big question now is: Just how much taxpayer money will get kicked in to subsidize this smelly arrangement? The number of $10 million has been thrown around. It's worthy to note that in his article, Swiatek asked about subsidies and did not get an answer.
I've got a feeling that this hotel, when finished, is going to make the Super 8 on Shadeland look like a 5 star.
Where's the oversight on these deals anyway? What are the names of the people that awarded this deal to Mansur?

Anonymous said...

The Airport Authority board would have oversight, I believe.

And any subsidies would technically come from internal airline and fee revenue, not the taxpayers.

Advance Indiana said...

anon 5:06, the airport authority is a municipal corporation with taxing authority. All the money it receives, regardless of its source, belongs to the taxpayers. Yes, it collects fees from the airlines, which are generally passed on to their customers, but it also receives tax revenues also for its operating budget.

Anonymous said...

Odle is not CEO of Clarain Health Partners, Inc.

Anonymous said...

AI, any excess operating revenues from the airport authority cannot, by statute, go back to taxpayers. Which is sad.

If they make money from airlines, theory has it, they could collect less from Indy taxpayers for their general operating budget.

Last year, the amount collected from Indy taxpayers was $4.55 mil.

That's not chump change.

Anonymous said...

All of this is related - riverboats, hotels, gaming....follow the tracks - leads to one man and his group. Look to the president of the airport authority.

Rumor has it that he wrote HB 1566 for Crawford. This would allow non-profits to get certified as a minority business. That would allow so many things to fall into place to make their control and dollars continue to flow.

All those minority and women owned businesses that they supposedly want to help. That is a smoke screen for them to protect their own.

Look at the Ice Miller website on gaming...