Friday, May 15, 2009

Cronies Populate Indianapolis Airport Authority Board

Unless you are some one's crony, forget serving on the Indianapolis Airport Authority board. Mayor Greg Ballard broke a key campaign pledge not to appoint lobbyists to any board. Former Airport Authority President Lacy Johnson continues to serve as the Board's Vice President. Appointed by former Mayor Bart Peterson, Johnson is a high-powered lobbyist for the law firm of Ice Miller where GOP County Chairman Tom John is employed. Johnson retained the services of Ice Miller for legal work while he was acting as the board's president despite the obvious conflict of interest. The law firm continues to bill tens of thousands in legal fees to the authority on a monthly basis. The airport authority also contracts services with a number of Ice Miller's clients.

Andrew Miller, a relative new-comer to the board, is a lobbyist for the law firm of Bose McKinney. Alex Azar, another board member, is a high-ranking lobbyist for Eli Lilly and veteran of the Bush administration. Johnson's law firm, Ice Miller, lobbies for Eli Lilly.

Former Eli Lilly CEO Randall Tobias is the immediate past president of the board. He was appointed by Mayor Greg Ballard. Tobias served in an ambassadorial role in the Bush administration. The current president, Michael Stayton, served under former Indianapolis Water Company CEO Jim Morris at the U.N. World Food Programme. He previously served as an executive at the Indianapolis Water Company under Morris. Stayton is the founder of Cambridge Ventures. A co-general partner for Cambridge Ventures, Jean Wojtowicz, is also a board member.

The board's secretary is government contractor, Al Bennett. His company, Bennett Associates, provides criminal justice consulting firm services to government on the operation of jails and prisons. The final board member is Kelly Flynn, a senior partner in a commercial real estate firm, Flynn & Zinkan Realty Company. Flynn also serves on the Greater Indianapolis Foreign Trade Zone, which has a business relationship with the airport authority.

Would it be possible to construct a board with more incestuous relationships than that of this boards' members?


Unigov said...

Remember that the new airport was built based on Lacy Johnson delivering a "pep talk" the Bart Peterson - snippet:

We needed a new airport just as bad as we needed new hotels, new convention center space, new COlts stadium, new Pacers arena, new library....we're in debt up to our eyeballs paying for these frivolous projects.

Gary R. Welsh said...

But remember, Unigov, we're going to be a world class city some day.

Sir Hailstone said...

A cynic would wonder if and when a bailout would be needed for the IAA. The new airport was constructed with "funds from the airlines and not taxpayer funds". OK translated into OldSpeak - The new airport is paid for by passengers through increased fares.

IND is not a hub airport like CVG, ORD, MDW, MSP, or DTW. I believe the largest airlines operating at IND, Delta and NWA (now merged) have significantly scaled back. ATA went away and discount carrier SWA is only at three gates. AA and UA just operate puddle jumpers to carry passengers to ORD.

I wonder at what point will the airport bonds backed by airline fees (ie portions of passenger fares) won't be covered due to decreases in passenger travel at IND and require a taxpayer bailout of some sort.

I know said...

But remember, Unigov, we're going to be a world class city some day.

8:21 PM EST

Is that after the sewers crumble, the neighborhoods are boarded up and the SUper Bowl has come and gone?

I know said...

The Airport Board ain't the only cronie populated board!

Put the Boards down on paper next to each other and connect the dots. What a pleasant picture that will be.

Unigov said...

"I know" - thank you for the reminder !

Yes, Indy's airport fees are among the highest in the country now. And though the debt is repaid thru fees charged the airlines, any shortfall is covered by taxpayers.

Financial conduct by government is rampant:

- CIB - never been audited
- ISTA investments
- Water company buyout
- Airport authority
- Central Library project
- Carmel's road projects

We're no different from new Russia. The US has become a kleptocracy.

What's next ? Light rail projects costing hundreds of millions, providing myriad opportunities for graft.

I know said...

The new Russia doesn't have a Super Bowl coming and another stadium to build!

Maybe the bold new practice facility to be built on tax dollars can be turned into a housing bubble with condos when the Super Bowl leaves town. That would help out the eastside folks just peachy.

If we give the $15M a year to the Pacers, $47M or $32M to the CIB what will be the percentage tax increase to build a $20M practice field? Will that be an added rental car tax, more alcohol tax or hotel tax?

$Beer money, $car rental money and $hotel money in Indianapolis will take more than a Mastercard and it will be PRICELESS!

Paul K. Ogden said...


Can you imagine gambling in Indy? We'd set a record for graft and corruption.

Unigov said...

PKO - gambling in Indy would be the same as elsewhere throughout the state - licenses for casinos and horse tracks granted to well-connected insiders..

The funny thing is that the public doesn't care - not about spending nearly $1,000 per Indy resident on a new football stadium, nor about sales tax on restaurants increasing from 2 to 9 percent in just a generation, or ... anything.

Like the humans on that ship in the movie Wall-E.

I know said...

Sorry to say you do have gambling in Indy. All the borrowed money, the checks written driving the government into deep debt for a few friends gain is just like playing the slots or the tables.

Instead of the exclusionary rule used by the Gaming Commission maybe the State Legislature and CCC ought to have one too. Members exclude themselves until they can rid themselves of tax, tax, tax, bail out, ail out, bail out.