Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Marion County Democrats Blast Conflict Of Interest In Ballard Administration Awarding Parking Meter Lease Agreement To ACS

The Marion County Democrats picked up another fumbled ball by the Ballard administration and are running with it. The party's chairman, Ed Treacy released this statement yesterday discussing the ties of the City's paid lobbyist, Joe Loftus, to ACS:

Mayor Greg Ballard's chief counselor and lobbyist is apparently using his contract with the city to enrich other clients, most specifically ACS in the parking meter privatization scheme.

Joe Loftus has been a frequent visitor to the 25th floor of the City-County Building. Loftus is the city's chief statehouse lobbyist and a counselor to Mayor Greg Ballard. The city's lobbyist registration shows Joe Loftus as registered to lobby for ACS, the company Ballard chose to award the potentially billion dollar parking meter privatization to. It is unknown whether Loftus consulted the Mayor on the deal or lobbied for ACS or both.

"It's awful that Mr. Loftus would take the taxpayers' money and put it into his left pocket while taking ACS's money to lobby the city and putting into his right," Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy said.

Treacy indicated that this conflict of interest was serious enough to question the entire parking plan. "Well, I guess we can add it to the list of questions, but did the Mayor try to get a good deal, or was he just trying to further his friend and political counselor's pocketbook?
Joe Loftus told the IBJ the Democratic attack on him is "unacceptable." Scott Olsen reports on Lofus' reaction:

When reached by phone Wednesday morning, Loftus acknowledged he has lobbied for ACS “for years,” but said he was not involved in the negotiations from either side.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” he said. “Nobody’s ever attacked me like this. That’s not acceptable.”

Loftus further said he’s never discussed the parking deal with Mayor Greg Ballard and pointed to an ethics ordinance the mayor led that requires anyone contracted with the city to disclose other contracts.
What people need to understand is Loftus' ties to ACS and its representatives run very deep. His former boss, Mayor Steve Goldsmith, worked for ACS. His fellow colleagues in that administration, Mitch Roob, Skip Stitt and Ann Lathrop, all later worked for ACS. Loftus and his law firm helped ACS obtain a large subcontract on FSSA's badly bungled privatization agreement for the agency's welfare services with IBM after Roob became Secretary of FSSA as an appointee of Gov. Mitch Daniels. Roob's successor later terminated the agreement under heavy fire and filed a lawsuit against IBM; the agency, however, allowed ACS to continue operating a criticized call center in Marion, Indiana that operates in a building owned by State Rep. Eric Turner and his son. Turner's daughter served as chief counsel to FSSA at the time the IBM-ACS privatization agreement was inked. She recently left the agency. It also hasn't gone unnoticed by this blog that Mike Huber, the Deputy Mayor who spear-headed the 50-year lease agreement with ACS on behalf of the Ballard administration, is a former associate of Skip Stitt, who is ACS' chief administrative officer in its Washington, DC office.

During the transition between the Peterson and Ballard administrations, Loftus and Bob Grand, both partners at Barnes & Thornburg, played key roles as representatives of Ballard in helping choose people to serve in Ballard's administration. Loftus helped place Huber in a job with the Ballard administration. The old ACS hands likely played a key role in Huber's earlier hiring by the Daniels administration to work in his budget agency before he joined the Ballard administration. In addition to serving as Ballard's chief lobbyist, Loftus has also served as a mentor to members of Ballard's administration like Huber and meets often with them. Ballard appointed Grand as his first CIB President despite his obvious conflict of interest because his law firm represented the Simons and their Indiana Pacers. Ballard named yet another ACS hand to the CIB, Ann Lathrop. She first served as its treasurer and now as its president. It is hard to separate the ACS-Barnes & Thornburg ties from almost any decision of importance made by this administration. And lest we forget that Loftus hired City-County Councilor Ryan Vaughn as a high-paid lobbyist with the firm after Ballard's election. Vaughn later was elected as the City-County Council President. He has refused to recuse himself from participating in the approval of the 50-year parking meter lease agreement with ACS despite his firm's representation of the company that stands to make a lot of money off the agreement.


Wilson46201 said...

IndyErnie weeps...

Cato said...

They really are looking to sell anything they can get their hands on.

This is government-for-profit.

Jon said...

Privatization isn't necessarily bad but; the ACS deal isn't privatization it is more akin to rape and plunder.

Unknown said...

With all the news about Pittsburgh receiving 452 million dollars up-front money,three new garages, all new parking equipment and 100% of all the parking violation income this deal stinks even more!

dcrutch said...

The bar is raised pretty high for Melina Kennedy to funnel this sweet a deal to her own band of profiteers. Somehow, I have faith in our local rotted and inscestuous version of the "two-party system"- but the bar is high, nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

ENFORCEMENT PROCEEDINGS - SEC Charges Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. With Stock Options Backdating and False Disclosures:
"The SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., alleges that from 1995 to 2006, ACS engaged in a fraudulent and deceptive scheme to provide executives and other employees with undisclosed compensation."
Above is a part of a recent into ACS.

Seriously folks let's get real.
Public officials are supposed to be trustees of the commonweal, not political
buccaneers seeking their own private gain. But sometimes, in what economists call a
principal-agent problem, those trustees forsake that obligation and misuse the power
delegated to them in ways that advance their personal interests rather than those of the
Corruption distorts the allocation of resources toward projects that
can generate illicit payoffs. Besides the undesirable efficiency consequences arising
from this distortion, the effect is likely to aggravate social inequalities, because the poor and powerless suffer, by definition, a comparative disadvantage in securing special favors.
If the $500,000 has to be paid if the City-County Council will not vote for the ACS deal. Pay ACS's political blackmail scheme and get them out of town. Like all the other commentaries together with articles I've been reading have showed, ACS is not the kind of corporation we want in our town. Political blackmail, special interests, conflict of interests, WHERES THE FBI? WHERES THE FEDS?
Has anyone ever read ACS Ethical Standards they try to impose on their employees at the welfare office. Their employees aren't allowed to accept even a Christmas card. Yet the CEO's and Directors of this company have done just that.
ACS is a shameful, unethical, disgraceful hypocrite, not to mention the so called "leaders" of Indianapolis for creating this mess.
What an embarassment to our city.