Saturday, September 18, 2010

McQuillen Uses His Sgt. Schultz Defense On Property Tax Revenue Diversion To CIB.

As the blogs first reported, Mayor Greg Ballard's administration rammed a secretive plan through the Metropolitan Development Commission, which was drafted by attorneys at Barnes & Thornburg, without any public discussion to begin funding the CIB with $8 million annually in property tax revenues derived from a downtown tax increment financing (TIF) district. City Controller David Reynolds tells WRTV's Kara Kenney half of the that amount of money, or $4 million, has already been transferred to the CIB, which the CIB's Ann Lathrop claims is being used as a dedicated revenue stream for the ICVA. There's only one problem with that story. The ICVA has been funded since its inception with revenunes the CIB  derived from from other local taxes, such as the innkeepers' tax, food and beverage tax and car rental tax. It had a dedicated revenue stream; no revenue stream existed for funding the $33.5 million Pacers subsidy. When Kenney contacted City-County Councilor Mike McQuillen to discuss the transfer, he put on his best Sgt. Schultz "I know nothing" defense. "City-County Councilor Mike McQuillen, who serves on the CIB, said he did not know much about the transfer when contacted Friday afternoon, but said he would look into the situation," she reported

Ordinarily, the City-County Council President sits on the CIB as the council's representative, but because Ryan Vaughn's law firm represents the Simons, he appointed McQuillen to serve as his stooge on the CIB. McQuillen is totally beholden to Vaughn and his law firm, which handles all of his campaign finance reporting for him. McQuillen, who makes a living trading in political campaign buttons, meets regularly with Vaughn to receive his marching orders on CIB matters and council-related issues. McQuillen chairs the Municipal Corporations Committee. It stretches credulity for McQuillen to think he can profess ignorance of the plan to shift these property tax revenues to the CIB. The property tax revenues were shifted to the CIB so it could afford the $33.5 million it agreed to give to the Simon-owned Pacers as an additional public subsidy. When the council approved new taxes and borrowing last year to fund a bailout of the CIB, Councilor Robert Lutz, who chairs the Rules & Public Policy Committee, insisted none of the new revenues would be used to pay for additional subsidies to the Pacers. As it turns out, he was correct. The Ballard administration with the full knowledge of Vaughn and McQuillen concocted the property tax revenue transfer scheme to pay for the Pacer subsidy despite Mayor Ballard's insistence no property tax revenues were being used.

This latest backroom deal authored by Barnes & Thornburg's Bob Grand and Joe Loftus to aid another one of the firm's clients with the assistance of Vaughn and McQuillen has presented a golden issue for Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy. "How is it that we can prioritize using property tax dollars at an unprecedented level to fund the CIB and not step up and do something about libraries closing on certain days?" Kennedy asked Kenney. She "wants the city to open its books and further explain why it is using the funds for tourism promotion instead of parks, buses and other basic services." This is an issue that will resonate with the voters. It is obvious Mayor Ballard is allowing valuable city resources to be used solely to benefit Barnes & Thornburg and their clients. What is particularly disgusting about this transaction is how Vaughn's law firm was actually paid with our taxpayer dollars to draft an interlocal agreement that so obviously is intended to help one of its own clients. This is a new low in self-dealing, not that there hasn't already been plenty of other cases heretofore during this administration.


Cato said...

Does the U.S. Attorney (the D.C. one) need to look at B&T?

They turn up everywhere in these public-private dealings.

Grisham needs to come to Indy. Hal Holbrook's outfit was a bunch of pikers, by comparison.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I tried to watch the last two CIB meetings on-line but I couildn't get it to work very well. Did they discuss this plan at the CIB meeting, and if so which one? I saw McQuillen was at the Sep. CIB meeting, but the audio was so poor I couldn't hear what's going on.

Advance Indiana said...

There was not one word of the agreement mentioned at that meeting, Paul. Ann Lathrop is very sneaky in how she conducts business at the CIB. I will once again demand that Lathrop disclose the list of clients for Crowe-Horath. If she does that, it will be determined she cannot continue to serve on the CIB because of multiple conflicts of interst she has.

Sean Shepard said...

Regardless of the intentions of the people involved, it is so clearly obvious that everything that goes on appears tainted or subject to undue influence or control.

An issue I think we have is that all of eleven people (not really, but it is insignificant compared to the total number of voters) pay enough attention to politics at such a level that they read the blogs and/or take time to know who all of the players are and who is running things.

If the newspapers own't do it, somebody else needs to take this kind of information the public via forums other than BLOGs.

Perception isn't always reality, so I'm always careful not to assume people are up to no good; but, the information is important if people are going to make up their own minds. Especially when some of these deals are ridiculous or are nothing more than corporate welfare.

Advance Indiana said...

A person would have to be completely ignorant not to see how corrupt these people are. It will not stop until the Justice Department comes in and conducts a sweeping top to bottom criminal investigation and sends these people to prison where they belong.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Great report. Re AI's comment, so very, very true.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

And that, folks, is why good, hard-working, conservative Republicans have lost faith in their party.
You can't tell them apart anymore without a program.