Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Taxpayers Continue To Fight Losing Battle Against Ballard's Pay To Play Parking Garage For Broad Ripple

Without any watchog prosecutor looking over their shoulders, the corrupt administration of Greg Ballard is moving full speed ahead with its plan to give $6.35 million to one of his largest campaign contributors, who employs Ballard's former chief of staff, to build a new parking garage in Broad Ripple. A carefully orchestrated public forum on the controversial parking garage deal, which is intended to reward Ersal Ozdemir's Keystone Construction for his generosity to Ballard's campaign, was conducted last night by the Ballard administration. Questions posed by the general public were screened just like the administration does at every Mayor's Night Out event. If the Ballard-appointed moderator doesn't like your question, he tosses it out or rephrases it to the administration's liking to the point the question doesn't even remotely look like the question originally posed by the questioner. WRTV's Kara Kenney, one of the few media watchdogs in the local media, was there to look out for your interests:

Some taxpayers are raising new concerns about Indianapolis' plan for a $15 million mixed-use parking garage in Broad Ripple, claiming the city contributed to the parking problem by granting too many parking variances to businesses.

Taxpayers will pay $6.4 million for the parking garage, 6News' Kara Kenney reported.

"(The parking garage) addresses the symptoms. It doesn't address the root cause of the problem, which is the liberal dispensing of zoning variances over the last two decades," said Clarke Kahlo, of Meridian Kessler Neighbors Helping Neighbors. "That falls squarely in the lap of the city administration over the past two decades."
Kahlo referred to a 2007 study from Walker Parking Consultants that found parking issues arose mostly after 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Kahlo contends that the parking garage is not needed.

"If you visit Broad Ripple after about 9 to 10 p.m., it's almost like 'Animal House,'" Kahlo said.

Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Mike Huber said he disagrees with the contention that the parking garage isn't needed . . .

Some attendees questioned the safety of the Broad Ripple Avenue and College Avenue location, while others wanted to know more about the appearance of the garage.

Other questions were similar to those raised by the 6News Watchdogs in a story last month, including campaign donations by the developer to Mayor Greg Ballard, why taxpayers will not share in the revenues of the garage and what some call a lack of transparency.

The city and developer have not revealed the purchase price of the property.

"I feel we're being as transparent as we can for a few reasons. All seven competitive bids are all online," said Huber. "I do feel looking at just the parking revenues the city can collect is short-sighted. We feel it's better if it's privately owned and managed, put back on the tax rolls, because that formula generates more taxes for the city."

Some taxpayers disagreed.

"I think that's very problematic. There's no city control and no city ownership or stake in the project after it's been initiated," said Kahlo.

Conrad Cortellini said the garage will discourage people from walking, biking and taking mass transit to Broad Ripple.

"It's the proverbial putting lipstick on the pig," said Cortellini. "We don't want the pig. Art is not going to make it more acceptable."
"The parking variances is something we definitely need to look at, but it's also something that's been happening over many, many years," Huber said. "What we're trying to do is respond to this need that's existed for a long time within Broad Ripple for a structure."
Kahlo's point about the Broad Ripple parking problem being self-inflicted by city and business leaders is well taken. Fellow blogger Pat Andrews took a look at zoning variances that have been granted in recent years in the Broad Ripple business district that have allowed businesses to open without the required number of parking spaces. She found 7 variances that have been granted just in the last few years that permitted new businesses to open up without providing adequate off-street parking. In those 7 variances alone, a deficit of 226 parking spaces was created within the business district beyond what would have been permitted had the variances not been granted. As we speak, Kilroy's has a plan to open up another bar/restaurant at a busy Broad Ripple intersection that would take dozens more parking spaces out of use.

The City allows new businesses to be established that are not providing sufficient off-street parking and then tells the taxpayers there is a problem they must pay to fix. You are then required to give $6.35 million to one of the Mayor's largest campaign contributors to build a new garage from which he will receive 100% of the economic gain. Indianapolis is the most anti-taxpayer city in America. Ordinary taxpayers are nothing but slaves to an elite group of insiders who line the pockets of the politicians, who then turn around and hand out your taxpayer dollars to them like candy as a reward for their participation in Pay To Play.

The Ballard administration's refusal to release the financial details of Ozdemir's insider deal is an outrage. Even worse is the refusal of the state's Public Access Counselor to force the adminstration to release this information. It claims the information involves trade secrets, but the administration gave the media similar financial information that had been furnished by the other bidders competing for the garage deal without claiming the information was a trade secret. Anyone with a brain could tell you there is absolutely nothing a court of law would ever consider a trade secret in those documents tendered by Keystone Construction. It's total bullshit. They're hiding the information because it proves just how bad this deal is for taxpayers. If we actually had a federal prosecutor in this town who wasn't part of the currupt poltiical culture that runs this city and state, all of these characters would be hauled before a federal grand jury and questioned under oath about how this deal came about to reward one of Ballard's largest campaign contributors with $6.35 million of your taxpayer dollars.


Cato said...

This is Indy.

Either get on board and get yours, or move.

Had Enough Indy? said...

No Cato - We must continue to demand change. I know you are being sarcastic, but too many people really just shrug their shoulders, say they are all crooks and then don't help make the fundamental changes we need.

Good review of the big picture, Gary.

Cato said...

No, HEI, I'm suggesting something far more sinister than a cliched lament about politicians.

They make millions off every one of these deals. How much is your life worth? If they find you in a dumpster, what story is going to be written in the Star? How many Hoosiers will question it?

Remember our mother in D.C. who burned up in her BMW for possibly getting in the way of corporate profits?

Just let them make their money, and look the other way.