Thursday, December 13, 2012

Media And Public Barred From Simon Estate Hearing: Where's The Outrage?

In a highly unusual move, former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm, who was appointed as the trustee of the estate of Melvin Simon, requested and obtained a closed hearing in the Hamilton Co. Superior Court presided over by Judge William Hughes at which a settlement agreement in a dispute between Simon's second wife and children over the distribution of Simon's estate was approved. Apparently only one local news organization found the unusual move to bar reporters and the public from the hearing objectionable. As the IBJ's Cory Schouten reported:

A bitter battle over the $2 billion estate of the late shopping mall tycoon Melvin Simon has ended with a confidential settlement . . .
An IBJ reporter attending Wednesday's hearing was asked to leave shortly after it began around 10:45 a.m. Closed hearing are unusual in estate cases, and the newspaper registered its objection.
An attorney for trustee Theodore R. Boehm, the former Indiana Supreme Court justice, requested the hearing be closed, and none of the other parties objected . . .
An Indianapolis Star report by Jeff Swiatek doesn't even mention the fact that reporters were barred from the court hearing. Swiatek, instead, reminded readers of efforts by Simon's wife, Bren, to have Judge Hughes removed from the case after the probate contest was initiated by Simon's children.

The judge himself became a subject of the infighting when Bren Simon’s former attorneys asked him to step down after he got arrested for drunken driving in North Carolina during the case and briefly hired attorneys from the same law firm that represented Simon Property Group in its case.
The Indiana Court of Appeals ultimately decided Hughes should stay as judge in the estate dispute. In the North Carolina case, Hughes pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless driving.
The appeals court also ruled in the judge’s favor on his removal of Bren Simon as trustee. The judge replaced her with former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm.
Other local news outlets reported on the settlement of the estate without even mentioning the hearing was closed. This blog alone complained about media bias when it comes to coverage of the Simons. One of the dirty little secrets is how the Simons use their Pacers Sports & Entertainment business entity to take local reporters and other members of the downtown mafia on an annual all-expense paid trip to exclusive resorts in places like Mexico to curry favor with them. This is one of the reasons the news media's coverage of giving subsidies to the Indiana Pacers is so biased in favor of the Simons. The media always reports as fact that the Simon family loses tens of millions on their NBA franchise without any substantiation. They ignore the fact that the recently-negotiated collective bargaining agreement between players and owners netted smaller city teams like the Pacers tens of millions in additional revenues annually. And they ignore the fact that Herb Simon was very anxious to exercise his right to buy out Mel's 50% stake in the Indiana Pacers shortly after he died. Wouldn't the value of how much Herb paid to Mel's estate for his share of the NBA franchise say something about the discussion in whether taxpayers should be paying him $10 million a year in annual subsidies? Has anyone in the media made any attempt to find out what that buyout cost was? Absolutely not. I suspect that if we knew the truth we would find out that the additional subsidies the CIB has approved for the Pacers are actually intended to cover Herb's payments to Mel's estate to cover the buyout of his shares. Note too, that the CIB's counsel, also represented Simon Property Group in the Simon estate matter, another fact ignored by the media. If the media reported the truth you would learn that your taxpayer dollars are being given to Herb so he doesn't have to pay one dime to buy out his late brother's share of the NBA franchise. Only in Indianapolis, one of the most corrupt cities in America, could such an outrageous event occur and be ignored by the news media.

1 comment:

Citizen Kane said...

Move along, nothing to see here!

Seriously, they didn't want to bore us with such a mundane hearing. What benefit would knowledge be to "mundanes" anyway?