Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Disciplinary Commission Gave Gov. Mitch Daniels A Pass When He Publicly Attacked The Integrity Of A Judge

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels is a licensed attorney in the state of Indiana subject to the same rules of professional conduct just like any other attorney admitted to practice law in this state, although Daniels has maintained his license in an inactive status for a number of years during his public service. Unlike fellow attorney and blogger Paul Ogden, who faces the potential suspension of his license to practice law in this state because of comments he made in a private e-mail critical of a judge's handling of a probate estate matter in Hendricks County, the Indiana Attorney Disciplinary Commission took no action against then-Gov. Daniels when he didn't like a Court of Appeals' decision declaring Indiana's Voter ID law unconstitutional and publicly attacked the integrity of the judge who authored the opinion. As WISH-TV reported at the time, Daniels had particularly sharp words for Judge Patricia Riley:
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels called the ruling "transparently partisan", and promised an appeal.  He said, "It's a preposterous decision, an extreme decision and came in this case from a judge who's been reversed before and I expect it to happen again."
The governor went on to call the ruling an act of judicial arrogance.
The Indiana State Bar Association responded swiftly to Daniels' comments by releasing the following statement:
On Thursday, Sept. 17, the Indiana Court of Appeals issued a ruling in Indiana League of Women Voters v. Rokita, the “voter ID” case, and Gov. Mitch Daniels commented on the decision and the judges who heard the case. While the Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA) recognizes that Gov. Daniels has championed the cause of judicial independence, the State Bar is nevertheless compelled to emphasize that comments such as those attributed to the governor are not helpful in advancing appropriate respect for the courts and the judicial process, and honoring the separation of powers doctrine.
The ISBA respects the governor’s, and every citizen’s, right to disagree with the decision. There are rules, however, that govern judicial conduct and appropriate procedures for dealing with complaints about the judiciary. Comments about individual judges are not the way to express disagreement with any court opinion.
What Ogden is accused of doing doesn't come close to approaching the potential harm Gov. Daniels' comments had on the public's respect for the judiciary as the state's highest elected official responsible for administering its laws and an attorney admitted to practice law in this state. Yet Ogden faces the destruction of his professional career, while Gov. Daniels goes on to be hired by the Purdue University Trustees he appointed as the university's president earning nearly a half million dollars a year. Fellow blogger and attorney Sheila Kennedy hits the nail on the head with her observations in a post titled, "Trading the First Amendment for a Law License?":
The facts are fairly simple: Ogden represented a client before Hendricks Superior Court Judge David H. Coleman. In a private email,  he criticized the Judge, opining that he had a conflict of interest. At the time he wrote the email–and again, I note that this was a private communication–the judge had already been removed from the case for failing to act within an appropriate period of time.
It is unclear how the judge even found out about the email, but he did, and demanded an apology. Ogden refused. ( Paul is one of those people who will stand on principle even when doing so will clearly cost him.) Had he apologized, that would have been the end of it. Since he didn’t–he faces loss of his license to practice law.
Think about that for a minute. A “transgression” that could be cured by a simple apology is nevertheless so serious that the Disciplinary Commission can respond by destroying a lawyer’s ability to make a living. And what is that transgression? “Defaming” a judge by criticizing him in a private email.
As a recovering lawyer, I find this seeming vendetta very troubling. As a lifelong civil libertarian, I find it dangerous.
The Disciplinary Rule prohibiting certain criticisms of courts and the justice system is there for a reason–it is meant to avoid statements that might prejudice a case, or demean the legal process and thus respect for the rule of law. Imposing that rule in a case where a lawyer has publicly cast aspersions on a judge or court can be justified–although even then, there are limits imposed by the free speech provisions of the First Amendment . . .
In this case, the argument that criticisms of the court undermine public confidence in the justice system is simply not tenable, because the criticism was not public. And a comment in a private communication, made after the judge no longer sat on the case, could hardly prejudice the outcome . . .
 The larger question, of course, is whether the receipt of a license to practice law comes with a condition that the recipient relinquish the future exercise of his or her First Amendment free speech rights. If so, those considering the practice of law might be well advised to rethink that choice.
This disparate treatment in the enforcement of rules governing attorneys is nothing new in Indiana. Former Indiana Attorney General Jeff Modisett was allowed to stand on the federal courthouse steps and tear apart a decision written by a federal court judge dismissing a lawsuit he brought on behalf of the state against tobacco companies, telling reporters words to the effect that the opinion wasn't the worth the paper on which it was written. Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa was given a pass during his campaign for Marion Co. Prosecutor when he questioned his opponent's qualifications, Terry Curry, because he had represented a child molester in a case earlier in his career. The Indianapolis Bar Association criticized the comments of both Modisett and Massa, but the Disciplinary Commission found nothing about their comments that rose to the level of a disciplinary complaint, even though their comments were made publicly and not privately as Ogden's comments were made.

Chew on these additional tidbits. In January, Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer Paul Page entered a federal courtroom in South Bend, Indiana and entered a guilty plea reached with federal prosecutors whereby he admitted to defrauding a federally-insured institution to obtain a loan for a building he purchased with former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi to lease to the state's Department of Child Services under a sweetheart deal with the administration of Gov. Daniels. Page's crime is a felony offense carrying a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. In May, Brizzi's former chief deputy prosecutor, David Wyser, reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Indiana whereby he admitted to accepting a bribe in the form of a campaign contribution for his prosecutor's campaign from the father of an incarcerated woman who had been convicted of hiring another man to kill her husband. Wyser agreed to a sentence modification that sprung his benefactor's daughter from prison early in exchange for the campaign contribution. Wyser's guilty plea to a single felony count of bribery carries a maximum prison sentence of ten years. What action has the Disciplinary Commission taken against the law licenses of Page and Wyser to date? Nothing according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys.

UPDATE: The Indiana Lawyer's Dave Stafford has a lengthy story here discussing Ogden's hearing yesterday, which was open to the public only because Ogden insisted that it be.

Here are some facts to chew on regarding the handling of this estate. You decide whether you would be satisfied that Judge Coleman handled the case properly:
  • The unsupervised estate was open for nearly five years before Judge Coleman was removed from the case after Ogden, who entered an appearance at the tail end of Coleman's handling of the case on behalf of one of the heirs, filed a lazy judge motion to remove him from the case after he failed to timely rule on a motion, leading to the appointment of a special judge, who got the case closed within about another year after continuously prodding the estate's attorney and personal representative to act.
  • The first judge assigned to the case had it for only about four months before it was reassigned to Judge Coleman, who had it for the next 4 1/2 years.
  • Under the Indiana Probate Code (IC 29-1-7.5-3.8), an unsupervised estate is supposed to be closed "as promptly as possible", or "within one year" of it being opened. If it is not, the personal representative is required to file a statement with the court explaining why the estate hasn't been closed. "Coleman acknowledged under cross-examination that he had not filed notice of an estate open longer than one year," the Indiana Lawyer's Dave Stafford reported. In Marion County, one-year deadline notices are automatically sent to the attorney and personal representative by the court. If no explanatory notice is filed with the court requesting additional time, the court will set the case for a show cause hearing and repeat that process until the estate is closed. Bob York, the attorney hearing the case for the Disciplinary Commission, claims judges never issue orders sua sponte. "York challenged Ogden on why he didn’t file motions on those matters and asked him to show a case in which a judge had issued such orders sua sponte," Stafford wrote. "It doesn’t happen," York said.
  • Under the Indiana Probate Code (IC 29-1-7.5-3.2), the personal representative is required to prepare a verified inventory of the estate's assets within 60 days after his or her appointment. In the case of this estate, no inventory was prepared until 28 months after the estate was opened.
  • There was conflicting testimony about the extent of Judge Coleman's relationship with the Carr family. Ogden's client, Randy Carr, insists that Judge Coleman "was a friend of his family who’d joined his father at Christmas parties in the past, and that his father had millions of dollars squirreled away. Robert Carr Jr. testified none of those accusations were true and that his brother has 'issues.'" "But Randy Carr had informed Harris of conflicts he said Coleman had, and Harris conveyed those concerns to Coleman," Stafford reports. "The judge declined to recuse himself, saying he could find no conflict. Randy Carr said the judge also denied his request for an outside accounting of the estate."
  • The e-mail of Ogden's that Judge Coleman found offensive, among other things, according to Stafford stated "that Coleman 'should be turned in to the disciplinary commission for how he handled this case. If this case would have been in Marion County with a real probate court with a real judge, the stuff that went on with this case never would have happened.'" "Ogden claimed, among other things, that the estate’s value dwindled from about $1 million to almost nothing due to improper oversight." "The opposing attorney on the trust case, Steven Harris of Mooresville, denied there were problems with the estate and instead characterized questionable disbursements as honest mistakes that were repaid when discovered," Stafford wrote. 
  • According to Ogden, the estate's attorney billed over $40,000 for his fees, while the heirs received a distribution of only about $8,000 a piece after he claims the personal representative laid waste to the estate. I would note that the attorney's fees in this case exceeded the maximum fees recommended by the Probate Committee of the Indiana Judicial Conference for supervised estates absent extraordinary circumstances and the necessity of undertaking certain transactions based on Ogden's assertions concerning the size of the estate.
  • “I don’t know of anything I did wrong on this case,” Coleman testified.

Tony Bennett's Future In Florida Uncertain Following Damaging E-Mail Disclosures Of School Grade Fixing

An Associated Press report out of Indiana that former Supt. Tony Bennett and his staff rigged his highly-hailed grading system for the state's schools to benefit a charter school founded and backed by his largest campaign contributor is reverberating in the Sunshine State where Bennett now serves as the state's top education official. A firestorm erupted after newly-released e-mails show Bennett and his staff discussing the problem of giving The Christel Academy, founded by multi-millionaire Christel DeHaan, a letter grade "C." Bennett's staff ultimately decided to rig the grading formula to elevate the school's grade to an "A." Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been silent since the firestorm created by the release of the damning e-mails began and some are beginning to question his future. The Miami Herald discusses a decision Gov. Scott will have to make soon with his re-election on the line in 2014.
Gov. Rick Scott has been silent on the scandal engulfing his education commissioner. He declined two opportunities to speak publicly on the matter Tuesday, saying he had not read the AP report.
Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers later said Bennett was “clearly committed to making Florida’s education system the best in the nation.”
But with the 2014 governor’s race on the horizon, observers say Scott has a tough decision to make.
“If the governor wants to appeal to moderates across the state, he has to get rid of [Bennett],” said Brian Peterson, a professor at Florida International University and editor of the Miami Education Review online newsletter. “If he doesn’t, the message is that the game is rigged, and that public schools are going to be treated from charter schools.”
On Tuesday, Bennett said he had received “really pretty strong support” from Scott’s office and several lawmakers, as well as members of the state Board of Education. The seven-person board has the power to hire and fire education commissioners, but its members are appointed by the governor.
Bennett said the AP report would not impair his ability to serve as Florida’s top education official.
“It has no bearing whatsoever,” he said.
Even before the AP story broke, Bennett had faced criticism over policy changes regarding how to grade schools as well as his support of Common Core standards.
Bennett has already had challenges in his short tenure. Earlier this summer, he urged the board of education to preserve a “safety net” to protect schools from dropping more than one letter grade in light of changes to the grading formula. The board approved his recommendation, but members on both sides of the debate conceded that school grades had become less meaningful. One member suggested abandoning the grades entirely. State Board of Education member John Colon said Bennett’s woes in Indiana, while unfortunate if true, would not influence his views of the commissioner’s role in Florida.
“I’m judging Commissioner Bennett on what he’s doing, not what I’m hearing,” said Colon, a Sarasota financial adviser who joined the board after Bennett was appointed. “I have complete confidence in Commissioner Bennett.”
Board member Kathleen Shanahan said she, too, would continue to support Bennett.
But Rick Hess, an education policy scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, said Bennett might not get full-throated support from the Republican Party leaders who once considered him a top education reformer.
The reason? Bennett has championed the Common Core State Standards, a new national curriculum that will be deployed in Florida schools over the next two years. Tea Party groups vehemently oppose the concept.
The philosophical rift, Hess said, “has created distrust among the Republican base and the legislative leadership in Florida.”
“It’s not at all clear that they’re going to want to stand behind Bennett,” he said. “More likely, they’re going to look for an opportunity to push out Bennett in favor of a state chief who is not such a supporter of the Common Core.”

Read more here:

Illinois Lawmakers Take Governor Quinn To Court To Receive Paychecks

As Rome burns . . . .The state of Illinois is teetering on bankruptcy after running up unsustainable debt and deficits for years now under one party rule by the Democratic Party despite a constitutional prohibition that its state budget be balanced every year. The latest financial crisis revolves around the state's inability to come to grips with its unfunded pension liabilities, which now top $100 billion. After lawmakers failed to deal with a long-term solution to the pension crisis, Gov. Pat Quinn used his line-item reduction veto to eliminate $13.8 million in state appropriations for lawmakers' salaries. The state's Comptroller has been unable to issue lawmakers' paychecks after July 1 due to the lack of an appropriation. House Speaker for Life Michael "The Mad" Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President Johnny "The Dog Face" Cullerton (D-Chicago) have hired the same law firm that defended Rahm Emanuel in the challenge to his residency when he ran for Chicago mayor to file a lawsuit in Crook County against Gov. Quinn.

It's rather ironic that the legislative leaders rely on the Illinois Constitution, to which they have demonstrated absolutely no interest in adhering, as the basis for their lawsuit. The leaders claim the state's constitution protects them from a change in salary during their terms, and that the governor's elimination of their pay as a means of coercing them into doing the job they were elected to do is a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. Of course, they could end the entire ordeal by simply overriding the vote in the two legislative bodies overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, but they would rather use taxpayer dollars to pay a politically-connected law firm big bucks to smack down the governor of their own party they've decided has to go. Waiting in the wings to take his place as the state's next Democratic governor is the brother of former Chicago Mayor "Dirty Little Richie" Daley, William Daley, who has become a multimillionaire from insider deals courtesy of his political connections to the corrupt Chicago Machine. Why anyone would voluntarily open up a business and live in Illinois is beyond me. The only way out of this financial mess the Democratic Party has created for Illinois is for gigantic tax increases on every business, man, woman and child living in the Land of Lincoln.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Star Reports On Disciplinary Commission's Complaint Against Ogden For Criticizing Judge In Private E-Mail

Fellow attorney and blogger Paul Ogden faces an attorney disciplinary complaint hearing today based on the charge that he criticized a judge in a private e-mail. Hendricks Superior Court Judge David Coleman filed the complaint against him after he refused to apologize to him after one of the recipients of the e-mail passed the e-mail to Judge Coleman. Ogden, who represented an heir in a probate estate dispute, had vented his frustration about a family member being permitted to remain in control of the estate who other family members contended was laying waste to it while it remained open long beyond the one-year statutory period provided for closing estates.

Judge Coleman, one of several judges assigned to the case at one time or another, was removed from the case after Ogden filed a lazy judge motion against him for failing to timely act on a motion he had before the Court. By the time the estate's assets were distributed, very little remained for the other family heirs. Family members had complained to Ogden that the estate's personal representative had a personal relationship with Judge Coleman, a claim he disputes. Ogden's suggestion that Coleman should have recused himself from the case was what landed him in hot water with Coleman and the Disciplinary Commission. The Star's Tim Evans has a good story today discussing the First Amendment concerns raised by the complaint against Ogden. Here are some excerpts from his story:
“I was standing up for a client who got a raw deal,” Ogden said. “As far as I can tell, this is the first time they have gone after an attorney for something said in a private context. My question is: How far are they going to go? Attorneys criticize judges all the time, and this could have a real chilling effect. This is about more than me.”
The commission does not comment on pending disciplinary cases, said Kathryn Dolan, spokeswoman for the Supreme Court.
While Ogden appears to face an uphill battle in the fight for his legal future, the First Amendment protects his speech, said Margaret Tarkington, an associate professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.
Tarkington, who has written extensively on professional conduct and the free speech rights of attorneys, said Ogden is not alone in finding himself at odds with an attorney disciplinary system for comments that most other citizens are free to make. It is an issue that free speech advocates and legal scholars say is becoming more common — and troubling — across the U.S.
“This really is a problem and not just in Indiana,” Tarkington said. “It is absolutely an encroachment on their (free speech) rights.”
It is not just the attempts to stifle criticism, particularly statements made outside the courtroom, that Tarkington and others find troubling. It also is how the disciplinary process works.
In defamation cases regarding public officials, the First Amendment requires that the victim prove the statement was false and that the speaker knew it was false or entertained serious doubts as to its truth. Yet in many states, attorney discipline cases require the accused to prove their statements are true, which Tarkington opines is in direct violation of established First Amendment law.
Then there’s the reality that, in cases involving criticism of judges, it ultimately is a panel of judges — the Supreme Court in Indiana — that makes the final determination on guilt and punishment.
Unlike other public and elected officials, Tarkington said, judges can insulate themselves from public criticism by the people who know the most about them — attorneys.
Lawrence G. Walters, a Florida-based attorney who has a national First Amendment law practice, said there are some legitimate reasons for limiting what attorneys can say, but those are primarily related to comments inside the courtroom and about pending cases.
“There’s a certain level of decorum and formality that is essential to permit the proper administration of justice,” he said. “The public has to have faith in the system, that it’s not a circus.”
Attorneys should have more freedom outside the courtroom, Walters said, “so long as it doesn’t affect the administration of justice.”
Ogden's fear that he is going to be suspended for what he wrote in a private e-mail about a judge are well-founded. The private attorney assigned to hear his case is Robert York, who Ogden says already told him at a pre-trial proceeding that he intended to seek his suspension from the practice of law even before hearing the evidence in his case. That's sort of like appearing before a judge to enter your plea and the judge telling you that you have the right to plead guilty or not guilty, but the judge had already determined that you are guilty and unless you agree to plead guilty without a trial as part of a plea agreement you will face a tougher sentence for your offense because you contested the charges against you.

I contrast Ogden's plight to the treatment of former Attorney General Jeff Modisett. When he didn't like the decision of a federal court judge in Indianapolis to dismiss a tobacco lawsuit he brought against tobacco companies on behalf of the state, he held a press conference on the footsteps of the federal court house where he tore apart the decision, telling reporters words to the effect that the decision wasn't worth the paper on which it was written. Modisett faced no formal disciplinary complaint for his actions despite strong public criticism he faced from the Indianapolis Bar Association for his actions.

In contrast, the Supreme Court publicly reprimanded former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi for comments he made to the press about the pending murder case against defendants accused of killing seven family members. The Supreme Court found that Brizzi violated the Rules of Professional Conduct "by making public statements as a prosecutor that had a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding and a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the criminal defendants."

In another recently concluded case, the Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Tammy Davis, an attorney in Johnson Franklin County who had blamed a judge against whom she was running in the 2012 election for the early release of a defendant who later re-offended during her campaign, an allegation disputed by the sitting judge. She was also barred for five years from seeking judicial office. Compare that to the treatment of attorney Mark Massa's criticism of Terry Curry during the race for Marion Co. Prosecutor in 2010 because he had once defended a child molester. No disciplinary proceedings were initiated against Massa, who was later appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Council Votes Down Ballard's Property Tax Increase

Mayor Greg Ballard's attempt to raise property taxes $8 million a year by eliminating the homestead property tax credit in favor of more spending on sports facilities and public subsidies for the private development projects of his pay-to-play pals was rejected by the City-County Council tonight on a 11-18 vote. Despite all the arm-twisting of Republican councilors to stick with the tax-and-spend Republican mayor, not all were persuaded, including Councilors Bob Lutz, Aaron Freeman and Christine Scales, who voted with the Democratic-controlled council in rejecting Ballard's tax increase. It's good to see that there are actually Republicans left on the council who haven't broken their campaign pledges regarding property tax increases. That's more than can be said for Ballard and most of the Republican council members. Former City-County Councilor Jackie Nytes also has some explaining to do. The Indianapolis Public Library CEO was at tonight's council meeting lobbying in support of the elimination of the homestead property tax credit, which is paid for out of local income tax revenues. While the city gains from the elimination of the credit, its elimination actually cuts by several million dollars property tax revenues collected by schools and other local units of government, including the library. The library stood to lose at least a half million dollars annually if the measure passed. Councilor Monroe Gray admonished Nytes, a Democrat, for once again meddling in Republican politics.

UPDATE: Mayor Greg Ballard's office released the following statement in response to tonight's vote:
City-County Council leaders tonight failed to back up their rhetoric about providing more funding to our police and fire departments. I introduced this proposal a year ago. An independent, bi-partisan study commission recommended this step which would have cost only a percentage of homeowners less than a dollar per month and generated more than eight million dollars to support public safety in our city.
Umm, Greg, aren't you the one who has failed to back up your rhetoric of making public safety job one? You made your choices. Handouts to professional sports teams and your pay-to-play pals in exchange for campaign contributions and overseas junkets have been your priorities as mayor. If you want more money for public safety, stop diverting our tax revenues for purposes other than what they were intended to be used when they were levied and collected.

City Securities Defrauded Municipal Issuers, Made Illegal Gifts And Gratuities To Public Officials: Where Are The Criminal Charges?

City Securities, the most influential investment banking firm in Indiana based in Indianapolis, and the former head of its public finance division, Randy Ruhl, entered a settlement agreement regarding multiple securities law violations it was alleged to have committed in a civil enforcement action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. City Securities has agreed to pay a fine of $580,000. Ruhl has agreed to pay a fine of $38,475 to settle an individual enforcement action against him, along with a one-year suspension of his securities license and a permanent bar from supervising others in the brokerage and investment industries.

The audit findings contained in the order issued today, while focused on civil enforcement actions, detail wrongs that implicate serious criminal law violations by the firm and its senior employees, which begs the question as to why no criminal charges have been brought. The findings detailed in today's order implicate serious acts of public corruption if proven, including: underwriting public offerings that contained material misrepresentations; defrauding taxpayers by billing expenses from bond proceeds not permitted by law; and making illegal gifts and gratuities to public officials involved in municipal bond offerings.

Today's order only makes reference to wrongdoing related to one particular bond offering, a $31 million public bond issue of the West Clark Community Schools in 2007. "City Securities conducted inadequate due diligence and, as a result, failed to form a reasonable basis for believing the truthfulness of material statements in an issuer’s official statement, which resulted in City Securities offering and selling municipal securities on the basis of a materially misleading disclosure document," the order reads. According to the order, this is the first time a securities firm has been cited for this type of violation.
“This is the first time the SEC has charged a municipal issuer with falsely claiming in a bond offering’s official statement that it was fully compliant with the annual disclosure obligations it agreed to in prior offerings, and an underwriter and its principal for not doing the necessary research to attest to the truthfulness of that claim,” said Andrew Ceresney, Co-Director of the Division of Enforcement.  “West Clark Community Schools defrauded bond investors by leading them to believe that it had provided the annual financial information contractually required in a prior bond offering, when in fact for five years they failed to submit the required information.  This case demonstrates that we will be vigilant in making sure municipal issuers and underwriters comply with their obligations.”
The other more troubling violations, however, don't appear to be specific to the work City Securities performed for the West Clark Schools. According to the order, City Securities and Ruhl illegally sought and obtained reimbursement from the bond proceeds for expenses it ran up wining and dining representatives of the municipal bond offerings on which it served as underwriter. These expenses were illegally billed to the issuer as "printing, preparation and distribution of official statement" as far back as at least 2007. Quoting verbatim from the order:
For example, during the relevant time period, various Department employees requested, and Ruhl approved reimbursement from City Securities, for expenses relating to charitable donations, entertainment and travel. Examples include the following:
a. Numerous reimbursements for mileage, hotels and entertainment relating to issuers;
b. A donation of $2,500 to a charity favored by an issuer;
c. A donation of $1,500 to an educational scholarship favored by an issuer;
d. $1,000 to sponsor of a golf outing hosted by an issuer; 
e. $2,500 to sponsor an education foundation event hosted by an issuer which featured a “Colts Town Hall” breakfast with high profile professional football players from the Indianapolis Colts; and
f. Reimbursement for 12 Chicago White Sox tickets.
According to the order, the municipal bond issuers were unaware that City Securities was billing these entertainment expenses back to the issuer. They probably weren't asking those questions either. After all, City Securities donates very generously to public officials who reward them with public finance work. Elaine C. Greenberg, Chief of the Enforcement Division’s Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Unit, added, "City Securities abused its role as municipal underwriter by fraudulently obtaining reimbursement from bond proceeds for expenses unrelated to the issuance of bonds." "Moreover, City Securities violated MSRB rules by providing representatives of municipal securities issuers with valuable and excessive gifts such as multi-day golf trips and tickets to various sporting events." The order detailed those violations as follows:
During the relevant time period, City Securities provided improper entertainment, gifts and gratuities to various municipal securities issuers. (emphasis added) For example, City Securities authorized:
a. Frequent and excessive gifts and gratuities to representatives of one school district within a four-month period in 2007, including approximately $1,500 in catering expenses for a lunch and an evening dinner reception at an event to celebrate the installation of a new superintendent; approximately $800 for travel expenses for a multi-day out-of-state golf trip, including airfare, car rental and meals; and another $140 for an overnight golf trip including hotel stays;
b. Approximately $1,250 for a group outing to a Chicago Cubs baseball game for six issuer officials and their guests which was not attended by representatives from City Securities; and

c. In excess of $200 for two issuer officials and their guests to attend a Notre Dame football game, which again was not attended by representatives from City Securities.
Either a federal or state prosecutor should be able to read today's order and conclude that it summarizes activities involving possible violations of various federal and state criminal statutes governing public corruption. It seems that U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett and Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry have some explaining to do if neither follows up today's civil enforcement action with criminal investigations.

According to Indiana's campaign finance database, City Securities has contributed about $30,000 in recent years to various candidate, party and political action committees in Indiana. The firm's president, Michael Bosway and his spouse, Elizabeth, have contributed nearly $29,000. Those contributions don't include generous campaign contribution made to campaign committees of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, former Mayor Bart Peterson or Carmel Mayor James Brainard. City Securities' directors include politically-connected individuals, including Mark Miles, Mark Lubbers and John Biddinger. You may recall that City Securities was involved in advising the City of Indianapolis regarding some of those bond swap agreements that cost Indianapolis taxpayers dearly. The firm has also acted as a revolving door employer for former Indianapolis Bond Bank employees who helped steer work to the firm.

Former State Superintendent Tony Bennett's Staff Rigged Grading To Bump Christel House Academy's Grade From "C" To An "A"

The AP's Tom Lobianco uncovers more damaging e-mails from the office of former State School Supt. Tony Bennett. The latest e-mails disclose that Bennett became apoplectic upon learning that a charter school founded by multi-millionaire GOP contributor Christel DeHaan was about to receive a state-graded scored of a "C" rather than the "A" school officials expected to earn. The e-mails don't suggest that DeHaan, who had contributed $130,000 to Bennett's campaign, exerted any influence on Bennett's office to alter the school's grade, but they clearly indicate a concerted effort on the part of his staff to ensure the school's final grade made the "A" grade.
. . . Though Indiana had had a school ranking system since 1999, Bennett switched to the A-F system and made it a signature item of his education agenda, raising the stakes for schools statewide.
Bennett consistently cited Christel House as a top-performing school as he secured support for the measure from business groups and lawmakers, including House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long.
But trouble loomed when Indiana's then-grading director, Jon Gubera, first alerted Bennett on Sept. 12 that the Christel House Academy had scored less than an A.
"This will be a HUGE problem for us," Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12, 2012 email to Neal.
Neal fired back a few minutes later, "Oh, crap. We cannot release until this is resolved."
By Sept. 13, Gubera unveiled it was a 2.9, or a "C."
A weeklong behind-the-scenes scramble ensued among Bennett, assistant superintendent Dale Chu, Gubera, Neal and other top staff at the Indiana Department of Education. They examined ways to lift Christel House from a "C" to an "A," including adjusting the presentation of color charts to make a high "B" look like an "A" and changing the grade just for Christel House.
It's not clear from the emails exactly how Gubera changed the grading formula, but they do show DeHaan's grade jumping twice.
"That's like parting the Red Sea to get numbers to move that significantly," Jeff Butts, superintendent of Wayne Township schools in Indianapolis, said in an interview with The Associated Press . . .  
Bennett said Monday he felt no special pressure to deliver an "A" for DeHaan. Instead, he argued, if he had paid more attention to politics he would have won re-election in Indiana. 
Yet Bennett wrote to staff twice in four days, directly inquiring about DeHaan's status. Gubera broke the news after the second note that "terrible" 10th grade algebra results had "dragged down their entire school." 
Bennett called the situation "very frustrating and disappointing" in an email that day.
"I am more than a little miffed about this," Bennett wrote. "I hope we come to the meeting today with solutions and not excuses and/or explanations for me to wiggle myself out of the repeated lies I have told over the past six months." . . .
This whole charter school business in Indiana is turning into nothing but a way of using the state's education system as a means of raising political bucks from private individuals and the businesses that stand to gain from the establishment of charter schools. By the time it's all done and said, people will come to realize that charter schools aren't the panacea for a better education system they've been made out to be by their proponents.

More On Fountain Square EID Shenanigans

Advance Indiana has learned that the proponents of the Fountain Square EID are now seeking a postponement on tonight's vote on Proposal No. 105. Support among council members has collapsed as more property owners who initially signed petitions supporting the creation of the EID have recanted their support after previously undisclosed facts have come to light. I'm hearing that a meeting will be called for all affected property owners and so an audit of the linear frontage footage used for calculating assessments on all affected parcels can be performed. Proposal No. 105 was previously sent back to committee after reaching the full council due to concerns expressed by affected property owners. The Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee sent the proposal back to the full council a second time on a 6-1 despite vocal testimony from property owners and over the objection of one of the original sponsors, Brian Mahern.

UPDATE: The City-County Council voted 22-7 to strike Proposal No. 105, which effectively kills the Fountain Square EID for the time being. Councilor Jeff Miller unsuccessfully sought to postpone action on the proposal until September 23 before the council voted to strike it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dramatic Video Footage Of Journalist Michael Hastings' Car Exploding

Surveillance video footage captured by a camera at Pizzeria Mozza along Highland Ave. in West Hollywood, CA captures the final moments as investigative journalist Michael Hastings' Mercedes Benz passed by at a high rate of speed before bursting into flames following a spectacular explosion. The restaurant owner turned over the video footage to LA Police, which very quickly ruled out the possibility of foul play being involved despite the unusual nature of the crash that killed the controversial investigative journalist, who had warned friends only hours earlier in an e-mail that the FBI was investigating his work and that he would be going off radar for awhile to work on his latest investigative story about the CIA. An earlier investigate report Hastings did for "Rolling Stone" ended the military career of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, after he made unflattering comments about high-level officials of the Obama administration during his interview with Hastings.

The LA Coroner's office has yet to release the results of toxicology tests taken during Hastings' autopsy. Family members complained that the coroner's office cremated his remains before turning them over to the family. A resident in the neighborhood where the crash occurred observed emergency officials removing Hastings' body from the car hours after the crash occurred. Surprisingly, she observed that most of the body did not appear to be badly burned from the fiery crash. She could identify his skin color and clothing worn by him as his body was placed on a gurney. She said emergency officials appeared to turn his body in order to remove identification from his back pocket. The coroner's office had described his body as being so badly burned that officials were unable to identify it until dental records could be obtained to determine his identity.

Former U.S. counter intelligence official Richard Clarke has said that Hastings' crash had the hallmarks of a car being remotely hijacked using the car's computer systems. The mainstream media, which appears to care less about the death of a talented, young investigative journalist, has thrown cold water on such speculation as a wild conspiracy theory despite the circumstances leading up to Hastings' final hours alive and the unlikelihood of a modern Mercedes automobile exploding in such a spectacular fashion due to a front-end collision, even at a high speed. Neighbors described hearing what sounded like a bomb exploding, shaking their homes and awakening them from their sleep.

Shenanigans By Fountain Square EID Proponents May Sink Proposal

As Proposal No. 105 goes before the Indianapolis City-County Council for approval tomorrow night, which would establish Indianapolis' first economic improvement district ("EID") within the Fountain Square business district, there are signs that its passage may be jeopardized after opponents have brought to the attention of several city council members deceitful, if not illegal acts, committed by the proponents in the petitioning process to advance the EID. Advance Indiana has learned that several business owners who initially signed the petition after being apprised of the true proposed assessments on various properties in the gerrymandered district boundaries have withdrawn their support, calling into question whether a majority of the property owners within the EID now support it, the minimum threshold required under Indiana law.

What came as a shock to many business owners is the disparate tax treatment of the proposed assessments on businesses within the EID. An analysis prepared by opponents of the EID found that the largest buildings with the highest assessed value within the EID are actually receiving a discount of 55% based on the proposed assessments of their properties compared to a premium as high as 400% proposed to be assessed on several properties with the lowest assessed value within the EID. Some business owners who own multiple parcels have been given more than one vote, while other property owners owning multiple parcels have been afforded a single vote. Moreover, at least one parcel owned by one of the EID's proponents appears to have been omitted from the proposed assessment list despite its location within the EID. Opponents' experience in fighting the proposal has pointed up a number of flaws in the state law and the lack of oversight by city officials to determine whether a petition filed by the proponents of an EID conforms to state law.

In the case of Fountain Square, a handful of business owners have pressed for the creation of an EID for at least a decade now with the backing of Southeast Neighborhood Development, Inc. ("SEND") and Indianapolis' Local Initiatives Support Corporation ("LISC"), two nonprofit organizations that rely chiefly on public funds for their existence. In 2010, the proponents sought and obtained a change in state law that lowered the required percentage of business owners for petitioning for an EID from 2/3 to 50%. The legislative body of the city in which the proposed EID is located may only conduct a hearing and consider adoption of an ordinance creating the EID after it receives a petition signed by both a majority of the real property owners within the EID and those representing more than 50% of the assessed value within the district. Exempt properties are not counted unless assessments are proposed to be levied on them.

Opponents complain that the proponents of Fountain Square's EID resorted to subterfuge to get its petition before the council. The boundaries of the proposed EID were changed several times to reach the magical number the proponents needed. Parcels owned by nonprofits were added to the list to gain support, while some parcel owners located within the EID complain that they never learned of the proposal until after the ordinance approving it had already been heard the first time by the Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee and sent to the full City-County Council for approval. After several business owners complained about the unfairness of the process, the co-sponsors whose districts include the EID, Jeff Miller (R) and Brian Mahern (D), asked that the proposal be returned to committee and reheard a second time. Mahern has subsequently withdrawn his support of the EID after complaining that the proponents deceived him about the breadth of the EID's support among the business owners, while Miller continues to push for its passage.

What is particularly odd about the state law is that it allows proponents to craft any assessment method they desire, absent any equal protection concerns. Fountain Square's EID is based on the linear feet frontage of each parcel within the district without regards to the building's size or assessed valuation. As a consequence the owner of a parking lot with an assessed value of $40,700 will be assessed $2,210 annually by the EID, while the owner of the Murphy Building with an assessed value of $897,100 will pay an annual assessment of $2,456. Opponents complain that multi-story buildings like the Fountain Square Theater are being subsidized by much smaller business owners like Peppy's Grill. Fountain Square Theater's assessed value is $764,000 compared to an assessed value of only $40,900 for Peppy's Grill. The theater building would be assessed an annual tax of $3,794, while Peppy's Grill would be required to pay $491 to the EID. The building with the largest assessed value is owned by SEND, which is exempt from property taxes, would pay an assessment of $1,636. Opponents found that the EID would levy a combined $8,800 annually from the district's five highest assessed parcels compared to $7,846 proposed to be paid by the five lowest assessed parcels within the EID. On average, property owners will be required to pay an additional $1,300 to the EID.

Opponents have questioned the linear footage calculations contained in the petition, as well as the calculation of the number of property owners. For example, they assert that the linear footage for Fountain Square Theater measured only one side of its frontage despite it having street-facing frontage on two sides. In one instance, a parcel located within the EID was not assessed. Some property owners who owned more than parcel were afforded additional votes for each parcel, while other multiple parcel owners were allotted only one vote. Opponents believe that these were not innocent mistakes made by the EID's proponents.

Opponents complained that the proponents were not forthcoming in disclosing information that it was required to disclosed with the petition it filed with the City-County Council. State law requires the petition to include:
  • the boundaries of the proposed district;
  • the name and address of each parcel and owner of land within the district;
  • a detailed description of the economic improvement projects to be carried out in the proposed district, the estimated cost of those projects and the benefits to accrue to the business owners;
  • a plan for the application of the assessment revenue to the cost of the proposed projects;
  • a formula for determining the percentage of the total benefit to be received by each parcel within the district;
  • the number of years in which assessments will be levied; and
  • a proposed list of members of the board governing the district.
In considering the fairness of the assessment, the council is required look at the following factors:
  • proximity of the parcel to the project;
  • accessibility of the parcel to the project; 
  • true cash value of the parcel; 
  • true cash value of any improvement on the parcel; 
  • age of any improvement on the parcel; and 
  • other similar factors.
If the council approves Proposal No. 105 as voted out of committee, the tax assessment formula contained in the adopted ordinance will be applied by the EID's board. The board is required to mail the assessment proposed to be levied on each parcel to the parcel's owner, providing at least 20 days' written notice to the parcel owners of a hearing at which they can remonstrate against their proposed assessment. The board has the final say on the assessment, which it is required to certify to the county auditor. Assessments will be included on the parcel owner's next property tax bill and become a lien on the property until paid just like other property taxes assessed against the parcel.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Charlie White Files Malpractice Lawsuit Against Carl Brizzi

Former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White this week filed in the Marion Superior Court a legal malpractice lawsuit against Carl Brizzi arising out of his representation of him in the criminal case brought against him in Hamilton County where a jury found White guilty on six of seven felony charges brought against him by a special prosecutor after Brizzi declined to put on a defense case during White's trial. The case has been assigned to Judge Patrick McCarty and is the second such lawsuit to be filed against Brizzi in recent months.

In May, former Hancock Co. Coroner Tamara VanGundy, who was forced from office after she voluntarily pleaded guilty to a Class D felony offense for official misconduct arising out of a drunk driving arrest, sued Brizzi after she claimed that he told her she would be to return to her duties and run for re-election as coroner despite her guilty plea despite the existence of a state law to the contrary. VanGundy's case is pending in Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg's court.

White has filed a petition for post-conviction relief in Hamilton County after getting a new judge assigned to his case. Judge Steven Nation, who presided over White's trial, recused himself from the case after White filed a petition seeking his removal from the case. White's hearing for post-conviction relief has been scheduled before Judge Daniel Pfleging for August 15, 2013. White blames his conviction, in part, on Brizzi's decision not to call a number of defense witnesses who were present and prepared to be called. Among those witnesses was an expert witness who would have testified that GPS data from White's cell phone proved that he spent most nights at the home of his ex-wife where he claimed to be residing for voting purposes.

The special prosecutor convinced the jury that White committed vote fraud and other related crimes by claiming his ex-wife's home as his residence for voting purposes. The Indiana Recount Commission unanimously found in White's favor after the Indiana Democratic Party brought a post-election complaint against him following the 2010 general election where White easily defeated their party's candidate for secretary of state in 2010, Vop Osili. The Recount Commission determined that White had legally registered to vote and was eligible to hold office. The trial court which convicted White applied a different voting residency standard than has been applied in numerous voting registration disputes decided by Indiana courts, as well as the Recount Commission hearing his case.

Gov. Mike Pence Stands By And Says Nothing As Chris Christie Attacks Freedom-Loving Republicans

Gov. Mike Pence headed out to the Aspen Institute in Colorado this week on a junket with several RINO governors. The Aspen Institute is a favorite nonprofit financed by the world bankers and other New World Order types who want to ensure that Republicans and Democrats think alike when it comes to the establishment of a Stasi state in the United States. They fully embrace the concept of manufacturing terrorist events throughout the world to justify indiscriminate government surveillance of every body. To their way of thinking, anyone who speak out against the people in power are terrorists.

The Aspen Institute essentially bribes our elected officials by paying for lavish junkets overseas and throughout the country for them and their families where they indoctrinate them into the acceptance of a Stasi state and other items on their one-world government agenda. The Aspen Institute spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on our former Sen. Richard Lugar before voters finally wised up and retired him after 36 years. The Aspen Institute is currently run by former CNN honcho Walter Isaacson, whose network has all of those killer interviews conducted by Vanderbilt trust fund baby, Anderson Cooper, with the crisis actors employed to carry out manufactured terrorist events. Its board includes a who's who of New World Order types, including Madelein Allbright, Michael Eisner, David Gergen, Jane Harman, Jordan's Queen Noor, and Condoleeza Rice

To the point of my post, Gov. Pence sat next to Gov. Chris Christie, whose bromance with President Barack Obama is beyond sickening, as he attacked freedom-loving Republicans, at least what few of them are remaining in Congress. Those of us who support restraints on what the NSA can and can't do because we believe in the U.S. Constitution are "dangerous" according to Gov. Christie. From Politico::
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is ripping libertarians - including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). - for challenging government surveillance programs and failing to understand the dangers of terrorism.
“This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” the New Jersey governor said on Thursday at a Republican governors in Aspen, Colo. “You can name any number of people and (Paul is) one of them.”
Christie, who appeared on the panel with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, said people who are questioning government surveillance programs should confront the families affected by the 9/11 attacks.
“These esoteric, intellectual debates — I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have,” Christie said, warning that after the next terrorist attack Americans may point to “this intellectual debate.”
“The next attack that comes, that kills thousands of Americans as a result, people are going to be looking back on the people having this intellectual debate and wondering whether they put…” Christie said before trailing off.
Gov. Christie as much as announced that another false flag event will happen on American soil like the Boston Marathon bombing that will kill thousands of Americans and the Stasi types intend to blame freedom-loving Americans like Sen. Rand Paul for it. It's quite clear where Gov. Pence stands in this debate, and it's not on the side of the U.S. Constitution and freedom-loving Americans. His silence on Christie's comments speaks volumes.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. Gov. Pence didn't stand by and remain silent as Gov. Christie launched his attack on freedom-loving Republicans like Sen. Paul, he seconded much of what he said. According to Pence, our "liberties are meaningless" unless we forfeit our guaranteed rights under the U.S. Constitution because without the government spying on every aspect of every American's life we cannot be safe from "terrorist" attacks. I've put the clip of the entire panel discussion below. Gov. Pence's comments begin at about at the 1:08.10 mark.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Indiana's Congressional Delegation Votes Against Curtailing NSA Surveillance Powers, Demand Their Resignations

Indiana's congressional delegation had an opportunity to cast a key vote yesterday in the House of Representatives to curtail the powers of the NSA to spy on American citizens. Unfortunately, a lot of them stood on the side of violating your constitutional rights. An amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) that would have required a showing to the FISA court that reasonable grounds existed for gathering information about a particular person or group, rather than the indiscriminate gathering of sensitive personal information on every single American as the NSA is currently doing, was defeated in the House yesterday. Only one member of Indiana's congressional delegation, Andre Carson (D), voted in favor of the Amash amendment. All other members of the delegation voted against it, except U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R), who missed the vote. Those voting against the amendment included:

Susan Brooks (R)
Larry Buschon (R)
Luke Messer (R)
Marlin Stutzman (R)
Pete Visclosky (D)
Todd Young (R)
Jackie Walorski (R)

If you are represented by one of these members who voted against this amendment, you should demand their resignation from Congress. By their actions, they have demonstrated their unwillingness to uphold the oath they took to uphold the Constitution of the United States. The NSA surveillance program drives a fork through your fundamental rights to First Amendment free speech rights and your right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment. Their vote on this amendment demonstrates that they believe in a totalitarian state that would make Adolf Hitler proud. There were 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats who supported the Amash amendment, while 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats voted against it. The final vote was 205-217.

More Men Busted Having Sex In A Public Park

I'm not sure why in this day and age men who want to have sex with other men would feel a compulsion to meet in a public park. It's not like there aren't places other than public parks where they can meet other men or connect with one another via the Internet. Yet it continues to happen. WRTV's Stephen Dean reports on numerous arrests made by IMPD undercover officers recently at Skiles Test Nature Park on Indianapolis' northeast side, often in place where children are nearby.
Police have reported making numerous arrests at picnic tables, on park benches, inside cars and off jogging trails, as undercover officers take aim at nudity in city parks, apparently fueled in part by postings on several web sites.
"I think it's crazy," said one park visitor, as she rode her bike in the Skiles Test Nature Park on the northeast side of Indianapolis, reacting to a police sting that has netted at least eight arrests since late May. "Ridiculous," she said.
Numerous online listings refer to certain parks around the nation as "cruisy parks," and some even offer ratings and tips for men who want to cruise through certain areas to link up with other men for exposing themselves or masturbating in public. 
Days after one group of arrests at the park off Fall Creek Parkway in northeast Indianapolis, the Call 6 Investigators found summer camp activities drawing groups of children to the park near the exact spot where arrests were being made. Dozens of other park visitors were typically seen walking their pets or riding bicycles to enjoy the scenic wooded park.
"They don't expect to find people exposing themselves or engaged in sex acts. That's not what you expect when you come to a public park, nor should it be," said one undercover Vice Squad sergeant with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
He said men who are "cruising" parks for illegal encounters often flash hand signals to alert approaching cars that they are looking to participate in the nude exchanges.
With hidden cameras, the Call 6 Investigators found some men backing their cars into secluded parking spots and then flashing the hand signals to approaching cars, as police had described. Men appeared to respond by pulling into neighboring parking spaces to discuss and arrange the particulars . . .
Frequently, the men arrested in these embarrassing arrests are married men.  Dean's story gives up the names and faces of some of those busted.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weiner's Latest Sexting Partner Is A Blogger For Indiana Progressive Liberals

Apparently disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's latest sexting partner has ties to Indiana. Her name is Sydney Leathers and she blogs for Indiana Progressive Liberals according to the Daily Mail. The 23-year old Leathers worked as a field organizer for Obama's presidential campaign. Weiner is listed third on her list of political heroes behind Obama and Bill Maher. Buzzfeed first identified Leathers as Weiner's sexting partner. Formerly from Illinois, she now resides in Indiana. Weiner, who is now running for New York Mayor, reportedly offered to move Leathers to Chicago or New York where they could be closer. Weiner shared nude photos of himself with Leathers after resigning his seat in Congress and apologizing to his wife, former Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, who says she plans to continue sticking by her man despite the continued flaunting by him of his adulterous relationships.

Indianapolis Council Committee Approves Fining Blameless Property Owners For Graffiti

The Indianapolis City-County Council proves once again why it's the worst council in the state of Indiana. The Rules & Public Policy Committee voted unanimously to levy fines against property owners whose buildings are vandalized by neighborhood thugs who tag their buildings with gang graffiti without fear of arrest and prosecution if they don't clean up the graffiti. From the Star:
Property owners in Indianapolis could face a $50 fine for failing to clean up or paint over graffiti under a proposal approved Tuesday by a City-County Council committee.
City leaders hope the proposed fine, coupled with a new cleanup assistance program run by local nonprofit Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, will help rid neighborhoods of such defacement.
The carrot-and-stick approach is the result of months of work by a task force involving community leaders, public safety officials and others. Co-sponsor Zach Adamson, a Democrat, said the bipartisan measure was aimed in part at absentee landlords.
Property owners could face escalating fines if they ignore city violation notices.
City-County Councilor Brian Mahern once again appears to be the lone voice of reason on the council. He tried unsuccessfully to offer an amendment to strip the fine out of the proposal since that equates to "taxing the victim" of a crime. Why don't we just start levying fines against homeowners who keep bothering police every time their homes get broken into? This is another bright idea of Councilor Jeff Miller, who is an embarrassment to the Republican Party. The guy is intent on regulating and taxing people into oblivion. Last week, he pushed through a council committee a proposal that will levy on average a new property tax increase of $1,300 on Fountain Square business owners that will be controlled by an unelected, unaccountable board.

My brother-in-law has two properties in Terre Haute which face I-70. It doesn't matter how much money he spends repainting and cleaning up the graffiti the street thugs return and mark their territory within days. As long as they know there is no crime and punishment for tagging properties, the perpetrators are going to keep doing it. To blame property owners for the crimes of others is unconscionable.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Local FBI Office Sees Uptick In Heroin On Indy's Streets: Gee, I Wonder Why?

A special-agent-in charge in the local Indianapolis FBI office, Bob Jones, discussed the priorities of the local office with the media today. Among the efforts outlined by Jones is a "safe streets" task force. Jones says that Indianapolis is seeing an uptick in heroin-related deaths and gang activity.
Another task force, known as "safe streets" is targeting community based violence, often facilitated by both national and neighborhood based gangs. A sudden rise in heroin deaths and drug busts last year may be behind some of the violence seen in recent months, Jones said.
“We've seen an uptick in heroin here, and we know that fuels a lot of the gangs. Gang violence in Indianapolis seems to be rising in frequency, and we focus a little bit more on that because of it,” he said.
Intel from the task force has also enabled agents to target gang leadership.
“The biggest thing we can do through our safe streets task force and our criminal enterprise theory of investigation is take these gangs and their associates off in large swaths. We want to focus on the gangs where we can arrest 30, 40 or 50 at a time, versus the ones and twos. That's probably the best way to make those neighborhoods safer,” Jones said.
Let's see, where does the heroin originate? That would be Afghanistan. Who's calling the shots in Afghanistan? That would be the CIA, which pays bribes to the country's leadership and drug warlords in their employ to protect its drug-running operations. In fact, heroin production in Afghanistan has skyrocketed since the U.S. invaded the country for the purpose of eliminating Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization founded and funded by the CIA. The largest drug trafficker in the world is the CIA. Until the FBI starts investigating and prosecuting high-level people within the CIA and their contracted agents, including those operating right here in Indiana, for their role in drug trafficking, money laundering and other international criminal activity, the federal government's so-called war on drugs will remain nothing more than an overt effort by the federal government to eliminate drug operations that compete with the CIA's drug rings.

Jones says its public corruption task force remains active, which continues to ignore the largest public racketeering operations in state government and the city of Indianapolis. Let's put it this way, Indiana and the city of Indianapolis continue to be one of the most ideal places in America to engage in public corruption activity. Your chances of being prosecuted if you're working with the right people are slim to none. The amount of public money that is being pilfered by those of greatest influence in government has reached unimaginable proportions. There seems to be a consensus that those committing the most egregious acts are being regularly briefed and tipped off about any information coming to the attention of the public corruption task force, and that the politically-driven U.S. Attorney's Office will only prosecute low-hanging fruit involving persons deemed disposable by those in charge. Whistle blowers beware. These people are ruthless when it comes to exacting revenge on people who threaten their empire.

You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Your Back

The Indianapolis Star's Jon Murray says the Indianapolis Public Library is poised to carry out "expansionary aims" under the leadership of its new CEO, Jackie Nytes, the former City-County Councilor who served as the library's CFO when it nearly bankrupted itself going on a massive, new building effort that cost taxpayers dearly. Murray's story tells us that Citizen Energy's Carey Lykins will co-chair a task force that will develop a 5-year strategic plan for the library with Hope Lampton, community relations director for Christian Theological Seminary.

Lykins has been in the news as of late after asking Indianapolis ratepayers to absorb a 14% water rate increase to help pay for the doubling of his salary to nearly $3 million and big salary increases for more than a dozen of the nonprofit utility's top executives. Lykins had promised Indianapolis ratepayers that a benefit of Citizens Energy acquiring the water utility would be lower rate increases in the future.

Nytes is no stranger to Lykins. She was a vocal proponent of the sale of the water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy as a member of the City-County Council immediately before being named the library's new CEO, earning close to $150,000 a year. Nytes repeats at every public forum she is allowed to speak the false notion that local governments' budget woes can be blamed on property tax caps. And what organization does Nytes serve as a member of its Board of Trustees? Why yes, that would be Citizens Energy. It's business as usual as one member of the downtown mafia takes care of another.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Obama Sponsored Legislation Protecting Illinois Residents From Civil Liability For Standing Their Ground

It's yet another case of "do what I say, not what I do." It turns out that President Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation (SB 2286) as an Illinois state senator which strengthened the state's stand your ground statute by providing the state's residents immunity from civil liability, which was signed into law on July 28, 2004, the same year he was seeking statewide election as a U.S. Senator in Illinois. According to the Illinois Times, the legislation passed the Illinois Senate unanimously and received only two dissenting votes when it was considered by the Illinois House. Here's the pertinent language from the Obama immunity law for standing your ground.

Section 5. The Criminal Code of 1961 is amended by changing
Sections 7-1, 7-2, and 7-3 as follows:
    (720 ILCS 5/7-1)  (from Ch. 38, par. 7-1)
    Sec. 7-1. Use of force in defense of person.
    (a) A person is justified in the use of force against
another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that
such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against
such other's imminent use of unlawful force. However, he is
justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to
cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes
that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great
bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a
forcible felony.
    (b) In no case shall any act involving the use of force
justified under this Section give rise to any claim or
liability brought by or on behalf of any person acting within
the definition of "aggressor" set forth in Section 7-4 of this
Article, or the estate, spouse, or other family member of such
a person, against the person or estate of the person using such
justified force, unless the use of force involves willful or
wanton misconduct.
(Source: Laws 1961, p. 1983.)

Interestingly, supporters of Trayvon Martin have urged the Martin family to sue George Zimmerman civilly in the state of Florida after a jury acquitted him of all charges. Martin's family has already won a $1 million civil settlement from the insurer for the homeowner's association where Zimmerman lived and volunteered as a neighborhood crime watch captain.

Daniels Appointed Amos Brown To Education Roundtable To Silience Loud Mouth Critic

An interesting e-mail emerges from a batch of e-mails the office of State Education Superintendent Glenda Ritz leaked to AP reporter Tom Lobianco in order to discredit former Gov. Mitch Daniels. State Rep. Todd Huston, then an aide to former Supt. Tony Bennett, suggested in an e-mail to Daniels that he appoint black radio talk show host Amos Brown to the state's Education Roundtable in order to silence a "loud mouth" critic as Daniels pushed forward with his school voucher plan. From the AP:
Shortly before he pushed the nation’s broadest use of school vouchers, changes in teacher preparation, new teacher evaluations and raft of other ambitious education changes in 2011, Daniels and his team quietly lined up the votes in the General Assembly. Then-schools Superintendent Tony Bennett’s then-chief of staff, Todd Huston, delivered a spreadsheet identifying where Republican legislators stood on his plan in an Oct. 14, 2010, email to Daniels, Bennett and Republican mega-donor Al Hubbard. Daniels advised Huston should be careful
“Tks. Will treat in total confidence. If it has headings, I’d delete them if I were you. We shd have for other key reform issues, too???” Daniels wrote.
The emails are a constant reminder that the man who presented himself as a master technocrat, more concerned with fiscal issues than social grenades, came up in Washington as an ace political operative.
Most notes are not as visceral as the Zinn exchange, and many reflect an incredible eye for political strategy that would be expected of Ronald Reagan’s former political director. In an August 12, 2009, Huston suggested that Indianapolis radio host and African-American leader Amos Brown should be placed on the roundtable discussing the governor’s education agenda because, among other things, it could keep a “loud mouth” opponent in check.
“First blush: I love it. Lemme mull and bounce it off a couple people,” Daniels wrote.
Shortly afterward, Brown received a phone call from Bennett, asking him to join the board, and he accepted.
Brown said the move didn’t tempter his critiques and laughed as he read the email exchange, saying he took “no umbrage” at the play.
“Governor Daniels and I always had a healthy respect for each other. We’ve always been frank with each other,” he said.
Someone must have sent the same e-mail to Mayor Greg Ballard when he appointed Brown and another black radio talk show host to a public safety advisory board three years ago, which we know didn't turn out so well either.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Geraldo's A Weiner Too

Geraldo Rivera Selfie | Geraldo Rivera Mirror Pic | Geraldo Rivera Tweets Naked Photo
Yep, Geraldo Rivera tweeted a half-naked photo of himself with the message, "70 is the new 50." He later lamented, "Note to self: no tweeting after 1:00 am."

Downtown Shooting Of Black Teen By Another Juvenile Ruled An Accidental Shooting

It's quite curious that it took WTHR's Richard Essex more than 12 hours to report the basic facts he learned when he was riding with a police officer who was the first to respond to the report of a shooting at 3:00 a.m. this morning in the J.W. Marriott Hotel parking garage in downtown Indianapolis. Essex gave few details about the shooting until a story he just posted online where he says police and the prosecutor's office have already determined the fatal shooting of the 17-year old black male victim, Darnell Franklin, was an accidental shooting by another black juvenile. Essex wants to make clear the victim's shooting had nothing to do with Black Expo's activities; rather, Franklin and some friends decided to drive downtown in the middle of the night to pick up some girls in the J.W. Marriott's parking garage when one of the occupants accidentally discharged a gun he was picking up off the floorboard of the car. The shooter, a juvenile, faces charges of reckless homicide, a Class C felony. The prosecutor's office will have to decide whether to waive the juvenile into adult court. From WTHR:
Officers were called just after 3 a.m. Sunday to the Marriott Hotel parking garage in the 600 block of West Washington on the report of a person shot.
They arrived and found 17-year-old Darnell Franklin suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to his back.  He was transported to Wishard Hospital where he later died from his wounds.
Darnell and five others drove in the same car to the Marriott Hotel to meet some female friends. 
Based on the interviews, they were not at any Indiana Black Expo events, but came down after, not arriving until nearly 3:00am.  While they were still in the car, one of the passengers in the backseat reached down to pick a gun up from the floorboard of the car, with his finger on the trigger, accidentally shooting Darnell in the back.
Darnell Franklin Twitter Photo
The five other occupants in the vehicle with Darnell were family members and friends.  
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office has reviewed the case and the determination was made to arrest a juvenile male.  He has been charged with reckless homicide (as a "C" felony) and carrying a handgun without a license (as an "A" misdemeanor).  The accused has been transported to Juvenile Detention.  It is unknown if he will be waived to adult court.
Essex' updated report makes no mention of the fact that he was present with the first responding police officers or the race of the victim. He goes to great length to disassociate the shooting from Black Expo, ignoring the fact that the White Party took place at the neighboring convention center, which did not end until 2:00 a.m. this morning or that a number of attendees to the Black Expo event were staying at the J.W. Marriott.

The Indianapolis Star reported earlier today that it had spoken to the mother of one of the individuals being detained by police earlier today. She told the Star her son had gone downtown with his brother and friends to have fun and never returned home last night. She told the Star she had no idea her son was being detained by police in connection with the shooting. What kind of parents allow their teens to head out on the streets in the middle of the night? And don't expect to see any people in the streets protesting and demanding justice for the death of Darnell Franklin like they've been protesting the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the self defense shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Check out this must see video from Bill Whittle at PJTV's "Afterburner."

UPDATE: Possible posts from the Twitter account of the victim, Darnell Franklin, using the handle, Lilbadass22:

UPDATE II: Fox59 News' Russ McQuaid scores an interview with Franklin's grieving mother, Traci Love. She has advice for other parents:
“They were about to ride around, talk to some girls, whatever,” said Franklin’s mother Traci Love. “They were about to meet some girls in a hotel room downtown somewhere.
“His friend was in the back seat of the car and the gun went off mistakenly.”
Love’s eyes welled up with tears as she struggled to make sense of her son’s death.
“I believe that these children need to wake up and stop playing with guns because this is tragic. I mean, my son died and it was an accident and it was his friend.
“Its killing me and I don’t know at this point how I’m even going to get through what just happened to me,” she said. “My son’s gone.
“Guns and violence is not the way and you that something’s going to happen eventually and here I am and its something that I would never imagine that would ever happen to me.
“My son is gone and my son has lost his life because someone accidentally shot him and I’ve got to deal with that. I’ve got to deal with that everyday of my life until I’m dead.
“They need to put the guns down.”

Indianapolis Media Continues News Black Out On Public Row Between Search Engine Guru Scott Jones And Wife

A number of national business and gossip websites quickly picked up last week on a very public row that had developed between multi-millionaire search engine guru Scott Jones and his wife, Vee Vee, which I reported here, after Vee Vee publicly accused her husband of an adulterous affair with one of his employees at ChaCha. Search engine data showed the story attracting interest to my blog from throughout the country and around the world. Yet Indianapolis area news media have had a complete back out in reporting the unusual public feud as detailed by Vee Vee in numerous posts on her Twitter account and blog. WTHR-TV teased its online readers with a mention of it to discuss whether it was newsworthy but passed on doing a story about it.

In Vee Vee Jones' latest tweets, she claims she has been served with restraining orders by her husband and several employees at ChaCha. On Friday she tweeted: "OMG wow, got serve more restraining order from 2 other people at chacha whom I never even threaten, is now saying they fear for their life?" She followed up that tweet with the following: "Woman allegedly tries to run over ex, crashes into tree ” Won't be me. Lol promise not that cray (sic)." In a post on her blog, Vee Vee explains her attempt to visit the other woman at ChaCha's offices, which resulted in the restraining order against her:
Before I ever outed her… I drove to ChaCha and asked her if I could talk to her… Her response? “No, I got nothing to say to you”
All I asked was to talk. And I asked nicely at first :-)
Then I asked “You’re willing to talk to my husband. Aren’t you sleeping with him?”
Her response… In front of everyone?
“I got nothing to say to you. Not here. Not ever”
Soooo there’s no denying you f_ _ _ ing my husband? You constantly stalked me on twitter & tried to converse with me… So when it comes face to face, you act like a chicken head and cluck the f_ _ _ away? Serious?
Bitch, if you weren’t f_ _ _ing my hubs, then say you ain’t f_ _ _ ing him. But to not deny it?
Girllllllllll, and then go file a harassment case against me? Honey bear, no one was trying to hurt you physically. All I wanted to do was talk to you.
Vee Vee claims ChaCha has blocked her use of a search engine app that she claims she helped create that will allow her to provide information about the adulterous relationship in which she has accused her husband of engaging. In another blog post, Vee Vee attacks Business Insider for reporting on the row between her and her husband:
Shocked and disappointed that business insider would do a write up about my crazy rant on twitter. Is it really a business news? I mean are you guys like TMZ now?
Shit, I’m shock that its even news at all.
I use to read them for inspiration. So sad and pathetic they are… I have the right to be sad and pathetic… But Business Insider? Really?

Police: Downtown Shooting Death Of 17-Year Old Not Related To Black Expo

City officials, community leaders and the media all began celebrating the fact that this year's Black Expo Summer Celebration event in downtown Indianapolis had been free of violence. In fact, very sparse crowds came downtown for an event this weekend that has been marked by so much mayhem and violence in past years, leading some to wonder why city officials allow an event to take place annually every summer which costs taxpayers dearly in added security, and which causes financial harm to downtown business owners as many paying visitors avoid the area like the plague. Fox59 News' Russ McQuaid tweeted: "Black Expo sat. nite most peaceful in yrs. Congrats indy." That is until the shooting that  happened in the early morning hours. A 17-year old male was shot in the back in the parking lot of the J.W. Marriott and died later from his injuries after being transported to Wishard Hospital. Police tell Fox59 News they don't believe the shooting was related to Black Expo:
Lt. Chris Bailey said there wasn’t a large crowd downtown and no fights had been reported before the shooting, right around 3 a.m.
“There wasn’t a big disturbance or there wasn’t hundreds of people down in the parking garage,” Bailey said.
According to a police report, detectives detained five people ages 17-20 for questioning. Police had not named any suspects Sunday morning and no arrests had been made.
Officers tell Fox 59 they do not believe the shooting was related to the Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration, where security had been tightened following the deaths of several teenagers, including on the 4th of July. That event has been “problem free,” according to police.
“This was an unbelievably quiet weekend in downtown Indianapolis. We had very few issues if any tonight at all, and it’s sad that the night had to end like this,” Bailey said.
There should be plenty of surveillance video footage to offer strong clues as to what went downtown with the J.W. Marriott's security system. I can't imagine the billionaire Dean White family is too pleased to learn that a murder took place at the luxury hotel they built with more than $60 million in taxpayer dollars. It's not exactly the kind of publicity you want for a marquis hotel. The J.W. Marriott released the following statement that was posted on WISH-TV's news site:
We can confirm there was an incident in our garage that the police are investigating.  It is our understanding this involves a fatality and our thoughts and prayers go out to the deceased and his family.  At this time the police are investigating the incident and we are cooperating fully with the authorities. The police have indicated they believe this to be an isolated incident. As this is an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further. As always, the safety and well-being of our guests and associates are among our highest priorities.
UPDATE: This is interesting. WTHR's Richard Essex was actually on a ride-along with an IMPD police officer who was one of the first to respond to the J.W. Marriott parking garage where the shooting victim was found. Yet this reporter can't discern the race of the victim from his front-row seat? Great reporting, Mr. Essex. Why is every single media outlet in town going to such great lengths to hide the ethnicity of this victim?

UPDATE II: Black radio talk show host Amos Brown tweeted early this morning that the victim was African-American. How pathetic that all the white media in this town were too afraid to identify the victim's ethnicity.

If you want a good laugh, check out this new story the Star's Robert King has just posted, titled "Indiana Black Expo Wraps Up Trouble-Free Weekend." Let's see, we had two shootings in the past couple of days downtown, including one fatality, but those shootings were unrelated because shootings happen downtown all the time. Two men were also brutally assaulted and knocked unconscious downtown last weekend but that story was covered up because they didn't want anyone to think it was related to Black Expo or the George Zimmerman verdict.  Downtown Indianapolis looked like the green zone in Baghdad this weekend with the nearly 500 police officers and tactical gear deployed to keep the streets safe. So you have to treat it like a war zone to make it safe and you call that a success? Hah.

In a separate, updated story on last night's shooting, the Star once again goes out of its way to assure us the shooting had nothing to do with Black Expo. It was just a group of teens headed downtown for fun in the wee hours of the morning. The story still won't disclose the victim's race as being African-American, which Amos Brown reported early this morning. The Star called the mother of one of the teens being detained by police who didn't even know her son was being held by police--only that he had gone downtown with friends for fun and never came home last night.
The juvenile, who was 17 years old, was not taking part in Indiana Black Expo activities, said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Lt. Christopher L. Bailey.
Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said as he understood it, the group was traveling from the Northside to Downtown to meet someone at a hotel. IMPD officers provided first-aid until an ambulance arrived and took the victim to Wishard Memorial Hospital, where he died.
Downtown saw a hightened security presence this weekend as crowds poured in for what was expected to be the busiest night of Indiana Black Expo festivities. While Expo events were well over when the shooting happened, IMPD spokesman Christopher Wilburn said there were officers on patrol at the time, and they arrived at the scene within two or three minutes of the incident.
None of those detained are currently considered suspects, and it is unclear if police believe they were involved or just witnessed the incident. No one has been arrested or charged.
Reached by phone Sunday, the mother of one of the detainees said she had no idea her son had been detained by police, but that he had left with a brother last night and did not come home this morning.
“They were just talking about going to have fun,” she said at about noon today.
Incidentally, Black Expo's White Party attended by your esteemed Mayor took place at the Indiana Convention Center last night. It went on from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m in the Sagamore Ballroom. Since when did the convention center allow a party to go on until the wee hours of the morning? And weren't a number of the attendees staying at the J.W. Marriott last night following last night's activities?

Photo of Mayor Greg Ballard and Winnie at Black Expo's White Party posted by Indy Politics' Abdul-Hakim Shabazz