Monday, March 17, 2014
Council Chooses Pay-To-Play Developer of Luxury Apartments Over Taxpayer Interests
The Indianapolis City-County Council voted tonight on an 18-9 vote to approve an economic incentive package for Flaherty & Collins proposed high-rise luxury apartment building at the site of the former Market Square Arena valued at nearly $40 million, or approximately one-half of the initial construction cost of the $81 million project. The only change made by council members was an amendment offered by Councilor Vop Osili to shorten the repayment term for the $23 million bond issue from 25 to 15 years. An amendment offered by Councilor Zach Adamson to reduce the amount of the bond issue to $19.5 million, which is actually the minimum amount the developer had indicated would be acceptable, along with reducing the repayment schedule to 15 years was rejected by a majority of the council members. Osili claimed his amendment saved taxpayers $7.6 million, while Adamson's proposal would have saved at least $14.7 million. Tonight's vote also paved the way for the gifting of land on which the high-rise building will be built to the developer worth at least $6 million.
The discussion with the developer, David Flaherty, and the city's chief economic development official, Deron Kintner, demonstrated the extent of the ignorance of a majority of the council members. When Kintner was asked why the City didn't just make the $23 million grant directly to the developer rather than borrowing the money through the issuance of bonds, he told council members that the downtown TIF district had sufficient funds to pay the entire amount of the grant upfront rather than borrowing it, but the administration thought it would be more prudent to borrow the money because interest rates of about 5.5% were too good to pass up. Not a single member asked a follow up question to that response.
Kintner could not have been more disingenuous in his response. The project is being driven by the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg, which will earn hefty legal fees, along with other financial firms, which contribute heavily to the politicians' campaigns. If there is no bond issue, they don't receive their kickback for their share of the project in consideration for their large campaign contributions. An equal concern of Kintner is making sure there is more money laying around in reserves so the city's bond bank can issue even more bonds to fund future outrageous public giveaways like the one witnessed at tonight's council meeting.
What we also learned from Mr. Flaherty and Mr. Kintner tonight was that the so-called local hiring component contained within the proposal was an empty promise. When the proposal was in committee, Mr. Kintner said that if "best efforts" were not made by the developer to ensure that at least 30% of the workforce for the construction of the building was comprised of local workers, he indicated that the enforcement provisions of the agreement with the developer would allow the City to claw back at least part of their public subsidy. He changed his tune tonight and announced that the only enforcement mechanism would be for the City to seek specific enforcement of the local hiring requirement, which I can assure you will never happen. The Ballard administration is in bed with this developer and if Mr. Flaherty says we tried our best to meet the 30% goal but the best we could do was only 20%, this administration will give the developer the benefit of the doubt. Does anyone believe they are going to be taking a headcount on a daily basis at the work site and rush to court as soon as it sees the 30% goal isn't being met? Please, how stupid could you be to buy that line of BS? As stupid as at least 18 council members are, apparently.
On the minority hiring preferences, the developer is pledging to satisfy the 15%-8%-3% minimum allocation for minority-owned, women owned and veteran-owned businesses. Kintner keeps referencing the success of the Eskenazi Hospital project in reaching these goals. Apparently, most of the black council members weren't disturbed to learn recently that the only way the $700 million hospital project satisfied the minority hiring fulfillment was by deeming a business owned by a Turkish businessman, Ersal Ozdemir, who has virtual control over the Marion County Republican Party and an extremely corrupt relationship in particular with Mayor Ballard, as a minority contractor even though no interpretation of what constitutes a minority under the law could possibly include a white man of Turkish ancestry. Councilor Bill Oliver said he was satisfied if his boy Vop, in reference to Councilor Vop Osili, said it would work out alright. Osili, who makes a living as an architectural engineer, sat on the Ballard administration's selection committee that chose Flaherty & Collins for the project.
The nine councilors who stood on the side of taxpayers tonight, who deserve your thanks, include the following: Zach Adamson (D), Pamela Hickman (D), Robert Lutz (R), Frank Mascari (D), Brian Mahern (D), Angela Mansfield (D), Leroy Robinson, Christine Scales (R) and Jefferson Shreve (R).
The 18 council members who voted for the theft of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars in order to make at least a $40 million payoff to the people stuffing money in the politicians' pockets include the following: John Barth (D), Ginny Cain (R), Jose Evans (R), Aaron Freeman (R), Will Gooden (R), Jason Holliday (R) Ben Hunter (R), Maggie Lewis (D), Janice McHenry (R), Mike McQuillen (R), Jeff Miller (R), Mary Moriarty Adams (D), Bill Oliver (D), Vop Osili (D), Marilyn Pfisterer (R), Jack Sandlin (R), Joe Simpson (D) and Steve Talley (D). Just wait, these same rat bastards will be hitting you up with a large tax increase later this year to provide more funding for public safety because they chose to give away hundreds of millions of dollars from the 65% increase in your income taxes instead of spending it the way they promised you it would be spent.
Curiously, Councilors Vernon Brown and Monroe Gray were absent for last night's vote.