Instead of reporting on what is arguably a crime, most of the local news media this week instead touted a conveniently-timed tour of the Regional Operations Center conducted by Public Safety Director Troy Riggs to show off the fact that the troubled landlord had finally corrected problems with the leased building that made it unsafe for occupancy more than two years after it was required to deliver the premises for occupancy under terms of an unconventional, one-sided lease that favored the politically-connected owner, Alex Carroll. At least Fox 59 News' Russ McQuaid took note of what was transpiring in the courtroom where a special council committee investigating the ROC lease was seeking a court order compelling the Ballard administration to produce key documents related to the lease that is has sought for months:
In response to a subpoena by a City-County Council committee, attorneys representing Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard have told a Marion Circuit Court judge that they can’t find key paperwork related to the city’s selection and lease of the Regional Operations Center at the former Eastgate Consumer Mall.
The council’s ROC Investigating Committee sought 30 sets of documents that were expected to detail the decision of the Ballard administration in 2011 to sign a 25-year, $18 million lease for an emergency operations center and police headquarters on North Shadeland Avenue . . .
Among documents crucial to the ROC investigation that the lawyers claim they cannot find are hard drives belonging to city project and contract managers and consultants that have been “wiped” clean of information.
The city also doesn’t have any contracts with an engineering firm hired to work on the project, Drafts of the Development Agreement and audit reports related to expenditures at the center. Most glaring is the city’s inability to answer the demand for the “contract with the NFL that required the city to have an emergency operations center in time for the 2012 Super Bowl.”
“Defendant has no documents responsive to this Request,” answered the Corporation Counsel. Former Public Safety Director Frank Straub and Mayor Ballard repeatedly claimed that such a center was a contracted stipulation for Indianapolis’ successful bid to host Super Bowl XLVI.
“The answer is, they should have it,” said Simpson. “I think there is some information about the NFL that we asked for and that we want. “Or they still exist. They just don’t want to give them to us.”Public Safety Director Troy Riggs admits that his predecessor, Frank Straub, left behind no documents that his office had maintained concerning the ROC lease. Adding further to the problem was Riggs' acknowledgment to McQuaid that the City's Code Enforcement inspectors had uncovered multiple violations during construction taking place within the leased space in 2011 but had been ordered by city legal to stop conducting inspections due to questions the corporation counsel's office had concerning the lease. The Ballard administration has refused to produce "all notices of Code Violations and Stop Work Orders" and e-mail communications of Code Enforcement employees concerning the construction work taking place at the ROC to the ROC Investigating Committee, claiming the request is "overly burdensome." A fire investigator told McQuaid that he never investigated the leased premises for a fire suppression system until October 2012, more than 9 months after city employees had first moved into the building. "Inspector Fred Pervine said he was busy with other projects and therefore unaware of the lack of a fire sprinkler system in the center," McQuaid reported.
The Ballard administration waited until a deadline set by Marion Co. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg to produce documents unsuccessfully sought by the council, including Straub's e-mails. Advance Indiana exclusively reported on the contents of some of those e-mails earlier this week in which then-City Controller Jeff Spalding admitted to serious funding problems facing IMPD that resulting in Straub making last-minute changes in the ROC lease to reduce its costs as the administration scrambled to win council approval of the ROC lease.
Interestingly, one of the e-mails produced in this latest request was sent to a Republican member of the investigating committee, Jack Sandlin, concerning lost recordings of Public Safety Board meetings by WCTY. This occurred after it was discovered that WCTY's archived recordings of past meetings of the Public Safety Board were missing key meetings during Straub's tenure at which the ROC lease was discussed. Channel 16's Manager wrote in an e-mail to Sandlin dated January 16 of this year that WCTY had covered meetings of the Public Safety Board in 2010 but were later ordered by Straub to stop recording them. "After our conversation I did some research that helped jog my memory," Montgomery wrote. "Channel 16 covered two meeting of the PSB in 2010, on April 14th and May 20th." "We were then directed to discontinue coverage as per Director Straub," Montgomery continued. "We resumed coverage on February 9th, 2012, with Director Straub still presiding." Montgomery told Sandlin that he had e-mails from that period and indicated that he did not get any push back from Straub over the renewed coverage of the PSB meetings. Montgomery offers no explanation as to what authority Straub had to order him to stop covering meetings that it was required to cover in contravention of its own policies.
These latest disclosures completely discredit the supposed investigation conducted by the Indiana State Police which concluded that no criminal wrongdoing had occurred in connection with the ROC lease. Based on that investigation, Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry announced that his office would not be conducting any prosecutions. "It was not our role to determine if it was a one-sided lease or the terms were inappropriate," Curry told Fox 59 News . . . Curry said detectives told him they examined enough evidence and interviewed enough witnesses to determine there was no crime in the agreement." I'm not a prosecutor, but I know enough about the law, Mr. Curry, to know that the destruction of these key public documents related to the ROC lease constitutes official misconduct and possibly obstruction of justice, both felony crimes. If the media in this town does its job, it will demand that Curry convene a grand jury immediately to determine who was responsible for the destruction of those documents. Both Straub and his counsel, Jonathan Mayes, along with other key administration officials, should be compelled to appear before the grand jury to explain what they knew about the destruction of those documents and when they knew it. If Curry fails to act in response to these latest disclosures, then he has proven that he is as unfit to serve as the county's prosecutor as his corrupt predecessor, Carl Brizzi.