Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Criminal Justice Center Plan Will Eventually Include Civil Courts Too

If you thought the more than half billion dollar proposed criminal justice center project only involved the criminal courts, think again. At the Criminal Justice Planning Council meeting yesterday, Marion Co. Clerk Beth White posed an interesting question to David Rosenberg, the member of the Mayor's Office in charge of the secretive negotiations taking place out of public view to allow a foreign company to build, operate and maintain a new, all-encompassing criminal justice center to replace all existing facilities in the downtown area, including the criminal courts located in the City-County Building. White's question followed Rosenberg's announcement that the RFP process had progressed substantially to the point the administration now expects to announce a winning bidder and have a final agreement in place for council review and approval no later than February with construction completed by 2018.

White had read an item in the latest edition of the IBJ which indicated there was a plan to include civil courts in the new project as well. Without blinking an eye, Rosenberg flat out denied the news report, telling her that he knew nothing about that. "I'm not sure where that came from," Rosenberg said. "It doesn't work financially." "There is nothing imminent." "It was in the press, it must be true," Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry deadpanned, drawing laughter from attendees. The operative word in Rosenberg's denial turned out to be "imminent." Later in the discussion, Rosenberg conceded that the RFP document, which the administration has refused to release to the public in clear violation of the Indiana Public-Private Agreements Act, required bidders to develop plans that included room for a second phase of the project to allow for expansion for re-locating the civil courts, as well as other city facilities to the site, which is currently planned for the site of the former GM Stamping Plant on West Washington Street adjacent to White River. This confirms rumors we've heard that there is a 10-year plan to completely vacate the City-County Building, paving the way for its demolition to make way for new development desired by members of the downtown mafia who operate City-County government as their personal profit center.

The exchange between Curry, White and Rosenberg reflects just how in the dark key stakeholders are in what is being negotiated behind closed doors by the Ballard administration and their real estate cronies who are seeking to cash in on the project. Curry wondered why it was imperative for the criminal courts to be re-located to the site of a new county jail, noting that many criminal courts, including neighboring Hamilton Co., rely on video-conferencing during initial and preliminary hearings, negating the need to transport jail inmates to the courts until they stand trial. Rosenberg said it was beyond the scope of their work to determine such things as whether video conferencing would be utilized in lieu of in-person appearances during criminal court hearings.

Rosenberg also deflected questions about other reuses of existing buildings rather than constructing an all-encompassing criminal justice center. He, in effect, acknowledged that the study undertaken by the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, a shadow government of political insiders who personally profit from public policy decisions they make in secret, guided all of the discussions, and the GIPC plan called for an all-encompassing criminal justice center to be built, operated and maintained by a P3 partner rather than traditional methods of the government issuing bonds and awarding competitive bids through the state's procurement laws to construct buildings that would be owned, operated and maintained by the Marion Co. Building Authority like existing city-county buildings. By using the P3 method, city officials are able to sidestep public accountability requirements, including public bidding of the construction work, payment of prevailing wage rates on the project, minority-female-veteran-owned business participation and a public referendum allowing voters to decide whether to approve a project that most certainly will pledge government revenues to ensure payments required under the contemplated 35-year agreement with the P3 operator.

The Ballard administration has already committed the City to expend in excess of $12 million on various no-bid contracts it already awarded in the dark of night to aid the City in the secret negotiations for the project, which have been officially underway for at least a year now. The administration may have violated state procurement laws by entering into the contracts and encumbering funds from this year's budget that were never included as an appropriation in this year's budget. That amount of money alone would have been an amount sufficient to cover the short-term goal of hiring the additional police officers the administration has claimed can only be accomplished by raising the local income tax by 10%, which the council did last night, and eliminating the homestead property tax credit, a separate proposal the council voted down last night.

Councilor Angela Mansfield has introduced a resolution initiated by the Administration & Finance Committee, which would cancel the no-bid contracts. Councilor Mansfield announced at tonight's meeting of the committee that it has now been learned that the Bond Bank also spent nearly $600,000 last year on the contracts that had not previously been disclosed to the council on top of the more than $2 million the administration already spent without an appropriation from this year's budget by skipping at least one month's worth of rent payments due this year. This was learned during the confirmation hearing for Adam Collins as the new Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Collins insisted the expenditures without an appropriation were perfectly legal. Despite some heated questioning by Democratic council members, the committee approved his confirmation with only one dissenting vote cast by Councilor Joe Simpson. I wonder if the other Democratic members would have voted to confirm his appointment if they had overheard conversations City Controller Jason Dudich, Collins and other members of the Ballard administration were overheard making about certain members of the council while drinking at a local watering hole recently. People are watching and listening to your conversations.

Make no mistake about it. Last night's City-County Council vote to raise your income taxes was for the purpose of paying for this costly new criminal justice center; it has nothing to do with hiring more police officers. It is the standard bait-and-switch used repeatedly by leaders of both political parties in this county. They are partners in crime in lining the pockets of their political crony friends who finance their campaigns, wine and dine them, shower them with free tickets to Colts and Pacers games and make their Florida condos available for their free use during family vacations. They don't represent you, and they don't care about your needs or concerns. They only care about profiteering through public service at the expense of the rest of us, no matter how much pain and harm they inflict upon us.


Anonymous said...

Rosenberg, tripped up... This whole ppp thing is just to subvert good public policy. These people are scumbags siphoning money from taxpayers.

Last comment: BALLARD LIES!

Anonymous said...

Remember this story:


Anonymous said...

Will both political parties and their puppet masters stop at nothing to siphon money for themselves and their cronies???

Reading of Rosenberg's apparent intentional distortion of the truth by employing the word "imminent" to hide intention or reality casts a pall over the entire legal profession.

And politicos wonder why voter rates fall? A vote at any poll is a waste of time as most everything is decided prior behind closed doors.