Indiana law could not be more clear on the City's legal obligation to make public a Request for Proposal document it released to three bidding groups last April that it handpicked in secret to compete for the project that will cost Indianapolis taxpayers several billion dollars over the next 35 years. Yet the Ballard administration continues to deliver a middle finger to the public by claiming it is not bound by state law. It has no intention of releasing the critical bid document upon which proposals are being made by the competing vendors until after it has chosen a winning proposal. The IBJ has the latest rebuff made by the administration to its attempts to force the RFP's disclosure:
A representative of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard told Marion County judges Monday that the request for proposals the city issued to three teams competing to design, finance and construct a criminal justice facility is not a document the public can see.
Kurt Fullbeck, senior policy advisor for economic development, said at a meeting of the general term of Marion Superior judges that the document would be public if it were for particular goods and services. But because the specifications also involve operation of a jail, criminal courts and other judicial offices, the procurement procedure was different and not covered by state law making RFPs public.
“We don’t want to negotiate this process in public,” Fullbeck said after Marion Superior Judge Tim Oakes asked for the city’s rationale in keeping the document secret. Fullbeck said the document also could not be released due to problems it could create with potential bidders who were eliminated from consideration when the city narrowed the field to three finalists.
The city has denied requests for the RFP from the Indianapolis Business Journal. However, Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt said recently in a letter that the city had failed to justify its denial of a request to produce the document for public inspection.
Fullbeck said the city was “currently working with the public access counselor” and insisted that the city has no obligation to make public those documents relating to a potentially $500 million public works project. Plans, which Fullbeck said are fluid, include a new jail, criminal courts and judicial complex to be built on the site of the former General Motors stamping plant west of White River and south of Washington Street.
The city claims the facility can be financed through a public-private partnership in which the facility would be designed, financed, built and operated on a long-term lease without the need for a tax increase.As I've previously reported, the Indianapolis Star (then controlled by the Pulliam family) and the Hoosier State Press Association were at the forefront in assuring that a state law enacted by the legislature back in the 1990s contained provisions to ensure transparency in the awarding of public-private agreements precisely like the one contemplated by this project. Yet the Gannett-owned Star, which endorsed the project before any fiscal analysis had been conducted, has been totally silent on the Ballard administration's flaunting of state law. Incredibly, the administration claims it can acquire the more than half billion dollar criminal justice center without spending a dime more than it currently spends on criminal justice facilities.
GIPC, the shadow nonprofit organization controlled by downtown elites which makes all of our most critical local government decisions in secret, recommended the P3 approach for the project. GIPC includes a management employee of the Star on its governing board of directors. All of the local television news stations also have management employees serving on the board of GIPC and have similarly refused to expose the corrupt and secretive process being undertaken by the Ballard administration. By their actions, the local news media is effectively conspiring with the Ballard administration to defraud Indianapolis taxpayers.