Friday, January 31, 2014

Daley Nephew Gets 60 Days In Jail For Killing David Koschman

Sixty days. That's how much time former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's thug nephew, Richard Vanecko, will serve in jail under a plea agreement announced today for taking the life of David Koschman, a young man he beat down on a sidewalk during a drunken rage while out partying with friends on Rush Street in 2004. Forget the fact that Vanecko and his friends repeatedly lied to police about his actions on the night in question. Forget the fact that his uncle's friends ordered the Chicago Police Department to obstruct the investigation from the get-go. Forget the fact that two successive Crook County prosecutors did everything in their power to sweep this dastardly crime under the rug. Only after the appointment of a special prosecutor with more financial ties to the Daley political machine than you can shake a stick at on the order of a Cook County judge after the passage of nearly nine years was this scumbag even charged with a single charge of involuntary manslaughter. Not surprisingly, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb of the politically-connect law firm of Winston & Strawn concluded that nobody other than Koschman had broken the law.

The only reason this poor excuse for a human being is spending one day in jail is because persistent investigative reporters at the Chicago Sun-Times refused to let the story die. “The system has failed Koschman, [Circuit Judge Michael] Toomin said in April 2012 when he granted the request for a special prosecutor." "The judge ripped 'the fiction of self-defense' that he said was 'conjured up by police and prosecutors' and questioned why Vanecko wasn’t charged," the Sun-Times reported. “He’s identified as the killer — make no mistake about it,” the judge said then. “This is not a whodunit . . . When you have a dead body, someone’s going to jail. Not in this case.” It looks like Vanecko will get to serve his 60 days in a more comfortable suburban county jail in McHenry County rather than the Cook County Jail with the rest of the scumbags that he's no better than. Anyone who tries to tell you that there are not two forms of justice in this country is lying to you. The notion that we are all treated equally under the law is pure fiction.

Richard “R.J.” Vanecko arrives at the Cook County courthouse in Rolling Meadows on Friday. | Tim Boyle/For Sun-Times Media
Richard Vanecko (Tim Boyle photo for Sun-Times)

Another 25% Rate Increase In Health Insurance Premiums

I just opened a letter from Anthem advising me that my monthly health insurance premiums are increasing another 25%. The letter attributes the rising premiums to the Affordable Care Act. This is insanity. I've purchased my own health insurance for more than a decade and paid plenty more in out-of-pocket health care-related expenses not covered by my insurance during which time my premiums have increased more than 700%. What's the point in even trying any more? Let's face it. This country is doomed and President Barack Hussein Obama Soebarkah could not be more happy about the grief and despair he's causing for honest, hard-working Americans. And officials at Anthem's parent company, Wellpoint, have the gall to claim that Obamacare is working after blaming the ACA for rising premium costs. Yeah, working to make their selfish, greedy executives multi-billionaires at the expense of policy holders.

Animal Control Chief Suspended For Tipping Off Shelters About Planned Sweeps

WRTV's investigative reporter Kara Kenney is reporting that a two-day suspension has been handed to Indianapolis' Animal Care and Control Director Dan Shackle after it was learned that he tipped off two animal shelters about a planned sweep being conducted by a several agencies, including the city's Department of Code Enforcement. Shackle gave a heads up to the Southside Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of Indianapolis before the multi-agency sweep.  “In retrospect, it was not the right thing to do,” said Shackle. “There was no ill intent involved.” “We’ve done inspections for a number of years and will continue to do them,” said Shackle.

Gov. Mike Pence Wants Senate To Restore Second Sentence Of Marriage Discrimination Amendment

Gov. Mike Pence won't be satisfied if the present form of HJR-3 passed earlier this week by the Indiana House of Representatives, which adds Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act barring legal recognition of same-sex marriages to the Indiana Constitution's Bill of Rights, is not amended in the Senate to restore the second sentence stripped from the proposed constitutional amendment. That's what he said this week during an interview with WISH-TV's Jim Shella. That second sentence removed from the proposed amendment went beyond the state's Defense of Marriage Act to also ban legal recognition of any benefits similar to marriage for same-sex couples, such as civil unions or domestic partner benefits. In other words, he wants the General Assembly to pass HJR-3 as long as it will appear on this year's November ballot instead of the November 2016 ballot when he expects to be a candidate for re-election as governor.

WTHR's Bob Segall Finds IEDC's Job Numbers Still Don't Add Up

WTHR-TV investigative reporter Bob Segall has been dogging officials of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation for several years now about their bogus job creation claims. Despite the passage of a new law last year requiring greater transparency in the economic development agency's job creation activities and promises made by Gov. Mike Pence, Segall finds that the agency's job numbers are as factually inaccurate as the day he first began his long-running reports on the agency. Here's what the latest installment of his investigative reporting found:
  • IEDC's new transparency website is missing basic disclosure information that other states release to taxpayers.
  • The state agency is not releasing any information about hundreds of projects it previously announced.
  • IEDC is reporting official job statistics that exclude all failed economic development projects from its calculations.
  • Both IEDC and the governor are citing the state's new job transparency law as justification to withhold information from public disclosure.
While the agency has created an online tool that allows the public to search a database of economic development projects supported by the state and contracts covering those projects, a non-partisan watchdog group based in Washington found many shortcomings with the data made available to the public.
"You're seeing jobs announced, but you're not getting actual jobs created. You're not getting actual wages paid. You're not even getting the address of the work site. None of that's here, so it's very, very bare-bones disclosure," he said while examining the website. "It's primitive in terms of giving you what you need to know to know if you're getting a bang for your taxpayer buck." . . .
"It's sham transparency. There's no other way to put it," he said . . .
The most damning discovery by Segall is that the agency's online web portal is missing hundreds of large economic development projects earlier announced by IEDC, including many projects where promised jobs never materialized. "WTHR discovered IEDC has erased 169 subsidy contracts from the website in just the past five months," Segall reported. IEDC's President Eric Doden explained the missing projects to Segall: "Those contracts are inactive," explained IEDC president Eric Doden. "An active contract is where tax credits get earned. If they're inactive, there's no ability for the company to earn tax credits." In other words, Segall explains that the projects are no longer reported because the project is no longer receiving state funding for promised job creation. By hiding the failed projects, the agency is rigging the numbers used to gauge the agency's success. Segall notes that the agency last year reported an improvement in its job realization rate from 76% to nearly 92%. If the agency had included all of the projects it excluded after characterizing them as "inactive," the actual job realization rate would have been about 64%.

Doden defended the bogus job realization numbers, citing the fact that it uses a professional outside firm to do the calculations. What firm would that be? Drum roll please. "We have an independent review that's done by a professional firm, Crowe Horwath, and they do this independent review and they determined that was the realization rate," Doden said. Yep, that's the same agency where political insider Ann Lathrop, our esteemed President of the Capital Improvement Board works, who has proven over the past several years her amazing skills at providing bogus numbers to the City-County Council and the public on the CIB's financial situation to game the budgeting process to ensure that additional funds are always available to provide additional public subsidies to the billionaire sports team owners and other causes advanced by the unaccountable municipal corporation. "Crowe Horwath declined an on-camera interview, but agreed to respond to WTHR's questions in writing," Segall said. "In its response to WTHR, Crowe Horwath further explained that IEDC chose to use only active projects to align the realization report with the annual Economic incentive and Compliance Report "in order to maintain consistency between these two published reports. 

Out of curiosity, I checked IEDC's transparency web portal to see if there was any information on the Café Valley project in Marion, Indiana. That's the project I recently discussed where the state and local officials agreed to provide economic development incentives to a business owned by Larry Polhill, who the SEC concluded had defrauded about 500 investors out of nearly $160 million through a private equity firm that he operated like a Ponzi scheme. The project and the contract with Polhill are found on the website. Doden signed a contract with Polhill's Cornerstone Marion, LLC and CV East, LLC under which the state agreed to provide up to $5.8 million in tax credits for a capital investment of at least $42 million that promised to immediately create 100 jobs and up to 400 jobs by 2017.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

There Are Consequences When Private Schools Rely On Public Funding

Many years ago when I worked for the Illinois legislature, there were a lot of conservative lawmakers who would clamor every year to pass legislation that would provide vouchers to parents to send their children to a school of their choosing, including private religious schools. There was one lone conservative lawmaker who always joined the Democrats in speaking out vocally against school vouchers. She reasoned that everything she disliked about public schools would be forced on private schools if they began relying on public funding. Public funding always comes with strings attached she argued.

The Indiana General Assembly a few years ago passed the Choice Scholarship program, Indiana's version of school vouchers. Because religious schools were among the private schools which began receiving money under the program, the ACLU of Indiana filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the law. The Indiana Constitution is pretty clear that public funds may not be drawn from the state treasury for any religious purpose, but the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the law, reasoning that because the Choice Scholarship program gave the money to the parents to let them choose where to spend it on their children's education, there was no public funding of religion and, besides, the purpose of the money was strictly used for educational and not religious purposes, even though some of these schools deny admission to students who do not practice their religious beliefs and include religious instruction as part of their curriculum.

It hasn't taken long for private schools to find objections to the strings attached to receiving all of that public financing, which this year more than doubled to $80 million to pay to send nearly 20,000 students to private schools. State Sen. Scott Schneider introduced SB 322 this year to allow private schools that received Choice Scholarship funding to opt out of using the state's ISTEP accountability testing and choose another form of standardized testing in its place. The legislation also limited the amount of data private schools would be required to report annually to the state's Department of Education. One of the immediate benefits of Sen. Schneider's legislation to private schools would be to free them from the state's controversial A to F grading system. It seems that some private schools have scored no better or even worse than some of our state's public schools.

"To me the essence of choice is that money follows the child to the institution of the parents choice," Schneider argued in trying to convince lawmakers to approve his legislation. "And that really is the true essence of choice. And if we are going to have a voucher program, we need to maintain some sort of autonomy for these schools." The Senate Education Committee didn't see it the same way so Schneider agreed to an amendment removing the provision that allowed private schools to opt out of ISTEP testing. He was successful, however, at convincing the committee members to allow some private schools to be limited in the amount of data they provide to the state before it passed his bill on a 9-3 vote out of committee. Schneider reasoned that some private schools were being forced to hire additional employees just to comply with all the state reporting requirements. Yep, that's part of the strings attached with public funding. Sen. Schneider's legislation to void Common Core standards received a better reception by the committee. SB 91 was advanced to the full Senate intact.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why You May Question Entrusting It To Voters To Decide Your Constitutional Rights

Mark Dice frequently makes these videos that he uploads to YouTube where he stops people he meets on the street and asks them to support outrageous causes just to prove the inability of so many people to discern what's being spoken to them, particularly when it involves their fundamental constitutional rights. In this video, he asks citizens to sign a petition to repeal the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. Yep, he finds plenty of takers.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Andy Markle, We Hardly Knew You

Andrew Markle, a young Indianapolis man claiming to be a gay Republican seeking the Republican nomination for the 99th District House seat currently held by State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D), ginned up a lot of earned media from local news outlets and left-leaning blogs around the country this week when he announced that he was abandoning his campaign and leaving the Republican Party. Markle claimed that his decision was based on reports last week that House Speaker Brian Bosma had threatened to remove Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee who expressed reservations about supporting HJR-3, the constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriages, and replacing them with members who would vote for the resolution. Bosma instead reassigned the resolution to the House Elections Committee, which passed it on a 9-3 vote.

The full House approved HJR-3 today on a 57-40 vote but only after stripping from the resolution language which would also bar legal recognition of anything resembling same-sex marriages, such as civil unions and domestic partnership benefits. Markle posted on his Facebook site his announcement explaining how the party had left him, not the other way around:
Today is a day that will never be forgotten in the hearts of many Hoosiers, including my own. For the past few years, we have seen political posturing occur over a divisive amendment that has been the subject of great scrutiny by constitutional lawyers, economists, business persons and even politicians. We have seen a state divide over an issue that should have never been an issue. We have seen a state full of hospitality become a breeding ground for inequality and a debate that does not show the true values that the Hoosier State encompasses.
It deeply saddens me to see the state that I have called home for the past 8 years plunge into a debate over a minority group’s civil rights.
It is with a heavy heart but with a clear conscience that I announce the end of my run for Indiana State House of Representatives, District 99, as a Republican. With today’s announcement by House Speaker Brian Bosma, that he is using extraordinary and unprecedented rules to change House Joint Resolution 3′s committee assignment, I have no choice but to resign my candidacy as a Republican.
As an openly gay male and a conservative, I find it deplorable that the state would choose to take such extraordinary measures to disenfranchise me and my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters. In an era where my party declared that it was the party of “small government” and “less intrusion”, it has been confirmed that it is not the party of small government or less intrusion.
I am not leaving the Republican Party; the Republican Party has left me.
Markle's claim to be associated with the Republican Party is a bit of a mystery to Marion County Republican officials, who say Markle has had no contact with them. Markle has never met with Center Township Chairwoman Samantha DeWester, who says that she has never heard of him or received from him any information about his candidacy despite the fact that District 99 encompasses significant portions of Center Township. Party officials also confirm that Markle never submitted his name for consideration in the party's slating this year, and because of his lack of voting history as a Republican, he could not run as a Republican candidate in District 99 without the consent of Marion Co. GOP Chairman Kyle Walker, whose consent Markle had not sought or obtained.

Interestingly, the only mention I could find on the Internet about Markle's candidacy until his announced departure from the party was a discussion of his candidacy by Democratic blogger Jon Easter at the IndyDemocrat blog. "As Republicans go, Andy Markle already appears to be a different kind of Republican," Easter wrote. "Markle is openly gay, pro-choice, against HJR-6, and is not afraid to take on the establishment." Markle claimed to be the first openly gay Republican candidate for state representative in Indiana, a claim that is untrue. Brent Mullikan of North Vernon ran for the House District 69 seat as a Republican in 2006 before his untimely illness and death ended his campaign. Former State Rep. Sam Turpin (R-Brownsburg) served in the House for several terms and briefly chaired the powerful House Ways & Means Committee before resigning from office under an ethical cloud, although Turpin did not publicly identify as a gay man during his service in the House. It was also common knowledge that former State Sen. Bill Soards (R-Indianapolis), a long-time member of the Senate, was gay, although he also didn't publicly identify as such. Former State Rep. Mike Marshall (D-North Vernon), who is also gay, served in the House for several terms. He was indicted in October, 2011 for his role in a massive absentee vote fraud scandal carried out to benefit Democratic candidates in Southern Indiana and later pleaded guilty. Interestingly, Marshall's vote fraud activities helped elect Terry Goodin, the Democratic candidate who unseated the Republican incumbent that Mullikan had sought to unseat in the 2006 Republican primary election.

Prior to Easter's October 14, 2013 post about Markle being a Republican candidate to watch, he first gained note by designing a website mocking Gov. Mike Pence for blocking comments posted to Pence's Facebook website that took views contrary to his public positions, WISH-TV political reporter Jim Shella reported last June on Markle's grassroots campaign against the Republican governor:
In a small office in Broad Ripple Andy Markle is working on the website that didn’t exist until late Thursday afternoon.  “The reason “pencership” came into existence,” said Markle, “is because I thought that people needed know that the governor was violating their first amendment rights by deleting comments that were pretty innocuous.”
The comments on the governor’s Facebook page were made in response to a statement posted Wednesday expressing disappointment over the Supreme Court decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.  Some were deleted for being uncivil but some civil messages that expressed an opposing point of view were also deleted.
And that’s where Markle comes in.  He is a marketing specialist who is working with a group of friends to counter the governor’s actions.
He is experiencing unexpected success.  "Within the last 12 hours we’ve received almost 5,000 unique visitors, he said.  “Then we had over 1,000 “likes” on Facebook and we’ve had 176 tweets to the Facebook directly, or the website directly."
The governor, meantime, posted this new statement on his Facebook page expressing regret that some comments that weren’t offensive were deleted.  He directed his staff to develop new standards for the page and promised to post them –quote– in the days ahead.
Interestingly, Shella's report makes no mention of Markle being a gay Republican, let alone a candidate for public office as Republican. Markle set up a website for his campaign at, which Markle registered at on September 17, 2012.
Call me skeptical, but I smell a rat. I can't help but wonder if Markle's aborted campaign as a Republican candidate in a House district where no Republican has a realistic chance of winning was nothing more than a ruse. His LinkedIn profile lists a variety of jobs he's held over the past several years. He currently identifies himself as executive director of a little-known education group, Educating Indiana, Inc., a non-profit group about which I could find no information on and which was only registered with the Indiana Secretary of State's office on June 26, 2013. Markle is listed as the incorporator and registered agent for Educating Indiana with a business address listed as 28 E. 16th Street, Apt. #507 in Indianapolis.

More On Barnes & Thornburg Repays Fair Finance Trustee $35,000

A new motion filed by the bankruptcy trustee for Fair Finance asking the bankruptcy court to approve a settlement with the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg based upon the repayment of $35,000 in legal fees it performed for convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham and his businesses indicates that the firm performed substantial legal services for Durham and his businesses in the weeks and months following an FBI raid on his business offices. According to the new filing, the firm received payments totaling $325,000 from Diamond Investment, LLC ($50,000), Fair Holdings, Inc. ($100,000) and Tim Durham ($175,000) between December, 2009 and March, 2010. Documents produced to the trustee, according to the firm, showed that the firm wrote off $470,000 in billed work it performed in the following areas:
  • restructuring transactions;
  • insurance issues;
  • SEC investigation;
  • securities claims; and
  • the federal criminal investigation following the FBI raid.
It's that last item that has caused me the greatest concern. Without ever filing an appearance on Durham's behalf, acting U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison was convinced by Durham's attorneys, presumably Barnes & Thornburg's Larry Mackey (OKC bombing prosecutor of Timothy McVeigh), to dismiss a civil forfeiture action the U.S. Attorney's office filed against Durham and various assets he held immediately following the FBI raid, an action federal prosecutors took against Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam who had provided high-priced prostitutes to the nation's most powerful political leaders in Washington. Unable to financially defend herself against an unusually aggressive federal prosecution for doing nothing more than running a house of prostitution, Palfrey was found dead from an apparent suicide by hanging after she had threatened to go public with the list of her clients, which included Deputy Secretary of State and former Eli Lilly CEO Randall Tobias from Indianapolis.

The dismissal of the civil forfeiture action by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis hamstrung efforts to recover more than $200 million that Durham and his business associate had defrauded out of small investors in Ohio. Lawyers for the defrauded investors had no choice but to file for an involuntary bankruptcy proceeding against Fair Finance. To date, the bankruptcy trustee, Brian Bash, has recovered barely enough funds to cover the multi-million dollar legal tab that he has billed to the bankruptcy estate. Investors have also been left in the dark about what sort of financial hanky panky may have taken place on behalf of Durham's CIA masters in the ensuing months before the trustee began work on their behalf to help recover their lost investments. When President Barack Obama named his choice to head up the local U.S. Attorney's Office, he named Joe Hogsett, whose law firm had also performed legal work for Durham's criminal defense. Critics point out that Hogsett's office ignored the corrupt relationship and influence Durham exercised over some of Indiana's most powerful elected officials during the time he was accessing the defrauded investor's funds for such purposes.

The bankruptcy trustee's motion indicates that Barnes & Thornburg had previously returned the $100,000 paid to it from Fair Holdings because it performed no work on behalf of that business entity, as well as a $35,000 payment made by Durham to the firm in March, 2010, which it agreed had been paid in error and had immediately refunded it. The trustee agreed that the law firm had provided legitimate legal services in excess of what it had actually been paid, except for the $50,000 the law firm received from Diamond Investments, $35,000 of which the firm agreed to repay to settle the claims the bankruptcy trustee potentially had against the firm. The trustee argued that the law firm had provided no services for the $50,000 transfer from Diamond Investments, a contention disputed by the law firm. Tim Morrison should be holding his head in shame the balance of his life for what he did to hinder those poor, helpless investors in Ohio from recovering their lost investments. If he has a defensible explanation for his actions, he's welcome to share them with the readers of this blog.

Indiana House Passes Marriage Discrimination Amendment

One day after the Indiana House of Representatives stripped from a proposed constitutional amendment, HJR-3, a provision outlawing the legal recognition of anything resembling same-sex marriages, it passed the resolution on a 57-40 vote and sent it to the Senate for consideration. Eleven Republicans joined 29 Democrats in opposing the amendment. As proposed, HJR-3 would place in the state's Bill of Rights a provision mirroring Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. In its amended form, the proposed constitutional amendment could not go to voters for consideration if passed by both legislative bodies until the 2016 general election. A picture of the roll call taken by State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) is shown below.

Who Needs The Indianapolis City-County Council When You Have Corrupt State Lawmakers Making Decisions For Us?

Once again, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has shown us that if he can't get what he wants from the City-County Council, he will just have his city-paid lobbyists at Barnes & Thornburg go to the State House and get irresponsible Republican state lawmakers who have no respect for the separation of powers to give him unchecked power. The Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy adopted an amendment to SB 176, the mass transit tax and spend boondoggle that has reared its ugly head yet again this year, to allow the Indiana Development Finance Authority to issue bonds upon Mayor Ballard's request and divert up to $187.5 million in local tax revenues over 25 years to finance infrastructure improvements the City-County Council expressly rejected last year, opting instead for payment of those projects on a pay-as-you-go approach.

The amendment adopted by the committee allows Emperor Ballard to immediately borrow about $125 million and pledge up to $7.5 million annually in excise surtax and wheel tax revenues to the Indiana Development Finance Authority to pay bond debt service on bonds the state-controlled agency will issue at his command. The City-County Council, the fiscal body of our local government, will have no say in the amount of money to be borrowed or the projects to be funded. This will allow Mayor Ballard to repay the bond lawyers and pay-to-play contractors who have been stuffing money in his campaign war chest so they can reap immediate benefits for their contributions and complete projects now at an inflated 50% cost for which future taxpayers will be paying for decades. This is heresy and proves once again that having a Republican-controlled legislature does not equate to good fiscal policy when you have a bunch of legislators masquerading as fiscal conservatives who are more interested in repaying campaign contributors than serving as a watchdog for the taxpayers.

That is to say nothing for the underlying bill sponsored by Sen. Pat Miller (R-Indianapolis) and Sen. Brent Waltz (R-Greenwood), which would allow new income taxes to be levied on corporations and individuals, on top of the property taxes we are already paying to support IndyGO, to expand mass transit into the suburbs. Even worse, control of the expenditures of those mass transit funds will be vested in an appointed, unaccountable regional board hand-picked by the pay-to-play contractors who have already divvied up the contracts for work on the expanded mass transit district. In short, the politicians could give a damn less what's in the public's best interest; they are only interesting in using your hard-earned taxpayer dollars to reward the people stuffing money in their pockets.

UPDATE: The Star's Jon Murray has posted a story in which the mayor's chief of staff, Ryan Vaughn, claims the mayor had nothing to do with the insertion of language granting him alone bonding authority for local public infrastructure improvements. If you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I will sell you.
It’s a change that Ballard’s chief of staff, Ryan Vaughn, says the mayor didn’t request. Ballard and his staffers learned about the planned amendment Monday night, he said.
“But we’re certainly not opposed to it,” Vaughn said, calling it a positive development that could bring projects to more neighborhoods.
The Senate Republicans’ move enraged committee Democrats, who voted against the transit bill, and it drew criticism from council leaders.
President Maggie Lewis said via Twitter that she doesn’t support “unaccountable multimillion-dollar loans.”
“I simply do not understand why the mayor won’t sit down and work with the council leadership to find common ground,” Vice President John Barth said, saying he favors a more bipartisan approach.
Vaughn said he had tried to set up talks between Ballard and council leaders for months, to no avail.

Monday, January 27, 2014

House Removes Second Sentence Of HJR-3

Over the objections of the author of HJR-3, Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero), the House of Representatives just voted 52-43 to remove the second sentence from the marriage discrimination amendment that would have extended the current statutory ban on same-sex marriages to a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of a marriage for unmarried individuals. As amended, HJR-3 would now mirror Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriages as between one man and one woman. More importantly, if HJR-3 is passed by both chambers in its current amended form, HJR-3 would be required to be approved by the next General Assembly in the same form, thereby eliminating the possibility of the amendment going before voters in this year's November general election since it is different than the form of the amendment adopted by the previous General Assembly. Cheers erupted in a packed gallery after the amendment passed.

UPDATE: Here's how individual lawmakers voted on the amendment:

Yes (to remove second sentence): Arnold, Austin, Bacon Bartlett, Battles, Bauer, Beumer, Braun, Brown, C., Candelaria Reardon, Clere, Cox, DeLaney, Dvorak, Eberhart, Errington, Forestal, GiaQuinta, Hale, Harris, Heuer, Huston, Kersey, Kirchofer, Klinker, Kubacki, Lawson, Leonard, Lucas, Macer, Mahan, McNamara, Moed, Moseley, Neese, Negele, Niezgodski, Pelath, Pierce, Porter, Pryor, Riecken, Saunders, Shackleford, Smith, V., Soliday, Sullivan, Summers, Torr, Truitt, VanDenburgh, Ziemke

No (to keep as is): Baird, Behning, Bosma, Brown, T., Burton, Carbaugh, Cherry, Culver, Dermody, DeVon, Friend, Frizzell, Frye, Gutwein, Hamm, Harman, Heaton, Karickhoff, Koch, Lehe, Lehman, Lutz, Mayfield, McMillin, Messmer, Morrison, Morris, Ober, Price, Rhodes, Richardson, Siager, Smaltz, Smith, M., Speedy, Thompson, Turner, Ubelhor, VanNatter, Washburne, Wesco, Wolkins, Zent

Excused: Davisson, Goodin, Niemeyer, Stemler, Steuerwald

Indianapolis Bar Association Announces Opposition To Marriage Discrimination Amendment

The Indianapolis Bar Association last week surveyed its membership for their views on HJR-3, the proposed constitutional amendment that would add to the state's Bill of Rights a provision outlawing legal recognition of same-sex marriages or civil unions despite the fact that the state's Defense of Marriage Act already bars legal recognition of same-sex marriages. The bar membership overwhelmingly expressed opposition to the amendment, with 73.1% against to just 5.4% favoring it. About one-fifth of the 2,196 Indianapolis area attorneys who responded to the survey thought the organization should remain neutral. According to the association, the participation rate in the survey was the highest survey response rate in the organization's history. The organization's board explains its position:
Considering these survey results and the Board's review of the proposed amendment and companion legislation, the Indianapolis Bar Association opposes passage of the proposed amendment and legislation.  First, based on Indiana constitutional history and precedent, the content of this amendment stands out as inappropriate.  In the 163 year history of the State's constitution, it has been amended on subjects such as term limits, taxation, governmental structure, elections, and courts. Prior amendments dealt with what government could and could not do, and how the government is to be formulated and operated, not the regulation of its individual citizens. Second, members of the Indianapolis Bar Association expressed great concerns about the unintended consequences upon potentially hundreds of Indiana laws if HJR-3 is passed and ratified, including those in the areas of family law, criminal law, employment law, health care law, and tax law. This uncertainty would likely lead to an interruption in the administration of justice, years of litigation and significant expense for individual citizens and Indiana businesses.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Presidential Puppetry": A Must Read

I don't often promote books to my readers, but this one requires your attention. This past week, I've had the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Andrew Kreig's, "Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters." It dovetails perfectly with the cynical conclusions I've drawn about our two-party system in this country often on this blog and how the top leaders of both parties, as well as the big corporate media, simply do the bidding of their puppet masters, the military industrial complex that has assumed virtual control of every major aspect of this country, particularly following the government coup d'etat accomplished in 1963 by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The forces that ended his presidency have prospered and dramatically strengthened the iron fist they exercise to the detriment of most Americans who remain silent as rights we believed our constitution guaranteed to all of us as citizens of a democratic republic are eroded by a Nazi-styled government instituted for the benefit of an elite few.

Andrew Kreig's book draws upon his life-time of experiences with our political system as an investigative reporter, attorney, author, business strategist and non-profit executive working in Washington, D.C. Kreig readily acknowledges his past work for powerful companies, along with his work investigating official misconduct through the non-partisan legal reform group, the Justice Integrity Project. He also has a unique perspective as the son of Margaret Kreig, a best-selling author who confessed her role to him as a covert CIA asset when her work took her to China during the early 1970s.

I know that some of you have been dismissive of my past reporting on this blog about the degree to which the CIA and the national security state apparatus has penetrated this country from top to bottom as a bit too conspiratorial but Kreig's book confirms the worst fears. Ideologically, Kreig comes from the opposite end of the political perspective, but his well-researched work leads him to the same conclusion that I have reached about President Barack Obama's puppet strings being pulled by the very same persons who pulled the strings of both Bush presidents and Bill Clinton.

Kreig closely examines Obama's hidden family history and unequivocally concludes that Obama and his other immediate family members, including his mother and grandparents, all had backgrounds working for the CIA long before his name entered the national discussion just like President George H.W. Bush and his son, President George W. Bush. Kreig doesn't overlook the Bush family ties to the financing of the Nazis prior to and during World War II like the mainstream media does. Similarly, Kreig's research picks up on young Bill Clinton work as an intelligence asset dating back to his early college years. Romney's ties to Bain Capital and the Mormon Church also explain his ties to the same puppet masters.

So why didn't the news media discuss the hidden pasts of all of our recent presidents who were performing work covertly for the CIA prior to launching their political careers? Kreig helps explain those puzzling omissions by the mainstream news media, as well as coverage of other public affairs by connecting the dots too many ignore. Yes, their corporate bosses answer to the same people at the end of the day.

Kreig observes three particular omissions  by the media that peaked his curiosity, including the nearly-absent coverage of the post-911 anthrax attacks on members of the media and U.S. Senators, the unusually aggressive prosecution of Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam, and Karl Rove's engineering of the 2007 purge of a number of U.S. Attorneys around the country, and Rove's role in the political prosecution of Alabama's Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman. In case you were curious, Rove's treacherous spying and covert ways are well-documented in Kreig's book.

Kreig's book also offers the stories behind the stories on a number of recent topics of interest, including the resignation of Gen. David Petraeus as CIA Director, Benghazi, plots to commit massive election fraud in 2012 through electronic voting machines, the CIA connection to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and the latest and newest mysteries revolving around massive federal surveillance of American in the aftermath of whistle blower Edward Snowden's disclosures.

If you like drinking the Kool-Aid that is served up to you by the leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties, Kreig's book isn't your drink. If you are looking for an insightful, well-researched and critical analysis of the thoroughly corrupt, unethical, vindictive and self-serving elites who have turned our government and nation into something completely unimaginable in the worst nightmares of our Founding Fathers, then Kreig's book will satisfy your thirst for learning more than the half-baked and grossly misleading political analysis and disinformation of the giant corporate media to create the false reality they want us to believe. As Kreig explains in the book's preface, it's for "those who want to understand the news, not just watch it."

House Elections Committee Chairman's Gay Son Disappointed In Father's Support Of Marriage Discrimination Amendment

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is the son of State Rep. Milo Smith (R-Columbus), who is chairman of the House Elections Committee which just this past week passed HJR-3 on a 9-3 vote along party lines to the full house for consideration. He's also gay. Chris Smith posted on Indiana Equality's Facebook site his disappointment of his father's support of a constitutional amendment to enshrine discrimination against Indiana's gay and lesbian citizens in the state's constitution.
Hello everyone. I am the gay son of Representative Milo Smith, chairman of the Elections Committee that just passed HJR-3 onto the full House. I'm not here to badmouth my dad. I'm terribly disappointed in his decision and beliefs, but he's not going to change them now if he hasn't after all these years of knowing I am gay. I am here to support you and my friends who remain in Indiana. They are my extended family.
Chris currently resides in Culver City, California according to his Facebook profile. His father is tax consultant in Columbus who formerly worked for Cummins Engine, which as a company has spoken out forcefully in opposition to HJR-3. Chris added the following comment on his personal Facebook site about the debate over HJR-3:
As I look at the fight over marriage equality in my home state of Indiana, I'm reminded why I have such a disregard for politics and government. Politics is simply a fight for control in order to rule over others. If you want to tell others how they have to live their lives, then it should come as no surprise when others want to tell you how you have to live yours.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Support For Marriage Discrimination Amendment In The House Collapses

Three years ago, the proposed marriage discrimination amendment easily passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan, 70-26 vote. A survey of House members reported in the Star this evening now shows an equal number of members planning to vote for and against HJR-3 and more than a dozen votes short of the majority required for its passage. The Star poll of lawmakers shows 38 plan to vote for it, while 38 plan to vote against it. Thirteen lawmakers told the Star they are undecided, 11 of which are Republicans, and eleven members refused to comment. More than a third of the House members who voted for the amendment three years ago now plan to vote against it, including several Republicans. Not a single member has switched from opposing to supporting the amendment.

Indiana Lobby Protection Commission Hiding Data From The Public

Once upon a time, the Indiana Lobby Registration Protection Commission provided real-time data on its website about which individuals, organizations and businesses were registered to lobby the legislature at any given time, including all compensated lobbyists hired to represent those interests and the subject matter on which they were lobbying. Of course, once upon a time the ILRC was under the control of the Indiana Secretary of State until corrupt lobbyists and lawmakers became concerned that the office was getting too serious about enforcing Indiana's lobby registration and reporting laws, which were already among the weakest in the country. The law was changed to put it under the control of the legislative leaders so the fox could guard the chickens.

If you want to learn anything about who is lobbying whom on what this session, you will find nothing on the ILRC's website other than data from previous years. The most current data is dated July 3, 2013. Gift reports haven't been updated since 2012. This is done intentionally to keep the general public in the dark about what is happening at the State House. If this data had been provided to the public in real time, we wouldn't have had to wait for a report in the IBJ that pay-to-play contractor Ersal Ozdemir had hired a team of lobbyists months ago to lobby state lawmakers this session to subsidize the construction of an $87 million soccer stadium he plans to build for his new professional soccer team, Indy Eleven. [Note: Ozdemir's number one fan is his next door neighbor in a tony Carmel neighborhood, IBJ publisher Mickey Maurer]

Indiana's lobby registration and reporting laws are a joke. Essentially, lobbyists can put down on the forms anything they want without fear of any consequences for lying on the forms, particularly about gifts they provide lawmakers. Most dishonest lobbyists don't fully disclose the extent of the gifts they give to lawmakers, who have a gentleman's agreement with corrupt lawmakers not to disclose them so the lawmaker can avoid reporting them on their financial disclosure forms as well. A few years ago, I uncovered credible evidence that Advance America's Eric Miller was not properly disclosing his lobbying activities on the organization's reports filed with the ILRC. My evidence was bolstered by admissions Miller had made during a recorded interview with a former Star reporter, Brendan O'Shaughnessy, who interviewed Miller about the findings of my investigation of his organization. Miller, of course, is at the forefront of current legislative efforts to place the marriage discrimination amendment, HJR-3, on the state's ballot this year for consideration by voters.

I later filed a complaint against Miller with the ILRC. After several months passed and I heard nothing, I contacted the then-executive director Sarah Nagy and inquired about the status of my complaint. She told me that it couldn't be acted upon because I had only filed one copy, not the five copies that were required, even though there was no such requirement noted at the time to file a complaint. After I provided the additional copies, Nagy told me that the commission met behind closed doors to discuss it at its next regularly-scheduled meeting and informed me that unless I furnished the tape recording O'Shaughnessy had made of his interview with Miller, the ILRC could not act on my complaint. When I contacted O'Shaughnessy, he told me that he destroyed the tape despite me telling him how valuable the statements made on it were to prove Miller's wrongdoing. Inexplicably, O'Shaughnessy had been ordered off the investigative story by his editor, Dennis Ryerson. When I contacted Ryerson, he confirmed the tape had been destroyed and that the newspaper would not participate in providing any evidence to the ILRC against Miller. When I informed Nagy that the Star had destroyed O'Shaughnessy's recorded interview with Miller, I received the following response from her:
The full Commission has reviewed your complaint, along with your supporting materials. There is insufficient showing on your part to merit further investigation. Should you have additional and verifiable evidence, you may re-submit your complaint. At this time, the matter is closed.
It was bad enough that the Commission refused to act on the credible documentary evidence I provided but absolutely shocking that the state's supposed newspaper of record would actually destroy evidence that could be used to prove Miller's violation of the state's lobbying law. A few years later, the ILRC fired Nagy after she had haggled with lobbyists for months over how to interpret a new ethics law the legislature passed in 2010, which accomplished very little other than window dressing.  The law lowered the threshold at which lobbyists are required to report their spending on lawmakers, from $100 to $50, and banned them from taking legislators on out-of-state junkets, both of which unscrupulous lobbyists and lawmakers have no problem skirting. The Attorney Disciplinary Commission later initiated a complaint against Nagy after some of her clients complained that she took money from them for work she never performed, primarily post-conviction relief petitions for criminal defendants. The Supreme Court agreed to a voluntary suspension of her law license in 2012 after Nagy blamed her inaction on client files due to a medical disability.

If you take a look at the people appointed to serve on the commission overseeing the ILRC, it's not surprising that the agency is so ineffective at regulating and enforcing the lobby registration and reporting laws. Current members include two former lawmakers, Sue Scholer and Joe Micon, both from Lafayette, Jan Abbs, a former attorney for the Indiana Senate now working as a corporate attorney in Muncie, and Evansville attorney Terry White. The current part-time executive director of the ILRC is Charles Harris, a former staff attorney for the legislature who was responsible for drafting tax legislation. He left the legislature to accept a job at Ivy Tech as a Vice President of Development and now has a private law practice, in addition to working as the ILRC's part-time director. The commission has a budget of about $280,000 annually for 2 full-time employees and one part-time employee. So if you're not happy about Eric Miller's current actions regarding the advocacy of HJR-3 at the State House, blame the ILRC and the Indianapolis Star.

Below are links to my original research on the lobbying activities of Advance America and Eric Miller:

Advance America's Lobbying Reports Belie The Extent Of Its Lobbying Activities
Advance America's Tax Returns Misleading And Deceptive
Miller's Self-Dealing At Advance America Escalates
Miller And Advance America Abuse Non-Profit Status
Miller Enriched By Self-Dealing At Advance America
Miller Helping Miller
Miller Gloats Over Defeat Of Lobbying Reform
More Miller Self-Dealing To Report
Legality of Advance America's Payment To Miller's Law Firm Questioned
Miller Turns To Pulliam For Help
Miller Speaks Out On Election And His Future, Avoids Accountability

The Indy Chamber of Anti-Commerce Wants Suburban Taxpayers To Bail Out City Of Indianapolis

No legitimate business owner would pay membership to belong to the organization called the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. It exists solely for the benefit of a few corrupt businesses that use government as a tool for self-enrichment at the expense of all the rest of us; it could give a damn about rank-and-file business owners and taxpayers. More importantly, it is now an extension of the municipal city government since it merged with Develop Indy under one umbrella organization that is heavily funded with city taxpayer dollars. Against that backdrop, it comes as no surprise that this anti-business, anti-taxpayer organization is proposing a commuter tax on suburban taxpayers to funnel more money into the most corrupt, mismanaged municipal government in the state of Indiana to further enrich their self-dealing business interests. The group's head, Mike Huber, who lacks any basic understanding of what it takes to run a business because he's been on the government payroll virtually his entire adult life, tells the IBJ what a wonderful concept a commuter tax is, an additional income tax of up to one-quarter percent on suburban workers who commute to Marion County:
This is one of the most significant, if not the most significant, fiscal issues facing Indianapolis' ability to invest in its amenities, and therefore, is a serious nine-county issue," said Huber, a former deputy mayor under Mayor Greg Ballard.  
For this press release masquerading as a news story, the IBJ drags out the usual suspects to concur in Huber's view. The multi-millionaire businessman Jeff Smulyan of Emmis Communications claims it's a "fairness issue" that he feels strongly about. "You can't be a suburb of nothing," he says. The reporter would lead us to believe that Mayor Ballard hasn't decided where he stands on the issue, but it quotes his chief of staff, Ryan Vaughn, as saying, "We absolutely believe there needs to be a discussion about it." Of course, Vaughn answers to Barnes & Thornburg's Bob Grand, not Mayor Ballard, who handed control of city hall to Grand and his law firm the day he was sworn into office. Westfield Mayor Andy Cook, another fake Republican mayor, says he believes that "we need to spread some of the costs Marion County is facing to the suburbs," Cook said. All of these sorry characters are also supporting state legislative efforts to raise everyone's local income taxes to fund a mass transit boondoggle to stretch Indianapolis' IndyGO system into the suburban counties.

Instead of blaming people who flee Marion County to live in the suburban counties for Indianapolis' fiscal woes, why don't they do some introspective thinking about what it is they are doing wrong in the first place that makes people choose to live beyond the borders of Indianapolis?. Clearly, consuming a disproportionate share of the available tax dollars to fund world-class sports facilities and luxury hotels and luxury housing projects for pay-to-play contractors has done little to stem the general trend of people with means gravitating towards the suburban counties.  Notice that Huber's concern is focused on the city's ability to fund "amenities," not basic city services. By all accounts, there has been no shortage of funds when it comes to funding whatever luxury amenities the downtown mafia envisions; it's funding of basic city services and our schools that always comes up short. Every time our taxes are raised under the guise of paying for basic city services, the powers that be play shell games with the additional revenues that prevent the added tax burden from being allocated to the priorities sold to the public in the first place to gain approval of tax increases. Fellow blogger Fred McCarthy has the right idea about this bad notion:
Various over-sold and over-used property tax schemes have put municipal functions in financial need.  Now we have a proposal to exacerbate the problem by increasing income taxes without ever looking over the shoulder to check where current revenues are used - or abused. 
For one who spent a lifetime career with a variety of business associations, it is a tragic reversal to see one of the largest of such organizations support new taxation without a single suggestion that the need for a serious review of current spending policies should come first.
President Reagan was surely correct when he said the closest we’ll ever come to perpetual motion is the initiation (and funding) of another government program

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ozdemir Trying To Force Taxpayers To Pay For Downtown Stadium For His Soccer Team

The IBJ is reporting that Ersal Ozdemir has hired State House lobbyists to lobby Indiana state lawmakers to create a state funding mechanism for an $87 million soccer stadium he wants to build for his new professional soccer team, Indy Eleven, at an undisclosed location in downtown Indianapolis. According to the report, Ozdemir claims without substantiation that his professional soccer team will generate at least $8 million annually in tax revenues, and that he plans to ask state lawmakers to allow his professional sports franchise to capture up to $5 million annually for stadium costs. “We’re just asking for the money we’re going to create,” Ozdemir said.

Ozdemir wants his organization to be allowed to capture admissions take revenues he anticipates that his team will generate from ticket sales, as well as a portion of state sales and income tax revenues from the downtown Professional Sports Development Area, which was created to allow the Capital Improvement Board to capture revenues to pay the operating and maintenance expenses on Lucas Oil Stadium, none of which are paid by Colts' team owner Jim Irsay. The CIB has also been subsidizing Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers to the tune of at least $10 million a year for the past four years, which like the Colts, pay absolutely no rent for using a sports facility built with taxpayer dollars.

According to the IBJ, former Indiana GOP Chairman Murray Clark, is heading up a team of lobbyists hired by Ozdemir this session in an effort to convince lawmakers to enact legislation authorizing the public subsidy for Indy Eleven's proposed stadium. The team plans to play at IUPUI's Carroll Stadium, which holds up to 11,000 until a new stadium is built, which would hold up to 18,500 fans.

Ozdemir, a Turkish immigrant, has experienced a meteoric rise in his profile as a construction and real estate developer over the past decade that has coincided with large campaign contributions he has doled out to the politicians. Mayor Greg Ballard, one of the largest recipients of campaign contributions from Ozdemir, handed one of his businesses $6.5 million in taxpayer cash to build a mixed retail/parking garage in Broad Ripple after Ozdemir hired Ballard's former chief of staff, Paul Okeson, as a high-paid executive. Ballard also initially appointed Okeson to serve on the Capital Improvement Board that overseas the downtown sports facilities, where he briefly served as the CIB's treasurer. Okeson left the CIB after Ozdemir submitted a proposal to manage the CIB's facilities during a period of time that it considered outsourcing that work.

The CIB, which got a big taxpayer bailout a few years ago after the CIB cooked its books to make it appear that it was insolvent, that included new taxes and state subsidies, is now sitting on more than a $70 million cash surplus while the city of Indianapolis pleads poverty in paying for basic city services. Ballard at that time appointed attorney/lobbyist Bob Grand to head up the Capital Improvement Board despite the fact that his law firm represented Simon family interests, including the Indiana Pacers. Grand brokered the state bailout plan that resulted in tens of millions of dollars in new subsidies flowing to his law firm's client.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Did Marion's Mayor Wayne Seybold Gamble The City's And His Future On A Ponzi Schemer?

Larry Polhill (Left) with Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Wayne Seybold

Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold, along with Gov. Mitch Daniels and other state and local economic development leaders, stood shoulder to shoulder with a San Bernardino, California businessman, Larry Polhill, in December, 2012 to announce economic development incentives to lure Cafe' Valley, a Phoenix-based baked goods supplier, to build a $48 million facility at the site of the former Thomson plant in Marion to anchor its eastern U.S. operations. The terms of local economic development incentives were not made known at that time, but Gov. Daniels pledged $5.8 million in conditional tax credits on behalf of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation based on the company's investment plans and more than 100 new jobs the company promised to create when the facility opened in the spring of 2014 and at least 400 jobs by 2018. The new jobs will pay only about $12 an hour. Seybold told the Chronicle Tribune that he was very excited about what he described as a "sweet deal" for the city and a project that Café Valley's Polhill described as being "well underway.":
 “We’re excited that they’re taking one of the most blighted areas in the city and really enhancing it,” he said.
City officials hope the project could be the catalyst for further development at the former television and electronics factory. With one notable exception, it has been largely empty since it was closed in 2004.
Café Valley plans to demolish part of the building’s southwest portion, near the corner of South Adams and 38th streets, ultimately utilizing one-third of the 60-acre property. The exact configuration is still being determined, as is the final cost.
Larry Polhill, Café Valley principal partner and board of directors member, said the company was “well underway” with designs for the new facility and securing food processing equipment.
He said the company hoped to have its financials finalized by early next year in order to break ground by March 2013.
“We’re on a very tight timeline,” he said.
Polhill said the company hoped to receive New Markets Tax Credits from the federal government in order to secure financing for the project. If they do not receive them, it could derail the project.
These credits incentivize investors who build in low-income communities and are allocated once per year.
“Hopefully there will be some new allocation after the first of the year,” Polhill said.
What neither Mayor Seybold nor Gov. Daniels mentioned to the public was that Café Valley's Polhill, an officer and one of the company's three directors, was embroiled in a bankruptcy of his San Bernardino-based private equity real estate firm, American Pacific Financial Corp., in a Las Vegas federal bankruptcy court and an investigation by the Securities & Exchange Commission looking into allegations that he had defrauded nearly 500 investors out of $160 million through a Ponzi-like scheme that closely resembled the one run by Indianapolis' Tim Durham through his Ohio-based Fair Finance Company. Concerns raised by a member of Marion's common council were brushed aside months later when a complex local TIF financing deal that puts Marion taxpayers on the hook for tens of million of dollars raised questions about Polhill's bankrupt private equity firm and an ongoing SEC investigation. As Councilwoman Joselyn Whitticker expressed her concerns according to the council's minutes from a special meeting of the council on February 25, 2013:
There is not a person in this room, nor on this Council, who does not believe in the growth of the City of Marion and they want it to prosper, but, based on some things that have happened in the immediate past and some things that have been put with the Café Valley deal, it puts us in limbo. And based on some information she has regarding one of the principals, she has deep concerns and those deep concerns regard the whole issue of a primary principal who has been repeatedly and is, at this point, in the SEC and it is on the grounds of fraudulent misrepresentation and omitting of facts and that’s Mr. Larry Polhill. This is public knowledge and this came from the SEC. She also has concerns because with somebody and that case is ongoing.
Whitticker was expressing doubts about a plan by the financially-pressed city to provide $4.2 million to Café Valley to acquire the Thomson property and perform demolition work, and to issue two separate bond issues totaling up to $26.5 million for distinct purposes. An initial Series A bond issue in the amount of $14.5 million was described to council members as the "meat" of the deal. The first bond issue included the $4.2 million to allow Marion's Growth Council to purchase the property, $5 million for Café Valley for site preparation, $2 million to refinance old debt and the balance for a built-in reserve fund and fees associated with the bond issue.

In 2012, the city backed a $2 million loan for Earthbound Recreational Vehicles with county economic development income tax (EDIT) revenues. Earthbound Recreational Vehicles closed down a short time later, leaving taxpayers holding the bag to repay the $2 million loan. The city's financial advisers insisted that the old debt needed to be refinanced with the new debt. Council members were told that taxes generated from the new facility would be recycled to pay off the newly-issued bond debt.

City officials agreed to move forward with the issuance of the Series A bonds payable over 25 years without knowing whether Café Valley would succeed in obtaining the additional funding it needed for the project, which it intended to obtain from New Markets Tax Credits made available through the federal government as part of President Obama's economic stimulus plan. A second Series B bond issue of up to $12 million was described as the "carrot" to entice Café Valley to remain and expand in Marion after the City acquired the needed land and expended millions for the new improvements. Polhill attempted to explain to council members how his company would obtain financing using federal tax credits at its February 19, 2013 meeting in a way only a snake oil salesman could do it:
Larry Polhill told the Council he heard a lot of definitions of things today that have been a lot different than reality, he believes. Federal tax credits are, in fact, tax credits, not tax dollars. They are federal dollars which are credits against somebody’s income taxes. Not Café Valley. Somebody in the country will buy those tax credits and that generates cash for them to bring to this community. President Obama signed $7,000,000,000 of additional federal tax credits just in January which is why this project is going forward. They can bring $40,000,000, maybe $50,000,000 of those tax credits to Marion or they could end up somewhere else. Those credits, that $7,000,000,000, there are people standing in line for it. We’re at the head of the line at this point and they want to bring those credits to Marion. And this is not a handout by any stretch. People have asked, well (inaudible), and he’s really getting frustrated answering answering those questions so he apologizes for his tone but, you know, this is a $50,000,000 project. It’s a $25,000,000 bank loan. It’s personally guaranteed by him and the other principals of the company so he thinks they’ve got a lot of skin in this game. They backstopped the city’s tax bonds to the extent that the city is signing on that. He doesn’t know what more they expect them to do, Polhill said. Now they got a $25,000,000 bank loan to start with, they have state tax credits for $5,000,000, they got the TIF contribution for (inaudible) $5,000,000, which is, by the way, limited at $10,000,000. So if the city’s counsel is good and sells those credits for more, that’s a benefit to the city. They don’t get another penny over that amount.
In other words, it's just free money waiting to be claimed by someone, even business owners under investigation by the SEC for defrauding innocent investors. Council members were equally confused about the lease on the property the city was acquiring on Café Valley's behalf as it was the source of the company's personal financing for the project. Polhill told them that city taxpayers aren't paying for the lease; rather, this was just a mechanism "in order to get the bonds." Nobody seemed to understand or be able to explain the lease of the property to Café Valley, let alone who was actually going to wind up owning the property after all was done and said so the council turned to its TIF lawyer on the project, Barnes & Thornburg's Bruce Donaldson, to explain:

Bruce Donaldson with Barnes & Thornburg told the Council essentially the company is going to own the site. It’s going to lease it to the Growth Council and then the Growth Council is going to lease it right back to them. Each side is $1.00 and then the Redevelopment Commission joins the lease for purposes of making the payments on the bonds. And so the lease is a mechanism to get the Redevelopment Commission’s TIF, which is the primary source, the project TIF, the primary source of repaying the bonds into the transaction. So the lease is really just a, like Larry said, a mechanical, it’s an accommodation by the company to allow them to have an asset to lease, to access the Redevelopment Commission TIF money, Donaldson said. Thompson asked, is this a lease to own? Donaldson replied, the company will own the project and it will continue to own it throughout the lease and then when the lease is over, the company will own the project. Thompson stated, okay, not that he really understands but he appreciates what he’s said because it’s helped him a little bit.
So did you get that since the council member who asked the question obviously didn't understand after Donaldson got through explaining it? The use of the term "lease" is all smoke and mirrors to put the taxpayers on the hook for the debt incurred to build Polhill's $50 million facility as a TIF-funded project. Polhill's Café Valley will own the property from the get-go, throughout the term of the 25-year lease and after the bonds are retired, assuming the company is still around at that point.

Seybold still insisted the complicated financing arrangement did not represent any long-term debt for the city. “That doesn’t become debt of the city,” Seybold told the Chronicle-Tribune. “It’s not like we go out and take a bond to build something. This is all based on the property tax and the ability of the company to pay their property taxes. …“If the project were not to happen, then the company would cover those bond payments until someone else came along. As long as the taxes are paid, then the bond gets paid. If they don’t get paid — if there’s a shortfall — then the company covers that.”

Needless to say, the city went forward with the Café Valley project and broke ground on the project on March 31, 2013, even after the Chronicle-Tribune brought to Seybold's attention the fact that the company had previously purchased land in Spartanburg, South Carolina where it had planned to base its eastern U.S. operations until the company scrapped the project in 2011. Polhill told the newspaper that the company had purchased a former pie plant in Spartanburg and discussed economic development incentives with officials there but that it was a lower priority than a new facility it built in Phoenix that year. Marion's development director, Darren Reese, dismissed the concern: "People buy and sell facilities all the time." The company is still projecting an opening date this spring and has hired its first employees to assist in the hiring of full-time workers for the facility. See a timeline of events for the project as detailed quite nicely by Frank Stahl at Indiana Policy Review here.

Meanwhile, the SEC concludes its investigation of Polhill's American Pacific Financial Corp. last September and concludes that "he falsely presented investment opportunities that were safe and reliable based on collateral that didn’t always exist, and his fraudulent misrepresentations left investors with nothing to show for their investments when APFC declared bankruptcy.” The SEC found that Polhill had issued promissory notes to nearly 500 investors under the false premise that they were secured by specific properties or other collateral. The notes offered investors interest payments of between five and seventeen percent per year. According to the SEC, Polhill had used money raised from investors to buy and sell real estate, and to acquire distressed assets, including Café Valley with the company he started back in the last 1970s. Polhill's company consistently paid interest on the investors' notes until it ceased making payments in 2008. By 2010, investors suspicions grew when APFC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. bankruptcy court in Las Vegas, listing debts of $152 million owed to nearly 500 creditors.

According to the San Bernardino Sun, the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee, Christopher Barclay, described what he found as a "number of failed investments and poor management decisions" made by APFC's president, Larry Polhill. Barclay described Polhill's management of the company as "Byzantine." Based on his recommendation, the bankruptcy was converted to a Chapter 7 liquidation proceeding "in an effort to find the most beneficial resolution for the company's many creditors." Polhill told the newspaper that he had made a settlement offer to the investors, but the investors complained that it was only for a fraction of what they had invested with APFC. "My parents lost their life savings," said Derick, who did not want his last name used for fear of retaliation against his parents. "They're in their 80s now and they can't really recover that money. They lost $100,000." At the urging of defrauded investors, State Rep. Joe Baca (D-San Bernardino) asked the district attorney, Michael Ramos, to investigate the investors' allegations of fraud. The DA's office told them their best recourse was to pursue a remedy in civil court. Ramos' office later told investors it was "looking into the matter and to be patient," but nothing ever became of that investigation.

The SEC's investigation found that, although some of Polhill's businesses were successful, most had failed, a fact never disclosed to APFC's investors. In the complaint announcing a settlement reached with Polhill under which he agreed to be barred from acting as the officer or director of any public company, the SEC laid out the fraud claims against Polhill and the securities law violations that he committed:
The SEC alleges that Polhill made several material misrepresentations to investors. Specifically, he told investors that the notes were secured by collateral when no such security interest existed. He failed to disclose that the collateral securing some investors' notes already had been pledged to other lenders. Polhill represented that he would notify investors if their collateral went into default when that was often not the case. For instance, one investor's note specifically stated it was secured by property located in Hesperia, Calif., that was owned by APFC and pledged as collateral. However, APFC sold the collateral in 2004, and neither Polhill nor APFC informed the investor that his collateral had been sold and there was no longer any asset securing the note.
The SEC's complaint charges Polhill with violating Sections 5(a), 5(c), and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act. Polhill has consented to the entry of an order that permanently enjoins him from violating these laws and permanently bars him from acting as an officer or director of any public company.
Yeah, Polhill's scheme to defraud investors was remarkably similar to the Ponzi scheme Tim Durham ran with his Fair Finance Company that defrauded small Ohio investors out of more  than $200 million. The SEC's complaint against Polhill specifically references his use of Café Valley notes that he personally signed to defraud investors in the scheme:
As another example, over 80 investors held notes from APFC note offerings from 2004 to 2008. These notes specifically stated that the notes were secured by accounts receivable owed by Cafe Valley, a privately-held bakery, and the notes claimed this account receivable had been pledged as collateral for the notes. However, Polhill and APFC never disclosed that this collateral was already subject to a senior bank loan.
Even worse, the complaint says that Polhill continued issuing promissory notes listing as collateral for businesses that had already failed without notice to the investors. When one of Polhill's cousins who had invested in APFC learned of the fraud, Polhill substituted his collateral for him without notifying the other investors. The complaint alleged that Polhill soliticited investors across the country but never registered any of the securities he offered to investors in violation of federal securities law. Polhill also offered investors the opportunity to invest in limited partnership, which were also not registered, and comingled funds raised from those investments with APFC's funds in the form of loans to APFC that were used to pay interest on the uncollateralized promissory notes. The SEC's complaint stated, in part:
Polhill and APFC did not maintain the collateral pledged as security for the notes throughout their terms, and often sold or lost the original pledged collateral without notifying investors.  APFC and Polhill also did not notify investors when collateral went into default and did not offer investors the options of (i) reducing their loans; (ii) accepting substitute security; or (iii) placing their funds in trust pending their approval of a replacement security as required under the terms of the promissory note. Finally, APFC and Polhill did not hold the pledged collateral in safekeeping and available for inspection by the investors upon request.
In fact, APFC and Polhill had no procedures or safeguards in place to track the status of investor collateral and ensure that appropriate notice was being provided in the event of default.
Furthermore, even when Polhill was fully aware that collateral securing investor notes was impaired, he did not tell investors. For example, in one instance, Polhill's cousin held one of the APFC notes. When his cousin learned that the collateral was no longer available, the cousin asked Polhill for substitute collateral. Polhill agreed, and substituted new collateral to secure the note. However, Polhill did not inform any of the other investors holding that note that the collateral was impaired . . .
A website titled, APFC Ponzi Scheme, was created to expose Polhill as a "criminal" and a pathological liar." It should be noted that no criminal charges have been filed to date against Polhill. Information gleaned from the Internet indicates that Polhill grew up in Illinois where he first went into business in the late 1960s with his former high school business teacher, Bill Guymon, who still works for him, as a partner in buying a gas station in South Beloit, Illinois. Polhill, who describes himself as a "professional opportunist," later moved to California and began raising money for a number of business ventures, including a space launch provider, a health club, several Illinois food manufacturers, an Internet service provider, a trucking company and various real estate investments. Kelly Space & Technology in San Bernardino is one of Polhill's proudest investments. A news article from The Press-Enterprise in San Bernardino from several years ago describes a civil lawsuit that a 39-year old man, Gregory A. Letterly, filed against Polhill, a former family friend that he alleged had sexually molested him repeatedly when he was a pre-teen boy in the early 1970s during trips to the Salton Sea, Big Bear Lake and Lake Havasu. Polhill told The Press-Enterprise that he denied all of the allegations in Letterly's "unfounded" lawsuit at the time.

Earlier this year, Advance Indiana noted that Marion's financial woes were becoming a financial albatross for Seybold's statewide campaign this year for the Republican nomination for State Treasurer, which will be decided by delegates to the Republican State Convention in Fort Wayne in June. Seybold recently asked the city council for authorization to borrow $12.8 million in tax anticipation notes after the city began the calendar year with only $320,000 in its general fund. A recent State Board of Accounts audit criticized the city for having a "lack of financial controls" that led to recurring problems with  "overdrawn cash balances, bank account reconciliation concerns and questions about funds use" according to the Chronicle-Tribune. Seybold was also recently sued in Grant County Superior Court for an unpaid personal credit card bill in the amount of $5,357 owed on an American Express credit card issued by Centurion Bank. When Seybold announced his campaign last June, he said he had the support of more than 50 state lawmakers, municipal officeholders, and national and state and community leaders.

Witness Describes Shooting At Purdue To Exponent

A student tells the Purdue Exponent that he was standing in his lab classroom in the Electrical Engineering Building on Purdue's West Lafayette campus when 23-year old Cody Cousins, a teaching assistant in the engineering department, shot another teaching assistant, 21-year old Andrew Boldt, at point blank range multiple times with a gun only feet away from him. Here's how Andrew Pawling described the shooting:
Andrew Pawling was simply attending his second lab class of the semester on Tuesday when he heard “pop” sounds in his classroom just a few feet behind where he was standing.
“As I was turning around I heard another pop, then I saw my (teaching assistant) fall to the floor. The guy got on top of him and then shot him in the face, once or twice and maybe two more times,” Pawling, a junior in the College of Engineering, said.
He witnessed Andrew Boldt, his teaching assistant for ECE 362, being killed “point blank” on Tuesday afternoon by an unrecognizable male who had entered the classroom through the one and only door. The suspect was not a student in the class that had about 10 to 15 students in it at the time, according to Pawling, and the shooter stood between many of the students and their only escape out.
“(Andrew) was obviously trying to stop him. I don’t think he really had any chance to really fight back much,” Pawling said. “I wish I could have helped him, but by the time I realized what was happening he already got shot in the face two times and there wasn’t really anything I could do.”
Pawling told the Exponent that he was close to the door and turned and ran away, warning others as he fled the building that there had been a shooting. Pawling relayed to a police officer outside the building what he witnessed. Another female witness told the Exponent that she came upon Cousins shortly after the shooting kneeling outside the building with his hands on his head near the bus stop without a coat in the extreme cold weather conditions. She proceeded to ask him if he was okay. “He said something like, ‘Stay away,’ ” Liu said. “I stood aside and waited for awhile and I noticed that there was blood on his hands (and) on the shoes. So I thought he was injured and waiting for some professional help ... Then I saw the police cars coming and I heard the sirens and the police came and arrested him.”   “He looked so calm ... He kind of looked sad,” Liu said.

It remains a mystery what, if any relationship, there was between Boldt and Cousins. Both worked as teaching assistants for Professor Stephen Meyer, who has declined media requests to discuss the shooting. Meyer sent out an e-mail shortly after the shooting requesting that any witnesses to the shooting contact police immediately, a message heeded by Pawling, who had returned to his apartment after telling police about the shooting. He later contacted police and went in for questioning according to the Exponent.

UPDATE: Now the story is that Cousins not only shot Boldt, including two shots at point blank range to the face after he fell to the ground, but he also stabbed him before leaving the gun and knife laying on the floor in the lab classroom as multiple witnesses looked on. The picture of a calm, well-lied student is changing as well. A teaching assistant, Ashley Eidsmore, describes Cousins as an "all-around rude individual." Professor Thomas Talavage said he was "intense and aggressive" about his projects and "didn't like to be told he was wrong." From the Journal & Courier's report on Cousins' arraignment today:
Court documents allege that officers who entered the building saw bloody footprints in the area of Room 067. Inside the classroom, police discovered the body of 21-year-old Andrew Boldt.
Boldt had been shot and stabbed, police said. Officers recovered a handgun, a knife and several spent shell casings near his body.
Witnesses in the room reportedly said they saw Cousins stab and shoot Boldt. Surveillance footage also showed Cousins in the building.
Information about the type of handgun used and the number of shots fired was not included in the affidavit.