Sunday, February 22, 2015

Adams And Hunter Want Action On Criminal Justice Center Project Delayed Until After Election

Supposedly an op-ed piece penned by Councilor Mary Moriarty Adams (D), chairman of the City-County Council's Public Safety Committee, and Councilor Ben Hunter (R) calling for the delay of any action on the proposed Marion County Criminal Justice Center project until after the election appeared in the print edition of the Indianapolis Star but is nowhere to be found on the newspaper's online edition. The two council members argue that the new mayor should have the opportunity to review it and allow council members sufficient time to analyze the proposal to determine if it meets the long-term public safety needs of the city-county government. This seems to be a pretty significant shift in opinion that seems to have gone unnoticed by the local media, including the Star. Here's the text of the opinion piece that was furnished to me by a reader:
Public safety is the standard by which all communities are judged, and clearly is the most important issue facing our city right now. Over the last several decades, numerous studies have been completed to assess our current jail and court facilities, and to plan for new facilities and upgrades. Now the City-County Council is being asked to approve an extremely complex, public-private partnership to build a $1.7 billion Justice Center Complex—with a 35-year mortgage—here in Marion County in the next two months. 
Mayor Greg Ballard deserves credit for taking action on a number of important public policy issues during his tenure as mayor, not the least of which is his effort to improve our criminal justice facilities. It has never been a political question for the Mayor or his team, but rather a question of what is best for the citizens of Indianapolis. They have taken a non-traditional course and entered into discussions with various business interests to provide a plan to design, finance, construct, and operate a new Justice Center Complex. 
The Complex would include space for many local criminal justice operations including a new jail, criminal courts, and community corrections. The idea is to take advantage of cost savings associated with transportation, technology and co-location of key offices. 
There are still many significant assumptions associated with these forecasted efficiencies. There must be stronger transparency with elected officials, providing us with the opportunity to review, test assumptions, and ensure projected costs saving are accurate. The folks involved in putting the plan together certainly have the best interest of the City in mind, but open access to information is imperative. 
As local officials who represent your interests, it's our responsibility to make sure promises made today don't turn into public safety pitfalls and tax increases tomorrow. An appropriate vetting process requires time and transparency. We do not yet have all the information necessary to determine whether this project will meet our long-term public safety needs, nor the impact it will have on the surrounding neighborhood and Downtown. 
We acknowledge the pressing need for a modern jail that can house inmates more efficiently, and are committed to working together with the Mayor, Clerk, and Sheriff to find a sustainable solution. But it would be irresponsible for us to act on the current timeline without knowing more. 
There is one thing we do know, and that is, this issue is not and should not be about politics. We believe the best way to keep politics out of this debate is to postpone any final action until after the municipal election if possible. We do not know which party's candidate will prevail, but we know we will elect a new Mayor in November. That person must have an opportunity to review, provide input, and align with this decision. This small but important delay will give us adequate time to go back to gather and analyze the necessary information, and to determine whether this proposal meets our long-term public safety needs in a fiscally-responsible manner. 
If it does not, we will work together on an alternative plan that brings all of the stakeholders to the table. The Council has hired an independent firm to review the numbers in an effort to validate proposed savings and we both support this process. We have to get this right. And, with so much money at stake, we simply can't afford to get it wrong. 
Hon. Benjamin Hunter, Council Member, District 21 
Hon. Mary Moriarty Adams, Council Member, District 17


Flogger said...

I can understand delaying this Project. However, the analysis should be done as soon as possible. The analysis should be transparent. We should know before the election what the facts are. I will not hold my breath that we will ever receive all the fact from official sources or from our Mega-Media.

Smoking Joe Hogsett has been silent on this issue. You might think given all the hype about Hogsett's Criminal Justice back ground he might have some opinion on this.

If I recall right Hunter and Adams were hip deep in the ROC Debacle.

I suspect the Shadow Government would like this Project punted until after the election so it can be rubber stamped with any fear of Voter Fallout.

Anonymous said...

I do not trust career politico Mary Moriarty Adams (I have lived in her council district) and I sure do not trust Ben Hunter (whom I've seen at various GOP functions).

That said, I do find crony insider Moriarty-Adams and huckster Hunter's positions interesting.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Flogger, how can there be "voter fallout" when you basically have basically the Democrat running unopposed. Certainly Brewer could get some support running against another Ballard taxpayer-funded boondoggle, but does anyone think he will have the spine to do that?

Anonymous said...

No problem.

As long as Hunter voluntarily starts his prison sentence, now, and remains incarcerated throughout the election and investigation, we can delay findings until a later date.

Anonymous said...

What's their angle here? They aren't doing this for the public good. More time to extract campaign contributions, fancy dinners, tickets, and high paying make work jobs from the P3 Vendor? If dems control the council and mayors office they stand a lot to gain by having this massive project to leverage.

Anonymous said...

They need more time to get rid of City Councilors Angela Mansfield and Christine Scales, and to find more creative ways to intimidate or bribe any remaining dissent. The Hon. Mary Moriarty Adams’s husband is a former IMPD officer. The Hon. Benjamin Hunter is a former IMPD officer. They both know their way around town and that everyone has secrets. The insiders project that this deal will help both to add over a cool $million to their net worth. Doing it for the public good? No. Doing it for their personal financial good.

Flogger said...

Paul, thank you for commenting on my post. I agree the chance of "Voter Fallout" is remote. My take was I believe our Shadow Government wants to take no chances with something more ugly emerging before the Election.