The Star's Brian Eason defines the criminal justice center debate now before the City-County Council along three issues: Is the 35-year, $1.75 P3 model for procuring the criminal justice center a sound model; 2) Is it affordable; and 3) how will politics shape the issue.
The Ballard administration's financial analysis for touting the P3 model over a more traditional procurement method under which the city-county government would own, operate and maintain the justice center upon completion of the construction relied on a KPMG study. Eason's analysis acknowledges the city's financial consultant had an incentive to skew its analysis in favor of the P3 model--its fees triple if the City goes with the P3 model, but The Star has ignored all of the evidence of bid rigging that took place, including the fact that the same players involved in the bidding on this project were also involved in Long Beach, California's heavily-criticized P3 courthouse project. The fact that KPMG also acted as financial on the Long Beach project isn't relevant as far as The Star is concerned.
On the affordability of the project, Eason's story implies something is amiss because the analysis of the council's CFO, Bart Brown, showed the claimed savings from the deal the Ballard administration has touted were purely illusory. Brown conservatively estimated the city-county government would fall $37.7 million short during the first several years, requiring either deep budget cuts or a tax increase. "The fact that Brown vetted the numbers had given Republicans hope that the numbers would stand up to council scrutiny," Eason writes. So who in their right mind could ever believe that you could get a brand new criminal justice center built, operated and maintained by a vendor dependent on profits for its existence that would actually cost less than what it costs the government to maintain existing facilities like the Ballard administration has claimed all along?
Perhaps the most incredulous talking point Eason spews is his third talking point regarding the politics of the issue. "With a May primary election looming, council members will face added pressure to get the vote right," Eason writes. And on a deal of this magnitude and complexity, it might be simpler to err on the side of caution than to support a project whose size alone makes it a tough sell." Is this guy clueless about the upcoming May primary? There are very few choices for voters in the upcoming May primary. Most incumbents and newcomers are running unopposed thanks to the corrupt slating processes of the two political parties. The only two council members facing serious opponents are two of the best and most independent councilors, Angela Mansfield and Christine Scales. LeRoy Robinson, who has received a lot of money from lobbyists for the project, moved into Mansfield's district to oppose her. Republicans slated Tim Craft, who moved into Scales district to challenge her. Both Mansfield and Scales oppose the project. Their independent voting records have not only irked their respective party leaders but also The Star's management, which wants both of them gone.
So determined are both parties to get rid of Scales, their leaders both decided to keep quiet about the discovery that Craft was representing himself as and acting as a licensed real estate broker even though his sales license expired last July when he failed to come into compliance with tougher professional standards and upgrade his license status to that of a broker. Craft works for CBRE, which the city paid to find a suitable site for the criminal justice center, and which participated with one of the three bidding teams that participated in the faux bidding process. Republican Party leaders, upon learning about Craft's licensure problem, wanted it to remain under wraps in hopes of defeating Scales in next month's primary, even at the risk of forfeiting a seat now held by Republicans. Democrats want Craft to win the primary election so they could use the issue against him to elect their candidate in the general election, Pam Hickman. Advance Indiana blew their cover and now the news media is wringing its hands trying to decide whether it should let voters know about Craft's deception at the risk of helping Scales. God forbid we continue to have a couple of independent, clear-thinking people on our City-County Council. We might avoid wasting billions of dollars on yet another bad privatization deal Gannett likes so much.
UPDATE: Former investigative State House reported Tom LoBianco turned Gannett disinformer lays bare the newspaper's modus operandi in a column discussing how the RFRA debate was all about perception and not the actual facts.
Indiana's "religious freedom" war was, at its heart, a public image battle rooted in perception and "misperception," and perhaps no one suffered more from the fallout than Gov. Mike Pence . . .
Consider the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a coin: On one side was the searing discrimination that so much of the nation saw coming from Indiana and its elected leaders, and on the other was the religious freedom that the supporters say has been so ardently under attack with the legalization of same-sex marriage by various means across the nation.
Indiana's worst week on the national stage, at least in modern times, came courtesy of that hypothetical coin and the stated inability by some Republican leaders to perceive both sides of the same coin . . .That's precisely the approach U.S. intelligence agencies take to shape every major debate in this country to support the agenda of the military/industrial. Every military incursion of the U.S. at least since the conclusion of World War II has been based on false perceptions contrived for the public's consumption. Gannett has an agenda of demonizing religion and making it as irrelevant as possible. Hell, one of its reporters even declared that sports has replaced religion as our state's creed, and the massive public investment in sports and leaders of the sports community proved to be the state's savior from the RFRA kerfuffle the media created through disingenuous reporting.