As a former federal prosecutor, I wholeheartedly believe Indianapolis needs a new jail to replace the inefficient facilities we have today. But the very real prospect that the city will not have enough money to make annual payments to the project's private developer – at least in the early years of the decades-long deal – is troubling. And under no circumstances could I support a public project that puts Indianapolis taxpayers in jeopardy of experiencing a shortfall to pay for it.
That's because it likely means Indianapolis would have to choose between raising new taxes to cover the shortfall or divert funds from the public safety tax the Council passed last year. That tax, of course, was meant to hire more police officers, not to subsidize a new criminal justice facility. I believe it is unacceptable to put the hiring of much-needed new officers on hold or raise yet another public safety tax to fund this project.
I want to be clear that my unwillingness to endorse this particular proposal does not dampen my optimism that we can and should develop an appropriate facility financed in a more fiscally sound manner.
To do that, I believe our city should engage in a robust examination of all available financing models, including more traditional, proven methods of funding public projects. Finally, a renewed process to develop a criminal justice center should be transparent from the beginning, engaging the Council, Marion County officials, and other stakeholders at the outset.The slated Republican candidate, Chuck Brewer, returned from his Chicago residence to issue a position statement in support of it that David Brooks prepared for him.
I support the proposed criminal justice center. It is clearly an important project for Indianapolis and we cannot afford to continue kicking the can down the road. This project greatly increases efficiencies, which will result in overall cost savings, it will strengthen the process within the jail system and, importantly, it improves safety for the public in the City-County Building.
The current proposal will save taxpayers millions of dollars. It appears that my opponent is basing his position on a flawed report done by a firm that does not specialize in this type of financial analysis. I believe it's evident that the benefits outweigh the concerns but unfortunately, as is the case in too many issues, politics is getting in the way. I applaud Mayor Ballard and the bi-partisan team that includes Democrat Sheriff John Layton for their work to bring a positive solution to the table. Any last minute attempts to derail it without offering any real alternative is just the kind of politics that has delayed this important project for over twenty years already.”Mayoral candidates Larry Vaughn (D) and Jocelyn Tandy-Adande (R) both spoke at the review board hearing in opposition to the proposal. Former City Controller, Kathy Davis, was the lone member of the review board to vote against it because of her concerns about the obvious budgetary shortfall during the first several years of the criminal justice center's operations. KPMG charged the city millions to prepare a phony financial statement claiming the new criminal justice center would actually cost less than what the City is now paying for its existing facilities. KPMG fees triple if the council approves the P3 approach it has recommended to the city for procuring the criminal justice center. Mayor Ballard wants the council to approve the project by April 20 so all of the bribes, payoffs and kickbacks promised can be doled out.
The Indianapolis Star finally got around to reporting a fact Advance Indiana reported last year that Indianapolis taxpayers are being forced to pay $1.5 million to the two losing bidding teams, which pretended to compete for the project to give the appearance of a competitively bid process that was in actuality anything but.