Sunday, July 26, 2015

More BMV Shady Dealings

The Indianapolis Star's Tony Cook has a good story today about more shady dealings at the BMV. This one involves the agency's former chief of staff, Shawn Walters, who signed a contract with a private company, Express MVA, allowing the company to process vehicle titles for high-volume users and charge their clients convenience fees and then later taking a job as the company's chief operating  officer. Waters sought no opinion on whether his employment by Express MVA violated the state's revolving door law when he took the job in July 2014 after leaving state government.

According to Walters' Linkedin listing, he served as BMV's chief of staff for eight years from 2005 to 2013. After the BMV began getting slapped with class action lawsuits for illegally charging fees to motorists, he transferred to FSSA where he worked as a chief of staff at a salary of $125,000 a year for a little more than a year before taking the top job at Express MVA. Waters was one of the high-level employees made aware of the illegal fees being charged by the agency who did nothing to correct the problem.

According to the Star, the BMV executed the contract with Express MVA allowing it to operate what it described as partial BMV branches offering vehicle title processing services in 2010. The company came into existence solely for the purpose of fulfilling the services the BMV contract allowed it to offer to the public. The BMV provides Express MVA workstations with full access to the BMV's online STARS computer system that is used by BMV employees to process vehicle titles at no extra charge. Express MVA pays nothing to BMV to operate the service, but it is authorized to charge convenience fees to its clients, which would include high-volume users like financial institutions, insurance companies, auction houses and automobile dealers.

Until this year, there was no statute that permitted contractors like Express MVA to collect convenience fees authorized by their contract with the BMV. Walters had personally signed an amended version of the contract with his future employer in 2012. The Indiana General Assembly included a provision in legislation it adopted this year which legalized the imposition of the convenience fees by contractors like Express MVA. Apparently the legislative change was sought by Ice Miller lobbyists on behalf of another BMV contractor, Envirotest, which was providing similar services as those offered by Express MVA. According to the Star, Envirotest charges a $45 fee for the same title transfer service the BMV provides at a charge of $15.

The Star identifies the owners of Express MVA as Kevin Calvert and Doug Pillow. In 2013, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation awarded Express MVA up to $115,000 in tax credits after it promised to create about 20 new jobs at its corporate offices located at 3960 Southeastern Avenue in Indianapolis. Pillow described his company as "the largest automotive title processor in the state, serving more than 1,000 auto dealers, auctioneers and corporations across the state." The press release said the company also provides "several online and software-based services such as Express VLV, which allows auto dealers to check for primary and secondary lien information." The company is exclusively endorsed by the Indiana Automobile Dealers Association. Presumably, it's able to offer those services because of the cost-free access it is granted to the BMV's online computer system under its sweetheart contract.

In an unrelated matter, I noticed Calvert and his father, Edward, had been sued by the National Labor Relations Board under the Fair Debt Collections Procedures Act for a fraudulent transfer. Calvert's father, Edward, operated ELC Electric, Inc., whose business address is the same as Express MVA, According to the lawsuit, ELC laid off 16 employees in retaliation for labor organizing activities by the employees. The NLRB awarded over $435,000 in back pay to the laid off employees. The NLRB then sued both Calverts after it claimed the father fraudulently transferred the assets he owned in ELC, which is now defunct, in order to avoid paying the back pay award to the former employees. At some point, Edward Calvert filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection according to the lawsuit.

In none of the Star reports on this BMV mess do you find anything negative about Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was responsible for allowing the Keith Bulen-styled racketeering operations to flourish during his two terms as Indiana's governor. These people believe government only exists for their self-profiteering purposes. Gov. Mike Pence's sin was in not cleaning house when he became governor. It's almost as if there was never any change in the person occupying the governor's office. Pence is just an empty suit letting Mitch Daniels' cronies continue operating the state as their own personal profit centers.


Anonymous said...

Great report and analysis, Gary! The local and state GOP are thoroughly corrupt and the Democrat Party is not one bit of brightness and light either. The major parties are indistinguishable- they serve special interests, they do not serve “the people”. You are one thousand percent correct about both Daniels and Pence and about shining the light of day on the turnstyle cronyism connected persons use to enrich themselves at public expense. You are one hundred percent correct that many of the deals under political hack attorney David Brooks go beyond even the shenanigans of Castor and Bulen. Way beyond. Why this guy is not in a federal prison is just incomprehensible to me. When I think of David Brooks, Rex Early, and even Bulen, I am reminded of Bastiat’s words: “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

As an elected PC, I tried voting against the corruption by backing non-slated candidates. Waste of time. I’ve tried to block blatant (daily??) corruption in the mayor’s office by voting Democrat. Even greater waste of time. I am completely “done” with voting for the lesser of two fools served to me on a platter by the indistinguishable parties.

Oh, and you know this... word on the street, finally!,is that many elected County GOP are murmuring that the incompetent Kyle Walker (and wifey Jennifer Hallowell Walker?) must go. I hope the demand for change- and not the Marxist Obama change for the worse- is being heard.

Flogger said...

Ahh, the Magic of Privatization. Give a Private Company a Monopoly sanctioned by the State and label it success. If the BMV is understaffed to handle the work load the answer would be to hire more staff. This would run counter to the philosophy of shrinking Government though. So the answer Privatize the service and pass on the cost to the ultimate consumer. Then we have the skimming off the top so the Private Company can make a profit.

Pence it is now clear was selected because he is an Empty Suit. Ballard also arrived on scene as an Empty Suit just waiting to be filled up by Crony-Capitalism. I will not vote in this municipal election - no real choices.

Jeffrey St. Clair has said, "As both parties serve the corporatocracy, elections can change nothing." This is certainly a true statement in Marion County.

Anonymous said...

Also not mentioned in the article is what involvement Former BMV Commissioner's Joel Silverman and Ron "Baby Face" Stiver had if anything to do with this. Stiver is the Fascist Moron who destroyed the Department of Workforce Development and was transferred to running the BMV! He was supposed to become Daniels Executive Assistant in 2009 but then mysteriously left and now works at IU Health. How that psychotic little fool didn't get his butt kicked out of the state after screwing up DWD and the BMV is anyone's guess! According to the word on the street Stiver first became "friends" with Daniels at Eli Lilly. Word to the wise Governor Pence. FIRE EVERY DANIELS HOLDOVER IN YOUR ADMINISTRATION NOW! OR ELSE COME NEXT NOVEMBER YOU WILL BE THROWN OUT OF OFFICE AND BE A NATIONAL JOKE! DO YOU HEAR ME!

Sir Hailstone said...

"Oh, and you know this... word on the street, finally!,is that many elected County GOP are murmuring that the incompetent Kyle Walker (and wifey Jennifer Hallowell Walker?) must go."

The same was said for TJ and finally after losing two countywide elections in clean sweeps and losing the prosecutor's office he finally "resigned". The call for Kyle's ouster must come from the moneymen, as there are too many mummy dummies for the PCs to pull off an ouster.

Sir Hailstone said...

Looks like 59 finally picked up on this ...