Monday, October 26, 2015

Marion County Auditor Sues To Block Illegal Blue Indy Deal

Marion Co. Auditor Julie Voorhies
At last, there is one elected official left in Indianapolis City-County government who still believes in the rule of law. Marion Co. Auditor Julie Voorhies filed a lawsuit against Blue Indy, LLC, the City of Indianapolis and Regions Bank to block payment of $6 million the Ballard administration illegally transferred into a trust account for Blue Indy's benefit in fulfillment of a contract, under which Mayor Greg Ballard's administration broke numerous state and local laws to enter into with the French-owned company. The case filed by Voorhies, a Democrat, has been assigned to Marion Superior Court P.J. Dietrick's court, a Republican judge who formerly sat as a member of Marion County Election Board prior to running for judge.

The Indianapolis Business Journal is reporting the case was filed in the Marion Circuit Court; however, the state's court system is showing the case filed in Civil Court No. 12 as 49D12-1510-PL-035457. According to the IBJ, the complaint seeks to halt payment of the $6 million being held in trust by Regions Bank for Blue Indy's benefit and any additional construction of power charging stations on city-owned property for use by Blue Indy's electric car sharing business, a 15-year monopoly business Mayor Ballard awarded to the company without undertaking any competitive bidding process or without council approval. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the contract entered into with Blue Indy is illegal.
“Not only did the city fail to publicly bid the $6 million BlueIndy construction project, but the city also failed to obtain the necessary budget appropriations from the City-County Council and circumvented the approval of the Marion County auditor in issuing payment to BlueIndy,” according to a press release from the auditor’s office.
The Marion County Auditor should be praised by all Indianapolis taxpayers for having their backs. That's more than can be said for any other elected officials or the Democratic and Republican mayoral candidates, both of whom applauded the illegal deal and indicated they would enforce what is so clearly an illegal contract should either be elected mayor. All evidence points towards there being a corrupt motivation for breaking so many laws to enter into the agreement, making it all the more outrageous that Joe Hogsett, a former federal prosecutor, finds nothing wrong with so many laws being broken in order to steal tens of millions of dollars in public assets from Indianapolis taxpayers. So much for Hogsett's phony campaign meme about his plan to put a stop to "downtown insiders," whom he accuses in campaign ads of "cheating the system" and "stealing our tax dollars."

The Indianapolis media has completely fallen down on their job in reporting on this major public corruption scandal, which not only results in the theft of tens of millions of dollars in city assets, but which also poses a great risk to the public. Blue Indy is pawning off on Indianapolis residents an electric car sharing system that other countries in the European Union refused to allow to be operated in their countries. The billionaire owner of Blue Indy, Vincent Bollore', was only able to convince his home country of France to buy into the system. Bollore came to Indianapolis after he was first turned down by San Francisco officials.

The electric charging stations rolled out across the city are not UL-certified and potentially pose a risk of harm or death to people who use the electric cars charged by those power charging stations in the event of a malfunction. Even more concerning is the fact that the cars themselves have never been approved by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration for use on American highways. Bollore was allowed a waiver to import the cars for demonstration purposes only. News reports indicate that a number of the electric cars in use in Paris have caught fire and burned since they began operating. Bollore publicly blamed the burning cars on vandals. These facts have been completely ignored by other public officials and the media. Apparently the two candidates for mayor and the media are more interested in protecting the corrupt local business insiders who stand to make a lot of money off the one-sided deal with Blue Indy than the general public.

To view the text of the complaint, click this link here to view a copy made available by WTHR-TV.
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Check out this free advertising the Ballard administration is giving Blue Indy using our tax dollars on our local public access TV station, WCTY.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Long overdue. Thank you Julie!! Where are the rest of our elected officials? Where is the City Council? What happened to Ms. Scales?

Anonymous said...

It is astonishing to this long time observer of Marion County politics how long it took someone to take action and file this long overdue lawsuit. This whole episode could serve as a case study in civic corruption, of the failure of a long list of "public" servants to execute their responsibilities, and of just plain stupidity in action. Where was the US Attorney (yes, I am talking about you Joe)? Where was the county prosecutor? And given the absence of these two, where was the public corruption unit of the FBI? And let's not forget the worthless democrats on the city county council, or the gutless republicans on the same body? Hell, I would argue that the so-called political advisors and cronies sitting in Baker and Daniels (Loftus and Grand and the other fat cat lawyers) deserve some blame here as well -- with a dunce like Ballard occupying the Mayor's office, one would think that these "smart" lawyers would show some restraint and recognize the limits of this corruption, but this is what happens when there are no restraints.

Congratulations to the Auditor for showing some courage here, and let's hope the courts rule in her favor and end this patently illegal and immoral scheme.

Eric Morris said...

Just when I thought I was out, this Auditor pulls me back in.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Great news! Good for Julie!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:12 and 8:17... we've all had to come to the sad realization that Republican Mrs. Christine Scales has most likely pulled the wool over our eyes with her double political speak these many years.

Hickman has a good chance of beating Scales... Scales didn't have all that many votes more at Primary time. In light of Blue Indy (Vision Fleet and the other criminal enterprises of the corrupt Ballard Administration) I say let's give Pamela Hickman a chance. When it comes to the peoples' best interests, Scales fails.

Perhaps this was Adamson's ploy all along. Play Scales in order to portray what Scales really is actually all about and the outcome is that voters will instead put Pamela Hickman on the Council. If that's the case, if that was Adamson's trick - it has an excellent chance of being successful.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the County Auditor can imagine future investigations requiring vast amounts of time, from her, council members... could get pretty... ugly...

Anonymous said...

This is very courageous...the very definition of public service and leadership. It isn't buildings, cutting edge technology or marketing schemes that make a great city. It is a collection of high quality people with the courage to stake out a morally just and right position on issue after issue. I suspect Ms. Voorhies knows what she's done here. It takes a pair to stand up against corruption in a city where virtually everyone is corrupt. I admire this woman. If Indy had a few more like her, we'd be a much better city and I might choose to stick around.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain how this story is still not reported by the Indy Star, our "paper of record"?

Christine Scales said...

As I communicated to Gary in a personal email within the past couple days, Zach Adamson and I have continued to work in whatever feasible, realistic means possible, to undo Indy Blue. We discontinued meeting with representatives of Blue Indy when after one meeting it became very obvious there was a lack of a good faith effort on their part to explore reasonable means of amending the city's contract with Blue Indy. Some of our requests included drastic reduction of Blue Indy parking spaces and charging stations. We sought to open the EV car share program to other companies, allowing the free market to provide competitive pricing and quality service. We also sought means of recouping tax dollars lost through the city's generous financial give-aways to Blue Indy.
Our proposal to remove the Blue Indy cars parked on E.Washington Street did pass the Council. That proposal was one small, do-able step to prove to Blue Indy and the Administration our serious intentions to take on the Blue indy contract. I have proposed to Zach that we each lobby our caucuses to garner support to initiate a lawsuit against the city and Blue Indy, citing at least three state laws and a multitude of city laws that were violated. As we have seen, it is easy for the Mayor, as one person to execute actions. It is far more difficult to gain consensus on a course of action from a body of 29 councillors.
I applaud Auditor Julie Voorhies's law suit.
I have done far more than anyone who has served as a Councillor to make public the unethical and illegal practices engaged in by various city officials. I have suffered the punishment for having done so. I stand on my record of withstanding political pressures to fight for what is in the public's best interests. If a magic wand had been issued to me as a Councillor, I assure nay-sayers, I would have used it by now.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Judge P. J. Dietrich the one who signed off on some fishy deals in violation of previous federal court orders? Something about election spaces and then a HUGE PAYOFF to lawyers to defend his indefensible actions? Maybe a rehash of the actual facts would be useful as all I can remember is a stench about this particular judge going along with Republican corruption to get along with corrupt Republicans. Maybe the Ogden Blog covered this extensively but little escapes Gary's memory.
As for the potshots taken at Scales....can expect from low information sorts. The corrupt Republicans did primary her even though they were unable to fill slots for winnable races....which they abandoned in order to attempt to silence their most prominent elected critic. In addition to be corrupt, the lawyers mentioned might as well be disbarred and would be if evil were considered to be a just cause for such.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes all it takes is one person doing their job. Thank you Julie Voorhies for doing yours. As far as opening up car sharing to other EV companies - forget it. Once Indy Blue received their no bid contract, by the very nature of their being allotted limited public space, they became a monopoly. The Council's discussion around towing Indy Blue cars from E. Washington St. was for some members, why even pass it when it is known that it will not be enforced by the Mayor or IPD - not a very serious proposal. Being 'three state laws and a multitude of city laws that were violated', what should have been voted upon by the full Council was the initiation of a lawsuit. It is way past time for the explanation that Council members are meeting beyond public view for this discussion. You have your lawyer and public support so do your job and do it openly.

Anonymous said...

Christine Scales is the best Councillor we have! -She has my support this election. Integrity means something.

Gary R. Welsh said...

In fairness to Christine, she was one of the first council members to speak out publicly against the deal as a member of the minority party against her own party's mayor. Zach Adamson was also very vocal. The council's CFO explained to me that Ballard made it impossible for the council to spend more money on litigating the issue by line-item vetoing funds from their budget which could have been used for that purpose. The other Republicans on the council weren't about to offer the votes to override that veto, even if Scales had joined the Ds in the vote.

Anonymous said...

The word 'impossible' to the CCC meant only that there weren't enough Republican votes to override a Ballard veto - 5 Republican votes probably would have secured funding but a request for funding never reached Ballard's desk in the first place. Outgoing Speaker Boehner exemplified how the system now works on all levels within the party. If members do not toe the line they will be primaried. Representatives fear the party machine and the financial weight behind them more than they fear the public. That is why they do not want to attach their names to an issue by taking a public vote. When faced with losing his speakership Boehner bowed to the threat of the far right but now, with leaving office, he is able to 'clean the barn' and offer legislation taking away the weapons of government shutdown and default - until 2017, anyway. Christine Scales faced a party challenge in her last primary for her expressed views but we still can not attribute a Profile in Courage to any of our councilors who would rather disrupt public life rather than disrupt the life of their party.

Warren Patitz said...

Christine Scales has never failed to respond to a question I've had asking clarification on an issue, even though she is not my councilor. I can't even get a reply from the councilor in my own Pike district. She is a gift and if only there were more selfless councilors like her.

Anonymous said...

Zach Adamson had been noticeably quiet about Voorhies' lawsuit. I believe he's been reached. He yacks about everything else on social media except what matters most to his constituents.

Anonymous said...

This should earn Voorhies some Republican votes.

Brian Wells said...

Christine Scales, thank you for your service! I appreciate you standing up for what's right. I especially enjoyed your comments, such as "We discontinued meeting with representatives of Blue Indy when after one meeting it became very obvious there was a lack of a good faith effort on their part… We sought to open the EV car share program to other companies, allowing the free market to provide competitive pricing and quality service." I am 31 years old. So, it should be easy to comprehend that I wasn't very civically minded in the nineties during Mayor Goldsmith's administration. I was a teenager for crying out loud! However, I am currently reading Goldsmith’s book called The Twenty First Century City." It contains gems such as Chapter 2 - Making a Market that touch on exactly what you've described: a competitively bid free market competition for services. For example, I site from page 18, “The truth is that although privatization seemed like a useful piece of shorthand for what we wanted to do, it was actually misleading and threw us off track. The key issue, we soon discovered, was not whether tasks were performed by public or private institution. A private monopoly … might be less bureaucratic and more efficient than a government monopoly. But without the spur of competition, the difference in what we could expect in price and service would be distinctly unrevolutionary.” And, also, from page 20, he talks about firing politically connected Republicans who managed various city services ineffectively, to ensure the competition between high overhead city departments and private contractors unburdened by high overhead would be fair, reasonable, and just. He was a bold mayor who did positive things for this city. And, now, for the past 15+ years, he’s worked for Harvard. A really smart guy. No doubt about it. It bothers me to see how far this city was fallen from an era of competition and integrity to a cause to no-bid back room deals like Vision Fleet and Blue Indy. I am not saying that Mayor Goldsmith is a founding father or some mythical heroic figure. But, his views on management were so renowned after operating this place, he got a job at Harvard. Maybe we should listen to him? Thanks again for all you do. Sincerely, Brian Wells taxpayer in District 25.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:13... You Nailed It, Brother. You hit is squarely on the head. And one of these days, Adamson just might have some actually insight about procedure and negotiation and business. Just because one can buy an ongoing business does not magically make the owner an experience business person. A most acerbic and hateful personality, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone traced the ownership relationships of of this company to some of the business interests of some "insiders" and just how far back and widespread they are?
Ditto for the outfit involved in the parking scheme.
BTW, is Mayor Ballard related to a Hank Ballard?

Gary R. Welsh said...

I believe I've discussed before the fact that Mark Miles, David Johnson and Paul Mitchell have an ownership interest in a for-profit company based on the same floor of the Chase Tower where all of these supposed non-profits and for-profits are blended together for a common, self-dealing purpose, which is at least providing consulting services to Blue Indy and Vision Fleet. The consulting role was brought out during the IURC hearing where IPL was trying to get permission to sock it to ratepayers to finance Blue Indy's electric car sharing program. The public has no idea whether Blue Indy has other locally-based owners besides Bollore. Our local news media hasn't been much interested in finding the answer to that question.

Anonymous said...

What about Bollore? Foreign stock information can be quite interesting.

Anonymous said...

After all this time, with what looks like a fat NOTHING substantive filed with the court in this matter, the suit is voluntarily dismissed with prejudice last Friday, March 11. 49D12-1510-PL-035457 Gee, I haven't seen anything reported about this. Has anyone else???