Tuesday, November 10, 2015

City-County Council Approves $75 Million TIF Debt For 16 Tech Project Without Any Formal Agreement

The definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Time and time again the Indianapolis City-County Council has approved a major project lacking any specificity based on the argument that we can't delay this project anymore. We can't hold it up until all of the details are worked out. If you don't approve this proposal tonight, it will die and we will miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime for our community. A few months or years down the road when the proverbial s _ _ _ hits the fan, these same council members will be pointing fingers at others and asking how such bad decisions could have been made to spend our taxpayer dollars so unwisely.

And so it went tonight with the unanimous approval of $75 million in TIF bonds to finance the 16 Tech Project. After two mayors and 13 years, we can't wait any longer to get this project moving. The sponsor of the resolution authorizing the issuance of the bonds, Councilor Vop Osili in whose district it is located, has been the project's biggest proponent, but he was so uncomfortable with the fact that after years of talking and planning, the best answer he could get is "trust me" because there exists no formal agreement governing one of the largest TIF-funded projects to date that he could not in good conscience make a motion to advance his own proposal.. Do you understand what I'm saying? Your City-County Council voted to allow $75 million to be borrowed and turned over to unelected, unaccountable persons to spend as they please when the sponsor behind it said he was unable to determine the basic terms governing the use of money for the project.

The usual suspects were beating the drum about how this is the greatest project to come along in decades for the City of Indianapolis. This proposed technology park could never happen we're told unless taxpayers foot a substantial amount of the money to encourage private businesses to develop within the project area. The project will be controlled by an unaccountable nonprofit organization, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership under the leadership of David Johnson. To refresh your memory, if you don't recall who Johnson is, he's a former Baker & Daniels public finance lawyer who just happened to be one of those individuals who appeared to leverage his position at the CICP to personally profit from the illegal and corrupt deals the Ballard administration entered into with Vision Fleet and Blue Indy. So when I hear City-County Council members say what a  trustworthy guy he is with a wonderful an impeccable reputation and there's no fear of signing a blank check he will control, please understand why I'm more than just a wee bit skeptical,

I've frankly given up on our elected City-County Council. The incompetent people we elect to that fiscal body are simply unwilling or are incapable of performing their legal obligation to the residents of this city. It's clear it is just too much of an inconvenience for them to do their jobs, or they are being rewarded with money under the table to behave in that fashion, take your pick. When Councilor Osili told members of the Rules & Public Policy Committee that he could not move forward with his proposal because of the lack of a formal agreement, Councilor Pam Hickman made the motion to advance the proposal without his support, and her motion was quickly seconded by the Republican council leader, Councilor Mike McQuillen, a reconfirmation of the fact he's unfit to lead. Osili made the point to Johnson that as an attorney he would never ask a client to approve taking on $75 million in debt for a project based on a verbal commitments alone. Yet that's exactly what our council members decided to do tonight. I guarantee that there are all kinds of corrupt deals that have already been made behind closed doors to divvy up this $75 million among the same group of downtown insiders who, to paraphrase Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett, have been "cheating the system" and "stealing our tax dollars."

UPDATE: An observant reader reminds us that city officials blew millions of dollars on a prior agreement related to this same project with IU Health only to see IU Health back out of a deal to build administrative offices within the project area that had been based on a handshake alone. Shiel Sexton, a downtown insider construction company, has amassed control of much of the land in this area and stood to make off like a bandit before that deal fell through. According to an IBJ report at the time, IU Health reimbursed Shiel Sexton for much of the pre-development costs it incurred on the cancelled deal.

Fellow blogger Pat Andrews has some interesting thoughts on this latest TIF project here.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

An insider attorney can at best only say “trust me”, there is no supporting legal mechanism to allow for the scheme, and America’s Worst City Council caves in. AGAIN.

Well, Gary, we voters are ALL given up on the elected City County Council career politicians. This story you pen, this sad expose of political stupidity and political ignorance, is the very reason I did not waste my time rushing to the polls earlier this month. The truth is once more on full display that it just did not matter at all who you elected as your Indianapolis City County Councilor. Why do we have and why do we pay a City County Council in this age of Emperor Mayors and Insider Attorneys where Councils tacitly allow laws to be ignored and broken?

From the martyr Councilor in the north east Castleton area (you know, Castleton: the new Lafayette Square) to the double-speaking Fountain Square Councilor so filled with angst when he works both sides of his mouth on the issues but 'splains why he just has to vote for crony establishment schemes every time to the quirky, illogical extremist liberal Democrat in Christian Park who is willing to accept almost any insane outcome [such as gender neutral public restrooms] in hosanna to bring to fruition his ideological utopian liberal religion of so-called "equality" .

It just did not matter at all who the voters elected as their Indianapolis Councilor and it does not matter who they elected as their new mayor. As your expose revealed, it is corrupt attorneys who run the show and who run most all politicians. And perhaps that is true of Indianapolis City County Councilors.

Anonymous said...

This is why we are looking to move out of this God-forsaken crap-hole of corruption. Looking at the increase in real estate home sales in Marion County, apparently we are not the only ones.

Anonymous said...

The only reason the money is being turned over to CICP is to do the very dirty deals you suspect are a part of this transaction. Remove it one step from government by laundering the money through the CICP and those we could otherwise hold accountable wash their hands of the hanky panky they know are about to happen.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Pelosi: "We have to pass the bill to find out what's in it."

John Accetturo said...

A entity created and controlled by politicians who then gives it $75M of taxpayer money. No wonder, USA Today yesterday rated Indiana as more corrupt than Illinois and Ohio and within one point of New York. This is total robbery of taxpayer money for the use and benefit of a few. Just think you buy but a politician in Indiana for $1oK or S20K and get millions in returns.

Anonymous said...

Just curious what the size of the kickback will be and who will be the beneficiary of that kickback for sweetening the value of Wexford during its sale to Blackstone Group with the infusion of $75 million of our taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

Notice how darned quiet the Indianapolis City County Councilors, including Christine Scales, Zach Adamson, Aaron Freeman, and Vop Osili, are about Vision Fleet and Blue Indy? During the election campaigns every one of them couldn't run way far enough or fast enough from these important issues but Good Lord could they post on social media all their vaunted FOP and IFD endorsements, all their endeavors and "hard work" regarding inequality, and how they "fight" for the little people.

We the people are waking up to the questions brought on by the corrupt and criminal Greg Ballard.. Why do we have a City County Council and Why do we have laws when the people at the top can break them time and time again?

Anonymous said...

And why wasn't a written agreement reached long before a Council vote? It appears that this project was being formulated in Mayor Ballard's office with a plan to push the CCC to pass last minute financing under the threat of cancellation. While Osili, Miller, and Tew expressed much concern over procedure, City consul still recommended passage. It is to be seen if the unusual step of giving Council lawyers a place at the table will produce an acceptable final agreement. However, it is probably no coincidence that there has been a rush to have an agreement reached before Ballard leaves office.

Mike Jasper said...

Here is the 2014 Audited financials. At this point looks like a place to stash cash and do studies?

https://www.cicpindiana.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2014-Audited-Financial-Statements.pdf

Gary R. Welsh said...

They've already set up yet another corporation, 16 Tech Community Corporation, which is going to oversee the money on behalf of the CICP. David Johnson also chairs that board.

Anonymous said...

Well said Anon 8:01. In the process of moving out of state, but I will continue to watch this train wreck unfold as long as Gary has this site. I've never seen wholesale corruption so willingly embraced by a city as in In-DUH-na-plus.