Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bauer To Force Shakedown For Gaming Industry To Bail Out CIB

The whole argument for bailing out the CIB has been a complete fraud from day one. Now that House Speaker Pat Bauer has enormous leverage in a special session to force the deal he wants, he's going to demand that Indiana's gambling industry get an extra helping hand from the legislature as a condition to bailing out Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board. Yes, Bauer has allowed a bill identical to what Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard proposed last week to be introduced in the special session beginning today, but it is being introduced as a separate bill, HB 1002. What Bauer wants to accomplish for the gaming industry is to allow table games to be played at the two racinos, and to allow the second Gary riverboat license to be moved elsewhere within Lake County. House Republicans are complaining that Bauer is fast-tracking HB 1002, which is likely to be weighted down with gambling measure, but what do they expect when they refuse to act like fiscally responsible Republicans and oppose the bailout of the CIB through $20 million in higher taxes and diversions of state tax revenues. If they support a $15 million handout to the billionaire Simons, aren't the gaming boys entitled to their share as well?

The creation of a newly-constituted Facilities Management Building Authority as proposed in HB 1002 screws over taxpayers royally. The new agency will be accountable to nobody as no elected official will appoint a majority of the nine members to be appointed to its board. The legislation accomplishes a complete cover up of many years of financial irregularities and abuses by the CIB, which has been running deficits for a decade now. Although the new authority will be subject to audits by the State Board of Accounts prospectively, nothing will be done to look into the CIB's past finances. It will simply be abolished, allowing past management to escape accountability for its mess. With the new budget proposed, the State Board of Accounts will see its budget slashed, hardly allowing it the additional resources it will need to tackle the new agency.

The additional $8 million state subsidy to manage Marion County's sports facilities and convention center is conditioned upon the City-County Council approving $12 million in new taxes on car rentals, hotels and admissions to sporting and other events at the Lucas Oil Stadium, Victory Field and Conseco Fieldhouse. The plan already assumes the Pacers lease will be renegotiated to force taxpayers to pick up another $15 million in operating expenses the Pacers are currently required to cover under the terms of its lease.

Everything about this deal is corrupt. Hopefully, federal law enforcement officers are paying close attention to what is about to transpire during this special session. It's become all about using taxpayer dollars to put tens of millions of dollars into the hands of preferred gambling insiders and the billionaire Simons. The politicians and their sleazy cronies are already salivating at the mouth at the big haul that lawmakers and the governor are about to allow them to pocket. Pay to play and quid pro quos are the order of the day. Harrison Ullmann didn't call it the nation's worst legislature for no reason.

1 comment:

I know said...

The Federal Law Enforcement and local Prosecutor already have gambling corruption in Indiana laid at their feet.

What would make this any different?