Friday, April 16, 2010

Board of Public Works Rubber Stamps Water-Sewage Utility Sale

This should come as no surprise. Indianapolis' Board of Public Works unanimously signed off on Mayor Greg Ballard's proposed sale of the water and sewage utilities to Citizens Energy. When the board is comprised of nothing but political hacks, we should expect no better of this meaningless decision. The Board's chairman is David Sherman, who runs DPW. He formerly worked in the Goldsmith administration before taking a job with the private operator Goldsmith chose to run the City's sewage treatment facilities. He moved back into city government to engineer deals to benefit his friends in the private sector.

Next up is the approval of the deal by the Water Works Board. It is chaired by college professor and perennial congressional candidate Marvin Scott. A couple of months ago I noticed while watching one of the Board's meetings on WCTY that Scott at the end of the meeting asked the record to reflect that a vote on an earlier resolution be revised to show that he abstained from voting. He said the staff had raised a conflict of interest concern with him that he wanted to address. I asked Scott after the meeting what his conflict of interest was. Scott told me that he could not recall. He said he would get back to me with an answer. I'm still waiting for his answer.

The biggest joke on the board is lobbyist Frank Short. Short actually lobbied for the passage of the original purchase of the water company from NiSource while serving as a City-County Councilor. Short, in addition to serving as Washington Township Trustee, is currently paid to lobby for such entities as the Marion Co. Superior Courts, Marion Co. Recorder's Office, ICVA, Cash America, 21st Amendment liquor stores, Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police and the Indiana Apartment Association. Short is originally from the Chicago area and brings with him all of that baggage. Whoever decided to appoint Short to this board must have real contempt for good government.

The Water Works executive director, Matt Klein, boasted at the last meeting about all the attorneys, consultants and experts the City has hired to make the sale of the utilities possible. Klein, a former attorney for Bose McKinney who was cited in a multi-million dollar sanction handed down by Judge McKinney in the Southern District for his role in withholding critical evidence in an environmental liability case, doesn't mention that a lot of those same attorneys and consultants reviewing this deal were the same firms that made millions off the original purchase of the water company by the City. That's the deal that had the City paying about double what the utility was actually worth.


guy77money said...

The gas company is putting up 60 million in due diligence money. Pure and utter insanity to spend that sort of money to make a deal that is basically a slam dunk to hurdle all of the so called checks and balances in the system. The problem is not what the Water Company and the sewers are worth, it is the insane amount of debt that the city ran up during their brief stint as owners of the water company.

Unknown said...

Well the main problem in public works is the approval of the deal by the Water Works Board.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Great questions you have raised in this powerful report, AA. A minor one I have, is why in the heck Julia Vorhees is allowed to give Frank Short tax/fee money to 'lobby' for the Marion
County Recorder Office. Both the Mayor's Office and the County Council authorize her budget. Serfdom sucks.