Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Republican Council Chooses To Put Money In ACS's Pocket Instead Of Taxpayers

Every time I think the Republican-led council couldn't make a more stupid decision that flies in the face of everything the party promised if voters put it in charge of city government in 2007, it tops itself. The Rules & Public Policy Committee along party lines voted to approve the thoroughly discredited 50-year lease of the city's parking meter assets with ACS. Not surprisingly, Mayor Ballard and the stooges of Barnes & Thornburg on the council hailed the vote:

“After careful consideration, the Rules Committee has determined that this proposal to modernize Indianapolis’ parking system will greatly benefit our community – by improving our streets and sidewalks and delivering an improved customer experience,” said Mayor Ballard. “The ParkIndy team is committed to modernizing our parking system in a way that will spur economic development and will result in more convenient parking options for residents and visitors alike.”

Mayor Ballard’s proposal to modernize the City’s parking meters and streamline management of certain government-owned parking lots and garages was introduced on Aug. 23 to the City-County Council. The Rules and Public Policy Committee held its first hearing on the proposal on Aug. 30.

“This parking proposal provides our city an experienced parking management team that will deliver a 21st Century on-street parking meter system,” said Councillor-at-Large, Angel Rivera. “Mayor Ballard’s administration continually briefed the Council throughout the RFQ process and, as the vote tonight indicates, we believe this revised ParkIndy team proposal will best serve our residents, businesses and visitors.”
What the Mayor really meant to say was "After Joe Loftus told us what his client, ACS, wanted, the Rules Committee was ordered to hand control of Indianapolis’ parking system to Joe's client to make hundreds of millions of dollars that would have otherwise been received by the taxpayers of Indianapolis. Councilor Angel Rivera (R-I Want My MBE Contract)  really meant to say, “This parking proposal provides my employer with a guaranteed MBE participation contract so long as I remain a member of the council and cast votes to put money into the pockets of ACS. City Council President Ryan Vaughn (R-Barnes & Thornburg) had plenty to say in defense of his client's long-term contract. At least the Mayor's office was smart enough not to include a statement from him in its self-congratulatory press release on a decision that should be good for at least another $100 grand for the Mayor's re-election campaign. The other Republican councilors demonstrated once again how incapable of independent, rational thinking they are.

Hats off to MCANA's Pat Andrews, who presented a thoughtful analysis to the committee which demonstrated how city taxpayers could realize hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenues simply by keeping control of the system and modernizing it with our own resources. She pegs the windfall to Indianapolis taxpayers at $305 million above what the ACS deal offers to the public. Deputy Mayor Mike Huber, a former employee of a high-ranking ACS executive who was handpicked to work in the Ballard administration by ACS's hired gun lobbyist, Joe Loftus, had no rational respone to her analysis. "Deputy Mayor Mike Huber continues to bring forward ONLY information that he thinks helps his cause of privatizing a City monopoly and public asset to a politically connected firm, ACS, for 50 years," Andrews notes. "Huber refuses to show the income stream to the City, if we pay up front and keep the asset under public domain," she adds. "Instead, he does a bait and switch, only referring to bonding - and for $25 million, to boot."

Sadly, only the Democratic councilors had any serious questions at tonight's meeting, although I could have done without Jackie Nytes' self-laudatory talk about her past "bipartisanship" that has paid off handsomely for her CDC and her husband's printing business and how she would have gladly sponsored a proposal to double parking meter rates if she had only been asked by the administration because, as we've all learned, she's never met a tax increase that means more money to spend that she didn't like. Despite Vaughn's protestations, Councilor Monroe Gray was absolutely correct in his assessment that no competitive bidding process took place. Mike Huber knows that, Vaughn knows that and every participant in that RFQ process knows that. Everyone knew as soon as the administration put this RFQ out ACS was going to get the contract. It was no different than the way the Daniels' administration handled the failed privatization of FSSA's welfare services. Everybody knew the team of IBM and ACS was going to get the contract because Mitch Roob, a former executive of ACS, had made his intentions if he became FSSA Secretary known before Daniels had even been elected governor. If you don't believe me, go take a look at the initial responses the so-called "bidders" submitted to the city. They could have slapped those proposals out in a few hours. None of the proposals indicated a work product one would expect from somebody seriously devoting weeks of work by a team of bid preparers to fashion their proposals in an effort to win a 50-year deal that could be worth $1 billion or more.

Let's also be clear that this contract is being awarded to one company--ACS. Denison Global Parking, an MBE which only exists on paper until this deal is approved by the council, and Evens Time, a WBE contractor, are mere participants in the deal. And please don't insult my intelligence by telling me what a great job Denison Parking has been doing with its current parking meter contract with the city. As someone who frequently parks in metered spaces downtown, I can tell you that at least one in five times when I park the meter is out of order. Some meters remain out of order for weeks at a time, setting off a competition among frequent parkers to win the coveted free space. Other times meters remain bent over for weeks and barely usable after somebody jumped the curb and hit the meter. The city sometimes bags meters a day or more in advance of a special event, thereby causing further revenue losses. I keep hearing how the current meters generate only $4 million annually and $750,000 net proceeds after deducting payments to Denison Parking and the expenses of operating the parking meter system. Blame Denison or blame the city, but there is clearly no effort being currently undertaken by either to upgrade the meters, keep the old ones operating or any other action to maximize revenues. It's as if the current system is being deliberately run into the ground to make the case for giving a 50-year lease to ACS. Isn't that, after all, what Carl Moldthan discovered was happening at FSSA to make Mitch Roob's case for privatizing the welfare services?


Paul K. Ogden said...

Vaughn actually claimed the parking contract was put up for a competitive bid? Is he really tha stupid or just dishonest?

Those Republicans are fools. The Democrats know perfectly well this is a very unpopular vote Republicans are and will be taking. It's a wonder they haven't figured out by yet that supporting Ballard will be the anchor around their necks in 2011. The best thing they can do is show some independence from this Mayor while he's making politically unpopular moves.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's going to be a banner year at the Vaughn household this year. Wonder what kind of bonus you earn nowadays to use your elected position to help steer a $29 million break-up fee to one of your clients to terminate a contract under which your client royally screwed the taxpayers to the tune of several hundred million dollars at the same time you help steer approval of a contract for another client under which it might screw taxpayers out of a billion dollars over 50 years. And to think Vaughn had the audacity to accuse Monroe Gray of being unethical. Like I've said before, there is no other city in America where it is as easy to earn graft without any fear of being prosecuted for your public corruption.

Citizen Kane said...

Prosecution? I'd be happy if I just saw some hard-nosed reporting and a few scathing editorials.

guy77money said...

How this pains me to type this but I beginning to think all the current crop of Republicans want to do is milk all the money they can out of the the taxpayers before they lose control of the mayors office and the council.

They can see the hand writing on the wall and know Marion County will become a Democratic strong hold that the Republicans will be unable to control. So just rape and pillage and when things get bad move to Hamilton county.

Cato said...

CK, you're right on. There is never any probing journalistic investigation the power elite.

It's like we have party media, a la, the Soviets.