Saturday, June 01, 2013

Steve Goldsmith Still Refusing To Comply With Indianapolis' Lobbyist Registration Law

The IBJ's Scott Olson has some interesting details about how an internationally-renowned architectural firm first landed and then lost a contract to design a proposed $20 million mass transit hub downtown that was put out for bid last year by IndyGo prematurely before the Indiana legislature acted on a multi-billion dollar regional mass transit boondoggle backed by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. IndyGo initially chose London-based Arup headed up by architect Daniel Libeskind, which was partnering with locally-based Anderson+Bohlander, a firm whose principals include former business partners of Adam Thies, Director of the Department of Metropolitan Development, who participated in the selection of the winning contract. Olson learned that former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith lobbied for the selection of Arup from competing architectural firms.
They contend Arup landed the job with the help of a couple of key connections: former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith and Department of Metropolitan Development Director Adam Thies.
The architects say Arup hired Goldsmith to lobby on its behalf, though IndyGo CEO Michael Terry said he didn't know Goldsmith was involved. At stake was a contract to handle design and engineering for the roughly $18 million transit hub project.
The architects further maintain that Arup's selection was aided by its plan to partner with the newly formed design firm Anderson+Bohlander. Before launching the local firm, principals Joshua Anderson and John Bohlander worked with Thies at Eden Collaborative.
Thies, who took over the top post at DMD in September, said he shut down Eden upon getting the DMD job and has no financial ties to Anderson+Bohlander.
Critics told Olson that the city should have never considered the London-based firm for a project this small given the high fees it commands for its work and the difficulty the city would have in agreeing to a contract with the firm, which is essentially the reason Arup was dropped and San Francisco-based Uris was chosen, which is partnering with locally-based Axis.

What interests me about this story is the fact that local architects knew Goldsmith was lobbying on behalf of Arup. The City of Indianapolis' online registration database for registered lobbyists provides no indication that Goldsmith registered with the city to lobby on behalf of Arup. I have previously complained that Goldsmith has thumbed his nose at the law despite widespread reports of his lobbying activities. I don't believe Goldsmith is alone in refusing to comply with the city's lobbyist registration and reporting law. If you remove the lobbyists from the large law firms who comply with the law, you will only find a handful of people registering and reporting their activities. I suspect it's because there really is no serious penalty for compliance, and those who are familiar with how this administration conducts business knows there is no serious effort to enforce the law.

As to Thies' involvement in aiding his former business partners in landing the contract, this comes as no surprise either. The fish rots from the head first. Mayor Ballard has shown little regard for ethics since taking office. He has feasted off of tens of thousands of dollars in freebies, ranging from memberships to country clubs and free tickets to sporting events to multiple overseas junkets for him and his wife paid for by pay-to-play contractors. He has essentially permitted the city's business to be operated as a racket for using taxpayer dollars and resources to line the pockets of his political cronies. Nobody who has a clue what's been taking place was at all surprised to learn that key employees of the DMD were indicted by the feds for taking bribes and kickbacks in the course of administering the city's Land Bank program.

1 comment:

CircleCityScribe said...

...I wouldn't be surprised to see Stephen Goldsmith on the City payroll with the title of "Special Deputy Mayor" in the near future!

-The Sheriff may also appoint Stephen Goldsmith as one of his "Special Deputies" to "level the playing field"