Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Daniels Joins Neocons For High-Level Confab On Their Treacherous New World Order Aims

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels once again broke his promise to keep his hands out of politics after joining the world of academia, but anyone who knows him knew that was a promise he could never keep. It seems Mitch took part in an elitist confab of some of the most treacherous of the neocons who carry the water of the New World Order that is determined to figure out new ways to start wars to keep the military industrial complex humming and plotting new policies to permanently end the middle class in America. The event sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute at The Cloister in Sea Island, Georgia, a five-star resort, included American politics' filthiest pig, Karl Rove, Dick "Haliburton First" Cheney, former CIA Director David Betrayus, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Scott Carpenter of Google Spy On Us. Prospective GOP presidential candidates including, Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. Chris Crispie Creme, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio, were on hand to provide the obligatory hand jobs for their masters while interviewing for their future leadership roles in the New World Order. Daniels led a panel discussion on "How to fix the states ... by rewarding your political cronies, shifting more of the tax burden away from business to individuals and creating as many low-paying jobs as possible." Daniels insisted that there was nothing political about the meeting. It was just a coincidence that everyone in attendance is from the neocon wing of the Republican Party. "I went to this thing, as I have for three years, to learn," Daniels said. He also claimed that one of Purdue's biggest donors and another potential donor was in attendance at the event as well. No doubt they were donors tied to the defense industry.

Former Chicago City Comptroller Arrested In Pakistan For Using Forged Passport To Avoid Federal Prison

 Amer Ahmad
Amer Ahmad with Emanuel in better days (Heather Charles/Tribune Photo)
The former city comptroller appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was forced out of his job after he was indicted on federal charges stemming from his prior employment with the Ohio Treasurer's Office, has been arrested in Pakistan where he was attempting to enter the country on a forged Mexican passport, presumably to avoid prison time after his earlier plea agreement in connection with a kickback scheme. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Amer Ahmad was arrested at the airport in Lahore, Pakistan for attempting to enter the country on a forged Mexican passport and forged Pakistani visa after his wife first expressed concern to a court that he planned to flee the country. Ahmad had $146,000 in U.S. currency and $126,000 euros on him when he was arrested by Pakistani authorities.
"Our officers at the airport found that his passport and visa were forged. We also recovered his original American passport which he tried to hide. Then we searched his history on Google and found that he was guilty of fraud in US and wanted (by the) FBI," Anwar said. "We have arrested him under (a) passport and visa fraud case which carries a punishment of seven years of imprisonment in Pakistan.”
Ahmad’s apprehension comes a week after Ahmad's wife filed a request for an order of protection in Cook County Court in which she alleged he was seeking a fake passport to go to Pakistan.
The U.S. Marshals Service announced last week they were looking for Ahmad on an arrest warrant for violating terms of bail in the case, in which he pleaded guilty to participating in a kickback scheme during his time as deputy state treasurer in Ohio prior to being hired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as Chicago comptroller in 2011.
Apparently, the person who forged Ahmad's documents didn't do a good enough job to pass the lax U.S. and international security that has allowed Barack Obama to use false personal identification documents throughout his entire adult life. Ahmad was facing up to 15 years in prison in the U.S., but he could face equally as much jail time for money laundering charges that he may face in Pakistan if authorities there press charges against him. Mayor Emanuel told a reporter for the Tribune that he was too busy with other issues to be concerned about his former comptroller's arrest in Pakistan. He gave one of his classic snarky responses to the reporter's question.
“I've got to be honest, sorry about this, but let me give you this sense of reaction: I was thinking about plastic bags before Amer. I was thinking about petcoke regulations before Amer. I was thinking about how proud we all are of the Whitney Young basketball team, of their accomplishments on the court and in the classroom,” Emanuel said. “That all came before that, so, gives you some sense of perspective on it.”
The reference to plastic bags made by Emanuel referred to an ordinance passed by the Chicago City Council with his support that bans the use of most plastic bags for environmental protection in the city. The petcoke reference refers to Emanuel's attempt to ban the storage of petroleum coke, a byproduct of the oil refining process at refineries like Whiting's BP refinery, that are stored at industrial locations on the city's southeast side. On that "Chicagoland" series Emanuel's PR folks scripted with CNN to bolster his public image, Emanuel told the Tribune that he had not watched any of the series of shows that have already aired. Emanuel deflected further questions from reporters, claiming that his spokesperson had already addressed the issues raised by the Tribune's previous reporting.

The protective order filed last week by Ahmad's wife expressed concern that her husband planned to kidnap their children and take them with him to Pakistan. Last December, Ahmad had pleaded guilty to federal charges of bribery, wire fraud and money laundering for having $400,000 funneled to a landscaping business he owned in exchange for providing investment work to a former high school classmate. Another $123,000 was funneled to Ahmad through a friend. And if anyone doesn't think this same thing happens in Indiana all the time without consequence, think again. Why do you think that one single power broker has iron fist control over investment decisions for state and local governments in Indiana through the control he exercises over his stooges in the Indiana State Treasurer's Office and among local government financial officers throughout the state? Do you actually think that joke of a public corruption coalition that Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced yesterday is going to do anything about it, or U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett, who was noticeably absent from the announcement?

Ethics Panel Finds Turner Didn't Violate Ethics Rules, But . . .

This was a foregone conclusion. The House Ethics Committee today announced that the bipartisan committee found no violation of House Ethics Rules when State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero), Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, lobbied his colleagues behind closed doors to defeat legislation that could have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars for his and his family's nursing home business interests. Instead, the committee let Turner off with a slap of the hand, concluding that the ethics statements he filed with the House fell short of transparency. The committee, which adjourned after a quick two-minute meeting, also concluded that current House ethics rules require too little disclosure. You think so? From the Star:
“While the committee does not find that technical violation has occurred, we are concerned that Representative Turner’s actions have not achieved the highest spirit of transparency,” the committee’s six-page report says. “Remaining questions about his conduct, while he is in compliance with our rules, gives us concern that our rules do not require enough disclosure.”
Turner's attorney, Toby McClamroch, immediately declared that his client had been totally exonerated by the investigation. A representative of Common Cause, Julia Vaughn, said "we should be disgusted that this sort of self-serving behavior isn't against the rules."

IFD Chief Announces Retirement, New High-Paid Job Created For Him In Public Safety Department

Indianapolis Fire Department Chief Brian Sanford announced his retirement today from the department, citing his battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease. The 57-year old Sanford, who currently earns a base pay of $117,000 a year will be eligible to begin earning a sizable pension that exceeds what the median worker in Indianapolis earns annually. Yet the Department of Public Safety's Director Troy Riggs, who says his department is struggling to find enough money with existing revenues to employ an adequate number of police officers, will create a new high-paid position for Sanford  in his department as a chief of staff, a position he previously found unnecessary. The Department declined to release the pay for Sanford's newly-created job. It has become a tradition in Indianapolis' corrupt city government to find new jobs for select recently-retired  public employees so they can draw both a pension check and new government paycheck at the same time, allowing them to earn a lot more money than they earned prior to their retirement. Below is the statement Sanford shared with IFD this morning before today's announcement was made public:
From the moment I accepted the position of IFD Chief in 2008, I placed a high value on the importance of an open door policy and open lines of communication between my office and you.  The week’s end reports have been one way to try and maintain that vision and communicate important information to each and every one of you in a more personal yet timely fashion.  Often times I hear that most of you go straight to the “rumors” section of my week’s end reports and work your way up.  Today I am going to put the rumors portion at the top and address a rumor that has been circulating for quite some time.
As will be announced later today, I will be stepping down as the Chief of IFD and stepping into the role of “Chief of Staff” for Director Riggs and the Department of Public Safety.  A definitive date for full retirement from IFD has yet to be decided.  Between now and then a process will occur to select a new Chief to lead the Department going forward.  In my new role as Chief of Staff I am looking forward to continuing my working relationship with each and every one of you in addition to a broader role with the other 7 divisions of DPS.  More information will be forthcoming but I can tell you that the same value I place on our lines of communication now will remain a priority with my new position.  My e-mail address is still the same…only my office will be down the hall.  
 I appreciate all of the concern that has been shown to me as I deal with my ongoing health issues and understand better than anyone the future physical limitations I will incur.  I feel honored that the Director has asked me to take on an even larger role in Public Safety and know that IFD will continue to remain the finest fire department in the country.   
As we all know, the current speed of social media makes it almost impossible for me to deliver the message to each of you personally.  For those of you who do not see it here first…I apologize.  I continue to cherish the opportunity to work with each of you and look forward to this new opportunity. Please see the press release below for greater detail.   

Meanwhile, the Department will continue its push to sock Indianapolis taxpayers with at least another $28 million a year public safety tax increase it says is needed to hire more police officers. Critics have complained that DPS' administrative costs have skyrocketed since Mayor Greg Ballard took office in 2008, creating a bunch of do-nothing political hack jobs in the Department. DPS, under the leadership of former Director Frank Straub, was responsible for entering into the costly and one-sided lease agreement for the Regional Operations Center ("ROC") that the agency had to abandon last year due to unsafe conditions. City taxpayers will pay out $20 million over a 25-year period for a building that everyone now agrees is simply not suited for its purpose as the Ballard administration prepares to launch a plan to build a half-billion dollar criminal justice complex that would likely be built to house the ROC. Straub also spent lavishly on remodeling DPS' administrative offices, including the installation of a shower for his personal use. The Department has gone through successive Animal Care & Control directors like kleenex, and the persistent problems with the management of IMPD never seem to end. Unlike Straub, however, Riggs has managed to wrap the media around his little finger by making them honorary public safety directors for a day and kissing their butts, while continuing the tradition of gross incompetence in the administration of our public safety agencies.

Is Fox59 News Supporting Sheriff John Layton's Re-Election?

Watching a campaign commercial for Marion County Sheriff John Layton on Fox59 News this morning, it was hard to distinguish Sheriff Layton's campaign from a promo ad for Fox59, WRTV or any other local TV station. The ad consisted of on-air news stories by various local news personalities reporting on Sheriff Layton's actions. Somebody in management at the local news stations slipped up badly on this one, unless the news departments at the stations don't care about the appearance of objectivity raised by allowing its news personalities to serve as props for a political campaign as long as someone is paying to run an ad on its station. Layton's campaign presumably received permission from the news departments to use those clips in his ad.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NBA Owners Ban Sterling For Life, Pill-Popping Irsay Still Not Charged

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced what amounts to a death sentence for LA Clippers' owner Donald Sterling in response to a conversation a young mistress of Sterling surreptitiously recorded of him expressing racist views towards African-Americans. The voice identified as Sterling on the explosive recording leaked to TMZ is heard chastising his young mistress, V. Stiviano, who is part Hispanic and part African-American, for posting pictures of herself with black people on her Instagram account, including former NBA player Magic Johnson, and bringing "black people" to his games, setting off an immediate firestorm following its release late last week.

Silver announced that Sterling has been banned for life from further participation in NBA games or his team's operations and slapped him with a $2.5 million fine. The NBA commissioner also said that he will attempt to force Sterling to sell his NBA franchise. Interestingly, the recording of the conversation by Sterling's mistress, if it was recorded in California, may have been illegally recorded. California law makes it illegal to record a conversation between two persons without both parties' consent. Sterling's mistress could be civilly liable to him for recording their conversation, although that's little consolation to Sterling at this point; the damage done by its release is beyond repairable. Sterling, by the way, first made a name for himself in California as a hard-charging personal injury attorney. Sterling, whose Jewish family name at birth was Tokowitz, changed it for vanity reasons when he launched his legal career.

Meanwhile, the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office has yet to file any formal charges against Colts owner Jim Irsay nearly forty-five days after Carmel police last month charged him with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and four felony counts for possession of controlled substances. Police stopped a vehicle driven by Irsay in a residential neighborhood after the driver was observed operating it erratically. Irsay failed several field sobriety tests, and police found a variety of pills in various prescription bottles, along with more than $29,000 in cash stuffed in a laundry bag and a briefcase.

More than a decade ago, Irsay's addiction to prescription pills became public when it was learned that he had been treated for drug overdoses on at least three occasions. No charges were brought against Irsay then despite ample evidence of his violation of drug laws. The NFL took no action against Irsay either. Following Irsay's arrest last month, the Indianapolis Star disclosed that a younger female friend of Irsay, also a drug addict, had been found dead from an overdose only two weeks prior to his own arrest. She was living in one of three homes that Irsay's Blue Trust had purchased for her use over a period of several years.

There is some speculation that pressure is being put on the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office not to make any decision on charging Irsay until after NFL team owners meet next month in Atlanta to choose among three cities competing to host the 2018 Super Bowl, one of which is Indianapolis, out of concern that it could jeopardize the city's bid chances. Irsay has reportedly entered himself into a drug rehabilitation clinic and turned over his team owner responsibilities at least temporarily to one of his daughters.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Star Continues To Push Public Safety Tax Increase Propaganda

As with every tax increase that comes before the Indianapolis City-County Council, the Indianapolis Star supports it and only presents one side of the argument. The newspaper is back with a repeat performance on the latest public safety tax increase proposal just like the 65% increase in the 2007 local income tax increase the Star aided former Mayor Bart Peterson and the Democratic-controlled council in ramming down our throats. Today's headline says "Tax hikes of $29 million would bring IMPD staff to highest level ever":
With homicides rising for a third straight year, a City-County Council task force is recommending $29 million in tax hikes to increase the Indianapolis police force by nearly 300 officers.The IMPD Staffing Study Commission proposal would add 286 officers to the force by 2020 at a annual cost of about $100 in new taxes for most Marion County residents. The new revenue would increase the department's ranks to 1,813 officers, the most it's ever had.
"People don't feel safe in our community right now, the No. 1 priority should be put on hiring police officers," said Democratic Councilor Mary Moriarty Adams, chairwoman of the commission. 
Half the new revenues would be provided by eliminating a homeowner tax break — a move originally proposed by Republican Mayor Greg Ballard that Democrats on the council have rejected three times.
The difference this time, said council chief financial officer Bart Brown, is that the homestead tax credit would be phased out over four years. Brown said a property owner with a $100,000 home ultimately would pay an extra $30 a year. 
Another $15 million a year would be generated by slightly increasing the income taxes dedicated to public safety. A resident making $50,000 a year would pay about about $75 a year more. 
Democratic Councilor John Barth said it was imperative that the council address the IMPD staffing shortage now, before the number of police offices and agency morale dip too low to be repaired. His constituents, he said, have indicated they'd be willing to pay for adequate police coverage. But the question going forward is: How much? 
"No matter what, it is going to be hard when we talk about revenue enhancement (tax increases)," Barth said. "The next step is to stand up and say, 'We are willing to make the hard decisions.' " 
The plan is intended as a blueprint for budget negotiations this summer, he said. 
"Our hope is that this is pathway to get more police in the 2015 budget and beyond," Barth said. "We will be saying take this to the mayor's office and find out what's palpable for all of us."
The story per standard operating procedure is devoid of any critical analysis and is nothing more than a press release for the lying politicians who we foolishly elect to represent us on the City-County Council. Don't even get me started on the local TV reporters, who amazingly can only find people who support raising taxes when they go out looking for interviews with local taxpayers. Everybody agrees that higher taxes is the answer. Everybody agrees that if we hire 200, 300, 400 or 500 more police officers, everything will be much better. Here are some suggested questions the lazy reporters in this town might want to check out if they consider themselves legitimate news reporters:
  • What happened to the $90 million a year in new taxes for public safety in 2007 these lousy bums slapped us with  that were supposed to hire all of those new police officers, particularly since the part of that tax set aside for paying unfunded pension liabilities for public safety employees was taken over by the state, saving the City $25 to $30 million annually? The public was promised the higher taxes would be used to hire 100 to 200 additional police officers to combat a rising crime problem, primarily the record number of homicides recorded in 2006 but not a single new officer was added, even with a federal COPs grant to fund 50 new police officer positions.
  • The Mayor has repeatedly claimed that overall crime in the City has been down every year that's he's been mayor even though the number of police officers employed by IMPD has remained flat throughout his two terms in office. If crime is down overall despite the failure to hire more police officers, how will hiring more police officers reduce crime?
  • The record number of homicides recorded in 2006 was followed by many years of declining homicide numbers to what the mayor described as historically low rates while the number of police officers remained flat. How will spending money to hire additional police officers reduce the homicide rate?
  • What happened to the $9 million in savings that was supposed to come from the merger of IMPD and the Sheriff's Department? 
  • What impact did the decision of the mayor and council to divert as much as $120 million a year in property tax revenues to TIF slush funds to fund crony capitalism have on the supposed lack of funds for public safety now? 
  • What impact has the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks the City-County Council has passed out to businesses over the past decade had on the supposed lack of funds for public safety now?
  • Where will the city-county government's share of $97 million in property tax revenue windfalls from enforcement of the homestead exemption recently announced be spent? 
  • Isn't the controller's office low-balling future revenue growth, particularly as property values continue their rebound, to make the revenue outlook in future years look worse than it really is?
  • Doesn't the controller say that this tax increase is only a stop-gap measure and that another tax increase will be required within four years to maintain higher staffing levels for IMPD?
  • Why does the City continue to allow private security firms to use our police officers, police cruisers and other law enforcement equipment for no remuneration instead of imposing fees on them like most other major cities in America, leaving millions of dollars on the table annually? 
  • Why does this City refuse to collect fees for the added public safety costs caused by sporting and other special events like other cities do, leaving millions more dollars on the table annually? 
  • Why does the City refuse to collect fees from the large nonprofit organizations and universities that pay no taxes to support public safety like many other large cities, leaving even more millions of dollars on the table annually? 
  • Isn't the multi-year pay raises quietly promised by the Ballard administration to representatives of the FOP and the firefighters going to consume a significant part of the higher tax revenues earmarked for hiring more officers?
  • Where will the money come from to pay the tens of millions in new annual budget outlays that the City will be required to pay if Mayor Ballard gets his way and a new criminal justice center is built next year that will be owned and operated by a private company?
  • Does the City plan to sell the valuable real estate on which the current two jails are located for their fair market value? Or will that land be gifted to private real estate developers, along with other economic development incentives and tax breaks, to redevelop the land for the private developer's exclusive benefit?

Zoeller Wants A "Soft Repeal" Of The 17th Amendment Allowing Direct Election Of U.S. Senators

Add this to the long list of disappointments I've had with Attorney General Greg Zoeller since I made the mistake of supporting him for the Republican nomination at the 2008 Indiana GOP convention. Zoeller is now supporting a "soft repeal" of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which took away the right of each of the 50 state legislatures to choose a state's U.S. Senators and gave that right to the voters of the 50 states. Zoeller is pissed off because his buddy Sen. Richard Lugar got dumped by Republican primary voters in the 2012 primary election after 36 years in the Senate so he now thinks only state lawmakers of the respective political parties should be allowed to nominate their respective candidates for U.S. Senate. He favors an outright repeal of the 17th Amendment but because his proposal won't require the difficult and cumbersome process of enacting a constitutional amendment, he supports the soft repeal route. From the Northwest Indiana Times' Dan Carden:
Hoosiers never again would vote in a primary election for U.S. Senate candidates if the decision were up to Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
Zoeller is among a growing number of state's rights conservatives who favor a so-called "soft repeal" of the 17th Amendment that would empower members of the General Assembly, instead of voters, to nominate each party's U.S. Senate candidates.
Voters still would have the final say on who represents Indiana in the Senate. But Zoeller, a Republican, believes giving the General Assembly's control of selecting candidates could revive the idea that U.S. senators are ambassadors of a state's government and not entirely free agents.
"If they had to come back ... and get renominated each six-year cycle, they'll be less likely to pass statutes that stuck it to states," Zoeller said. "Would we have an unfunded mandate if they had to come back and explain it to members of the Legislature?"
Speaking earlier this year to the Federalist Society of Indianapolis, an association of politically conservative lawyers and judges, Zoeller said the proper relationship between states and the federal government was "slaughtered" when the 17th Amendment, providing for popular election of U.S. senators, was ratified in 1913.
In the century since, the federal government has come to view states as entities it controls, instead of the co-equal sovereigns the framers of the Constitution intended, Zoeller said.
That relationship urgently needs to be rebalanced to bring an end to overreaching federal regulations and unconstitutional laws, and to cut down on the number of legal challenges, he said. Zoeller said he's felt obligated to file against the federal government in the past six years . . .
Only an elitist scumbag would support such a proposal to further erode the right of the people to choose their elected representatives. Primary voters in Indiana are already cut out of the process for choosing other statewide offices, including the office Zoeller holds, secretary of state, treasurer and state auditor, who are all chosen by a small group of delegates elected to the state convention. Over the years, interest in being a delegate has waned because most races are decided before delegates make it to the state convention so many are appointed by county chairmen rather than being elected by primary voters. That means that only guys like Bob Grand get to decide who holds statewide office in Indiana. One of the driving forces behind the enactment of the 17th Amendment was the increasing number of vote-buying scandals that surrounded Senate elections when they were decided by state lawmakers. America has already become an oligarchy for all practical purposes instead of the republic our founders intended when they crafted the U.S. Constitution so I suppose this is just one more nail in the coffin.

I'm still waiting for someone in the media to investigate the more than $800,000 Zoeller has paid out to his former boss, Steve Carter, to handle the state's tobacco settlement requirements. The State of Indiana is losing $63 million in tobacco fund settlements because an arbitrator last year determined that the state had made to little effort to recover money from cigarette companies that weren't a part of the original deal. Great job, Greg and Steve.

Rebuild Indy 2 Should Easily Cover The Cost Of The Mayor's Re-Election Campaign

Mayor Greg Ballard has been pitching the idea of funding Rebuild Indy 2, a plan to spend about $350 million over the next three years on streets, sidewalks and whatever other projects he can imagine, such as a sports park to play cricket. The first $150 million in spending would come from a bond issue. Ballard's original Rebuild Indy spending program was funded by close to $500 million the City netted from the sale of the water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy, which ratepayers have been paying for in the form of repeated, double-digit rate increases.

By coincidence or not, city contractors who received Rebuild Indy contracts contributed about $1.5 million to his campaign committee over the past four years. The top ten contributors were all engineering firms which received no-bid contracts. Interestingly, their contributions accounted for over $700,000 of the $1.5 million raised from Rebuild Indy contractors even though they collectively represented only about $78 million of the nearly $500 million spent. Construction companies, which received the bulk of the Rebuild Indy money, contributed much less to Ballard's campaign committee, perhaps because the contracts they were awarded were subject to public bidding requirements. The top ten are listed below. The number in parenthesis is the amount of contracts awarded to the firm, while the second number is the amount of contributions the firms and their key employees made in campaign contributions over the past four years.

1.   American Structurepoint, Inc. ($37,203,475)--$129,700
2.   RW Armstrong & Associates ($13,554,892)--$90,000
3.   United Consulting Engineering, Inc. ($9,066,041)--$101,250
4.   Bernardin Lochmueller and Associates, Inc. ($7,406,845)--$83,500
5.   Christopher Burke Engineering ($5,722,494)--$38,500
5.   Butler, Fairman and Seufert, Inc. ($3,847,164)--$63,550
6.   V.S. Engineering, Inc. ($1,957,866)--$41,000
7.   M.D. Wessler and Associates, Inc. ($1,835,236)--$30,250
8.   First Group Engineering, Inc. ($1,282,052)--$36,250
9.   Janssen & Spaans Engineering, Inc. ($1,384,600)--$42,500
10. DLZ Indiana, LLC ($736,250)--$88,905

I don't fault these engineering companies and their key employees for contributing so generously to Mayor Ballard's campaign committee. They know how the game is played. Either they pay up or they won't play. After all, that's why they call it "pay to play," and pay to play is the Ballard way. A special shout out to the reader who took the time to compile this data to be shared with the public.

UPDATE: The original top ten list of contributors omitted the actual 5th place finisher, which was Christoper Burke Engineering, and which was awarded $5,722,494 in consulting contracts and contributed a total of $38,500 to Ballard's campaign committee.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Herb Simon: $160 Million Gift To Him Was A Good Deal For Indianapolis Taxpayers Because It's Good For His Heirs

Herb Simon with his super model wife, Bui
The billionaire owner of the Indiana Pacers, Herb Simon, never had to appear at a single public meeting to address the need for the more than $40 million in subsidies Indianapolis taxpayers have been forced to pay his Indiana Pacers the past four years or the more than $160 million his NBA franchise will receive over the next 10 years thanks to a deal forged with him by the thoroughly corrupt and unelected members that govern the City's Capital Improvement Board. He did, however, sit down and talk to the managing editor of the Indianapolis Business Journal, which was generous enough to share with us an "edited version" of their conversation. Herb tells Greg Andrews that Indianapolis taxpayers got a good deal that was necessary to ensure that his children, who he says "won't have wealth on the same scale as he has amassed" will be able to keep the team in Indiana when he dies.
Simon assured Andrews that he never threatened to move the Pacers out of Indiana during his negotiations, a possibility the IBJ continuously published in its news pages and in editorials throughout discussions of continuing subsidies to the Pacers. "We didn't threaten anything," Simon said. "The team belongs in Indiana . . . That's all that it is . . . to make it economically viable so that my heirs and successors can keep it here."  When Andrews confronted him with the fact that smaller team markets like the Pacers received more favorable revenue sharing as a result of the NBA team owners' latest collective bargaining agreement with players and improved attendance resulting from better team performance has boosted the team's revenues, Simon was quick to throw water on that. While acknowledging his franchise is "doing much better than we did the last couple of years," he lamented that ticket receipts were only averaging about $700,000 a game. "Other cities get $2 to $3 million a game, and the interesting thing is we all have the same salary cap." But Andrews reminded Simon that the Pacers have exceeded the salary cap several times and the team's payroll so high that the luxury tax kicked in. "Maybe one year," Simon scoffed. "I wasn't paying attention," Simon told Andrews while chuckling. "That's not a good thing" for a small market Simon said. "But I've always allowed Larry [Bird] to spend up to the tax." He said the team doesn't "plan to go into the tax, but you can never tell." "You can't say never ever."
Andrews delved deeper into the Pacers' claim that they have lost money every year since the team moved into the new Banker's Life Fieldhouse built for the team courtesy of Indianapolis taxpayers, which the team uses rent-free and gets to keep all of the revenues generated from its use. "This is very confusing because the season is split up over two years," Simon said. He claimed, naturally without actually opening up his audited financial statements, that his franchise lost $44 million from 2009 to 2014. "And that does not include the extra $10 million I had to pay to settle the Spirits of St. Louis [litigation], and that doesn't include the $16 million I had to lay out for a scoreboard because I couldn't get anyone to act on it," he complained. "So if you think about it, there was an outlay of $70 million over these years worth more than we've taken in." The Spirits of St. Louis litigation was in reference to ongoing payments the NBA owners had been making to the former owners of the Spirits franchise who lost their franchise as part of an agreement when the former ABA league merged with the NBA. Andrews failed to follow up that Indianapolis taxpayers had given his team more than $43.5 million during that same period, or ask him how much money the team made from advertising revenues it derives from its $16 million scoreboard, which taxpayers are now being forced to buy back as part of that $160 million, 10-year deal, while his team keeps all of its advertising revenues.
All in all, Simon said the new $160 million dollar deal will mean that "the $150 million which was choking us for many years will be less of a problem, and his poor heirs "should be able to get a loan with very little help from the city." Andrews asked if $150 million was the amount of the team's debt. "It's actually $154 million, but it varies," Simon responded. "It's been up to $175 million. You know, it just goes up and down depending on the time of the year, depending on what's happening." Andrews wondered how an outside loan could possibly be a problem given that Forbes magazine values the Pacers as being worth $475 million, and another smaller market team, the Milwaukee Bucks with the worst record in the NBA just sold for $550 million. "It's just extra caution," Simon said. "I don't think it's a problem at all. Simon and his brother, Mel, purchased the Pacers in 1983 for $10 million. Andrews didn't ask Simon how much he paid to buy out his late brother's half share of the Pacers from his estate under a right of first refusal agreement when he kicked off three years ago.

The idea that the $160 million agreement with the Pacers includes any mention of the City helping the Simon children with financing for the Pacers and have a right of first refusal if financing can't be lined up is ludicrous, but Herb doesn't see it that way. "Well you see, I personally guaranteed the loan," he said. "Even though it is a Pacers loan, it could be an issue for my children--they are not worth as much as I am." "The city has a lot means [to help refinance the debt] where the kids can still continue [and not have to sell the team]." "There is money to pay off the loan, and we will try to pay it down before then." "The city has all the rights. All they have to do it make sure we get a loan on the team." Except, Herb can't make any guarantees about how his fellow equally as greedy billionaire NBA team owners will confront the issue of succession.
Billionaire Herb Kohl, a former U.S. Senator, purchased the Bucks for $18 million, and Forbes had placed the value of his team at $405 million, $70 million less than it valued the Pacers. With higher revenues and taxpayer subsidies, it doesn't take much of a leap to see the Pacers go for more than $600 million if placed on the market. Simon and his fellow NBA team owners have threatened to take away Milwaukee's NBA franchise if city officials there don't ink a new deal to provide additional subsidies to the team's new owners, two billionaire hedge fund owners from New York. Simon said that his son, Stephen, who runs Simon Equity in San Francisco, the private investment arm of the billionaire Simon family, will likely gain control of the team once he passes. "He's very generous," Simon says. "He is a little more fiscally responsible than I am," Simon said. Perhaps that's in reference to Herb's spending on his trophy wife, the beauty pageant winner and super model from Thailand he married after divorcing his first wife. Bui Simon was noticeably omitted from Herb's conversation with Andrews about his "heirs and successors." In case you haven't figured it out, the more than $200 million taxpayers will have paid out to Simon's Pacers has nothing to do with supposed losses. It's all about Indianapolis taxpayers being forced to help pay the purchase price Herb paid to buy out Mel Simon's share of the Pacers from his estate. 
Hopefully, Herb is a little more discrete conversing with his super model wife, Bui, than LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been with his trophy girlfriend. Sterling was secretly recorded by his young girlfriend, Vanessa Stiviano, going on a racist rant against blacks. It seems that Sterling was put out by Stiviano, who is part Latino and part African-American, bringing blacks to the games and posting pictures of them on her Instagram account for the world to see. Sterling is still married to his estranged wife of 50 years. She has filed a lawsuit against him in which she claims that he has spent lavishly on Stiviano, buying her a Ferrari, two Bentleys, a Range Rover and a $1.4 million apartment. Lucky for Sterling, an NBA investigation of his conduct will be decided by a group of like men--white, wealthy and male. With the exception of Michael Jordan, the African-American owner of the Charlotte Bobcats and former NBA standout player, and Vivek Ranadive, a billionaire businessman from India, all NBA team owners are white males. I would note another obvious distinguishing characteristic of all but about 5 of the 30 NBA owners, but I wouldn't want to be labeled a bigot. Will Sterling still receive a lifetime achievement award next month from the LA chapter of the NAACP, along side race baiter/drug dealer/FBI informant Al Sharpton? Enjoy the recording Sterling's girlfriend made of his racist rant below. It's incredible that someone who relies primarily on African-American players for his NBA team's success could hold such racist views.

Clowning around: Stiviano posed last April in a red bikini and a clown nose sitting in a Ferrari that Sterling allegedly bought for her with family money
Stiviano with the Ferrari LA Clippers Owner Don Sterling Purchased For Her
Damning recording: Donald Sterling (center) can be heard telling his girlfriend V. Stiviano (to his left) not to bring black people to Clippers games
Stiviano sitting with Sterling at a Clippers game

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Unthinkable: An Airline Captain's Story

The New York Times describes Eric Stacey's "Unthinkable: An Airline Captain's Story" as "unwatchable," which is why you should watch every second of it. The drama based on real-life events of how U.S. black operations agents carried out the February, 2013 execution of 911 truth teller Captain Philip Marshall, author of "The Big Bamboozle: 911 And The War On Terror," and his two teen-age children in their home in a gated community east of Sacramento as reported by investigative journalist and NSA whistle blower Wayne Madsen as part of an effort to keep him from revealing sensitive new information he planned to reveal in an upcoming book about the events of 911. Marshall's character played by actor Randall Paul is renamed Marshall Philips in Stacey's movie. Madsen's character, Madison Freeman, is played by actor Dennis Fitzpatrick.

Marshall was a retired airline pilot and former CIA pilot who worked with Barry Seal, the infamous CIA pilot who flew planes smuggling drugs from Central America to a small airport in Mena, Arkansas as part of the Iran-Contra Affair before he was gunned down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by a Colombian hit man. Law enforcement officials immediately claimed the death of Marshall and his children was a murder-suicide perpetrated by Marshall before any real investigation had been conducted, but Madsen's investigative journalism suggests a government conspiracy to silence Marshall. Madsen complained about police waiting 18 hours before responding to a neighbor's 911 call after he became concerned about the family's well-being and discovered Marshall's body laying on the floor near his home's front door in a pool of blood. The victims bodies were cremated before Marshall's wife and children's mother could return home from a business trip to Turkey, and hazmat crews were sent in to clean the home before critical forensic evidence could be gathered.

Chicago Tribune Exposes CNN Scripting The News For Mayor Rahm Emanuel

This is consistent with what I've reported for some time, but this is perhaps the first time a major newspaper has actually exposed one of its own for scripting the news for a government official. In this case, it's the Chicago Tribune's Bill Ruthhart whose blockbuster report reveals hundreds of e-mails exchanged between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and producers of a CNN documentary series, "Chicagoland," that prove the show was scripted by design to bolster Emanuel's public image. Ruthhart, a former reporter for the Indianapolis Star, reveals what he learned after reading more than 700 e-mails exchanged between Emanuel's office and CNN producers:
If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN's documentary series "Chicagoland" were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's City Hall and the show's producers, that's because they were.
More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor's advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.
Producers asked the mayor's office to help them set up key interactions in what the cable network has billed as a nonscripted eight-part series, including Emanuel's visits with the school principal who emerged as a star of the show, emails show.
City Hall's frequent correspondence with the producers illustrates how senior aides to a mayor known for shaping his media image managed how their boss would be portrayed on CNN to a prime time national audience.
The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel's staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor "as the star that he really is."
Creator and executive producer Marc Levin made a pitch to the mayor's office last May as Emanuel's hand-picked school board was two days away from a vote to close nearly 50 schools.
"This is a real opportunity to highlight the Mayors leadership – his ability to balance the need for reform and fiscal reality with compassion for affected communities and concern for the safety of Chicago's school children," Levin wrote of the school closings to Emanuel senior adviser David Spielfogel and two press aides. "We need the mayor on the phone in his SUV, in city hall with key advisers and his kitchen cabinet and meeting with CPS head BBB (Barbara Byrd-Bennett) and with CPD (Superintendent Garry) McCarthy."
The first "Chicagoland" episode, televised in March, featured just what Levin had requested: slow-motion images of the mayor climbing into his SUV and talking on his cellphone, and Emanuel's meetings behind closed doors with Chicago Public Schools CEO Byrd-Bennett and Chicago police Superintendent McCarthy.
The emails, obtained through an open records request, show the producers were not always granted all the access they sought. And Levin said he was "eternally frustrated" that much of the behind-the-scenes access he got of Emanuel was controlled by the mayor's office.
"Everything the mayor does is stage-managed. Everything. That is the way he operates, so I'm not going to dispute that," Levin said in an interview when asked about his emails that requested specific scenes featuring the mayor. "I would be the first to acknowledge that you don't get into Chicago … and get access without having to do a certain dance.
"I'm not saying these people had editorial control. They didn't," Levin said of the mayor's office. "But at the same time, yes, we were sensitive that we were moving through this city and getting access to a lot of places because we had developed a dialogue with the mayor."
That dance for access is not uncommon, said Mitchell Block, an expert on documentary films at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. While Block said he hadn't watched "Chicagoland," he said that in any documentary, if a filmmaker's access to a subject is managed, and not free-ranging, it affects how that person is portrayed.
"The question is did they really have full access?" Block said. "If the access was managed, as it sounds like it was, then everything looks perfect all of the time. I personally don't make those kinds of films."
Emanuel aides declined to answer specific questions about the administration's involvement in the series' production. Instead, Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton issued a statement that suggested the administration's work with CNN was typical.
"As we do with any news outlet working on a story, we work with them to highlight the great work being done in Chicago. This was no different," Hamilton said. "The producers of 'Chicagoland' were not from here and, as such, had very little background on the city and the work being done. They asked for examples of work taking place and events they could attend, which we provided. This is no different from information we provide reporters — including the Tribune — every day."
Local media rarely are granted behind-the-scenes access to the mayor.
A CNN spokeswoman issued a statement today. "Access requests for filming on city property and at official events were submitted in advance for permitting and scheduling purposes as is done for all municipal filming of this type," the statement read . . .
Of all the tax increase ploys, pay-to-play and other scams perpetrated since Emanuel became mayor, CNN chooses to cast him as a profile in courage for closing public schools as part of his so-called education reform efforts at the same time he sends his own kids to private school. While I applaud the Tribune for allowing Ruthhart to expose CNN for scripting the news, the newspaper itself has been one of the worst offenders of scripting the news. In fact, depending on how you view it, the Tribune can be credited or blamed for the election of Barack Obama as president. Working hand in hand with one of its former reporters, Obama media guru David Axelrod, it used its news pages to viciously destroy Obama's political opponents while going to great lengths to keep Obama's many skeletons hidden in the closet, including his infidelity, homosexuality and corrupt relationship with convicted political fixer Tony Rezko.

The newspaper, ever capable of doing investigative reporting when it fits its agenda, has also treated Rahm Emanuel with kid gloves over the years, paving the way to his ascendancy as Chicago's mayor. Wasn't there a story to tell about how Emanuel, who had absolutely no investment banking business experience, nonetheless managed to earn close to $20 million during a short, two-year stint working for a Chicago investment banking firm after leaving the Clinton White House but before his election to Congress? Or was nobody available to look into the story investigative reporter and NSA whistle blower Wayne Madsen uncovered about the memberships Emanual and Obama had at the gay Chicago bathhouse, Man's Country, that the two frequented together before they became recognizable figures while pretending to be happily-married heterosexual fathers? The newspaper certainly didn't hold back when it devoted enormous resources reporting on the alleged closeted homosexual lifestyle of Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford during his recent unsuccessful bid for governor.

Was it not newsworthy that Emanual, who has dual citizenship with Israel, chose to serve in the Israeli Army during the first gulf war instead of serving alongside other American soldiers? Didn't Emanuel's father make somewhat of a name for himself in Israel in his craft of making bombs and blowing up buses filled with British troops in Palestine before emigrating to Chicago where he became a prominent doctor? At least the Tribune's political columnist John Kass got the Hollywood manipulation angle down. "And by an amazing coincidence, 'Chicagoland' was also produced by two filmmakers who usually work closely with Rahm's brother, Ari, the Hollywood superagent," Kass wrote. Yes, Emanuel's brother Ari can make or break your career in Hollywood if you don't conform to the family's political agenda.

Sadly, virtually everything reported by the mainstream media in this country is carefully crafted, particularly the non-stop 24-hour cable news stations like CNN, Fox and MSNBC. They fed us the government story line on 911 and accused anyone who doubted the official version as a whacko conspiracy theorist just like the way they've handled anyone pointing out the numerous holes in the Obama biographical narrative, the Boston Marathon bombing narrative or the latest and greatest mystery of the missing Malaysia Airline Flight #370. CNN, in particular, has devoted enormous resources feeding us propaganda about the missing flight. Its meth head international anchor, Richard Quest, just by happenstance did a feature travel story aboard a Malaysia Airline flight co-piloted by the very crew member aboard the missing plane only days before its disappearance. And CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, also a dual Israeli citizen and former mouthpiece for AIPAC, repeatedly relied on Israeli intelligence sources to plant stories suggesting that Muslim terrorists from Iran might have hijacked the plane and flown it to Iran or some other Muslim country for later use in a terrorist attack. Yet they somehow missed the story about an Israeli company with close ties to Israeli intelligence purchasing an identical Boeing 777 previously owned by Malaysia Airline no more than a year ago that was found parked at an airport in Tel Aviv.

It's interesting that when Bill Ruthhart worked as a State House reporter for the Star, he seemed much more comfortable hobnobbing and becoming friends with the people he was supposed to be covering than doing any hard-charging investigative reporting. He was hired by the Tribune for its Watchdog beat. Clearly he is capable of being a legitimate investigative reporter. There must be something about the culture at the Gannett-owned Star that causes otherwise good reporters to fall down on their job while working for the Star. It's no secret that the most explosive stories that come into the Star's reporters hands never make it into the newspaper. I suppose a reporter eventually figures out what kind of reporting his or her boss expects of him and acts accordingly.

Deputy Arrested Day After Firing: A Lesson Learned?

Questions were raised about the actions of IMPD and the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office following the recent murder-suicide involving two IMPD officers. Yesterday, the Star reported that a Marion Co. Sheriff's deputy, Kevin McGaha, who had been on the job barely a year, had been fired following an internal affairs investigation. IMPD arrested McGaha a day after his arrest on preliminary charges of battery, criminal trespass and harassment, as well as outstanding charges from another county according to the report.

In the case of slain Officer Kim Carmack, an internal investigation by IMPD had concluded weeks earlier that her ex-husband, Sgt. Ryan Anders, had committed multiple crimes, including felony stalking, criminal confinement and burglary. Even after Carmack obtained a protective order against Anders in which she described in detail her allegations against him that extended over a long period of time and stated that she feared for her life, IMPD had neither fired Anders nor arrested him. Following the murder-suicide, finger-pointing between IMPD and the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office ensued over who had dropped the ball.

Speaking of McGaha's firing, how many Marion County sheriff's deputies does that make that Sheriff John Layton has fired in the last year or so for misconduct or committing criminal acts? I've not been keeping count, but it must be close to at least ten.

NRA Politicking In Indy

Attendees to the NRA convention in Indy this week heard more than a handful of politicians speak today, including several potential Republican presidential candidates. Gov. Mike Pence and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) spoke as did Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). Firebrand radio talk show host Mark Levin made an appearance and took home a special Indiana-made gun made just for him. Sen. Dan Coats was on hand to remind us that he's planning to seek another 6-year term to represent a state in which he's not resided in decades. And there was even a spot for Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. There's an estimate 70,000 people expected in town for the NRA convention, although it looked like a much smaller crowd than that on hand at Lucas Oil Stadium to listen to the various speakers.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ballard Administration Gets An Assist From The Media In Covering Up Another Corruption Scandal

Yesterday, another embarrassing scandal reared its head briefly when WRTV broke a story during its evening news broadcast of another Ballard administration crony, Matt Hendrix, being fired from his job as head of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee for allegedly embezzling more than $90,000 in city funds. Oddly, WRTV dropped the headline story with which it opened its evening news broadcast from later broadcasts and failed to upload the story to its website as it continued to update the website with other stories. Other local news organizations ignored the corruption story without exception.

Advance Indiana recounted the Hendrix embezzlement case as reported by WRTV in a blog post that immediately attracted a lot of Internet traffic according to the site's meter, while prodding an investigative reporter with WRTV for an explanation of the story being dropped by the news station. In the meantime, around noon today the Indianapolis Business Journal published an online story by Kathleen McLaughlin, which included a confirmation from GIPC's chairman, J. Murray Clark, Jr., that Hendrix had been fired in early March over differences; however, he claimed the organization did not learn of any potential impropriety until after his departure and that upon making the discovery referred the matter to law enforcement for further investigation. "After he left, we discovered some things that impacted GIPC and asked the police to investigate it," Clark told the IBJ. "If there is a financial loss to GIPC, I know it will be unfortunate, but it will not have a meaningful impact on the entity," Clark said. Clark refused to explain why Hendrix had been fired in March. His comments could be characterized more as damage control than anything.

After the IBJ posted its story, WRTV finally uploaded its original story by Drew Smith that had seemingly fallen into a black hole. In that story, Smith reported that Indianapolis police were investigating Hendrix for embezzling between $90,000 and $100,000 over a three-year period. Yesterday morning, police served search warrants on the Lebanon home of Hendrix and his former girlfriend, Jennifer Armstrong. So much for requiring public employees to live within the city's limits. Smith reported that investigators believe that Hendrix and Armstrong funneled GIPC money to a bogus home health care business they controlled. Smith also said that GIPC officials had questioned him about a $5,000 credit card charge for a cruise he took, which he claimed was charged to the organization's account accidentally. More disturbing was Smith's claim that GIPC had made a $17,000 severance payment to Hendrix when he was fired on March 5. So was there an initial attempt to cover up the embezzlement scandal altogether?

It didn't take long to figure out why the news media was shying away from discussing this latest scandal in the Ballard administration, which will no doubt try to distance itself from Hendrix, claiming that he works for an independent organization. Don't be fooled. GIPC is funded with taxpayer dollars and has its offices on the 19th floor of the City-County Building. As the organization's full-time leader, Hendrix coordinated all of GIPC's efforts with the Ballard administration. The elitists who populate GIPC's governing board act as shadow government, exerting more control over city-county government than the mayor or the council, both of which seem to be entirely under their thumb. During his time in that position, Hendrix came and went from the mayor's office on a regular basis participating in top-level discussions. GIPC's latest coordinated efforts with the administration were unveiled last December, when the organization touted a plan to build a new criminal justice center outside the downtown core, freeing up lots of space in the existing City-County Building occupied by the courts and clerk staff and opening up prime downtown real estate now occupied by the sheriff's department and the two jails for redevelopment.

What the Ballard administration and the news media feared was that the corruption scandal involving GIPC's key employee would overshadow an announcement made by Mayor Greg Ballard this afternoon that his administration has chosen the former GM stamping plant site southwest of the downtown core on the other side of White River along West Washington Street for the new criminal justice complex. From the IBJ:
“After hosting six public meetings, consulting with dozens of stakeholders, and upon the unanimous recommendation of key users of the facility, the city today informed pre-qualified development teams to begin design of a new Marion County Justice Center on approximately 40 acres in the northwestern corner of the GM Stamping Plant location,” the Mayor’s Office said in a prepared statement.
The project, which will replace existing facilities in disparate locations in the southeast quadrant of downtown, could cost as much as $500 million.
The three development teams have been asked to design plans that include 34 criminal court/hearing rooms and offices for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the Probation Department.
The center is expected to include a 3,500-bed detention facility (an increase of 1,100 beds from current capacity), 750 community correction beds (a 250-bed increase), 1,500 parking spaces and room for future expansion.
“The City appreciates the input received from many people and three decades of study on this project,” Mayor Greg Ballard said in a prepared statement. “The many stakeholders of this facility agree the GM site offers better access for the general public, can be developed at less cost, and will produce significant private development opportunities in the surrounding area.”
The idea that any public input was sought from these so-called "six public meetings" is laughable. Originally, the Ballard administration's incompetent but high-paid consultant (whose firm was also bidding to build the criminal justice center) recommended a site on the county line near the Indianapolis International Airport. After Marion County judges erupted in anger at the proposed move and after the Ballard administration was reminded of a recent Supreme Court decision that cast doubt on its ability to unilaterally dictate a new site for the county's courts without consulting the judiciary, the administration backed down and started talking up the GM stamping plant site. Contrary to the mayor's office claim, the public has not been engaged in the least bit in any of these discussions that have largely been made behind closed doors with political insiders.

The Ballard administration had no trouble in its efforts at suppressing the GIPC public corruption scandal. GIPC's board of directors includes WTHR's President & General Manager John Cardenas, Fox 59's General Manager Larry Delia, IBJ Media's President, Greg Morris and WISH-TV's General Manager Jeff White. The Star's managing editor, Karen Crotchfeld, formerly served on GIPC's board but is not currently listed. With the exception of the IBJ and WRTV, the other news organizations suppressed any mention in today's news cycle of the GIPC scandal. Each, without exception, gave big play to the Ballard administration's announcement this afternoon that it had chosen the GM stamping plant site for the new criminal justice complex.

GIPC's website highlights its role in developing the blueprint for the planned criminal justice complex proposed for the GM stamping plant site. GIPC's fired executive director coordinated those efforts and served on the task force that made the recommendations being carried into action today so you can see why the media doesn't want to discuss the GIPC scandal. From the organization's website:
The City of Indianapolis and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department tasked GIPC with creating a Criminal Justice Center Task Force to study the issues surrounding facility usage. Public safety and criminal justice professionals in Indianapolis and Marion County have faced facility constraints for more than 25 years that have led to federal intervention, numerous studies, a patchwork of locations, safety concerns and higher costs due to inefficiencies.
The task force was charged with:
  • Evaluating the need for a criminal justice center
  • Proposing the critical components of a center
  • Identifying and evaluating the potential locations for such a center
  • Evaluating the potential costs associated with such a center, using a phased approach
  • Evaluating the cost savings and other efficiencies gained by a center
  • Evaluating financing methods to cover the costs of a center
  • Identifying best practices and key success factors from other communities which have centralized into modern facilities
Members of GIPC’s Criminal Justice Facilities Task Force include:
  • Chair Don Altemeyer, BSA Lifestructures
  • Moira Carlstedt, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP)
  • Walter Freihofer, Freihofer Inc.
  • Philip Genetos, Ice Miller LLP
  • Abbe Hohmann, Site Strategies Advisory, LLC
  • John Kirkwood, Krieg DeVault LLP
  • William Shrewsberry, Shrewsberry and Associates
  • Kevin Murray, Marion County Sheriff’s Department
  • Louis Dezelan, Marion County Sheriff’s Department
  • Amy Waggoner, Office of the Mayor
  • Matt Hendrix, Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee
Now you see how it rolls in Indy? You can't expect any objective news coverage whatsoever on this proposed criminal justice center. We can't even get answers from this administration on how it could have possibly entered such an ill-fated, one-sided agreement for the Regional Operations Center that will cost taxpayers dearly over the next 25 years to pay for a building that is not even suited for its purpose. Yet this far more costly undertaking has already been cut behind closed doors just like that ROC deal conceived to line the pockets of a politically-connected developer, and the Indianapolis media is on board to push this costly and poorly-conceived plan through to fruition this year regardless of how the public feels about it or how much it will cost Indianapolis taxpayers.

By my estimation, the half-billion dollar criminal justice complex as conceived will cost taxpayers at least $2 billion over the next 30 to 35 years. The City will need at least $60 million annually to cover the costs once the complex is ready for occupancy. There is no way the current proposed public safety tax increase will fund anything close to 500 new police officers. We'll need every dollar just to meet current and future budget outlays without hiring a single new police officer. The public safety tax being debated as we speak is not as advertised. It is not for the purpose of hiring more police officers. That is a lie just like every prior tax increase sold to you as a public safety tax increase was a lie. Theses additional dollars aren't needed to fund more police officers; they're needed to fund the large new budget outlays planned for this new criminal justice complex.

All three finalists under consideration by the Ballard administration involve foreign entities that will provide the necessary financing for this latest P3, making it particularly difficult to trace the flow of dollars to the powers that be that are ramming this proposal down our throats. The payoffs and kickbacks to the downtown mafia for their latest scheme could prove to be one of their biggest thefts of public funds to date for their personal self-enrichment in a long line of similar such schemes. No piss ant scandal involving the theft of public funds by one of their own will get in the way when there's money to be made.

UPDATE: Just minutes ago, the Star finally got around to uploading a short story by Tim Evans on its website that you can only find by entering a search since it's not listed as a top news story. It includes a confirmation from IMPD of the existence of an ongoing investigation and Clark's repetition of his claim that no irregularities were uncovered until after Hendrix' firing in March. Clark claims the organization, whose offices are housed in the City-County Building, is supported by membership dues and no longer relies on public funding for its operations. "Its operations are funded by member dues and, Clark said, the committee has not in recent years received any public funds," Evans writes. "The committee does serve as the administrator for some public grants, he added, but only handles those funds for other groups." Clark declined to comment on whether any missing funds involved membership dues or government grants. Evans was so proud of his story it didn't even warrant a mention or link on his Twitter page.

What's Up With The Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee?

UPDATED: See latest below.
A curious news story headlined a news broadcast on WRTV yesterday evening before disappearing into oblivion nowhere to be found on its website or any other local news organization's website. According to the report, Matt Hendrix, the former executive director of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, was being charged with the embezzlement of more than $90,000 from the organization.

Although GIPC operates exclusively for the benefit of the downtown mafia, it gets its funding from Indianapolis taxpayers and has offices on the 19th floor of the City-County Building. Its annual budget is over $330,000 a year, about a third of which is used to pay salaries. The WRTV report claimed that Hendrix had been given a $17,000 severance payment despite being forced out over accusations of embezzlement.

WRTV reported that a search warrant had been served on the Lebanon home of Hendrix' girlfriend, who was said to be a suspect in a scheme to defraud GIPC by funneling payments to a health care company that she and Hendrix had set up and to which payments had been made. It seems rather curious that a report involving the misappropriation of public tax dollars would disappear as quickly as it was reported live on air last night.

GIPC, by the way, is the organization that has spearheaded the effort to build a new criminal justice center outside the downtown area in an effort to move the undesirables out of sight and out of mind and to free up valuable property downtown for redevelopment by members of the downtown mafia for their own benefit. Mayor Greg Ballard, acting on their wishes, had the City to request proposals from private vendors to build, operate and maintain a new criminal justice center outside the downtown, a plan that will cost taxpayers at least $2 billion over the next 30 to 35 years. The City's consultant picked a site near the Indianapolis International Airport Authority for a new criminal justice center until serious push back from other stakeholders ensued. The latest plan would site it at the former GM stamping plant on West Washington Street across from the zoo.

It is my belief that the public safety tax increase being pushed by the downtown mafia this year supposedly for the purpose of hiring 500 new police officers is nothing more than a ruse to raise additional revenue that will be needed to pay for the nearly $60 million a year in annual expenses that will be incurred to pay rent and other expenses related to the new criminal justice center to the private developer, which at this point is most likely to be a consortium of companies headed up by a foreign company. The tax increase proposed by the IMPD Staffing Commission, which is nothing but a front for the downtown mafia, likely won't even provide enough money to add 100 additional police officers to IMPD's current 1,500 plus sworn officers, let alone 500. Public safety tax increases have been the modus operandi for the downtown mafia when it wants to sell the public on a tax increase that it has already decided will be spent elsewhere as we painfully learned from that 65% increase in the local income tax rate in 2007 for pubic safety that wound up not being used to hire a single new police officer.

On a side note, GIPC's chairman, J. Murray Clark, Jr., a lobbyist and partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, lobbied the Public Safety Committee of the Indianapolis City-County Council for passage of an ordinance drafted by another attorney at his law firm for the benefit of his client, Kidde, which is one of the largest manufacturers of smoke detectors. Advance Indiana reported Kidde's role in drafting the ordinance more than two months ago, a fact conveniently ignored prior to yesterday's hearing by the local news media. Under the ordinance sponsored by the committee's chairman, Mary Moriarty-Adams and Ben Hunter, whose employer, Butler University, recently got a gift of smoke detectors made by Kidde, homeowners and landlords will be required to install smoke detectors with a 10-year, non-removable, non-replaceable battery. Yeah, that just happens to meet the specifications of a smoke detector manufactured by Clark's client.

The committee passed the proposal on a 9-1 vote. Only City-County Councilor Christine Scales, the only honest member of the committee who bothered to study the issue and pointed up obvious flaws in the proposal that will in absolutely no way save lives despite the propaganda of its proponents, voted against it. IFD Chief Brian Sanford testified in favor of the proposal. His department was also the recipient of a recent gift of smoke detectors from Kidde. It's sickening to watch our City-County Council in action any more. It's just that thoroughly corrupt.

UPDATE: WRTV has now put its story that originally aired online yesterday evening on its website. Here's what it reported:
Indianapolis police are investigating the former director of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee for allegedly embezzling between $90,000 and $100,000 over a three-year period.
Matthew Hendrix was fired by GIPC on March 5.
Officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department served search warrants at Hendrix’s Lebanon home and at the home of his former girlfriend, Jennifer Armstrong.
Investigators believe Hendrix and Armstrong funneled money from GIPC into a bogus home health care company.
Police also said Hendrix was caught paying for a $5,000 cruise with his company credit card. At the time, Hendrix told his superiors it was accidental.
Investigators said Hendrix received a $17,000 severance check when he was fired by GIPC.
The IBJ's Kathleen McLaughlin pried a little information out of GIPC's chairman on Hendrix' abrupt departure, who says less than what WRTV reported yesterday evening. He says a request has been made for a criminal investigation but no charges had been filed. He declined to divulge the nature of the charges to McLaughlin:
The Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee has asked local law enforcement to look into financial transactions involving its former executive director.
GIPC Chairman Murray Clark confirmed Friday morning that the organization, a private not-for-profit advisory group that works closely with city officials and has an office in the City-County Building, asked for an investigation after the March departure of former Executive Director Matt Hendrix.
“After he left, we discovered some things that impacted GIPC and asked the police to investigate it,” said Clark, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels.
Hendrix has not been charged with a crime, and Clark declined to provide details of the problem that GIPC uncovered. It was not immediately clear which law enforcement agency, if any, was investigating the matter.
Hendrix did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday morning . . .                               
Clark said GIPC remains solvent.
“If there is a financial loss to GIPC, I know it will be unfortunate, but it will not have a meaningful impact on the entity,” he said . . .                               
Clark declined to discuss the reason Hendrix left GIPC in early March.
“We came to a parting of the ways,” he said.
Clark said at the time, GIPC’s board of directors didn’t have the information that later led it to contact police.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mooresville Man Taken Into Custody For 1987 Slaying Of His Wife In Guam

<B>20 years old, 20 years ago:</B> Guam Fire Department medics remove the body of 20-year-old Tracy Scaggs after she was found dead in her third-floor apartment unit on June 23, 1987. Twenty years after her death, Guam Police Department Cold Case Unit officers continue the search for Scaggs' killer.
Pacific Daily News Photo of Scaggs' body being removed from her third floor apartment
The slaying of Tracey Scaggs, a 20-year old wife and mother, near a U.S. Air Force base in Guam went unsolved for more than 25 years. Earlier this month, a grand jury in Guam returned an indictment against her husband, Gary L. Scaggs, an airman stationed at Anderson Air Force Base at the time, for her murder. News reports out of Guam indicated that officials were working on extraditing Scaggs back to Guam to be tried on a single murder charge but did not indicate Scaggs whereabouts. Today, Advance Indiana has learned that a team of local law enforcement officers working with officials in Guam have taken a Mooresville resident into custody at the Marion County Jail identified as Gary L. Scaggs, who will soon be shipped back to Guam to face charges.

On June 23, 1987, Scaggs told local police in Guam that he had found his 20-year old wife near the front door of their third-floor apartment dead. An autopsy determined that Tracey Scaggs had died from strangulation. Although her husband was the primary suspect in her death, the case soon went cold where it remained for more than two decades. Prosecutors had her body exhumed in 1989 to study a wound on her arm that resembled a human bite mark. Investigators had a mold of her husband's teeth taken, but no further breaks in the case came until investigators in 2011 told the press that a break in the case was within reach, perhaps newly-discovered DNA evidence. A grand jury returned an indictment against Scaggs for his wife's death on April 11. Yesterday, Pacific Daily News reported that the Office of Attorney General in Guam was in the process of extraditing Scaggs back to Guam to face trial. Scaggs, originally from Chrisman, Illinois, worked for an elevator company in Indianapolis according to a law enforcement source and currently resides in Mooresville. Tracey Scaggs is shown with her parents and child in the photo below taken only three months before her death.
<B>Three generations: </B>Tracey R. Scaggs, right, is shown with her parents and her child. This picture was in April of 1987. It was the last picture taken of her before Scaggs was murdered on June 23, 1987. Pacific Daily News file photo

Council Committee Approves Re-Appointment Of Attorney To Public Defender Board Who Facilitated Payment Of Bribe To Prosecutor By Client

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It's just another example of how corrupt and warped the City of Indianapolis' government has become. Last night, the Public Safety Committee of the Indianapolis City-County Council unanimously approved the re-appointment of Jennifer Lukemeyer, the attorney who helped procure the payment of a bribe to former Chief Deputy Prosecutor David Wyser so her client, a convicted murderer, could be sprung from prison after serving only a fraction of her 75-year sentence, to the Marion County Public Defender Board. Councilor Aaron Freeman, who until recently worked as an attorney at the same law firm where Lukemeyer is a partner, moved her re-appointment and cast a vote in favor of it. Not a single member of the committee questioned Lukemeyer about her role in bribing Wyser. In case you've forgotten, here are some the sordid details from a previous blog post about Lukemeyer's unsavory role in the bribing of David Wyser:
 . . . After Epperly told the first attorney about the campaign contributions and the fact that he had met in person with the prosecutor to discuss his daughter's case, the first attorney referred Epperly to Lukemeyer because of her closer working relationship with Brizzi and Wyser. In 2007, Lukemeyer met at a downtown restaurant with Wyser to discuss the sentence modification and mentioned to him the fact that her client's father had made the large campaign contributions to Brizzi and had spoken to him. Wyser told Lukemeyer that he would need time to think about the matter.
Reflecting the casual relationship Lukemeyer had with Wyser, she sent a follow-up e-mail to him after her meeting on March 14, 2007 in which she stated: "Hey, let's talk soon about Paula Willoughby and how to, or if we even can, resolve that issue. I am just jealous that my partners are taking all of your time, and I want some attention too! Talk to you soon." One of Lukemeyer's partners is high-profile criminal defense lawyer Jim Voyles, who has a close relationship with Joe Hogsett. The following day Wyser replied to Lukeymeyer's e-mail to ask her to remind him of the name of her client's father. When she responded that it was her client's father, Wyser asked to confirm that the size of the contribution was "$25K." Lukemeyer responded, "Yes it was. Just a drop in the bucket!"
During follow-up discussions, Wyser had considered seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor to hear Willoughby's request since he believe it had merit and that would eliminate the appearance of impropriety if a sentence modification was later granted. He later told Lukemeyer that the prosecutor's office would move forward with approving the case without seeking a special prosecutor. According to the document, Lukemeyer and Wyser disagreed over whether Wyser indicated to her that he was comfortable with Epperly continuing to be a donor to Brizzi's campaign committee. He says he didn't agree to that; she says he did. After Wyser filed paperwork to run for Hamilton Co. prosecutor in November, 2007, Lukemeyer sent an e-mail to Wyser inquiring about it. In a follow-up e-mail and phone call, Wyser discussed with Lukemeyer how she could help out with his campaign and mentioned that Epperly needed to make a donation to his campaign.
Discussions about Willoughby's sentence modification resumed in January, 2008 when Lukemeyer sent Wyser an e-mail titled, "Free Paula." Wyser replied, "[I]s that something like 'free willy'?" Lukemeyer responded, "Well yes, and didn't you feel all warm and fuzzy after Willy got free? You'll get the same feeling when Paula is free too!" Wyser asked, "What will Paula do to make me feel warm and fuzzy?" He added, "Stay really, really, really quite (sic) about this little modification."
In late January, 2008, Epperly scheduled a meeting with Wyser at the prosecutor's office. Lukemeyer professed ignorance of the request when Wyser later discussed it, telling him that she told Epperly not to speak to him directly. Wyser assured her it was okay and went ahead with the meeting, which lasted for approximately 40 minutes. After the meeting, Lukemeyer sent Wyser an e-mail in which she told him that Epperly told her that he was "the best thing since sliced bread." Lukemeyer claims that she later spoke on the phone with Wyser and he assured her nothing would prevent the sentence modification from going forward, including additional campaign contributions. On the same day that Lukemeyer exchanged text messages with Epperly, he made another campaign contribution in the amount of $500 to Brizzi. In March, 2008, in response to another e-mail Lukemeyer sent to Wyser titled "Free Paula," Wyser solicited a campaign contribution for his campaign. Lukemeyer said she was talking to Epperly at that moment. Wyser wrote, "You should convince him to write a check on behalf of the whales." Lukemeyer responded that he would "whip out that checkbook of his" if he thought it would do any good. Lukemeyer proposes timing the sentence modification to July, 2009 when her client will have served a full term for one of the counts against her. As their conversations continued, Wyser told Lukemeyer that he would talk to Brizzi. Epperly shortly thereafter wrote another $2,500 campaign contribution to Brizzi's campaign.
On May 29, 2009, Wyser called Lukemeyer and communicated to her that Epperly needed to make a contribution to his campaign and asked her to communicate that message to him. Lukemeyer relayed the request and the same day Epperly wrote out a check to Wyser's campaign for $2,500. Wyser's campaign deposited the check on June 22, 2009. On June 23, 2009, the sentence modification for Willoughby was filed in the Marion Superior Court, which provided an early release date of July 2, 2009 for Willoughby. On August 25, 2009, Lukemeyer hosted a fundraiser in her home for Wyser at which she says he asked her to tell Epperly to contribute $5,000 more to his campaign. In January, 2010, media reports first reported the unusual sentence modification granted to Willoughby and the size and timing of the campaign contributions made to Brizzi's and Wyser's campaign committees. In some media reports, Wyser lied about his knowledge of Epperly's previous campaign contributions. Lukemeyer contacted Wyser to warn him about their past e-mails. He assured her that his e-mail account had been purged. Investigators found about 60 e-mails Wyser had deleted from his e-mail account that were later recovered.
And attorneys wonder why the public holds them in such low regard. The Attorney Disciplinary Commission has devoted extraordinary resources prosecuting fellow blogger and attorney Paul Ogden to ensure that he never practices law in the state of Indiana again because he criticized a judge in a private e-mail. Yet that same commission has initiated no complaint against Lukemeyer for her role in the payment of a bribe to the county's chief deputy prosecutor. Is that fair?