Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ballard Administration Admits Key Documents Related To ROC Were Destroyed, Discrediting State Police Investigation

There has been outrage nationally over the discovery that the computer of a key IRS official at the center of the congressional investigation concerning the political targeting of the Tea Party had crashed in 2011 and that because computer backups had been recycled her e-mails could not be produced to comply with a congressional subpoena. Suspicions concerning the supposed computer crash were heightened after it was learned that it occurred only days after congressional investigators began asking questions about IRS scrutiny of donations to certain nonprofit groups. So where's similar outrage over the admission by the Ballard administration that computer hard drives of city project and contract managers had been "wiped clean" making it impossible for them to produce key documents related to the Regional Operations Committee?

Instead of reporting on what is arguably a crime, most of the local news media this week instead touted a conveniently-timed tour of the Regional Operations Center conducted by Public Safety Director Troy Riggs to show off the fact that the troubled landlord had finally corrected problems with the leased building that made it unsafe for occupancy more than two years after it was required to deliver the premises for occupancy under terms of an unconventional, one-sided lease that favored the politically-connected owner, Alex Carroll. At least Fox 59 News' Russ McQuaid took note of what was transpiring in the courtroom where a special council committee investigating the ROC lease was seeking a court order compelling the Ballard administration to produce key documents related to the lease that is has sought for months:
In response to a subpoena by a City-County Council committee, attorneys representing Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard have told a Marion Circuit Court judge that they can’t find key paperwork related to the city’s selection and lease of the Regional Operations Center at the former Eastgate Consumer Mall. 
The council’s ROC Investigating Committee sought 30 sets of documents that were expected to detail the decision of the Ballard administration in 2011 to sign a 25-year, $18 million lease for an emergency operations center and police headquarters on North Shadeland Avenue . . . 
Among documents crucial to the ROC investigation that the lawyers claim they cannot find are hard drives belonging to city project and contract managers and consultants that have been “wiped” clean of information.  
The city also doesn’t have any contracts with an engineering firm hired to work on the project, Drafts of the Development Agreement and audit reports related to expenditures at the center. Most glaring is the city’s inability to answer the demand for the  “contract with the NFL that required the city to have an emergency operations center in time for the 2012 Super Bowl.”
“Defendant has no documents responsive to this Request,” answered the Corporation Counsel. Former Public Safety Director Frank Straub and Mayor Ballard repeatedly claimed that such a center was a contracted stipulation for Indianapolis’ successful bid to host Super Bowl XLVI. 
“The answer is, they should have it,” said Simpson. “I think there is some information about the NFL that we asked for and that we want. “Or they still exist. They just don’t want to give them to us.”
Public Safety Director Troy Riggs admits that his predecessor, Frank Straub, left behind no documents that his office had maintained concerning the ROC lease. Adding further to the problem was Riggs' acknowledgment to McQuaid that the City's Code Enforcement inspectors had uncovered multiple violations during construction taking place within the leased space in 2011 but had been ordered by city legal to stop conducting inspections due to questions the corporation counsel's office had concerning the lease. The Ballard administration has refused to produce "all notices of Code Violations and Stop Work Orders" and e-mail communications of Code Enforcement employees concerning the construction work taking place at the ROC to the ROC Investigating Committee, claiming the request is "overly burdensome." A fire investigator told McQuaid that he never investigated the leased premises for a fire suppression system until October 2012, more than 9 months after city employees had first moved into the building. "Inspector Fred Pervine said he was busy with other projects and therefore unaware of the lack of a fire sprinkler system in the center," McQuaid reported.

The Ballard administration waited until a deadline set by Marion Co. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg  to produce documents unsuccessfully sought by the council, including Straub's e-mails. Advance Indiana exclusively reported on the contents of some of those e-mails earlier this week in which then-City Controller Jeff Spalding admitted to serious funding problems facing IMPD that resulting in Straub making last-minute changes in the ROC lease to reduce its costs as the administration scrambled to win council approval of the ROC lease.

Interestingly, one of the e-mails produced in this latest request was sent to a Republican member of the investigating committee, Jack Sandlin, concerning lost recordings of Public Safety Board meetings by WCTY. This occurred after it was discovered that WCTY's archived recordings of past meetings of the Public Safety Board were missing key meetings during Straub's tenure at which the ROC lease was discussed. Channel 16's Manager wrote in an e-mail to Sandlin dated January 16 of this year that WCTY had covered meetings of the Public Safety Board in 2010 but were later ordered by Straub to stop recording them. "After our conversation I did some research that helped jog my memory," Montgomery wrote. "Channel 16 covered two meeting of the PSB in 2010, on April 14th and May 20th." "We were then directed to discontinue coverage as per Director Straub," Montgomery continued. "We resumed coverage on February 9th, 2012, with Director Straub still presiding." Montgomery told Sandlin that he had e-mails from that period and indicated that he did not get any push back from Straub over the renewed coverage of the PSB meetings. Montgomery offers no explanation as to what authority Straub had to order him to stop covering meetings that it was required to cover in contravention of its own policies.

These latest disclosures completely discredit the supposed investigation conducted by the Indiana State Police which concluded that no criminal wrongdoing had occurred in connection with the ROC lease. Based on that investigation, Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry announced that his office would not be conducting any prosecutions. "It was not our role to determine if it was a one-sided lease or the terms were inappropriate," Curry told Fox 59 News . . . Curry said detectives told him they examined enough evidence and interviewed enough witnesses to determine there was no crime in the agreement." I'm not a prosecutor, but I know enough about the law, Mr. Curry, to know that the destruction of these key public documents related to the ROC lease constitutes official misconduct and possibly obstruction of justice, both felony crimes. If the media in this town does its job, it will demand that Curry convene a grand jury immediately to determine who was responsible for the destruction of those documents. Both Straub and his counsel, Jonathan Mayes, along with other key administration officials, should be compelled to appear before the grand jury to explain what they knew about the destruction of those documents and when they knew it. If Curry fails to act in response to these latest disclosures, then he has proven that he is as unfit to serve as the county's prosecutor as his corrupt predecessor, Carl Brizzi.


Anonymous said...

How are payments made on a non existent contract?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Unfortunately, that's one of the few documents that wasn't destroyed. They even doubled down on it by entering into a revised agreement with the landlord under which the landlord was relieved of any and all liabilities making it next to impossible for the City to void the contract after the council began investigating it.

Anonymous said...

This ongoing travesty is more odd than George Clooney's upcoming marriage.

Flogger said...

Gary, I would be astonished if the Mega-McMedia here in Indy bothered to pursue this any farther. The Media here is a part of the Protection Racket, i.e., Protect and Defend the 1% and their fellow travelers. No matter how deep and filthy the toxic sludge is that certain elected and appointed officials step into the picture that emerges of them will be "photo-shopped" to have them appear in a white suit or dress.

I have worked for two large Multi-National Finance Institutions. Without getting into a lot of detail, we had multiple systems that insured a document could not be wiped away. If I deleted a document associated with a customers file accidentally it could be easily recovered. You would know or IT people could find out who deleted the document, and when. We had individual computers but they were all a part of the System, and it had a back-up.

This first time I can remember hearing about erasures or deletions was the mysterious 18 1/2 gap on the Watergate tapes.

Bottom line neither the Press or the Organs of State Security (ISP) or Curry want an answer.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing Regional about the ROC, Nothing inside that building benefits any part of the region except Indianapolis, the reason they call is the Regional Operation Center is the region helped pay for something they can't and won't use!

Marycatherine Barton said...

Thank you for this report, Gary. Of course, Curry should immediately call for a grand jury to investigate this mess, these powerful liars and scoundrels robbing us blind. But, I fear that he is just another Brizzi.

Anonymous said...

I never heard of our State Police conducting a major investigation into an interstate fraud involving federal money. Don't they investigate mostly traffic offenses? Isn't the Superintendent of the ISP a "buddy" of the Mayor? -I wonder what a "nod and a wink" mean among "buddies???"

Time for a Formal Request to DOJ Public Integrity Section in Washington to investigate.

There is a showing that criminal activity may have taken place, and an investigation into this multi-million dollar WASTE is in order by a credible and impartial authority.

Anonymous said...

Hognuts won't get involved in any investigation of the ROC because City County Councilman Vermouth Brown was up to his neck in this project, see both parties were involved, nothing, I mean nothing will ever come of any investigation of the ROC, Read my lips!

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't the FBI been involved...Is Curry stalling for some announcements on an investigation and playing dumb...I don't exactly understand why this drama continues with many, many, many matters over the years in this State...Pay to play and bribery and pleading deals has got to stop...