Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ballard Administration Has Already Blown $10 Million In No-Bid Contracts On Criminal Justice Center Boondoggle

A deal for a privatized criminal justice center proposed by the Ballard administration hasn't even been approved by the corrupt Ballard administration, and it's already doled about $10 million in no-bid contracts to some of its favorite pay-to-play cronies. We learned a little more than a week ago that Ballard had handed out a $750,000 no-bid contract to Bose Public Affairs Group to sell City-County Council members on its plan to privatize the building, operation and maintenance of a new criminal justice center at the site of the former GM Stamping Plant. WTHR's Mary Milz has now uncovered millions more spent by Mayor Ballard on no-bid contracts. Those include:
  • $1.5 million to Bingham, Greenebaum Doll for legal services, the former law firm of Ballard's likely Democratic opponent in next year's mayoral election, Joe Hogsett;
  • $4.7 million to Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc. ("HOK") for project development services; and
  • $3 million to KPMG Corporate Finance for financial services
Keep in mind that this boondoggle of a project still requires the approval of the City-County Council. If for some reason the council decides against the project, that $10 million is just flushed down the drain. Imagine how many new cops could have been hired with the money Ballard has blown on these no-bid contracts. Attorneys at Bingham Greenebaum Doll have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Ballard's campaign committee. The firm acts as general counsel for the CIB. Many expected Joe Hogsett to return as a partner at his former law firm before he surprised folks by announcing he would become a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans instead. Of course, the lobbying arm of Bose was the recipient of the $750,000, no-bid public relations contract for the criminal justice center project.

All signs point to the Ballard administration screwing the public over as badly as taxpayers in Long Beach, California were screwed over through a nearly identical P3 project to build that city's 31-room courthouse a few years ago. Interestingly, KPMG served as financial advisor on that project that critics complained could have been undertaken at a much lower cost using traditional capital project financing means for public buildings. Long Beach's courthouse cost about $340 million to build, about $160 million more than it should have cost according to a legislative study, but will cost taxpayers close to $2.5 billion over 35 years. Meridiam, one of the three finalists under consideration by the Ballard administration, was awarded the Long Beach P3 contract.

HOK, which designed the new terminal at Indianapolis International Airport, bid on the Long Beach P3 project but lost out to AECOM. HOK, by the way, played a key role in getting the Indianapolis Airport Authority board to hire Mario Rodriguez as the airport authority's new executive director, the same position he held in Long Beach while HOK was performing expansion work at Long Beach's airport. The P3 project will wind up costing Marion County taxpayers close to $4 billion if Long Beach's experience is any indication. Subcontractors identified in HOK's contract include more Ballard campaign contributors, including American Structurepoint, Ross & Baruzzini, Camacho Associates, Wiley & Associates and Wight & Company.

UPDATE: The IBJ's Scott Olson has an article discussing the anticipated exodus of commercial office tenants in downtown following the relocation of various criminal justice agencies into the planned criminal justice center:
At a time some large downtown law firms are cutting back on space, the proposed criminal justice center will gut the downtown office market.
Moving the Marion County prosecutor and public defender to the new center at the former GM Stamping Plant southwest of downtown will alone shift 130,000 square feet.
Add in the 590,000 square feet occupied by jails, traffic court and arrestee processing center and the downtown core is on track to empty a total of 720,000 square feet—roughly equivalent to the entire OneAmerica tower.
City officials claim the moves to the new justice center will add only about 1 percentage point to the existing 20-percent downtown vacancy rate. But Jon Owens, an office broker at Cassidy Turley, isn’t buying it. He said the vacancies could account for three times the amount city officials predict.
With a total of 10.5 million square feet of downtown office space, the removal of the prosecutor and public defender offices alone will move the needle 1 percentage point, Owens said . . .
One group of people you won't hear bemoaning the loss of commercial office tenants is the downtown mafia. That's because they've already cut deals behind closed doors to divide up the prime real estate being vacated, particularly by moving the two county jail spaces and arrestee processing center. They will be gifted the property, along with tens of millions in tax dollars to redevelop the property for projects that are already on the drawing boards just waiting to be rolled out at the appropriate time. Your entire city-county government is nothing more than an organized crime racket fueled by bribes, payoffs and kickbacks. They operate with immunity because both federal and state prosecutors provide protection to all of those in on the racket.


MikeC said...

I like that all the criminal stuff is being moved out of downtown to the GM plant site. It will be great for downtown development to get rid of the riff raf, including all the lawyers and criminal justice industry.

Is the juvenile center part of that move?

local landlord said...

Its all pretty shocking and overwhelming. I just don't understand where all the money came from. I thought we were struggling to hire more police officers and pay for basic Indygo bus service. I thought we couldn't keep up with potholes and had to get rid of our homestead exemption to raise much needed money. Is all that just a lie? I don't want to be cheated or tricked. I want transparent government and audited financials. Every dollar of my tax money ought to be accounted for. The Long Beach justice center is considered by Californians to be a prime example of how not to do these projects. How come we're using their model, and their people? Do we expect a better result? When is Hogsett going to call Ballard on all the shenanigans coming out of his office?

Gary R. Welsh said...

How can Hogsett criticize the project when a division of his law firm is getting paid $750,000 to sell it?

Anonymous said...

Ballard is the biggest asshole Mayor this city has ever had. I made the mistake of voting for him once.

He has raped the taxpayers for years to come. We will be a Detroit. People will walk away from their homes for a county beyond donut land.