Saturday, August 09, 2014

Outrage: CIB Spending $5 Million On IUPUI Natatorium

If there's one thing we've come to learn in our long-term observation of the actions of the downtown mafia, the story is never as it first appears. A storm began brewing about a year ago when media reports started surfacing describing the decrepit condition the Natatorium on the IUPUI campus had fallen into after years of neglect. Media reports started proclaiming what an important asset this great institution was in driving downtown economic activity and what a shame it would be if city taxpayers didn't make a contribution to its upkeep to keep it a live and working component of this so-called economic engine that drives Central Indiana.

For reasons that are now becoming clear, the media meme was that the Natatorium was really not attached to the IUPUI campus but was really a sports facility no different than Lucas Oil Stadium, Banker's Life Fieldhouse or Victory Field. Thus, it only seemed fitting that city taxpayers, who we're told are the primary beneficiaries of the Natatorium, should invest tens of millions in fixing it up. We were told at least $20 million in long overdue repair and maintenance work was required if the Natatorium was to be restored to a "world class" facility befitting of a "world class" city that hosts "world class" events. Remember, "world class" is the operative phrase we must consistently keep our eyes trained. The meme went that the City should kick in at least half of the $20 million capital improvement costs. The fact that the City was pleading poverty when it came to funding basic city services and would require a general tax increase to adequately fund public safety was irrelevant because we were talking about different pots of money.

Then about a month ago, the Star sprang a story on us about a deal the City had reached with IUPUI to link Indianapolis' downtown to the impoverished near west side neighborhoods that were supposedly cut off from that all important economic engine. IUPUI would split the $20 million renovation costs for the Natatorium with the Lilly Foundation. The City, instead, would "invest" $10 million from the downtown TIF fund to make streetscape improvements to New York and Michigan Streets running through the IUPUI campus as part of a plan to convert the two major thoroughfares from one-way to two-way streets in an effort to make them more pedestrian friendly and help connect them to the struggling west side neighborhoods across White River. Of course, anyone with a modicum of common sense knew that the money being "invested" by the City exclusively benefited the IUPUI campus and in no way, shape or form helped connect those struggling neighborhoods in a way intended to improve them short of pushing "those folks" out for more redevelopment.

Now after all of the teeth-gnashing by the Ballard administration to assure naysayers that no city money was being used to make repairs to the Natatorium comes news that indeed there will be a steady stream of city funds flowing into the cash-rich university's coffers for ongoing upkeep of the Natatorium. Yes, the cash-rich CIB, one of those other pot of monies that's off limits for funding basic city services, has so much money sitting around that it will gift the university $500,000 a year over the next 10 years when a resolution is offered at the CIB's monthly meeting this week. The resolution proclaims that "the prestigious swimming and diving events at the IU Natatorium . . . generate significant economic impact for the City of Indianapolis." So a $10 million subsidy as part of a $30 million public improvement plan for the IUPUI campus has turned into a $20 million subsidy as part of a $40 million public improvement plan for the campus. The impoverished university announced just this past week it will build a $45 million residence hall that will only serve 700 students, which only has 2,000 on-campus student housing for the more than 30,000 students who attend the university, largely because the downtown mafia doesn't want too much cheap on-campus housing available to compete with their booming downtown apartment business.

City-County Council President Maggie Lewis sits on the Capital Improvement Board as the council's representative but apparently didn't think news of the funding plan for the Natatorium was of concern to her fellow council members. "Democratic City County Councilor Zach Adamson said he hadn't heard about the funding plan and questioned it," WTHR reports. Adamson said, "We don't have enough money to make the city function at its barest minimum for things like Animal Care and Control and public safety and paving roads, but again we always seem to find these enormous amounts of money for things unrelated to the city." "I value the Nat. I think they're an amazing asset for us, IUPUI and IU, but they don't belong to us - they belong to IU and IUPUI, and they have a substantial trust fund," Adamson said. And to Adamson's point, we're constantly reminded by Mayor Ballard and the downtown mafia that the TIF funds and CIB are dedicated streams of money that are off limits for funding basic city services. Yet there are always exceptions for other expenditures totally unrelated to the purpose for which those monies were supposedly dedicated when the Mayor and the downtown mafia have more important priorities on their plate. It's quite telling that the CIB can give $5 million to IUPUI but can't reimburse the City of Indianapolis for all of the public safety costs the City incurs to handle all of the events at the sports palaces and convention center.

So on we'll go to the consideration of the budget for next year, which promises a new general tax increase that will raise at least $25 to $30 million a year, we're told, to pay for more police officers, but we know that's a lie just like the last tax increase passed for that purpose. If a 65%, $90 million a year income tax increase resulted in fewer, not more police officers, just how will a smaller tax increase result in the hiring of 100 to 200 additional police officers? We know it's just another bait-and-switch perpetrated by the downtown mafia. This tax increase is required for that new half billion dollar criminal justice center. And if you believe the lies of the Ballard administration that the new criminal justice center isn't the real reason they are raising taxes right now, I would only point you to the tax increases his administration passed supposedly to bail out the CIB when in fact that money all along was earmarked for what has turned into a $200 million subsidy plan for billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers and to fuel other extravagant spending by the CIB while the City pleads poverty. Yes, the CIB cooked its own books to make it appear that it was insolvent when it really wasn't. That's just how sinister these people are. As I've said, I would much rather deal with real mafia bosses than our downtown mafia. At least the real mob has a code of honor by which it lives.

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