Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NFL Super Bowl Agreement Did Not Require Investment In Regional Operations Center

The administration of Mayor Greg Ballard gave Indianapolis City-County Council members the impression that the City had no choice but to build the Regional Operations Center, the approval of which it rammed through the council in 2011 supposedly as part of its agreement with the NFL to host the 2012 Super Bowl. That was untrue. Or at least that's what the head of the local Super Bowl Committee, Allison Melangton, conveyed in a conversation she had recently with the council's attorney, Fred Biesecker.

Biesecker shared that news with members of the council's ROC Investigating Committee, which has been trying in vain to get to the bottom of exactly why the Ballard administration entered into a one-sided, 25-year lease agreement worth nearly $20 million to the property's politically-connected owner, Alex Carroll, and his business partners, Marvin Slomowitz and Rich Banta. The City is making monthly lease payments of $57,000 a month, which escalate substantially over the life of the lease. That's only a part of what city taxpayers are being forced to shell out every year to Carroll's 40 Public Safety, LLC.

As has been his past practice, Republican Councilor Ben Hunter, a key proponent of the ROC facility located in the former Eastgate mall in his east side district, resisted any information reflecting badly on the deal. The administration refuses to make public the local host committee's agreement with the NFL, as well as its original proposal documents for hosting the event, based on the NFL's claim that the documents are proprietary information. The only documents the administration turned over regarding the Super Bowl were the resolutions approved by the council which essentially held the City responsible for any and all expenses connected with the event. Hunter tried to imply that the bid documents and the NFL agreement obligated the City to construct a facility on the scale of the ROC as a condition to hosting the Super Bowl, but Biesecker insisted that Melangton assured him that no such written obligation existed beyond providing the infrastructure and resources to assure the safety of attendees to the Super Bowl and related events.

The purpose of the latest meeting was to receive an update on the progress of getting documents previously withheld by the Ballard administration that a July 21, 2014 order issued by Judge Louis Rosenberg compelled it to produce to the committee after the committee had to file a lawsuit against the administration to compel their production. According to Biesecker, the documents have been trickling in over the past several months, a large stack of which had just been delivered to him by the corporation counsel's office immediately prior to this evening's meeting. They included numerous e-mails exchanged between members of former Public Safety Director Frank Straub's executive staff. Those documents have not yet been put online but sources say they shine more light on how the deal originally came to fruition.

Contrary to earlier reports, Straub initially resisted locating the ROC at Eastgate Mall according to some of the e-mail exchanges. In particular, he had reservations about an ongoing investigation at the time by the FBI of a business owned by one of the ROC owners. In April, 2010, FBI agents raided a massive mine-reclamation project in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. A company in which Slomowitz was a principle and which had been paid $38 million by the Army Corp of Engineers for a dredging project, was the subject of the raid. Two years later, the firm was permitted to resume work on the project after no charges were filed in connection with the case. The newly-produced e-mails show that Councilor Hunter and State Sen. Jim Merritt intervened with Mayor Ballard's office to pressure Straub to support Carroll's Eastgate site for the ROC, which Straub later agreed to do. Hunter and the council member who co-sponsored the ROC lease approval, Mary Moriarty-Adams, as well as Mayor Greg Ballard, received campaign contributions from Carroll near the time he steered approval of the ROC agreement through the council.

Biesecker also shared with committee members a copy of a costly property maintenance agreement the City entered into with Carroll's Lifeline Construction Services, LLC just this past June concerning the leased premises housing the ROC. The maintenance agreement essentially only cover the costs of maintaining the building's mechanicals. Virtually everything else is excluded from the agreement, including performing any janitorial, cleaning, data cabling, IT services, capital improvements or any additional systems that might be added to the property during the 25-year term of the lease. The City is required to pay Carroll's company $100,000 this year, an amount that will grow to $125,000 next year to over $215,000 by year 5. The $215,000 figure will become the base upon which annual inflation adjustments. By year nine, the maintenance agreement could cost over $256,000 a year. The maintenance agreement could easily add $2 million in additional costs during the first 10 years alone, not counting all of the additional expenses like utilities, cleaning and future improvements.

The committee's next step is to issue subpoenas to about 20 witnesses with knowledge of the agreement. Some of the witnesses, such as Straub and chief of staff, Carolin Requiz-Smith, live out-of-state. There is no assurance that out-of-state witnesses will voluntarily agree to return to Indianapolis to be deposed by the committee, and the committee is without power to compel their attendance. The committee anticipates no problems obtaining cooperation from the bulk of the witnesses who continue to either work for the City or hold jobs located in the area. Straub has been fingered as the person behind the massive document destruction related to the controversial ROC lease agreement prior to him stepping down as Public Safety Director and accepting a job as Spokane, Washington's Chief of Police. A whistle blower went to Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry to report the destruction of the documents, which constitutes a crime under Indiana law, but Curry turned the whistle blower aside, refusing to act on the information. He later claimed that an investigation by Indiana State Police revealed no criminal wrongdoing in connection with the execution of the lease agreement.


Anonymous said...

The corruption in this town is so overt and non-stop that anytime I see Indy's porky the pig mayor on video casts- including most Councilors of both parties who allow these deceptive deals to continue- I must turn to another channel. Because I know I am watching lies in human form whenever I see any of these POS electees. How do I know they lie? Their lips are moving.

Anonymous said...

Hey, U.S. Attorney, here you go. What more can you possibly need to kick off a full investigation?

Get a team together, and start taking apart every part of the lives of Hunter and Ballard.

Anonymous said...

Look into this. Community East Hospital was considering utilizing the Eastgate Mall property, current site of the ROC, to construct a new Community Hospital. Also, look into the Airports NEW Emergency Operations Center as a model that Indy should have used at roughly half the cost, 13 million. Lastly. how will ROC debacle impact Ben Hunters plan to run for Mayor of Indy?

Anonymous said...

Ben Hunter as Mayor?


We'd get both 24/7 martial law and every last function of the government, besides police, being run by a company, with people being answerable to companies in everything they do.

If you liked Mussolini, you'll love Hunter.

Flogger said...

"The administration refuses to make public the local host committee's agreement with the NFL, as well as its original proposal documents for hosting the event, based on the NFL's claim that the documents are proprietary information."

Interesting how the all these schemes can be cloaked under secrecy. This ROC scheme appears to have a similar genetic DNA to the New Criminal Justice Building.

My mind turns to the Law and Order Franchise on TV. If there was Law and Order Indianapolis the actors portraying the Police and Prosecutors would have a blank sheet of paper for their lines concerning any white collar corruption.

When I think about it all these TV shows with a criminal genre focus on street crimes. Better not have a show on TV about Crony-Capitalism-Political Corruption.

Anonymous said...

More of Frank Straub's lies, deception, or corruption become OUR expense!

Who hired Frank Straub? Who supervised Frank Straub????