During public comments at last night's meeting, Vaughn held up an envelope that he said contained the names of ten council members who each received a $10,000 annuity in exchange for their vote on approval of the controversial criminal justice center project. Vaughn taunted but did not provide the names of those council members. The allegation may just earn Vaughn a visit by local FBI agents. The Democratic-controlled council has publicly stated it will not conduct a public hearing on the proposal until the Ballard administration produces information the council is requesting on the deal, as well as provide answers members of the ROC Investigating Committee have been seeking on the awarding of a nearly $20 million, one-sided, 25-year lease for the Regional Operations Center at the former Eastgate Mall to a politically-connected campaign contributor.
Sparks also flew when Councilor Jack Sandlin (R) filed paperwork disclosing for the first time that his business, Jack Sandlin & Associates, has a financial interest in government contracts with the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office and Crawford & Company. According to a conflict of interest statement filed by Sandlin, his business serves court papers to responding parties on behalf of the child support division of the prosecutor's office and provides Special Investigations Unit services as a subcontractor for Crawford. According to Crawford's website, the Atlanta-based company is "the world's largest independent provider of claims management solutions to the risk management and insurance industry as well as self-insured entities." Democratic council members complained Sandlin should have disclosed the information before now. Councillor Joe Simpson and Stephen Clay, both Democrats voted against accepting Sandlin's belated disclosure. The council did not act on a suggestion by one council member, Bill Oliver (D), that the matter be referred to the ethics committee for further investigation. Sandlin declined to say how much he's paid under the two contracts.
A very brief story by the Indianapolis Star's Brian Eason made no mention of Vaughn's allegations or the Sandlin disclosures. Eason's story merely mentions the re-election of Maggie Lewis and John Barth to their respective roles as president and vice-president of the council. His story mentions that Republicans placed in nomination their leader, Mike McQuillen, for council president, and that one Republican member, Christine Scales, voted for Lewis' re-election. Council Republicans earlier expelled Scales from the caucus because she refused to play ball with all of the corrupt shenanigans being pulled by Mayor Ballard's administration. Scales later explained her vote by saying McQuillen had never sought her support and if he had, she would have opposed him. Scales said McQuillen has done nothing but "cast aspersions" upon her and has taken actions to hurt her and her constituents.
Meanwhile, the local media continues to do a pathetic job in reporting on the criminal justice center project. Fox 59 News like the balance of the local news media continues to do little more than provide the Mayor's talking points. Ballard appeared on the Fox 59 this morning where he claimed urgent approval of the deal is necessary so the developers can obtain cheaper financing.
“So that the developers could go get the money at the rate that we want them to get,” said Ballard. “If we got it done right now, actually we were estimating it yesterday, that it would probably come in a million dollars annually less, just under a million dollars less, if we did it today because of the cost of money.
“So if they go past a certain point then what we presume to be the deal, if you will, by the cost of money probably would not apply anymore, so they have to have their deadline to make sure they can go to the market and do what they have to do.”If the council turns away the deal, the City will be out $15 million Ballard blew on the bidding process despite having no appropriation from the council authorizing him to make those expenditures. Ballard deferred payments on existing buildings to the Marion Co. Building Authority in order to award more than $12 million in no-bid contracts to political cronies. The City agreed to pay $750,000 each to the two losing bidders if they agreed not to contest the awarding of the contract to WMB Heartland Justice Partners, a provision which flies in the face of Indiana's non-collusion affidavit requirement in government contracting. That's something you will only read on Advance Indiana because the media is covering up every smelly aspect about this wretched deal. The administration has so far refused to release all of the proposals submitted by the competing bidders as is required by law. It says it won't release those documents until a final agreement is signed by WMB; however, it is demanding the council approve the agreement even before those documents are fully disclosed. This bidding process was wired from the get-go to award the bid to the Meridiam Infrastructure-led team and the same cast of characters who took California taxpayers to the cleaners on that Long Beach courthouse project upon which the Ballard administration modeled this P3 project.
UPDATE: Below is video from last night's council meeting during which Vaughn alleged ten members of the council had accepted bribes in exchange for their vote on the pending criminal justice center project and Councilor Jack Sandlin's explanation of his conflict of interest disclosure, which he says was triggered by a recent change in state law.