a column Tom Huston penned over at Indiana Policy Review's blog, I had to do a double take. Huston's scathing critique of legislation authored by his nephew, State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), to force taxpayers to finance a nearly $90 million, 18,500-seat soccer stadium for Ersal Ozdemir's Indy Eleven minor league soccer team could have been written by me, but I assure you I had no part in authoring it. Huston, a retired Barnes & Thornburg partner whose practice area focused on real estate development, had particularly harsh words for his former colleagues' role in aiding the passage of HB 1273.
|State Rep. Todd Huston|
Huston doesn't mince words in describing the amendment authored by his former colleague at Barnes & Thornburg, State Rep. Ed DeLaney, which DeLaney claimed would put Ozdemir on the hook for half of the debt. Huston's analysis of the DeLaney amendment mirrors mine. "Actually, his proposal won’t do any such thing since there it incorporates no requirement that the guarantor possess assets of a minimum amount," Huston said. "Unfortunately, DeLaney has spent his legal career as a litigator, and he doesn’t understand the fine art of theft through public-private deal-making." Ouch! "As to these statements, I simply blanch in embarrassment for my friend and former law partner: DeLaney said he didn’t ask for a 100 percent guarantee because he wanted a 'fair and measured approach' . . . DeLaney is oblivious to the reality that the only obligor/guarantor who is going to be of interest to buyers of bonds issued to finance the stadium is the deep-pocketed Capital Improvements Board," Huston said. "Any guaranty from others will be simply window-dressing for boobs."
Huston isn't buying assurances from the stadium's proponents of transparency in financing the stadium and then takes aim at Indianapolis' mayor: "Mayor Greg Ballard has refused to turn over documentation relating to either the special operations center lease or the financing structure for the proposed criminal justice center (both multi-million dollar deals) and has conducted as much of the public business in secret as his handlers thought he could get away with." Huston continues, "I am undecided whether those pushing this scheme are in on the action or are simply reading from a script prepared by the lobbyists (which, incidentally, include every major lobbying outfit in Indianapolis)." That team of lobbyists hired by Ozdemir includes some of his former partners at Barnes & Thornburg. Huston also includes some specific, spot-on analysis of the tax-shifting implications of the expanded downtown TIF and the creation of a new White River Revitalization District to sweeten the pot.
In concluding remarks, Huston say, "It is certainly true that the measure before the House is merely 'enabling' legislation: it will enable Ozdemir and his cronies to continue the rape of taxpayers that Mayor Ballard has enabled over the past seven years and which, apparently, the new Democratic administration of Joe Hogsett intends to also facilitate." He continued, "Millions of dollars in fees and commissions will continue to flow to favored law firms and their engineering and construction company clients. In the meantime, the legislators who expedite this fraud upon the public will continue to profess their commitment to free-market principles." He closes, "Lady Liberty weeps." I couldn't have said it better myself.
|Ersal Ozdemir (Indianapolis Star/Danese Kenon Photo)|