Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Retired Barnes & Thornburg Partner Unloads On Indy Eleven Soccer Stadium Deal And Former Colleagues

Tom Huston
When an Advance Indiana reader forwarded to me 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 opens his column by telling readers not to "believe a thing you are told by its proponents or their mouthpieces at the Indianapolis Star." "They are in a Putin frame of mind, and if you are inclined to believe that the Legislature has the slightest interest in protecting taxpayers from the rapacious grip of Ersal Ozdemir and his fellow schemers, you have lost contact with reality," he writes. And that's just for starts.

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)


Anonymous said...

Giving our tax money to a Turkish national for an idea that is just a prima-facie failure is wrong. Our legislators are supposed to be good stewards of our tax money.

HB 1273 appears to be a betrayal of the trust placed in our legislators as good stewards of our tax money.

Anonymous said...

Question, is there any politician not in the pocket of Ozdemir?

Anonymous said...

Pockets of Oxdemir date back prior to 9/11 and his country's involvement with Indy and buying folks out...Follow the money..

Pete Boggs said...

If America's to remain a nation of laws or a constitutional republic; many more people like Mr. Huston will need to speak out.

Big law, has seen morbid & steroidal growth; in direct proportion to its role as auctioneer of the public treasury, as a conduit for the conflicted & blind ambitions of participating "clients." Ambition is a charitable description for what is really greed.

Sure, the Indy 11 scarves are cool. So, why not sell merchandise & tickets & business your way, to needed capital; rather than hench-lobby the capitol into strangling taxpayers for the fruits of their labor, with what was originally a marketable scarf & identity? Why the rush to raid the public treasury?

The half-pregnant illogic of public / private partnerships is a collusion to collision course of narrow interest ambitions & public interest.

Soccer's a great sport, which the free market will support at an organic level; without the cool-kid syndromic or inorganic intrusion by government on behalf of played favorites. Is history somehow inadequate, to tell us how these misadventures end?

Keep talking Mr. Huston & encourage your peers to do the same. You might just help us save the country- from ourselves; with that which is better within us...

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts -- I've been around the General Assembly for about 35 years now and this is about the odious issue I can remember. It is just appalling how the fiscal assumptions -- which we all now are totally bogus -- are not being questioned by legislators. This is a bad deal for the taxpayers and should be scuttled --

Secondly, I have said it before, but Todd Huston is nicely picking up the ethical void left by Eric Turner....His career provides one more example of the abject need for a county prosecutor or US Attorney with the gumption to take on these public corruption cases...Huston's past shenanigans with the DOE and his purchase of that AV equipment that benefitted his employer is one example. There are others

Eric Morris said...

I forwarded the original to a relation that is a partner at B&T, but not this version knowing I couldn't pass up chance to comment! Of course her/his spouse has also worked for all the power brokers as well. Any hits from B&T servers today Gary?

Anon @123 may be onto something considering another article Gary wrote about Hutson connects him to Nixon's mass spying. Is Hutson playing the patsy-type here? I can't come up with the correct spy craft double agent role.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If these guys(Ballard et al) wore track suits and drove Cadillacs, we'd call them the Mob and demand the Feds step in.