Thursday, April 30, 2015

He's Back

The Wilford Brimley of Indiana politics, John Gregg, is back seeking a rematch in 2016 against Gov. Mike Pence. His down home, folksy act turned off a lot of voters in 2012 who either saw right through the act or saw him as a negative caricature of people's impression of Hoosiers. He's now promising to restore the image of Indiana he claims Gov. Pence harmed by signing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and stop businesses from fleeing the state. Advance Indiana has a challenge to Mr. Gregg. If you're the person you claim to be, let's see you lay your tax returns on the table for every year you served as Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives. Advance Indiana is very curious how an attorney who practiced law part-time managed to become so wealthy. Prove to us that people who serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives earn all of their money on the up and up. And while your're at it, let's see full disclosure of the clients you've been billing at 10 W. Market Street who have interests before state government. You're right. Indiana deserves more than a PR campaign. We deserve transparent public officials.

Council Member Calls On Ballard To Immediately Suspend Shady $32 Million Electric Car Lease Agreement

City-County Councilor Frank Mascari (D) sent the following letter to Mayor Greg Ballard calling on him to suspend the $32 million, 7-year electric car lease agreement his administration illegally entered into with Vision Fleet:

Mayor Greg Ballard
City of Indianapolis
200 E. Washington St., Suite 2500
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Dear Mayor Ballard:

I write you today in my capacity as City-County Councilor for District 20 to request that you immediately suspend all negotiations and contract execution procedures with Vision Fleet Capital, LLC. The procurement process for the Master Fleet Agreement (Agreement) with this firm has violated Indiana Code § 5-22 and Indianapolis Marion County General Ordinance §§ 202-204 and 202-205.

The Master Fleet Agreement is a lease-purchase agreement for equipment – namely “energy saving vehicles” as identified in the Agreement. Any analysis that concludes otherwise is misleading and should be ignored. The Agreement is not merely a contract for “fleet management services” as the Agreement’s recitals suggest. The Agreement results in the city acquiring title to vehicles following the City’s payment of numerous “Rental” payments over time. Under any honest understanding, this constitutes a lease-purchase of vehicles.

The Department of Public Works is not authorized to unilaterally and without any authorized competitive process enter into a lease-purchase agreement for these vehicles. Such equipment must be procured by the “purchasing agent” of the City in accordance with competitive bidding practices outlined in Ind. Code §§ 5-22-7, 5-22-9, or other authorizing purchasing statute. G.O. Sec. 202-204 establishes the “Purchasing Division” of the Office of Finance and Management as the purchasing agency for the city and county.

Because the Purchasing Division was not involved in this procurement and the procurement did not involve any competitive process under Indiana law, the resulting Agreement is not lawful, voidable, and should be abandoned immediately.

If you are unwilling to immediately cease negotiations and abandon the Agreement under the current procurement process, I will be forced to explore legal and procedural options to force your compliance. If you have further questions or concerns please call me at (317) 327-4242.


Frank Mascari
District 20
Indianapolis-Marion County Council
200 East Washington Street T-241
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

Transparency In Policing Means Officers Of Appointed Rank Must Start Wearing White Shirts

IMPD Chief Rick Hite (Kelly Wilkinson/Indianapolis Star Photo)
IMPD Chief Rick Hite wants the public to know that transparency in policing is more than just a slogan. That's why he's ordered all officers of appointed rank within the department to begin wearing white shirts as of May 1 so the public can distinguish them from other police officers. Read it yourself. You just can't make this stuff up.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) constantly strives to enhance the public’s perception of the policing profession by ensuring accountability, professionalism, and transparency is at the forefront of our day-to-day activities. Men and women holding appointed ranks within IMPD will therefore transition to wearing white uniform shirts, effective May 1.
This uniform change is being implemented within IMPD during a time of increased scrutiny of police operations and tactics, and increased demands of accountability by the general public. However, the decision to alter the uniform requirement for Command Staff members is NOT related to any specific, individual incident occurring elsewhere in the United States.
Although it’s a relatively minor uniform adjustment which will apply to Majors, District Commanders, Deputy Chiefs, Assistant Chiefs and the Chief of Police himself, the wearing of white shirts fulfills some very important purposes. The citizens of Indianapolis have reasonably increased expectations of those in command level positions. Command staff personnel will be immediately identifiable by those who do not recognize the subtle differences in collar brass currently worn by IMPD officers.
Additionally, IMPD Command Staff personnel have the responsibility of publicly leading from the front, while being accessible to the members of the general public they serve. Whether it involves being available for questions or concerns within our communities, receiving input about the needs of neighborhoods, businesses, schools, or churches; or whether it makes Command Staff personnel more available for those who wish to report crimes or suspicious activity, those wearing white uniform shirts can and should be viewed as the final point of contact to the police department for all of these reasons and more.
Finally, this uniform change ensures consistency within the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Each division within DPS requires personnel in specific ranks to wear white uniform shirts.
Contact Information: 
Richard Riddle,  Media Relations 

Star Finally Mentions Tim Craft Practiced As A Real Estate Broker Without A License

If the Indianapolis Star was a legitimate newspaper, it would have conducted its own investigation like Advance Indiana and reported the fact that Tim Craft, a council candidate slated by the corrupt Marion Co. GOP organization to challenge Christine Scales, the hardest working member of the council who adheres to real Republican principles, practiced as a commercial real estate broker without a license and featured a story on that issue alone. What we get instead is a mention about his admitted unlawful practice in a story discussing council races in next week's primary election. At least that's more than the Mickey Maurer-owned Indianapolis Business Journal did. Apparently the IBJ has a policy against writing negative stories about real estate brokers whose firms advertise with the publication. Here's how the Star's delicately handled Craft's legal woes while skipping over the fact he only moved into Scales' district last year so he would be eligible to run against her:
. . . Craft is a political newcomer who is leaning heavily on his real estate experience to show he's qualified for the post.
"About a third of the work they do is real estate," Craft said. "I was very surprised to see that there are no real estate professionals on the council, as far as I can tell."
But that experience quickly became a campaign issue for his opponent. Scales filed a complaint with the attorney general's office noting that Craft's real estate license expired in June 2014 — around the time that the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency was reclassifying real estate sales licenses as real estate brokers.
Craft continued to practice until April 2015 without a valid license, according to PLA records, but he chalked it up to a clerical error during a messy transition at the agency. It's the first time he's had an issue; from 2003 to 2014, his license was in good standing, according to the PLA website.
Craft, meanwhile, questions whether Scales can be an effective advocate for her district, given her inability to work with her own party.
"There's a need when putting together proposals and working on a council to work with others," Craft said. "From what I have seen, that is not something that Councilor Scales has been able to do in her tenure."
Scales counters that her penchant for bucking her own party is a strength.
"Voters need to trust that their elected officials will have the courage to cast votes that are in the public's best interests," she wrote. "I have repeatedly proven I will do just that, even when doing what is right by voters has hurt my standing with party leaders." . . .
Advance Indiana has spoken to numerous real estate professionals who are absolutely astonished that a large, national real estate brokerage firm like CBRE permitted one of its brokers to practice without a license for so long, a fact that might not have been brought to public light had Craft not been running for public office. Despite Craft's lamentations about a "messy transition" and "a clerical error" at the Professional Licensing Agency, a claim that won't sit well with staff members currently investigating Craft, everyone who was required under a 2-year transition period to upgrade their sales agent license to a broker license had no problem meeting last year's July 1, 2014 deadline except for Craft. A Call 6 investigation by Kara Kenney confirmed Craft was just lazy and never got around to satisfying his education requirements and filing them with the PLA until after it became an issue in his campaign.

The Star story by Brian Eason also discusses the contested Democratic primary race featuring incumbent Angela Mansfield, who is facing off against Councilor Leroy Robinson, who moved into Mansfield's district last September so he could run against her. At least Eason got the fact that Robinson only rented an apartment in the district a few months ago to meet residency requirements. He mentions that Robinson has out-raised Mansfield by a 2-1 margin without mentioning that his campaign is being bankrolled by lobbyists for the digital billboard industry who are backing a controversial ordinance opposed by Mansfield.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mark Miles Tied To Ballard's Shady $32 Million Electric Car Lease Deal

The proverbial s_ _ _ hit the fan at tonight's Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee of the Indianapolis City-County Council when the subject turned to Mayor Greg Ballard's no-bid, $32 million lease agreement with Vision Fleet, a completely untested, heretofore non-existent company until the administration entered into the corrupt, one-sided agreement with the company without consulting with the council. The criticism of the deal came from both sides of the political aisle. The harshest criticism came from Councilor Aaron Freeman (R), who lamented that a copy he obtained of the contract the city entered into with Vision Fleet was redacted more than a CIA report on the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Freeman crowed that even the contact person and address to which notices were be to addressed in the event of conflict was redcacted.

Freeman shared with committee members some quick searches he performed on the Internet that confirmed his worst of suspicions. Vision Fleet, a Delaware corporation, listed a registered office address in Venice, California. Freeman learned by searching Google Earth that its office address at 1600 Main Street was nothing more than a virtual office. The company registered to do business in Indiana, Vision Fleet, LLC, was not even registered with the Indiana Secretary of State until a month after the City of Indianapolis' Department of Public Works under former Director Lori Miser entered into the costly-long term contract with the company. It gets more interesting. The registered agent for the company in Indiana is Cleantech Systems Solutions, Inc. a for-profit company whose business address is 111 Monument Circle, Suite #1800, Indianapolis. That of course is the same address used by the Indy Partnership, a nonprofit economic development company funded by the City of Indianapolis.
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Hold on. It gets even more interesting. Who would you guess are the three incorporators of Cleantech Systems Solutions, Inc.? How about Hulman & Co.'s president Mark Miles. The name David L. Johnson also appears as an incorporator. He's the former Faegre Baker Daniels partner who is now the president of  Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, another government-funded, non-profit economic development agency which shares offices at the same address. And finally, there's Paul Mitchell, former Gov. Mitch Daniels' policy director for economic development, workforce and energy who now serves as president of Energy Systems Network, a non-profit affiliate of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. Johnson and Daniels are among ESN's board members, which is a who's who of corporate insiders.

The council's CFO put the committee on notice that the interpretation of state procurement law by staff informs him that the no-bid contract was illegally entered into by the Ballard administration. Incredibly, the fork-tongued Corporation Counsel, Andrew Seiwert, argued with a straight face that it wasn't a lease of vehicles; rather, it was a service contract to perform fleet management services for the city as a justification for there not being a public bidding process. He defended the heavily- redacted contract released to the council, which clearly references leased vehicles, arguing that all of the redactions represented trade secrets. Hah! Where have we heard that lie before? Our state's Public Access Counselor claimed it was all kosher. At $75,000 per car, I wouldn't want the world to know just how shady my contract was either. Hopefully, other local governments around the country aren't as corrupt and unconcerned about costs as Indianapolis' city government.

Suffice it to say the committee members weren't at all satisfied with the smoke the Ballard administration folks were blowing their way at tonight's meeting. It voted to subpoena an unredacted version of the contract. Only the council's counsel, Fred Biesecker, has been allowed to view the full contract to date. He was only allowed to view it after signing a confidentiality, non-disclosure agreement. I don't know what it takes before our useless federal prosecutor in this town starts hauling these corrupt bastards before a grand jury and handing down indictments of these corrupt political insiders who are robbing us blind with these shady deals.

RIP Former Illinois Governor Dan Walker

The only truly populist governor ever elected Illinois governor during my life time died today at the age of 92. The one-term Democratic governor, Dan Walker, always had a special place in my heart for no other reason than he took on the Chicago Daley Machine and beat it.  Walker shocked the nation when he ran against Daley's handpicked candidate, Paul Simon, in the 1972 Illinois primary and narrowly defeated him. He went on to defeat Republican incumbent Gov. Richard Ogilvie, who had angered many voters by enacting a state income tax. Although from Cook County, Walker appealed to many downstate voters with his anti-Daley message and good government message. He was nicknamed Bandanna Dan after he walked nearly 1,200 miles across the state wearing his trademark red bandanna campaigning as an outsider, reform candidate.

Walker fought the Daley machine as well as Republicans during his one term as governor. He was proud of the fact that he enacted executive orders ending pay to play practices common before and after his tenure as Illinois' governor. Walker retells in his autobiography how he turned down several offers during his term as governor from business insiders to participate in IPOs that could have made him a lot of money, a corrupt practice he says is commonplace among elected officials across the country to enrich them. Just ask Mitch Daniels. The decorated veteran and Naval Academy graduate had a very successful career as an attorney and businessman prior to his foray into politics, having once served as general counsel to Montgomery Ward back in the days when it was one of the nation's largest retail giants. Although once touted as a potential Democratic presidential candidate, Walker's four years of warring with Daley and a corrupt legislature took its toll on him. Daley's handpicked candidate, Secretary of State Michael Howlett, beat him in the 1976 primary but would go on to lose the general to Republican James R. Thompson, a former federal prosecutor who ran against a candidate he said looked and talked just like Mayor Daley.

Walker enjoyed more business success after leaving the governor's office. He started a chain of quick oil change stores that he sold for a handsome profit to Jiffy Lube. He and his wife also purchased a savings and loan, which proved to be his downfall. One of Gov. Thompson's handpicked federal prosecutors in Chicago indicted Walker for bank fraud when his savings and loan failed like many after the inflation-driven, high interest rate years of the Carter administration led to a sharp downturn in real estate investments. Walker borrowed $45,000 from a contractor friend who was one of Walker's fellow classmates at the Naval Academy who had also borrowed a few hundred thousand dollars from his savings and loan. The federal prosecutor threatened to prosecute both Walker and his wife. Walker agreed to plead guilty in a plea deal that he understood would involve no jail time. When he appeared for sentencing, the U.S. Attorney pulled a switcheroo and demanded the maximum sentence and the judge sent him to prison for seven years. His sentence was shocking given the amount of fraud that went on across the nation during that S&L debacle that cost taxpayers dearly. Walker was one of the very few bank executives at the time to be sent to prison. Walker's S&L failure cost taxpayers nothing. President George H.W. Bush's son, Neil, committed the same crime as a director at the failed Silverado Savings & Loan on whose board he served. Federal prosecutors in his case said he violated only federal regulations and no criminal laws. Yes, Walker was selectively prosecuted--punishment for being the political maverick he was.

Ducey Brothers Plead Guilty To $145 Million Biofuels Fraud Scheme

Three Indiana men have pleaded guilty for their role in a multi-state fraud scheme involving the sale of biodiesel fuels and federal tax incentives according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana. Chad Ducey, 39, and Craig Ducey, 44, of Fishers, along with Chris Ducey, 48, of North Webster pleaded guilty in federal court last week. Here's how the U.S. Attorney's Office described the scheme from which the Ducey brothers derived $55 million in gross profits:
The Ducey brothers operated E-biofuels LLC, from a facility in Middletown, Indiana. As part of the scheme, they sold over 35 million gallons of biodiesel to customers for more than $145 million by falsely claiming that the fuel was eligible for federal renewable energy incentives, when they knew it was not. In addition, Craig Ducey pleaded guilty to a related $58.9 million securities fraud, which victimized over 625 investors and shareholders of Imperial Petroleum, a publicly-traded company and the parent company of E-biofuels, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler of the Southern District of Indiana . . .
“This investigation resulted in the disruption of one of the largest tax and securities fraud schemes in Indiana history,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott. “The FBI, with federal partners, identified and investigated a group who manipulated and utilized federal governmental programs to line their pockets by fraud. They deceived customers, shareholders, and the American public. This type of fraudulent activity is not a victimless crime – it harms the American people and the economy.”
From 2007 through 2012, E‑biofuels had a biodiesel manufacturing plant in Middletown. Biodiesel is a fuel that can be used in diesel engines and that is made from renewable resources, including soybean oil and waste grease from restaurants. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act, properly manufactured biodiesel was eligible for a one dollar per gallon tax credit as well as another valuable credit called a Renewable Identification Number (RIN) that petroleum refiners and importers must comply with to satisfy their federal renewable fuel obligations.
The Ducey brothers admitted that they knew that E-biofuels was fraudulently reselling biodiesel that they obtained from co-conspirators in New Jersey, which had already been used to claim biodiesel incentives. By falsely claiming to have made it themselves in Middletown, the Ducey brothers and their co-conspirators created a second set of invalid incentives, which they passed on to their customers. They realized huge per gallon profits through this scheme, sometimes in excess of $12,000 per truckload. Over the course of approximately two years, the co-conspirators fraudulently sold more than 35 million gallons of fuel for a total cost of over $145 million. The co-conspirators and their companies realized more than $55 million in gross profits, at the expense of their customers and U.S. taxpayers . . .
According to the press release, the brothers pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, false claims against the IRS, wire fraud and lying to EPA and IRS officials. They face up to 20 years in prison, large fines and restitution for the victims of their scheme. They've already forfeited assets valued at $7.5 million, including cash, jewelry, artwork, cars and homes they purchased with the funds they derived from the scheme.
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Craig Ducey (left) and Chad Ducey (right) with W

Indy Eleven Stadium Bill Dead

The proponents of the taxpayer-funded soccer stadium for Ersal Ozdemir's Indy Eleven have declared the legislation dead for the second year in a row after passing the House and the Senate by wide margins. The stadium's biggest cheerleader says legislators couldn't agree over which pot of taxpayer monies should be used to pay for the new stadium. They'll be back next year. You can count on it. Knowing how the Capital Improvement Board and the Ballard administration operates, it wouldn't be shocking for them to find some other way of financing it with existing city and CIB revenues before Ballard's term ends this year. The Star's sports columnist, Gregg Doyel, suggests Ozdemir might move his team elsewhere. LOL. Words coming from a reporter with no historical perspective on how things happen in Indy.

Not sure this owner will take this sitting down. Look to leave? RT @brianeason: Indy Eleven stadium bill is dead 

Bill Ending Access To Public Records Through Exorbitant Fees Reappears On Closing Day Of Session

The Indiana General Assembly lives up it to its reputation as the nation's worst legislature. On the final week of session, lawmakers have inserted into a conference committee report for SB 369 a change in the state's public records law that would essentially allow governmental entities to charge persons $20 per hour to respond to public records searches, effectively making it impossible for citizens to obtain information from their government. The Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star, which gets its marching owners from its masters in Langley, Virginia, is a proponent of this effort to shut down the public's access to public records. In particular, The Star does not want citizen bloggers to get information to matters it doesn't want the public to know about. Of course, there are some sweeteners in the bill for the public notices publications like The Star gets paid exorbitant fees to publish which nobody ever reads. The lawmakers who put their names on this bill for whom you should have nothing but utter disdain are the following:
  • Sen. Pete Miller (R-Avon)
  • Sen Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis)
  • Sen Lonnie Randolph (D-East Chicago)
  • Rep. Dennis Zent (R-Angola)
  • Rep. Donna Schaibley (R-Carmel)
  • Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers)
  • Rep. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend)
  • Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel)
  • Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) 
The bill passed the House on a 92-5 vote. The five lawmakers voting against it are: 
  • State Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend)
  • State Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Indianapolis)
  • State Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington)
  • State Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn)
  • State Rep. Heath Vannatter (R-Kokomo)
UPDATE: Here's the AP's report on this lousy legislation. The Star's lobbyist talks it up:
. . . . Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Dennis Zent of Angola said local governments often receive complicated requests for documents from certain individuals.
"I don't think that's a wise use of taxpayer money if that's just one individual repeatedly doing it," Zent said.
Supporters also applaud a provision that would allow a requester to receive records electronically. The search fee would apply, but the requester would not have to pay a copying cost.
Currently, an agency can refuse to provide electronic copies, forcing a requester to pick up records in person and pay a copying fee.
Hoosier State Press Association Executive Director Steve Key said the benefit of getting records in an easy format outweighs the potential negatives of a search fee.
Key said it would also save time and resources for both government agencies and records requesters.
"This is going to probably force people to be a little bit more selective when they make records requests," he said. "It will be much more of a rifle approach as opposed to a shot gun or casting a fishing net."
Democratic Rep. Matt Pierce of Bloomington criticized the measure.
"The records are created with our tax dollars; the employees and the buildings are paid for with our tax dollars. If they've got to suffer through a few people who make outrageous requests, that's kind of the price of democracy," he said . . . 
Key's been a lobbyist at the State House so long he's forgotten what good government is all about. And another old-time State House reporter who just doesn't get it.

Why State House Media Sucks So Bad In Indiana

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Yeah, let's take a selfie with the Speaker. Who needs serious State House journalism?

Ex-Bears Player Richard Dent Arrested For Driving 107 MPH

A north suburban Chicago police officer arrested former Chicago Bears defensive end and Super Bowl XX Most Valuable Player Richard Dent for driving 107 mph in his 2010 Range Rover on the Edens Expressway where the speed limit is 55 mph. The stop occurred at 1:55 a.m. yesterday morning. Dent was described as "very cooperative" during his arrest before he was released after posting a bond. If Dent was a captain for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, he would have gotten a free get of jail card and a pat on the back by Chief Rick Hite.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ballard Stealing Parking Meter Revenues To Pay For Electric Car Sharing Program

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This final year of Greg Ballard's second term as Indianapolis mayor is proving to be filled with pitfalls for the city's taxpayers that will cost us dearly for decades to come. To describe Ballard as being Rod Blagojevich on steroids is an understatement. Unfortunately, Indianapolis taxpayers have no prosecutors on our side to stop the corrupt madness that is taking place in plain sight in the closing months of this nightmare. If we had the equivalent of what Chicago has, the man would have long ago been hauled out of the City-County Building in handcuffs.

Today brings news that Ballard has cut a deal with the French company he encountered during one of his many overseas junkets paid for by his bag men to steal money from parking meter revenues intended to be used for infrastructure improvements in the areas of the city served by metered street parking to construct electric charging station's for Bollore's privately-owned electric car sharing service. Ballard's original plan to force IPL's electric utility customers to pay for the electric car sharing program was shot down by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Now he's stealing parking revenues intended for other purposes to make city taxpayers subsidize the privately-run car sharing business.

According to an Indianapolis Star report, Ballard plans to divert $6 million in parking meter revenues to subsidize the supposed $13 million cost for installing electric charging stations. That doesn't include the money the city will have to reimburse the private parking meter company for revenues it will lose from displaced paid parking spaces taken up by Bollore's Blue Indy electric car sharing program. Incredibly, the Ballard administration claims the "investment" in the private company's electric charging station constitutes "infrastructure" improvements. This is the same mayor who just vetoed $4.7 million in spending for needed replacement police cars and other public safety needs because he claimed funds weren't available, even after city taxpayers were hit with another 10% income tax increase in January. The council overrode that veto by a 28-1 vote, the first mayoral veto override in the history of UniGov.

This latest boondoggle comes on the heels of the Ballard administration's idiotic agreement for a $32 million, 7-year lease agreement for a fleet of electric cars with a completely untested company, Fleet Vision. There were serious questions about whether the administration violated state procurement laws by failing to put the lease agreement out for pubic bid. Public safety employees have complained the cars are completely impractical because they have no trunk space, forcing law enforcement officers to leave weapons unsafely stored in their cars just a quick smash and grab away from a thief's hands. Advance Indiana has been hearing rumors about other nefarious goings-on that accompanied the Fleet Vision lease agreement. If anyone has more information on this, please contact us. Those we have entrusted to investigate public corruption have abandoned us so it's up to us to expose those using government as their personal profit center for shady deals that have no demonstrable benefit to the public.

Political Action Committee Tied To Hamilton GOP Chairman Dumps Nearly $100,000 Into Cook's Mayoral Campaign

Hamilton Co. GOP Chairman Pete Emigh has come under attack from some Republicans for his past role running Shamrock PAC, a political action committee that has been heavily involved in making large donations to Republican candidates involved in primary races such as Carmel Mayor James Brainard, Fisher's Mayor Scott Fadness and Westfield's Mayor Andy Cook. After The Star published a news story earlier this year discussing the controversy, Emigh stepped down as Shamrock PAC's chairman.. Mayor Cook's son, Brian Cook, assumed the role of chairman and last Thursday the PAC dumped a $99,000 campaign contribution into his father's re-election campaign, eclipsing the $10,851 Cook's re-election campaign reported raising on its own in its pre-primary campaign finance report.

The Star reports that his primary opponent, Jeff Harpe, who has declined to accept any PAC money, is crying foul. "For me," Harpe said, "I think that opens the door to a conflict of interest. Someone can buy the election." Whether by contributions from PACs or by direct donation, that's exactly what is happening in Indiana's mayoral elections. Virtually all of Shamrock's money came from engineering executives, construction companies, law firms and other businesses and individuals who rely on sweetheart, no-bid contracts from local governments for their livelihood. Average folks simply don't participate in political-giving anymore. Campaign contributions have simply become a legalized form of bribery to buy contracts and other favors from crooked elected officials.

For the life of me, I don't understand why the media has ignored the serious issues involving a trucking company, Hoosier Tradewinds, which is owned by Mayor Cook and his son. Advance Indiana reported on hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liens the IRS has filed against the company. The Internet is filled with commentary from former truck drivers for the company complaining about how they were mistreated by the company. The company has been the subject of numerous lawsuits that are a matter of public record. Yet nobody in the news media seems to care to report on any of those matters.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Eight Candidates Apply For Court Of Appeals Opening

The Judicial Nominating Commission released the names of eight (8) candidates who applied to fill the vacancy on the Court of Appeals to be created by the retirement of Judge Ezra Friedlander. Surprisingly, all but one of the candidates is from Indianapolis. The Commission will narrow the list to three candidates after interviewing all of the candidates, which it will forward to Gov. Mike Pence, who will have 60 days after receiving the list to announce his choice. The Commission has not yet announced a schedule for interviewing the candidates. The list of candidates includes the following:
  • Judge Robert R. Altice, Jr., Marion Superior Court
  • Bryan L. Ciyou, Indianapolis, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C.
  • Stephen R. Creason, Indianapolis, Office of Attorney General
  • Judge Christopher M. Goff, Wabash Superior Court
  • Patricia C. McMath, Indianapolis, Marion Co. Public Defender Agency
  • Judge Gary L. Miller, Marion Superior Court
  • David L. Pippen, Indianapolis, Bose McKinney & Evans
  • Joel M. Schumm, Indianapolis, Robert H. McKinney School of Law

FBI Tells Former Senate Intelligence Chair To Butt Out On 9/11

Florida's former governor and U.S. senator, Bob Graham, chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Graham has increasingly questioned the 9/11 narrative presented by the Bush administration and the so-called 9/11 Commission, for ignoring potential links between the 9/11 hijackers and members of the Saudi royal family. An early opponent of the Iraq War, Graham could hardly be characterized as a conspiracy crackpot. He's the younger brother of former Washington Post publisher Philip Graham and has served on the CIA's external advisory board since retiring from the Senate.

Graham became particularly interested when investigative reporters in his home state found ties to a Sarasota home owned by a prominent Saudi national and the 9/11 hijackers, which the owners abruptly abandoned, leaving behind valuable vehicles and personal belongings just days before the 9/11 attacks. The Saudi family which owned the home has been directly tied to a Saudi prince whose father is now King of Saudi Arabia. Graham's Senate committee's investigations following 9/11 found important Saudi links; however, the Bush administration insisted on redacting 28 pages in reports publicly-released that discussed those links. Graham has written recent op-ed pieces calling for the release of the redacted information. Now Graham shares with WhoWhatWhy's Russ Baker disturbing conversations he recently had with FBI agents after they stopped him at Dulles International Airport in Washington. Essentially, the FBI told Graham to butt out.
BG: I have a daughter who lives in Great Falls, Virginia, and my wife and I had flown up to Dulles to be with her for Thanksgiving. And as we got off the plane, a couple of FBI people met us, said they would like us to attend a meeting. So we went. The FBI has an office at Dulles, and there were two FBI people and an attorney from the Department of Justice. And basically, we spent an hour—with them trying to convince me to forget this, that it was a dead end, that all that was needed to be learned about it had already been learned. The phrase ‘get a life’ was sort of my summary of that conversation. 
RB: Then it’s even a better story than the way Carl [Hulse of the Times] wrote it up. 
BG: Yeah. And then, I had been able to read a couple of files of materials on Sarasota, and I pointed out where their public statement was not consistent with what was in their own classified files. And the FBI officer said: “Well, that was a matter of context, that there was other information which refuted the statements which were contained in the investigative officer’s report.” So I said, “Well, can I see what that other information is?” And he said “yes” and we set a date for the week after Thanksgiving. And when I went to the FBI office at the scheduled time, that same agent who [was at the meeting at Dulles] was there and he said: “Your meeting here has been canceled, is not going to be rescheduled, and incidentally, I know you’ve been trying to contact the agent who wrote the report, and I have told him not to talk with you.” And that was the last time I met with a high-ranking FBI official. 
RB: Now, without putting you too much on the spot, can you indicate how high a level we’re talking? 
BG: Very high. 
RB: Very high. Okay. So this might be a name that I might have heard of. 
BG: You might have.
Read more at WhoWhatWhy about Baker's interview with Sen. Graham by clicking here.

Illinois Lawmaker Uses Campaign Funds Like It's His Personal Bank Account

The number two guy in the Illinois State Senate, James Clayborne (D-East St. Louis), spent over $40,000 on chauffeured limousine rides and another $50,000 on overseas trips over a 10-year period according to a Fox 2 St. Louis news report. Clayborne defended the expenditures by saying campaign donations aren't public tax dollars. True, but you're supposed to use the money to run your campaign, not live a lavish personal lifestyle. Clayborne accused the Fox news reporter of engaging in "trash journalism." I wish we had more of this kind of trash journalism in Indianapolis.

Push Poll Being Conducted For Justice Center

An observant Advance Indiana reader says she received a telephone call she described as a push poll in support of Mayor Greg Ballard's ill-fated, $1.75 billion criminal justice center that he wants built using a public-private partnership agreement. A City-County Council committee voted down the proposal earlier this month, but Republican council members supporting the plan on behalf of Ballard intend to push for a vote at the council's May 11 meeting to bring the proposal before the full council for a vote. According to the reader, the caller claimed the proposed justice center would save at least $5 million a year which would be used to hire additional police officers. According to the reader, all of the caller's questions were written to elicit favorable responses regarding the proposed justice center.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Transparency In Policing Is Just A Slogan

It's been two weeks since two Indianapolis police officers shot and killed an Indianapolis man, Mack Long, who fled his vehicle on foot after being subjected to a traffic stop. An IMPD spokesman initially told the public the two officers who pursued and then shot and killed Long sustained minor injuries after being grazed by a bullet fired from Long's gun. At a press conference 24 hours later, police admitted Long had fired no shots from a handgun he was carrying at his side, and that only one of the officers had suffered very minor injuries during a supposed scuffle with Long. One of the police officers was wearing a body camera, while a private citizen recorded at least part of the shooting. Unlike other highly-publicized police action shootings around the country, authorities refuse to release video evidence of the shooting to the public, and the local news media doesn't seem at all interested in seeing it, even after learning IMPD initially misstated key facts regarding the shooting.

Yesterday, Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry appeared on WTLC-AM's "Afternoons With Amos." The show's host, Amos Brown, asked Curry about the reason the video evidence was not being released to the media. Incredibly, Curry hid behind grand jury secrecy rules, claiming that it was against Indiana law to release the video evidence since it was evidence in a pending grand jury investigation. Curry said the videos might be released in the future after any grand jury proceedings had been concluded but not before then. Curry's claim is a complete misstatement of Indiana law. Indiana law gives law enforcement agencies discretionary authority to withhold investigative records. They may and do, however, release investigative records such as video evidence, 911 calls, police reports and other evidence all of the time when it serves their interest. The mere fact evidence will be presented at a grand jury proceeding doesn't bar its release to the public; rather, it's the testimony offered by witnesses and discussions of evidence during the grand jury proceeding that is subject to the secrecy rule.

Additionally, Brown asked Curry about whether his office responds to information requests from citizen journalists and bloggers regardless of their political affiliation or beliefs. Curry stated that his office fulfilled his 2010 campaign promise to be more open and responsive to the public and does generally respond to all inquiries. In fact, Curry's office has ignored repeated requests by Advance Indiana to respond to questions not only about the Long shooting but also the IMPD cover up of the citizen complaint Austin Joseph made in a 911 call on December 20, 2014 during which he reported observing an IMPD police car driven by Capt. Phil Burton being operated erratically at rates of speed topping 90 mph on a non-emergency run, or the death of Aaron D. Barnes in the home of Officer Gregory Slaven on April 5, 2014, whose body police sources told Advance Indiana was found in a sex bondage position wearing a chloroform mask. Perhaps Curry's office has no information to release about either of those incidents involving police officers, but there's no way of knowing that because his office won't even acknowledge receipt of the request for information. In both cases, the only reason Advance Indiana was able to provide any information to the public was because of concerns expressed by IMPD officers that proper investigations were not being conducted.

It is absolutely stunning just how little interest the traditional media in Indianapolis has in newsworthy stories involving very serious questions concerning police misconduct, particularly following the fatal alcohol collision of Officer David Bisard that cost taxpayers at least $10 million, not to to mention the loss of life. I can't imagine anywhere else in this country where the news media would display such a dismissive, disinterested attitude towards such matters. Nowadays, they seem only interested in writing press releases for the police and prosecutor. How times have changed from the days when reporters for the Indianapolis Star & News were conducting daily public battles with police and prosecutors and the newspaper's reporters were turning out blockbuster news stories of police and prosecutor corruption that won them a Pulitzer Prize.

On a final note, Advance Indiana has requested from the Marion Co. Sheriff's Department any 911 calls or police dispatch records regarding the Aaron D. Barnes death investigation. That request got routed to Samantha DeWester in the Corporation Counsel's office, who sent a letter this week denying the release of the requested records as a matter of discretion for the investigative records exception to the state's public records law, the catch-all exemption IMPD always uses to block release of any information it doesn't want the public to see. Recall that DeWester used that same exemption to deny Advance Indiana's request for the 911 call and dispatch records regarding Capt. Phil Burton, which the Sheriff's Department produced in response to the exact same request. Apparently, Sheriff John Layton has instructed his staff to forward all requests made by Advance Indiana to the Corporation Counsel's office and not respond to them as his office does for other media requests. Ask yourself: What are they hiding? Why did IMPD Chief Rick Hite announce a new policy this past week prohibiting any police officer from recording other officers or city officials? Who is he protecting and why?

UPDATE: I finally got this response from the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office today:

Dear Mr. Welsh,

The death investigation to which you refer has not been presented to our office for review. I have no further information or statement on the matter.

The video referenced below is evidence in a pending investigation. As such, it would not become public record unless or until it is entered into the court record in the course of a criminal prosecution. If the video becomes public record, it would be available from the court file.

Peg McLeish
Communications Director

Marion County Prosecutor’s Office

Tully Shamelessly Uses Tragic Death Of 6-Year Old To Push For Commuter Tax

Reading Star political columnist Matt Tully's latest column, I couldn't help but picture Star Trek's Spock's raised eyebrow reaction: "Highly illogical." Recently, an adorable 6-year old boy, Dar Wee, was tragically killed when he was struck by a car while crossing the street that separates an apartment complex from an elementary school where Wee was a first-grade student on the City's far north side near College Avenue and 91st Street. For whatever reason, requests made by the school's principal for the past several years to invest a few hundred dollars to place a stop sign and painted cross walks in the area had not been a high enough priority by the local council member or the Ballard administration's Department of Public Works to make it happen. After Wee's tragic death, the city council and the DPW took emergency steps to install stop signs at the long-ignored dangerous crossing.

To believe Tully, Wee's death is to be blamed on the lack of revenues to pay for the City of Indianapolis' infrastructure needs. He then goes on to use the tragedy to pitch a commuter tax on suburban residents who live outside Indianapolis but commute to work in Indianapolis to pay for infrastructure costs. This is the same columnist who praised the City for providing $6.5 million to the mayor's money bag man, Ersal Ozdemir, to build a parking garage and donating another $6 million to the politically-connected developer, Browning Investments, for another mixed use retail project in Broad Ripple. Those are just two of many projects to which Tully and his bosses at The Star have supported giving away public tax dollars totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Sorry, Mr. Tully, the problem isn't a lack of revenues; it's a lack of spending priorities on the part of those making the decisions, who value their campaign contributors more than their fellow citizens. Your shameless plug for yet another tax increase we know will largely benefit the same campaign contributors who feed at the public trough is beneath decency even for you.

UPDATE: To my point, the IBJ's Kathleen McLaughlin has a story about the downtown TIF fund being awash in cash, which I've long dubbed the Mayor's slush fund:
The Indianapolis downtown TIF district is so flush with cash that the mayor can cover all its debt payments, fund two layers of reserves, and still have tens of millions to spend at his discretion.
Free cash in the downtown TIF could amount to $59.3 million by the end of 2018, according to the city controller’s projections.
Like all tax-increment financing districts, the downtown TIF is essentially a reservoir for property-tax revenue that otherwise would flow to government units throughout the county. The way cash is piling up in the city’s largest TIF raises the question: Is it time to open the floodgates?
“It definitely allows an opportunity,” Controller Matthew Kimmick said . . .
Ballard plans to spend $22 million on one-time projects this year and leave $7.3 million in the fund when he steps down Dec. 31 after two terms.
This year’s spending includes the IUPUI roads, repairs to Union Station and buying a Citizens Energy property on Waterway Boulevard to create a shovel-ready site for the 16 Tech business park.
There’s no shortage of demand for downtown improvements. In an interview with IBJ, Democratic mayoral hopeful Joe Hogsett said he’s hearing a drumbeat from downtown stakeholders for a makeover of Circle Centre. He also foresees the need to boost Monument Circle as a family attraction.
Hogsett declined to get into specifics about how he would finance economic development. He’s aware the downtown TIF could be perceived as benefiting real estate developers, but he’s not ruling out any tools at his disposal.
“I think it ought to be used very cautiously,” he said of the downtown TIF’s excess cash.
Chuck Brewer, the Marion County GOP’s endorsed candidate, declined to comment ahead of the May 5 primary, in which he faces two opponents, Jocelyn Tandy-Adande and Terry Michael . . . 
The Indianapolis downtown TIF was the only exception to a 2014 law that required all TIF districts created before 1995 to dissolve by 2025. Lawmakers cited the city’s past revenue-sharing practice as one reason for special treatment  . . . 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Long-Time Senate Staffer For Thad Cochran Busted For Dealing Date Rape Drug

A long-time staff member for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) was arrested this week after D.C. police and the Department of Homeland Security officials charged him with possessing drugs with intent to distribute. Fred Pagan, 49, was found to be in possession of meth and GBL, which is used as a date rape drug. Pagan told officers he distributed the drugs in exchange for sexual favors. Customs officials first detected the drug in a DHL package shipped from China that was addressed to Pagan's D.C. home. Pagan earns $160,000 a year as a personal assistant and office administrator for Sen. Cochran.

SEC Charges Three Local Investment Advisors In Ponzi Scheme

Two local investment advisers, along with a Carmel attorney, stand accused by the Securities & Exchange Commission of running a $15 million Ponzi scheme. Charged in the scheme are Veros Partners' Matthew Haab and Tobin J. Senefeld, and Jeffrey B. Risinger, a Carmel attorney.

According to a press release issued by the SEC, the three men raised $15 million from about 80 investors for the purpose of making short-term loans to farmers. In actuality, the investment proceeds were used to cover unpaid debts already owed by farmers who had been previously loaned money. At the same time, the three men are accused of paying themselves $800,000 in undisclosed "success" and "interest rate spread" fees.

In addition to Veros Partners, Haab, Senefeld and Risinger, the federal complaint also names as defendants Veros Farm Loan Holding, LLC and FarmGrow Cap, LLC, the issuers of the offerings and PinCap, LLC and Pin Financial, LLC as the registered broker-dealer. According to the press release, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson issued an asset freeze order against the defendants, as well as a temporary restraining order prohibiting them from soliciting, accepting or depositing any monies from prospective investors.

Stutzman On Controversial Congressional Trip With Schock Paid For By Saudi Government

Disgraced former Illinois U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R) was forced to resign his seat in Congress after questions swirled about questionable campaign and travel spending from his congressional allowance. A federal grand jury convened by federal prosecutors in Springfield has been sending out subpoenas and calling former Schock congressional staffers before the grand jury to testify. The Chicago Tribune is raising new concerns about a trip Schock took to Saudi Arabia in 2011 on which he was accompanied by Indiana's U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R), who has been mulling over a bid for Dan Coats' Senate seat in 2016. According to The Tribune, the Saudi government paid for the trip, although Schock did not disclose that fact in his official filings with the House, as well as the costs for two prominent businessmen in his district who were large donors to Schock's campaign committee.

According to The Tribune, Peoria automobile dealer Jeff Green, who also owns a private plane on which he frequently flew Schock, accompanied Schock on the official trip, as did Adam Vitale, the owner of a Galesburg beer distributorship. The Tribune describes the presence of the two campaign donors with Schock on the trip as unusual. The Saudi governmental also picked up the tab for their expenses, although Vitale said he paid for his own flight expense. Green refused to answers The Tribune's questions about the trip. Schock failed to disclose the trip on his financial disclosure form, which is a potential violation of the Ethics in Government Act. Rep. Stutzman disclosed on his 2011 financial disclosure form that the Embassy of Saudi Arabia financed the cost of his 10-day trip to Riyadh on March 17, 2011 through March 27, 2011. He also disclosed a second, 8-day trip to Israel on August 13, 2011 through August 21 2011, which was financed by the American Israel Education Foundation. From The Tribune story:
. . . The other lawmakers on the trip to Saudi Arabia said in disclosures that the Embassy of Saudi Arabia paid their way. Both Reps. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming said the trip was March 17-27, 2011.
Aides to Stutzman and Lummis, both Republicans, declined to answer questions about the trip. So did Saudi Arabia's embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia. Schock's top aide, who also was on the journey, also refused to address the trip.
Schock's chief of staff at the time, Steven Shearer of Peoria, appeared with the former congressman in Saudi Arabia in a photo in the Arab News on March 26, 2011. Shearer put the trip on his disclosure but on different dates: May 18-27, 2011.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, in a Web post, said Schock and the other lawmakers were on an "official visit" accompanied by a delegation of U.S. businessmen, none identified by name.
Members of the U.S. delegation met with princes including Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the post said, and visited the Saudi national museum and historical sites.
Stutzman later told The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., that the trip was arranged and paid for by the Saudi tourism and antiquities commission. He said the group spoke with Saudi officials about counterterrorism and trade, noting that the country was in the midst of a construction boom and an attractive market for Indiana manufacturers.
Two sources said Green talked freely about the Saudi trip upon his return and posted travel photos on Facebook, taking them down after Schock fell under scrutiny this year.
One source said he saw Green flip through 40 or 50 travel photos on his phone showing images of camel rides, cities and palaces.
Arab News quoted Schock during the trip as saying people in the U.S. were interested in that country's lack of democracy, its ban on women driving and the requirement that women wear abayas.
"We have a clearer vision now that we have visited Saudi Arabia," he added. "What is applicable in America does not necessarily has (sic) to be true here also."
It's curious that the purpose of this congressional trip was to discuss counter-terrorism among other things given that one of Saudi princes with whom the delegation met has been tied to the financing of the 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia.

Malik Obama: Deceived By Barack Obama, Feels Betrayed

Filmmaker Joel Gilbert whose documentary, "Dreams From My Real Father," posits that Frank Marshall Davis and not Barack Obama, Sr. is the true biological father of President Barack Obama, has a shocking interview with Obama's half brother from Kenya, Malik Obama. The elder brother who stood up with President Obama as his best man at his wedding now accuses him of deceiving him and other members of the Kenyan Obama family in an exclusive interview with Gilbert. Malik admitted after reading Gilbert's book that he has his own doubts about whether Barack is truly his father's son. He would be willing to take a DNA test to determine whether Obama is his real half-brother.

In the interview, Malik accuses President Obama of turning his back on his Kenyan family, even refusing to help out the family with his Aunt Zeituni' Onyango's burial experiences when she passed away a year ago. Obama has also refused to support a foundation established in his father's name. It's a "betrayal, big humiliation and embarrassment" Malik said of Obama's treatment of his family, which he believes he only used for purposes of selling his "unique" background to the American people. Malik claims he helped Obama edit his book, "Dreams from My Father," which Malik claims was originally titled, "Where my father lies buried," later changed to "Claims of Inheritance," before later changing to the ultimate title that formed the carefully-crafted biographical narrative Obama shaped in preparation for his meteoric political rise.

Those who have followed this blog over the years know how I truly believe that Obama's entire biographical narrative was fabricated out of whole cloth. All of his close, early handlers had close associations with the CIA. Indeed, his first employer after supposedly graduating from Columbia University was a CIA front company. Someday, the American people will come to realize that his presidency was the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people, even topping the 9/11 false flag attack and the government cover up of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by evil elements of our own government.

The Star Suddenly Has Questions About IEDC's Transparency

Advance Indiana has complained for years about how the economic development arms of the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis operate as nothing more than an extension of the governor's and mayor's campaign committees. Gov. Mitch Daniels was responsible for creating the Indiana Economic Development Corporation board as a quasi-governmental entity empowered to dole out tax benefits, grants and other economic development incentives to companies that locate or expand their businesses in Indiana. The IEDC raised funds to pay for all of Daniels' overseas trade mission trips just like it does for Pence. Similarly, Develop Indy funds all of Mayor Greg Ballard's overseas junkets with donations from undisclosed donors. The governor and mayor are always accompanied on these trips by well-heeled campaign contributors or others seeking favors from government.

The Gannett-owned Star had few questions of how either IEDC or Develop Indy operated, but now that it is on a mission to drive Gov. Mike Pence from office, it's now got an issue with its operations. In a story in today's paper by Tony Cook, The Star questions lobbying tactics IEDC is employing to gain legislative support for Gov. Pence's regional cities initiative:
Promotional gift bags. A slick, campaign-style website. Undisclosed corporate donors.
Gov. Mike Pence has employed each of those strategies in a last-ditch effort to save one of his top legislative priorities — a new $84 million "regional cities" initiative intended to boost economic development across the state.
The campaign is being operated out of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's semi-public job creation and business attraction arm. And it's being funded with donations to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation from undisclosed private companies.
It includes a website,, that criticizes the General Assembly, saying lawmakers "SIGNIFICANTLY SLASHED FUNDS FOR HOOSIER COMMUNITIES' TRANSFORMATION."
The site directs people to "TAKE ACTION!" and provides a form letter for residents to send to legislators urging them to "restore Governor Pence's proposed $84 million appropriation for the Regional Cities Initiative."
At the same time, the IEDC sent gift bags to 25 key lawmakers last week. Inside were letters of support from the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and mayors of several cities. There was also a gift: a magnetic paper clip sculpture with the regional cities website written on it.
The end-of-session lobbying effort is raising eyebrows among Pence's fellow Republicans in the legislature. Some are questioning the tactics and refuting the administration's claims . . . 
IEDC's president, Eric Doden, defends the propriety of its actions since its a quasi-governmental entity, unlike other state agencies--just why former Gov. Mitch Daniels created. Of course, The Star could care less about anything the IEDC did when Daniels was governor. Times have changed. As I warned you, The Star is in the process of building a case against Mike Pence to force his resignation from office. Just sit back and watch as news stories will continue to appear questioning Pence's ethics and then asking out loud whether Pence has broken any laws before deciding he has committed crimes that warrant his resignation from office. It will likely involve tying campaign donations to state actions, something it could have done on any number of occasions with former Gov. Daniels and Mayor Ballard but chose not to do so. Massive public corruption scandals were overlooked in both the Daniels and Ballard administrations by The Star. Their end game is to get rid of Pence, and there's more than one way to crack that nut. You read it here first so don't be surprised when it plays out.

UPDATE: Indiana political observers will get a kick out of this. The idea of privatizing the state's economic development agency has been exported to neighboring Illinois where former Daniels' political crony and Barnes & Thornburg attorney Jason Barclay now serves as Gov. Bruce Rauner's chief legal counsel. From Crain's Chicago:
A bill to partially privatize the state's economic development agency has surfaced abruptly in Springfield, and it may be on a fast track to passage.
The proposal, contained in an amendment filed yesterday by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie to a bill sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan, would give both the speaker and Gov. Bruce Rauner something they want.
Rauner would get to establish a private Illinois Business & Economic Development Corp. that would pick up many of the key functions of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, a state government agency. For instance, the corporation would have the power to negotiate tax incentive deals with companies, subject to final approval by DCEO. The idea is similar to proposals Rauner made during his race for governor.
Madigan, in turn, would get something he's pushed for: the creation of an independent, free-standing agency to run the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. That responsibility would be taken away from the state's Historic Preservation Agency, which would be dissolved and its remaining functions assumed by the DCEO, according to the proposal.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Westfield High School Stage Collapse

About a dozen Westfield High School students were injured during tonight's "American Pie" performance when the stage collapsed during the final act of the show. Local news reports indicate that at least one of the injured student's condition was listed as critical. An amateur video taken by Sara Camden of the collapse and uploaded to YouTube captures the moment of the collapse.
Photo taken by Leann Meyer following the collapse

Muncie NAACP President Arrested For Dealing Cocaine To Police Informant

Timothy Wade Miles, 49, is the president of the Muncie chapter of the NAACP and the assistant director of the city's public transportation service, MITS. The Delaware Co. Sheriff's Department says Miles sold cocaine to a police informant on three separate occasions while driving a vehicle owned by the local transit agency. One of the drug transactions allegedly took place in Westside Park while children played nearby. Miles supposedly volunteered to the informant during one sale that he was president of the local NAACP. According to the Muncie Star Press, Miles told police following his arrest that he had gone into cocaine trafficking as a way of supplementing his income to pay court-ordered child support. He told police he paid $1,250 an ounce for the cocaine and sold it for twice that amount.

Hillary Clinton Has Evan Bayh's Full Support

Just got this "important announcement" from Evan Bayh that he is fully supporting Hillary Clinton for president in 2016:

Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton formally announced her campaign to be our next President.
Evan Bayh and Hillary Clinton
Now it's time to make an announcement of my own: She has my full support, I’ll do everything I can to help her, and I hope you will, too.
We've been friends for years and served together in the U.S. Senate, and Hillary has never forgotten who she is or where she came from.
She's always been a strong champion for the American family and those who work hard to get ahead and stay ahead.
We all know things have been challenging for middle class families but are finally getting better -- we've added more than 11 million new private sector jobs since 2009.
But we need a strong leader to continue that growth and turn economic data points into better-paying jobs and a chance for everyone to succeed.
America must be a land of opportunity for everyone, not just the fortunate and the few.
That's why I'm reaching out to you now to ask you to support Hillary as she ramps up her efforts.
This campaign isn't about her. It's about the American people and what we can do together to help.
That's why you'll continue to see Hillary interacting one-on-one in local communities with folks who are most affected by what happens in Washington, D.C.
Your voice is the voice that matters.
So will you commit today to a contribution of $50, $100 or whatever you can afford to help keep that conversation going as we head into 2016?
Next month, Hillary will unveil a broader agenda shaped by the people she's meeting across America right now.
With your support, we can show those who would reverse the progress we've made since 2009 that America is not going backward. We are finally moving in the right direction, and Hillary is the right candidate to lead us forward.
I'm proud to call her my friend, and I hope you'll be part of our team.
Best wishes,
Evan Bayh
Evan Bayh

Gay Rights Activist Registers Domain Name Of Indiana Lawmakers To Extort Support For Civil Rights Protection

Konrad Juengling
Konrad Juengling
An Oregon gay rights activist, Konrad Juengling, has registered the Internet domain name of six Indiana Republican lawmakers who voted for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), which redirects web users to a site pertaining to gay rights, as part of a scheme to extort support from Indiana lawmakers for a non-discrimination law that protects gays and transgenders.

According to the Huffington Post, Juengling bought the domain names of State Reps. Martin Carbaugh, Dale Devon, Doug Gutwein, Kathy Kreag Richardson, Don Lehe and Donna Schaibley. Although many other lawmakers voted for RFRA, Juengling told the Huffington Post he only bought the domain names for these six lawmakers because the names were available for registration.

Juengling is using his ownership of the domain names to extort from the lawmakers their support for adding non-discrimination protection in Indiana's civil rights law for gays and transgenders. In a letter to the lawmakers dated April 10, Juengling says he will turn over control of the domain sites to the lawmakers if they help bring legislation to the floor of the House to amend Indiana's civil rights law, vote for it and it is signed into law.
Last week, he wrote to them and told them he'd be happy to give them their websites free of charge if they supported a statewide nondiscrimination policy protecting LGBT people.
"If you bring to the floor a nondiscrimination policy protecting LGBT people in Indiana, vote for it, and it is passed, I will happily donate the domains in question to you. I’m sure they’ll come in handy come stumping season," he wrote in his letter, which he shared with The Huffington Post.
He added that he decided to redirect the lawmakers' websites to the LGBT youth statistics to show them that the population that would be affected by RFRA "is already disadvantaged and have less accesses to family, community supports, and healthcare."
"A disproportionate number of homeless youth are LGBT; why would you support a bill that lets organizations turn these people away?" he asked.
Huffington Post has a link to the full text of Juengling's extortion letter, which you can view by clicking here. Juengling, a Portland, Oregon resident, is a contributing writer for PQ ("Proud Queer") Monthly, a monthly print and daily online that serves Oregon's LGBTQ community.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Angie's List Sort Of Posts First Quarter Profit

Angie's List kicks off the first quarter of 2015 reporting a profit of $4.4 million compared to a net loss of $3.8 million a year ago. Its revenues were also up 15% to $83.5 million. Good news? Maybe. Cutting marketing expenses nearly one-third during the first quarter amounted to a savings of $7.2 million. The company also continues its trend of relying more heavily on advertising fees it charges to the service providers it supposedly fairly rates for its consumer members. Those revenues grew 22%, representing $66.2 million, or 80% of the total revenues earned during the first quarter. The company's accounts payable during the first quarter doubled from $5.5 million a year ago to $11.7 million, while its accrued liabilities grew $10 million from $23 million to $33 million. Its reported accounts receivable number was pretty much unchanged over the previous year. Total liabilities are up nearly $20 million. Yeah, it looks like it only showed a profit through bookkeeping gimmicks.

Daniels Makes Clear He's Not Running For Governor Again

I never bought into the argument that Mitch Daniels would leave his job as Purdue president to run for governor again, and he seems to make that point clear when asked about Bill Oesterle's comments urging him to oppose Pence for the Republican nomination next year in an interview with the Journal & Courier's Dave Bangert:
"No, I'm not. Nope, nope, nope, nope," Daniels said. "Got my head down on my business. Nothing more to say." 
How about U.S. Senate in 2016? That's going to be open with Sen. Dan Coats retiring. 
"You guys either never pay attention or listen," Daniels said. "I've said this for years: Governor was the only job I was ever running for. I wasn't on the make for anything else. Not for the Senate, president and all the rest of that. Sooner or later, you'll figure that out that when I say these things, I mean them." 
Thing is, sounds like he needs to tell that to Bill Oesterle, too. 
 Daniels laughed. 
"He thinks because he talked me into it once, he can talk me into it twice, maybe," Daniels said. "But he should be smarter than that."
So Oesterle can now tell his fan club he only made a decision to enter the governor's race after twisting Daniels' arm failed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tully Writes Another Press Release For Bill Oesterle

Another day and another flattering column at the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star by its political columnist Matt Tully about the outgoing Angie's List CEO who promises to shake up the political climate in Indiana, all of course, without any prodding from his mentor, former Gov. Mitch Daniels. Here's a taste of what Tully has to say about his former neighbor and best source:
Bill Oesterle was filling a to-go cup of coffee at the Cornerstone Coffee Shop on the Northside Monday morning when a worker there recognized him.
"Thanks for what you're doing," the employee, a lifelong Indianapolis resident named Marty Sullivan, said. "I just appreciate someone around here having some backbone."
As Oesterle deflected the compliment, less than a week had passed since he'd sent the Indiana political world into overdrive with his announcement that he would soon step down as the CEO of Angie's List so that he could spend more time on politics — and, more specifically, on moving his Republican Party in Indiana away from the culture wars that have cost it and the state so much in recent months.
"Hoosiers are fair and practical people — they are," Oesterle, 49, said during a 90-minute conversation Monday. "I've seen it up close and personal, over and over. And if we as a party don't begin to realize that we will eventually end up with another 16 years of Democratic governors, like we had before Mitch (Daniels) came along. I don't want that. My goal is to prevent that." . . . 
Oesterle was cautious as we talked because, he said, he has barely begun to draft the details of his political plan; he is just now re-engaging in state politics after several years as little more than a big-dollar financial contributor. With a few months remaining at Angie's List, he said his next step is "to gather up a bunch of people and figure out what we are going to do."
By "people," he means Republicans who served in the Daniels administration, or who believed deeply in its focus and ambition, or who simply worry that state GOP leaders are forging a destructive path forward. At a high level, he said, the concept is to make it easier for people who come from the Daniels wing of the party — the pragmatic, jobs-focused wing as opposed to the far-right wing — to once again play a leading role in Republican Party politics, and to win elections.
"Mitch's governorship represented something very powerful to a lot of people," he said. "It was built on ideals. It was built on energy. It was fearless. It had thousands of loyal participants. It was about putting the interests of the state of Indiana first. It was about the simple proposition that if you do the right thing for all Hoosiers, everything works out."
"I want to make sure," he continued, "that all of the people who bought into those things have the organizational and institutional support to run for office or to get involved. Right now, they are stuck out on an island. Banding them together and putting resources behind them is the point here. Because they will change the world." . . . 
Seriously? This guy wants you to believe Mitch Daniels' cronies are stuck out on some island as if they've been exiled from Indiana politics? Please. They're all living up the good life as multi-millionaires from all of the insider political crony deals they enjoyed during Daniels' eight years as governor--all of the stuff you refused to report on as any responsible, legitimate State House political reporter would have done, Mr. Tully.

I'll give you a taste of what I hear about the Bill Oesterle-run Angie's List. Here's the latest from Advance Indiana's mailbag:
How about the Angie's List company bus trip to Cincinnati for a Reds game? The place shuts down and everyone goes along for the beer-infused trip down, the game, and the return home. Part of the ritual forces females walking down the bus aisle to be groped and fondled by any and all. Yes, even company officials participated.
Then there was the "soap box derby" races in the parking lot.
All the while [Company Official] is carrying one with a very, very young employee. So young that other notices how hard she has fitting in with all the carrying on. After the divorce and remarriage, [Company Official] steps aside from Angie's sexual harassment committee . . . 
Just a fun place to work. No wonder it is filled with unemployable and unemployed Republicans. 
Which is more accurate? Tully's press releases masquerading as serious political columns or the Advance Indiana mailbag?