Friday, April 17, 2015

Indiana Lawyer: Ballard Offered Up To $50 Million In Projects To Five Councilors In Exchange For Support Of Criminal Justice Center Project

The Indiana Lawyer's Dave Stafford has a story that should be raising more than a few eyebrows with the Justice Department's public corruption task force. Stafford reports that five City-County Council members have been offered projects totaling upwards of $50 million in their council districts in exchange for their vote in support of the public-private partnership ("P3") agreement the Ballard administration inked with WMB Heartland Justice Partners, LLC to build a new criminal justice center that will cost taxpayers at least $1.75 billion over 35 years. During the debate before the Rules & Public Policy Committee meeting Tuesday night, Councilor Joe Simpson (D) made the allegation during a speech he gave in opposition to the proposal. The council's CFO, Bart Brown, confirmed the allegations to Stafford during an interview Wednesday morning.
Brown said five Democratic council members have said they’ve been contacted with promises of $10 million in projects in each of their districts if they vote to approve the 35-year deal between the city and WMB Heartland Partners. 
“In discussions with certain councilors, they said they were promised large infrastructure projects in their districts if they voted yes,” Brown said Wednesday, a day after a council committee rebuffed the proposal.
He said the offered projects include major improvements to parks, streets and sidewalks. “The talk is, it’s targeted to certain districts, so not all councilors are being offered,” Brown said.
Brown told Stafford that council members were perplexed and contacted him, wondering just where the administration plans to find that much money to fund the projects being promised to them in exchange for their votes. Stafford contacted Mayor Ballard's point man on the project, David Rosenberg, who denied the allegations. “That’s honestly the first I’ve heard of that,” Deputy Mayor David Rosenberg said in an email. “Not sure where any of that money would come from, so I’m not sure where the rumor is coming from.”

In January, Democratic mayoral candidate Larry Vaughn made a shocking allegation at a council meeting that ten council members had been offered $10,000 annuities payable to them in exchange for their votes in support of the P3 project. Vaughn later told Advance Indiana he met with an FBI agent to turn over the list of names he had been furnished, which he claimed included both Democratic and Republican members.

City-County Councilor Christine Scales had a fire department ladder truck pulled from her district earlier in Ballard's current term in office after she feuded publicly with the administration over some of his initiatives. Scales later claimed that Public Safety Director Troy Riggs had offered to return the ladder truck to her district if she voted for a certain candidate backed by the administration in the council president's race. Republicans booted Scales from their caucus after she refused to sell her vote and answered FBI questions about what she considered an offer of a bribe. Ironically, the Republicans never booted Lincoln Plowman from their caucus even after he was indicted by federal prosecutors for accepting a $5,000 bribe.

Republican minority leader Mike McQuillen has been frantically working the phone lines following Tuesday night's vote by the Rules & Public Policy Committee along party lines to kill the project. McQuillen is seeking support from at least 15 council members to discharge the criminal justice center proposal from committee for consideration by the full council. At least two Republicans have expressed opposition to it. In addition to Scales, Councilor Ben Hunter joined Councilor Mary Moriarty Adams (D) in calling for the administration to put the project on hold until after this year's election when a new mayor will be elected. Sources tell Advance Indiana that despite Democratic mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett's wish that the P3 project be dropped, Ice Miller lobbyist Lacy Johnson, who is lobbying on behalf of WMB, holds considerable sway over several black members of the Democratic caucus who are being targeted to buck council leadership and join McQuillen's bloc of Republican votes in support of the project.

UPDATE: Advance Indiana has learned that the five council members targeted by the administration and WMB lobbyists are all African-American, including: Stephen Clay, Monroe Gray, LaKeisha Jackson, Bill Oliver and Vop Osili. Osili is a member of the Rules & Public Policy Committee, which voted down the proposal Tuesday night. Osili joined other Democratic members of the committee in voting against the proposal.


Anonymous said...

That tells you just how much excess and graft the developers have built into the shady criminal justice center that they can lay out this much street money and still make a profit on it.

Ballard's fault was in being clumsy in making the offers. Now, the excess in the project can't be ignored, and everyone now knows the project is being undertaken, not for the City's benefit, but solely to make the developers rich on the backs of Indy taxpayers.

The criminal justice center project needs to be buried and forgotten. It's just the last chance the developers have to use Ballard to shovel more public money into private pockets.

Anonymous said...

I want to know what deal was offered to Ben Hunter for his district, which is also my district, in exchange for his support. I understand that he chose not to support the new justice center. And I think that is the wisest decision. I do, because I don’t trust the mayor or the proponents. I think the amounts are just enormous. I worry about our future obligations. I’m not sure I support these toll roads and infrastructure projects being built and owned by private companies and leased to us. But I also believe in full disclosure. If we were offered a $10 million dollar project out here on German Church Road I’d like to know what it was. And if that offer is still open, I’d like to know if there is anything in writing, and whether we, as taxpayers and constituents, get to weigh in on it. It might change my mind. I don’t know if its a bribe or not. I suppose that’s one for the lawyers. But we don’t get offered a lot of $10 million dollar projects out here on the far east side. No roundabouts. No new anything. I live a couple of blocks south of Ben Hunter, so he knows we have basically lost the local mall. The Simons owe us, for sure, the bastards. But we rarely see Congressman Carson, or Senator Pat Miller, or any infrastructure projects out here. So how about some full disclosure on this $10 million for our district. And side note to Mr. Bill Oesterle. Before you leave Angies List you could make a deal to locate their headquarters out here, maybe on the Simon’s old mall property. I’d vote for you for Governor for sure if you’d bring home a little bacon for the far east side. How come downtown and Carmel get all the cool development? We pay taxes too. If you’re going to bribe us with development, at least tell us. We might take that bribe.

Anonymous said...

That ex-soldier and soon-to-be ex-mayor Greg Ballard pathologically lies through his teeth anytime and every time his lips are moving is again underlined by this report.

And look at these Democrat Councilor P'sOS who are so easily bought and paid for just like Republican political male prostitutes Bosma and Clark et al.

Other than the exemplary Christine Scales, we have a group of on-the-take politicians more interested in their own well-being than that of the taxpayers who support the pork.

Anonymous said...

I call on Greg Ballard to immediately resign and turn himself in to federal authorities for an orange jumpsuit fitting and a prison cell assignment.

Anonymous said...

Dear God, you're using Larry Vaughn as a reliable source...

Anonymous said...

I know folk whom fought off Dcs/FSSA after becoming whistle blowers. Others who had kids hospitalized with a rare illness, whom were also whistle blowers. Gas leaks, car crashes, job losses, threats, followed, etc. And on and on it goes. Scales has courage as does my group of wb's.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Larry Vaughn would be a considerable improvement over a lot of the members of the current council. The information he had came from someone who worked on the other side who was fed up with what was happening.

Flogger said...

Why does this sound like bribery to me?? Maybe the first "Customers" in the New Criminal Justice Center Jail should be some politicians.

There seems to be no deal that is covered in the most toxic waste that is beyond our local political system. The arrogance of the rigged game is paraded about, knowing there will be no legal ramifications.

Anonymous said...

This Rosenberg kid lives in Greenwood. Why is he given a high-level job deciding how are taxpayer dollars are spent?

Anonymous said...

Where is the Justice Dept's Public Integrity Task Force? -Are they investigating?

We know Terry Curry won't.