Saturday, April 11, 2015

WMB Hoosier Heartland Justice Partners Was Only Eligible Bid For Marion County Criminal Justice Center Project

If you wanted yet more proof the bidding process for the Marion County criminal justice center was a rigged bidding process, check out the IBJ's story in the latest edition where Kathleen McLaughlin reports in a matter-of-fact manner WMB Hoosier Hearland Justice Patners' winning bid was the only eligible bid the Ballard administration received. That's because the RFP contained an upset limit of $50 million for annual service payments the City could afford to pay to the winning bidder. The other two bidders, Indy Justice Partners and Plenary Edgemoor Justice Partners, submitted bids above the upset limit. Plenary's bid of $67.1 million exceeded the upset limit by more than 34%, while Indy Justice Partner's $53.7 million exceeded it by 7.4%. Still, the two losing bidders get $1.5 million from the City for participating in the faux bidding process.

McLaughlin's story notes the Ballard administration omitted the fact that the two losing bidders submitted bids exceeding the upset limit set out in the RFP when it announced the winning bid last November. Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Adam Collins assured McLaughlin that Indy Justice Partners was close enough to the upset limit that it could have theoretically still won the bid if WMB had come up short in other areas, which was never going to happen since everyone knew going into the bid WMB was going to be the winning bidder. Collins sought to attribute WMB's initial annual service payment bid of $46.8 to the valuable assistance their team received by including locally-based Keramida as its environmental consultant since each bidder had to assess the risk associated with building on a brownfield site.

Keramida, of course, hired Mitch Roob, a crony of Mitch Daniels and Steve Goldsmith, just last year while the bidding teams were still competing against one another for the right to build, operate and maintain the criminal justice center under a public-private partnership agreement. Goldsmith introduced P3 agreements to Indianapolis in a big way during his two terms as mayor under the guise of cost savings that never lived up to their billing, although Goldsmith has enjoyed a lucrative, post-mayoral career consulting on P3 agreements for companies like ACS/Xerox, to which the corrupt Ballard administration handed control of the City's parking meter assets for the next 50 years. Goldsmith has been a frequent visitor to the mayor's office since Ballard became mayor, although he's never registered as a lobbyist.

What McLaughlin's story fails to mention is that the GM Stamping Plant site where the City is proposing to build the new criminal justice center was acquired last year from RACER Trust by REI Investments, which is controlled by Mike Wells, another political crony of former Mayor Steve Goldsmith, who made off like a bandit on insider deals during Goldsmith's tenure. Ballard appointed Wells as president of the Indianapolis International Airport Authority, another plum mayoral appointment always reserved for political insiders who get rich off their crony relationships with Indianapolis mayors, REI's purchase of the GM Stamping Plant site is conditioned upon the sale of at least half of the property to the City for the proposed criminal justice center. REI is brokering a deal with the Pence administration to sell 35 acres of land on the same site adjacent to the river to White River State Park so another Goldsmith crony, Dave Lucas, can build an outdoor concert venue on the site. Lucas' Sunshine Promotions developed what is now known as Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville.

The Ballard administration continues to lie to the public by making the absurd claim the City will achieve cost savings and actually pay less in annual service payments to the private vendor for a brand new criminal justice center than it pays to operate and maintain existing criminal court and county jail facilities. One of the ways it plans to save money is to get out from under Goldsmith's privatized Jail II contract, which costs the City about $18 million a year in service payments to private jail operator CCA. The City paid KPMG $3 million to perform the financial analysis upon which the City relied to recommend the P3 approach for procuring a new criminal justice center. Under the terms of its contract with the City, its fees triple if the City goes forward with the deal. A council study revealed the KPMG financial analysis was intentionally skewed to make the P3 approach look more favorable. In reality, the City will fall tens of millions of dollars short in the first nine years, forcing the City to either raise taxes, most likely property taxes, or impose steep budget cuts. The administration continues to press the council to approve the deal, which a rubber stamp review committee recommended be approved earlier this week on a 4-1 vote, by the end of this month. So many bribes, payoffs and kickbacks are on the line, after all, the taxpayers be damned.

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