The administration initially entered into a no-bid lease agreement with Vision Fleet but later entered into a second agreement masked as a services agreement with the company after it realized the original lease agreement could not be characterized as a services agreement exempt from public bidding laws. City officials backdated contract documents to make it appear the second contract had been entered into months earlier than it actually had been entered. In so doing, it failed to revoke the original contract. The Marion Co. Auditor's Office also learned that the administration had illegally tapped storm water funds to pay for some of the costs associated with the contract.
Mayor Greg Ballard remained defiant following last night's council vote, insisting his administration broke no laws in entering into yet another one-sided contract intended to benefit political cronies at the expense of the taxpaying public:
“The Council voted to fully fund Freedom Fleet in 2014. And in 2015b – after the program has operated successfully for a year – a group of councillors who have refused to talk through concerns about the program are instead working to dismantle it through costly litigation. This evening’s vote to sue the administration in an attempt to halt Freedom Fleet is irresponsible and misguided. When one branch of government sues another, taxpayers are harmed. We believe we have a legal contract and intend to continue fleet operations without interruption.”Given that attorneys and other senior members of his administration disagree with that statement, it will be interesting to see who exits his administration in an effort to keep their reputations intact.
The six council members who voted against bringing a lawsuit to void the contract, including Ginny Cain (R), Jose Evans (R), Will Gooden (R), Mike McQuillen (R), Marilyn Pfisterer (R) and Jefferson Shreve (R).
UPDATE: It looks like Vision Fleet has beaten the council to court. Fox 59 News is reporting the company filed an action in Marion Superior Court late yesterday asking a five-judge panel to review its contract with the City of Indianapolis.