This move should be raising eyebrows. Recall that the Marion County Republican Party and the Indianapolis Mayor's Office turned to the Turkish immigrant Ersal Ozdemir after the colossal fall of Ponzi schemer Tim Durham. Mayor Ballard's former chief of staff, Paul Okeson, left his job with the city to become Keystone's Vice President as the city spigot opened up for Ozdemir. Gerry Dick's Inside Indiana Business casually announced today that Okeson is now working as vice president of development for Terre Haute-based Garmong Construction Services. Dick's report makes no reference to Okeson's former employment with Keystone Construction.
The timing of Okeson's departure is newsworthy for no other reason than the important role he has played in pitching a taxpayer-financed soccer stadium for Ozdemir's Indy Eleven minor league professional soccer team. Ozdemir's second effort in as many years to get state lawmakers to approve state legislation paving the way for the taxpayer-financed stadium failed to survive the conference committee process after House and Senate members overwhelmingly-passed competing plans. Mayor Ballard, who has shoveled tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into Ozdemir's real estate developments in exchange for campaign cash and other favors Ozdemir has performed for him, put his weight behind the taxpayers deal, which would have included taxpayer support from the City's Capital Improvement Board on which Okeson formerly served as a member and treasurer. So why would Okeson leave Keystone Construction at this critical juncture?
I find that hard to believe.
Garmong recently announced a partnership with the city of Gary and the Gary Economic Development Corp. to build a large speculative building on the Gary/Chicago International Airport property. At the time, the city said the "turnkey" facility would help capitalize on opportunities to attract new industries.
"This is an industrial-site developer's dream," Garmong Vice President Dan Zuerner said of the site immediately southwest of Carmeuse Lime and Stone, which is located along Lake Michigan east of Majestic Star casinos.
Its proximity to Lake Michigan, interstate highways, railroads and the airport make it highly marketable, Bo Kemp, director of the city's Economic Development Council, said.
The property is in the footprint of the Gary Chicago/International Airport public-private partnership.
"As we look at the nearing completion of the runway project," Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said, "this is simply a part of that."
Carmeuse transferred ownership of the property to Gary a year ago. The company will take down its silos and do other work on the site before beginning development.
Last week, the Regional Development Authority approved a $7.45 million matching grant to the city to extend Buffington Harbor Drive through the site, to which the city will add $3.5 million and the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's commerce agency, $2.3 million.
One spur of the new road will go to Carmeuse's lakefront operation;m two more spurs will go through the new development.
Gary I believe you are correct there is more to this story than meets the eye. I do not have deep insider knowledge of the underpinnings but I think you are again hot on the trail of another scoop the local print media and airwave media lapdogs are intentionally [through stupidity or laziness] missing.
I recall pre-arrest and sentenced criminal Tim Durham speaking at a few GOP events and how his name was spoken in hushed tones by the establishment R's yet to this day entrenched in their positions. I was there when MCRCC turned to the once bankrupt but now wealthy Turk immigrant Ersal Ozdemir, Ersal's elevation to GIRFCO President (during TJ's disastrous rein, I believe), and as one of the few actually elected PCs at the time I saw how Ballard enriched persons like Ersal.
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