Monday, August 31, 2015

$26.5 Million Refresh Of Banker's Life Fieldhouse

The Capital Improvement Board is signing off on the first of what is expected to be $26.5 million in "refresh improvements" at Banker's Life Fieldhouse as part of that $160 million in additional taxpayer subsidies pledged over the next 10 years for billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers. The Indianapolis Star is naturally very excited about the changes. Star Publisher Karen Ferguson Fuson is married to Pacers Sports & Entertainment CEO Rick Fuson, a fact the unethical newspaper always omits when discussing public subsidies for the for-profit NBA team. Ordinary taxpayers can only look at the list and wonder why there's no money for street-lighting in their neighborhoods, to repair crumbling sidewalks or patch pothole-filled streets. Among the improvements to be made at the Fieldhouse are:

  • New locker rooms for the Pacers players, training room and equipment
  • Renovated box offices
  • Concession stand and equipment updates
  • Refurbished locker room for the Fever players
  • Three club level sections to be replaced with new, more costly loge box seating that will diminish less-costly seating at the Fieldhouse
  • Convert six existing club level suites into a high-end, all-inclusive club room for people who can afford court side seating in rows 1 or 2
  • Recreate the Locker Room Restaurant experience for those fans who can afford court side seating in rows 3 through 7
  • Make other modifications designed to benefit larger group entertainment
  • Information technology upgrades, including network fiber upgrades, re-cabling, phone refresh, network infrastructure improvements and data center relocation
  • Furniture replacement, new high-speed overhead doors, escalator cleaning machines, snow removal equipment and entry pavilion fans
  • New LED boards and window coverings.
As you can see from the description of the improvements, it's all geared towards improvements that benefit high-roller fans and the Pacers organization. Fan segregation is critical. Businesses and individuals spending big dollars to attend Pacers games want as little interaction with ordinary folks as possible. When the Fieldhouse was originally built, the CIB's selling point to the public was that there would be more seating at affordable prices than there was at the old Market Square Arena. Slowly but surely those affordable seats are being displaced in favor of higher-priced seating, and further segregation of fans is occurring based on a caste system to maximize the dollars the Pacers can extract from a smaller fan base at a supposed public facility that is increasingly looking more like a private club for the wealthy to hang out. 

Star Finally Makes An Issue Of Privately-Funded Junkets Because Its Pence

Governor Mitch Daniels relied on private donors to pay for all of its his overseas trade missions. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has used private donors to pay for all of his overseas junkets billed as trade missions. Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from private donors to pay for dozens of overseas trips. It's a highly unethical practice which should be illegal, but the Indianapolis Star hasn't made an issue of the unseemly practice until now--when Gov. Mike Pence followed the same practice as his predecessor of relying on private donations to fund his economic development missions.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation raises money from businesses seeking to curry favor with the state's governor to pay for trips overseas and across the country. The Star's Tony Cook and Chelsea Schneider obtained a list of those donors and reveal them in a news story titled, "Who's Paying Pence's Travel Tab," after they say they made repeated public records requests of the administration for that information before obtaining it. More than 50 donors contributed $2.19 million to the IEDC's foundation to finance the trips during the most recent 18-month period and the vast majority of that money came from public utility companies. Advance Indiana previously observed that only utility company executives were recently included on a 2-day junket Pence took to New York City where the governor entertained dozens at a suite rented for a New York Yankees game.
Donors have paid for Gov. Mike Pence to travel overseas, rent luxury sports suites, lobby lawmakers and fly to Iowa ahead of its first-in-the-nation presidential nominating contest.
But those donors and the amounts they’ve given have been a closely guarded secret — until now.
For the first time, the Pence administration has released a list of donors and the amounts they’ve contributed to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation, a nonprofit subsidiary of the state’s economic development agency. The disclosure comes in response to repeated public record requests from The Indianapolis Star.
The list reveals that more than 50 companies, trade groups and governmental entities contributed $2.19 million to the foundation from January 2014 to June 2015.
The majority of that money — about $1.7 million — came from utility companies. Duke Energy and its foundation gave the most — more than $456,000. Other contributors included lobbying firms, industry groups, regional economic development agencies, universities and large Indianapolis companies such as Eli Lilly and Co. and Dow Agro Sciences.
Pence has tapped the money for six international trade missions to China, Israel, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada, where, for example, he hosted about 30 business executives and government officials at a hospitality suite during the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season opener . . . 
The Pence administration defends the use of private donors to pay for the trips as a way of saving taxpayers money while bringing new jobs and investments to Indiana. Critics note the obvious--the businesses paying for the trips gain an unfair advantage in obtaining access and the ability to influence the official actions of Gov. Pence and the IEDC, which doles out tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-paid subsidies and incentives to lure businesses to invest in Indiana.

While Advance Indiana welcomes The Star's scrutiny of this practice, we wonder why they weren't bothered when Gov. Daniels or Mayor Ballard did the same thing. Ballard, in particular, has little to show for his nearly ten overseas junkets. Advance Indiana believes Ballard brokered that horribly one-sided and illegal deal with French billionaire Vincent Bollore's company for Blue Indy during one of those trips that took him to Paris. Who paid for that trip? Does The Star have any plans to get answers to those questions for us? It might explain why Ballard has broken so many laws that have cost Indianapolis taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars during his two terms in office to reward his political cronies.

Here's a full list of the donors during the period analyzed:

Indiana Michigan Power $424,000
Duke Energy $381,654
Vectren $267,150
Northern Indiana Public Service Company $260,000 
Indianapolis Power & Light $157,500
Duke Energy Foundation $75,000
ISDA $50,000
NIPSCO $50,000
Purdue Research Foundation $50,000
Hoosier Energy $37,500
Indiana Municipal Power Agency $28,883
Ginovus $24,000
Primesport Inc. $19,950
Indy Partnership $19,250
Circle City Tickets $18,900
IMPA $18,000
Indy Chamber $16,230
Dow AgroSciences $15,000
Eli Lilly $15,000
Indiana Corn Marketing Council $15,000
Indiana Soybean Alliance $15,000
Michiana Partnership, Inc. $12,500
Bose McKinney & Evans LLP $12,150
Krieg Devault LLP. $12,000
Accelerate West Central Indiana $11,000
American Electric Power $10,000
CountryMark Refining and Logistics LLC $10,000
EDC of South West Indiana $10,000
EDC of Wayne County $10,000
Farm Bureau Foundation $10,000
Farm Credit Mid-America $10,000 
University of Notre Dame $10,000
Northeast Indiana regional Partnership. $10,000 
South Central IN USA Econ. Dev. Group $8,000
Town of Fishers $8,000
J. Albert Smith, Jr. (Chase Bank) $7,500
South Central IN Economic Development Reg $7,500
Ivy Tech Community College $6,713
Old National Bank $5,843.73
Indiana Beef International LLC $5,650 Radius Indiana, Inc. $5,500
Aerodyn Engineering Inc. $5,250
CGB Enterprises, Inc. $5,000
Cole Hardwood $5,000
DuPont $5,000
Farbest Foods, Inc. $5,000
Gutwein Popcorn Company, LLC $5,000
Ice Miller $5,000
Indiana Pork Producers $5,000
Pokagon Band of Potawatami Indians $5,000
S&C Resale Company $5,000
Total donations: $2.19 million

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Presidential Historian Compares Trump And Fiorina To Wendell Willkie

Wendell Willkie
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss pens a column for the New York Times in which he likens the unlikely candidacies of business executives Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina to Indiana native Wendell Willkie's unlikely Republican presidential candidacy in 1940. Willkie, a native of Elwood, Indiana, was an accomplished corporate lawyer who later ran the the New York-based public utility company, Commonwealth & Southern Corporation.

Willkie had been a Wilsonian Democrat and early supporter of Franklin Roosevelt. Willkie turned on Roosevelt after his administration created the Tennessee Valley Authority, which he believed provided unfair competition for the public utility company he ran. Commonwealth & Southern Corporation eventually was forced to sell its assets in the region to the TVA in 1939, the same year Willkie officially switched parties from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

Willkie defeated other well-known Republican politicians, including Thomas Dewey and Robert Taft, on the sixth ballot for the nomination in 1940. Beschloss notes that Indiana's former senator, James Watson, warned Willkie at the time that Republicans would not take well to his late decision to switch political parties. "It's all right if the town whore joins the church, but they don't let her lead the church choir the first night," Watson reportedly told Willkie.

Beschloss notes the role the media played in Willkie's unlikely ascension to the Republican nomination. Publisher Henry Luce, whose publishing empire became a major disinformation agent of the CIA regarding the John F. Kennedy assassination, used his magazines, Time, Life and Fortune to help turn the little-known Willkie into a national celebrity at the time. When Willkie arrived in Philadelphia where the Republican convention was being hosted, he boasted that he had self-financed his own campaign. "I will be under obligation to nobody except the people," Willkie said.

Willkie's views on World War II really weren't that much different from Roosevelt's policies of providing aid to the allies, although he pretended to be somewhat of an isolationist in order to win the Republican nomination. He also had no plans to dismantle Roosevelt's New Deal programs; rather, he argued that he could better manage them based on his business experience. After Roosevelt easily defeated him in the November election, he "shed his isolationism as quickly as he had donned it," Beschloss notes. Willkie became much closer to Roosevelt, serving in diplomatic roles for him. He also became a major advocate for a one world government. Willkie was persona non grata in the Republican Party when he briefly entertained a second candidacy in 1944.

Willkie had personal foibles with which to deal as well. He and his wife, Edith, had been estranged for many years. She joined him on the campaign trail in 1940 to quell rumors about their estrangement. Willkie lived primarily in a 5th Avenue apartment in New York City where he carried on an extra-marital relationship with a writer, Irita Van Doren. Decades later, tape recordings emerged of President Roosevelt calling for surrogates to mount a whispering campaign regarding Willkie's marital problems during the 1940 campaign. Roosevelt, of course, was willing to do this knowing he had carried on an extra-marital affair with his personal secretary, Lucy Mercer, for many years. Eleanor Roosevelt apparently had a preference for women and wasn't particularly bothered by her husband's infidelity. Sounds a lot like Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Special Interest Group Running Ads Attacking Joe Donnelly Over Support Of Iran Deal

We are increasingly seeing outside interest groups airing TV ads seeking to influence our perception of our elected representatives in Congress. A group called the Republican Jewish Coalition is running this hard-hitting ad in the Hoosier State against Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) after he recently announced his support for a deal President Barack Obama reached with Iran over nuclear weapons. The RJC's primary benefactor is billionaire Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Anderson. Does anyone recognize any of the people used in this ad? Interestingly, former Sen. Evan Bayh (D) opposes the deal, while former Sen. Richard Lugar (R) supports it. The views of Bayh and Lugar on foreign policy matters while they served together were barely distinguishable. Outside special interest groups are expected to spend tens of millions of dollars next year attempting to influence the outcome of Indiana's open Senate seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R).

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pseudo Celebrity Austin Armacost Extends His Fifteen Minutes Of Fame Thanks To CBS

Franklin, Indiana's most flamboyant and outspoken gay native, Austin Armacost, has managed to extend his fifteen minutes of fame after landing a role as one of the twelve housemates selected for CBS' latest Celebrity Big Brother UK series with a UK v USA theme. The series' introductory show this week fittingly introduced the group of fame-seekers as they emerged through the Illuminati's favorite symbol, the all-seeing eye. Armacost got booed during the opening show when he slammed the UK for having "shit customer service" and said he hopes he'll be able to "wank in the house" since masturbating is his favorite thing to do.

Armacost first gained fame for being one of a long line of rent boys kept from time to time by New York fashion designer Marc Jacobs before getting kicked to the curb. He had a brief run on the reality show A-List New York and has been spending most of his time jumping back and forth across the pond with his British husband, posting almost as many selfies and nudes of himself on the Internet as Justin Bieber or Kim Kartrashian. Armacost didn't miss a heartbeat in promoting gay marriage equality in frequent Twitter rants when his mother, Karen, got sent to prison for nine years a couple of years back for stealing over $680,000 from her employer, in part, to support her son's high-flying lifestyle.

The six housemates representing America, in addition to Armacost, includes a solid line-up of Kartrashian wannabes, including ex-porn star Jenna Jameson, reality TV star best known for her sex tape, Farrah Abraham, the least known Baldwin brother, David, hip hop promoter Fatman Scoop and bisexual reality TV star Tila Tequila. The line-up is as bad as when the Surreal Life celebrity reality show paired up ex-porn star Ron Jeremy, disgraced televangelist Tammy Faye Baker and has-been rapper Vanilla Ice. So how much more time do we have before God decides the clock runs out on us?

Joe Hogsett Won't Do A Damn Thing About Blue Indy

Radio talk show host Amos Brown interviewed Democratic mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett yesterday afternoon, and he did an excellent job setting up a question for Hogsett at the top of the interview concerning the corrupt manner in which the Ballard administration went about establishing the Blue Indy electric car sharing monopoly business for the French company Bollore. Remember, Hogsett is the candidate running TV ads saying he's going to put an end to the downtown insiders cheating the system and stealing our tax dollars. What Brown's listeners heard from Hogsett was nothing short of a complete let down.

Hogsett completely side-stepped the question of what he would do about Blue Indy, saying that was something the council had "already engaged in" without success I would add. What followed showed in no uncertain terms Hogsett has no intention of doing a damn thing about the illegal Blue Indy deal. "I really want to be the kind of mayor for our city who looks to the future and looks forward," Hogsett said. "When we focus on the past and mistakes that have been made or omissions that have been incurred . . . we're really holding ourselves out from reaching out to those in the most critical needs in neighborhoods that have been overlooked over time," he added. That was after Hogsett prefaced his comments with praise for Ballard's focus on green energy initiatives.

What this tells me is that the words Hogsett speaks in his TV ads about putting an end to the downtown insiders cheating the system and stealing our tax dollars is just talk. Of course he's not going to cut off the hand that feeds him. You only have to look at who is bankrolling his campaign to know that he's not about to stop the gravy train a few downtown insiders enjoy at the expense of the rest of the city. I also highly suspect that the law firm where Hogsett is a partner now has a connection to representing parties involved in Blue Indy. Their officers are just separated by a few floors in the Chase Tower. Like so many issues, Hogsett cannot speak his mind without running afoul of his law firm's representation of its clients. Blue Indy has no real incentive to work with the council at this point given Hogsett's hands-off position.

So when Hogsett becomes mayor in January, which I believe is a foregone conclusion, he's going to tell the members of what will likely be a Democratic-controlled council to lay off this issue. Will there be some tinkering? Perhaps. City-County Councilor Kip Tew (D) plans to introduce an ordinance that will require Blue Indy parking spaces exclusively reserved for the private company's electric cars to be accessible to the public so long as there is more than one open parking space at any of the hundreds of power charging sites that are being installed around the city. Blue Indy plans to have a fleet of 500 cars so it's highly-unlikely there will be very many open parking spaces at those charging stations, particularly in the high traffic areas like downtown and Broad Ripple where the cars, if they are utilized, are most likely to see their busiest trade. Additionally, it is Blue Indy's intention to allow non-Blue Indy electric car owners to purchase memberships to use their exclusive stations for charging stations. If non-electric cars are using up the spaces, then its profit-making scheme just got overturned. What's not clear is if Tew's plan would require the re-installation of electronic parking meters that have already been yanked out since the Blue Indy cars aren't required to feed those meters.

Tew's proposal is hardly a solution to a far greater problem created when our mayor broke numerous laws to steal the most valuable public parking spaces in the city and give them to a foreign-owned business for its exclusive for-profit use. The council has done very little other than provide lip service to the public to date. They insisted the mayor couldn't spend $6 million out of the parking meter fund and whatever other funds he chooses to tap to give to Blue Indy. The administration delivered the council the middle finger again this week when it had the Board of Public Works approve that expenditure and inform the council it required no further authorization from it to go forward with its plans. Since our federal and state prosecutors refuse to prosecute the public corruption occasioned by this deal, the public will just have to pucker up and move on like we're always told to do in what has become a Nazi-styled government.

UPDATE: The Indianapolis Star, which is a cheerleader of every crony capitalism deal our corrupt politicians can think up, has a story that reads more like a press release regarding the Blue Indy service that will be available at the airport.

The BlueIndy electric car-sharing service will have space for 20 electric vehicles at Indianapolis International Airport, four times as much as its standard stations.
The electric plug-ins will be on the fifth floor of the parking garage, across from the terminal. Traditional rental cars are parked on the first floor of the garage.
Airport officials said BlueIndy also will pay airport fees, just as Enterprise, Hertz and other rental companies do . . . 
Airport executive director Mario Rodriguez hailed the addition of BlueIndy as a convenient transportation choice for airport travelers.
“This exciting partnership with BlueIndy will allow us to provide a new transportation option to our customers, while doing so in a sustainable and economical way,” Rodriguez said in a prepared statement.
The reporter, John Tuohy can barely hide his excitement for Blue Indy and his contempt for those who criticize the illegal manner in which the deal was accomplished. The reporter wants you to know that you the cost of taking a Blue Indy car to the airport is only about $12 if you have an annual $120 membership compared to the $30 to $35 you will spend if you take a taxi. Of course, he's assuming a drive to downtown since The Star's primary focus is on the convenience of these cars for our out-of-town visitors, not the inconvenience and business harm they are causing Indianapolis business owners and residents.
The BlueIndy proposal has not moved forward without controversy. Earlier this month, the City-County Council backed off on an unusual threat to tow five BlueIndy demo vehicles from a Downtown site. The council also says the BlueIndy funding proposal was never properly vetted and allege it has been rolled out in violation of city procedures, a charge the mayor’s office denies.
You would think it's at least up for debate that Mayor Ballard broke multiple state and local laws, but Tuohy isn't about to give you that impression. Is there a reason this reporter refuses to talk to attorneys knowledgeable in the law to determine the facts? Does he think a long-time attorney like Fred Biesecker just makes up lies about what the law requires when he offers opinions on these matters? Apparently so.

I wonder if Visit Indy and the CIB have started fretting yet over a reduction in car rental taxes. Tuohy makes it sound like Blue Indy is playing on a level playing field with companies like Hertz. What he neglects to mention is that Blue Indy is exempt from paying the onerous 17% car rental tax. Perhaps the car rental companies should be filing a lawsuit against the City on the basis that the exemption for Blue Indy is unconstitutional. Why should Blue Indy rentals be exempt from the car rental tax and not other rental vehicles? Under the one-sided agreement Ballard signed with Blue Indy, city taxpayers will be required to reimburse the company if taxes its agreement with the city exempted it from paying are ever levied against it during the 15-year term of its contract with the city. How do you like that?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hit-And-Run Suspect Hung Himself With Shoe Laces While In Police Custody

Michael Morris is the man police arrested earlier this week after he allegedly stabbed his wife before stealing a car, driving it erratically through downtown Indianapolis and striking numerous pedestrians deliberately and then abandoning the car on Lafayette Road where police apprehended him. The Indianapolis Star reports Morris died last night while in custody at the Marion County Jail.

The story told at WRTV is somewhat different. A spokesman for the Marion Co. Sheriff's Department tells WRTV that Morris was found dead in the basement of the City-County Building, not the jail, at 9:34 p.m. last night. A source told WRTV that Morris used a shoelace to hang himself. Fox 59 news more particularly describes a lock-up cell in the basement of the City-County Building as the location where the unresponsive body of Morris was found and records the time of death at 9:40 p.m. WISH-TV says the Coroner's Office placed the time of Morris' death at 10:00 p.m.

WTHR puts his time of death at 10:10 p.m. and his time of discovery at 9:34 p.m. So many variances, eh? WTHR's report notes other discrepancies. Police initially described Morris as a suspect in a home invasion and stabbing involving his girlfriend. The stabbed woman was actually his wife police later clarified. Police also later clarified that no home invasion had taken place. I guess none of it matters at this point since there's not going to be any trial.

Harper Hits Out At Henry's Pay To Play Culture

It's a discussion that should be taking place here in Indianapolis and many other communities across the state where municipal elections are taking place this year. I'm talking about pay to play, the practice of elected officials trading government contracts for campaign contributions. Fort Wayne mayoral Republican hopeful Mitch Harper is raising that very issue against incumbent Democratic Mayor Tom Henry, who trade contributions for city contracts as generously as they do here in Indianapolis and elsewhere. Fort Wayne's 21 Alive sums up Harper's arguments:
The mailing, paid for by Friends of Mitch Harper, reads on the front, "Who is running Fort Wayne?” sporting a shadowy figure holding a cigar that towers over downtown.
The ad charges that Democrat Mayor Tom Henry has a habit of receiving big donations from businesses that make money from the city of Fort Wayne.
It takes issue with $92,000 in contributions from out of town engineering firms, claiming that from 2013 through 2015, those firms secured $20-million in city contracts.
It also cites $91,000 in gifts from out of town law firms, with the ad claiming those firms took in $5-million in city funds.
"That's got to end. The taxpayer doesn't get their value if you don't have a large number of vendors, large number of engineering firms who are willing to submit their bids," Harper said.
So yes, the same thing occurs here in Indianapolis, except on a much grander scale. Predictably, Henry sends out a paid surrogate to accuse Harper of negative campaigning:
"It's sad that Mitch Harper has chosen baseless attacks over participating in a substantive discussion of the issues, but we're going to continue talking to voters about Mayor Henry's record and our city's positive momentum," said Rob Dible, Henry’s campaign manager.
Unfortunately, 21 Alive seems to play into the Henry campaign's argument by raising TV ads Harper has used in his past council race speaking out against negative campaigning. Harper notes there's nothing hypocritical about his factually-based advertising.  "It makes the policy point that if we're a community that ends the pay to play culture, we end up with a community that's more attractive," Harper told us.

Star Editorial Formally Announces LGBT Rights Law Campaign

A day after a paid adviser to Gov. Mike Pence leaked an e-mail from Indianapolis Star Publisher Karen Ferguson Fuson on Breitbart in which she sent to community members the newspaper's plan to launch a campaign to convince state lawmakers and Gov. Pence to enact an LGBT rights law to repair the damage the newspaper itself inflicted on the state by lying about the impact of the state's RFRA law enacted this past session, an editorial today formally launched that campaign.

Laying aside the merits of the proposed change to the state's civil rights law as advocated by the newspaper, The Star's editorial board continues to ignore the fact that the most important law, the federal Civil Rights Act, does not include protection for persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, leaving one to believe Indiana is an island of intolerance among the 50 states. That's the law most people rely upon for protection against discrimination since state and local discrimination laws have no real teeth. Ask the newspaper to tell you how many people have filed complaints with the City of Indianapolis alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity under the City's human rights ordinance since its enactment a decade ago compared to other forms of discrimination. Those numbers don't lie.

Ferguson Fuson also seeks to assure The Star's readers the newspaper's editorial positions don't impact the reporting of its news staff:
One important point we want to make clear: Our newsgathering remains independent from any editorial positions we take. Our newsroom is structured to ensure that reporters and key editors have no involvement in decisions made by our Editorial Board. Those journalists are expected to pursue coverage that is unbiased, accurate and highlights the range of views that surround important issues affecting our city and state. Their credibility rests on that independence; they would not have it any other way.
In our Editorial Board mission, we will continue to be transparent with you. That includes saying editorial campaigns are not new. Newspapers have championed important causes for as long as newspapers have existed, fighting for their communities, fighting for what they believe is right.
That assertion is laughable. The news pages of the newspaper are totally shaded to reflect the view of the newspaper's editorial views. How else can you explain their news reporters' reluctance to report on all of the corruption surrounding crony capitalism deals our elected officials are using to steal our tax dollars and public assets to line the pockets of their political cronies?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fogle Had A "Little Men's Club"

WRTV's Rafael Sanchez has a story tonight sharing more lurid details about the down-low life former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle led. According to Sanchez, Fogle had a close cadre of friends known as the "Little Men's Club" which met regularly at a Broad Ripple bar to discuss their exploits with sex workers, including travels abroad to Thailand where sick Americans travel on sex tours that often includes sex with minors. Russell Taylor, the accused pedophile Fogle tapped to run his Jared Foundation, was a part of this group. Fogle typically traveled with one of the members of this group to "watch his back and keep him out of the media." Members of his club typically attended Fogle's annual Labor Day barbecue at his Zionsville home according to Sanchez. The report doesn't name other members of the club, but Sanchez teases viewers with the possibility of more reports to come on this down-low club. Didn't another recent pseudo-celebrity creation of the media spend a lot of time in Thailand as well?

Education Profiteers Get Their Handpicked IPS Board Candidate

One education profiteer leaves the IPS board for another education profiteering role. A new education profiteer is appointed by other education profiteers who control the balance of the board to take her place. The six current board members voted tonight to name Mike O'Connor to replace Caitlin Hannon to the District 1 seat she resigned to take a new job working for the Mind Trust. O'Connor is an Eli Lilly executive and lobbyist who works for Eli Lilly Vice President Bart Peterson, who chairs the Mind Trust. O'Connor formerly worked as Peterson's deputy mayor when he was Indianapolis' mayor. The vote was 4-2. Amos Brown called it yesterday.

E-Mail Leaked Describing Indianapolis Star's Plan To Lobby For LGBT Rights

It really didn't take a leaked e-mail from the Indianapolis Star Publisher Karen Ferguson Fuson to her employees to know the newspaper has agendas it will use its news pages to advocate. Breitbart posted the contents of an e-mail in which Ferguson-Fuson shared with her "friends" the opportunity to participate in a "private briefing" of the newspaper's plans to lobby for the adoption of changes to the state's civil rights law to add protections for gays and transgender persons. The person who authored the story of the leaked e-mail on Breitbart is Tom Rose, a paid adviser to Gov. Mike Pence.
Dear Friends: 
The IndyStar is preparing this fall to launch an ambitious and aggressive Editorial Board campaign designed to persuade the governor and state lawmakers to expand Indiana’s civil rights law to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. 
We would like to privately brief you on our plans for the campaign, to explain ways in which you and your organization can partner with us, to answer your questions, and to hear your thoughts and possible concerns. Please join us for a meeting with community leaders on September 22, from 8:00 – 9:30 am at our offices, 130 S. Meridian St. 
We believe that it is critical for all of us to work together to drive this important change and to further the recovery from damage done to our state by the RFRA controversy. 
Please join us as we prepare to continue this vital conversation about the future of Indiana. 
To RSVP, email [redacted]
Karen Ferguson Fuson, Group President, Gannett Domestic Publishing President & Publisher, IndyStar
Notice that Ferguson Fuson continues to hammer the meme of the need to repair "damage done to the state" from the RFRA controversy, which  its newspaper created by falsely claiming the law discriminated against gays.

Rose, himself a former publisher of the Jerusalem Post, adds commentary on the decline of the Indianapolis Star under Gannett's ownership:
The Indianapolis Star has seen both its circulation and advertising revenues plummet since it was purchased by Gannett for $1.1 billion in 1999. Under Gannett ownership, the Star’s paid daily circulation has fallen more than two-thirds to less than 100,000 sold copies per day.
I would add that Ferguson Fuson divorced her husband shortly after she moved to Indianapolis to assume leadership of the Indianapolis Star after she started dating Pacers Sports & Entertainment CEO Rick Fuson. The two were married this summer. The Star shamelessly advocates for any taxpayer subsidies the Pacers seek without disclosing their top management person's obvious conflict of interest. It's unfortunate that the newspaper's agenda includes aiding and abetting the theft of public assets by political insiders at every turn and lambasting those who question what are clearly illegal and often criminal acts. It's definitely not Eugene Pulliam's newspaper anymore.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Board Of Public Works Approves $6 Million Theft Of City Assets For Blue Indy

The string of law-breaking to benefit the French-owned company Bollore and its Blue Indy electric car sharing business continues unabated. With virtually no public notice, the Board of Public Works controlled by useless stooges of Mayor Greg Ballard added as its last agenda item on today's board meeting approval of the use of $6 million from the parking meter fund for the private company's monopoly car sharing business. With very little debate and a refusal by Board Chairman Andy Lutz to allow for any public comment on the agenda item when it was called for a vote after I requested it, the board quickly approved the item and adjourned the meeting with only the council's appointee to the board voting no.

The City-County Council's CFO, Bart Brown, who did not learn of the planned vote until late yesterday, appeared to testify at the request of the council's appointee to the board and took issue with Chairman Andy Lutz' contention that no City-County Council approval is required for today's action. Brown insisted that the Department of Public Works' 2015 budget contains no authorization to spend public dollars from the parking meter fund or any other city fund this year, a contention Lutz flatly dismissed. As a result of today's action, the Department plans to unilaterally authorize the transfer of $6 million to an escrow fund at Regions Bank where it is expected to be spent to help pay for the 50 public charging station sites Blue Indy plans to complete work on around the city before year's end.

Not a single City-County Council member or other member of the public besides myself was present and ready to testify in opposition to the blatantly illegal, 15-year contract the Ballard administration entered into with Blue Indy, which grants the company a right to operate a monopoly business on City-owned property without paying a dime for the use of that publicly-owned property. The administration relied on the granting of dozens of encroachment licenses to allow the private company to seize hundreds of public parking spaces and right-of-ways for its exclusive business use in clear violation of the law. There was no public bidding process whatsoever, and the contract waives all fees and taxes that any other business operating within the City would have been required to pay. The administration's representative, David Rosenberg, said the City allowed IPL to handle the public bidding of all of the work on the installation of the charging stations and kiosks required for each site instead of publicly-bidding that work. Other companies interested in offering car sharing services were turned away by the Ballard administration, which refused to consider their proposals.

It is absolutely incredible how many civil and criminal laws the Ballard administration has been allowed to break to achieve the theft of tens of millions of dollars' worth of public assets. Mr. Rosenberg gave board members the impression the $6 million it approved today was the City's only investment. That's only true if you omit all of the forgiven fees and taxes, assign no value to the use of the City's public assets and ignore the loss of parking meter revenues the City will have to reimburse the private operator of those city assets to offset their revenue losses. That's to say nothing of the untold business losses that are and will continue to be occasioned by the displacement of the the City's most prime public parking spaces to accommodate the unwanted electric car charging stations and kiosks, which will primarily benefit out-of-town visitors to the City.

Disgruntled TV Reporter Videotaped Killing Of Former Colleagues, Uploaded To Internet Moments Later

A former on-air employee of WBDJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia videotaped the killing of two of his former colleagues during a live broadcast on the TV station this morning. Vester Lee Flanagan, who used the on-air name Bryce Williams, has been identified as the shooter. Dead are reporter Alison Parker and TV cameraman Adam Ward. Flanagan uploaded the video he took to his Twitter account shortly after the shooting. Flanagan fled the scene and later committed suicide on I-66 in Virginia according to earlier news reports. Later news reports say Flanagan is still alive. Vicki Gardner, a local chamber of commerce official being interviewed by Parker at the time of the shooting was also shot in the attack but managed to survive. Flanagan accused Parker, who replaced him at the TV station, of making racial comments about him and for Ward reporting him to HR in a Twitter rant around the time of the shooting.

Amos Brown: Fix Is In To Appoint Bart Peterson Crony Mike O"Connor To Open IPS Board Seat

Radio talk show host Amos Brown tweeted earlier this morning that his sources tell him that Mike O'Connor, a political crony of former Mayor Bart Peterson, will be named to the IPS board seat vacated by Caitlin Hannon, who left the board to launch a new nonprofit funded by the Mind Trust, a nonprofit education group Peterson helped found and whose board he chairs. O'Connor served as deputy mayor under Peterson and helped managed his past campaigns. He now works under Peterson in an executive role at Eli Lilly where Peterson is a vice president. The entire IPS board has been taken over by persons who pimp for those who profiteer from public education expenditures under the false meme of education reform. O'Connor is one of three finalists competing for the open board position, a list that also includes Karen Celestino-Horseman and Will Pritchard.

Ballard Plans Launch Of Blue Indy Complete With Police Escorts In Downtown Indy

Councilor Christine Scales (R) has taken to Facebook to protest a plan by Mayor Greg Ballard to force IMPD officers to provide a police escort service through the busy streets of downtown to launch the Blue Indy electric car sharing service on September 2. Councilor Scales is the most vocal critic of Mayor Greg Ballard's highly illegal contract with Bollore's Blue Indy under which the French-owned company was granted a monopoly to operate an electric car-sharing business utilizing hundreds of public parking spaces and right-of-ways Mayor Ballard stole from the City and gave to the company for its exclusive use. Scales writes on Facebook about the Mayor's plans for September 2:
The Mayor plans a full blown police escort to accompany BlueIndy cars in parade like fashion down a major downtown artery to mark the official opening on Sept. 2nd of the illegal and expensive BlueIndy car share program. The past violent 5 days of homicides demand the manpower of a limited IMPD officer workforce be used for more important purposes. Call the Mayor and City Councillors. Tell them to demand an immediate halt to the Blue Indy car share program. Contact Sheriff Layton and Chief Hite and demand that their officers enforce the law they were sworn to uphold by citing the illegally parked BI cars on E.Washington Street. Layton and Hite should have the courage to fight political pressure, not just criminals.
Council members have been throwing up their hands at what they say is their inability to stop Mayor Ballard from carrying out what amounts to a theft of tens of millions of dollars in public assets. A council resolution sponsored by Councilors Zach Adamson (D) and Scales was postponed while they said negotiations with Blue Indy took place to address concerns council members had with the contract, in particular, the lack of a formal franchise agreement the council's attorney maintains is a legal requirement for such an arrangement.

Incredibly, the local news media has been doing nothing but cheerleading the Mayor's Blue Indy initiative and ignoring the unequivocal evidence his administration broke numerous state and local laws to aware the monopoly business to Blue Indy. Ballard committed $6 million to the privately-owned company out of the parking meter fund to help pay for the new power charging stations that are being illegally installed in the City's most highly-trafficked areas without any prior notice to the affected business owners and residential neighborhoods that are being adversely impacted by the loss of public parking. Council members say their pleas to Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry to open a criminal investigation of the Mayor's actions have fallen on deaf ears. Local law enforcement will not enforce existing no stopping, no parking zones designated by city ordinance where Blue Indy cars have been illegally parked for the past 18 months.

Those involved in the deal refuse to answer questions about local persons who may have a beneficial interest in Blue Indy. Mayor Ballard's two terms in office have been marked by shady deals that are clearly conceived as nothing more than schemes to line the pockets of his campaign contributors at the public's expense. Pay to play is the Ballard way.

Hit-And-Run Driver Injures Several Downtown

A driver of a stolen Ford Edge deliberately hit several pedestrians downtown early this morning, leaving at least one person struck in front of the Conrad Hilton in serious condition. Police tell Fox 59 News the story began on the east side where there was a stabbing in the 3700 block of Roseway Drive. That's when the suspect drove downtown and began striking pedestrians and at least one motorcyclist.

According to news reports, two people were struck at Pennsylvania and Market Streets. One person was struck at Meridian and Washington Streets. The most serious injury occurred at the Conrad Hilton where the driver deliberately drove the car up onto the valet area, striking a female pedestrian and leaving her with serious head and leg injuries. One person was struck at Illinois and Ohio Streets. Finally, the driver struck and ran over a motorcyclist at Delaware and Michigan Streets.

Police found an unoccupied Ford Edge SUV matching the description of the vehicle used in the hit-and-runs abandoned at 30th and Lafayette. Police spotted a man walking in the area who has been taken into custody for questioning.

WISH-TV image of police taking suspect into custody

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Batesville Mayor To Resign Over Prostitution Charge

After meeting in executive session tonight, the Batesville City Council emerged to announced the city's mayor, Richard Fledderman, will announce his resignation tomorrow according to WISH-TV. State Police arrested Fledderman earlier this month for one count of patronizing a prostitute. A 42-year old man, Randy Wigle-Stevens of Indianapolis, was charged with prostitution, intimidation and failure to disclose he had a dangerous communicable disease.

Former Ripley Co. Judge Henry Prictor, a prior supporter of Mayor Fledderman, spoke at tonight's council meeting in support of his resignation. "We are a laughing stock because of what he did," Prictor told WISH-TV. Details of the resignation to be formalized tomorrow weren't discussed at tonight's meeting. Prictor said he hoped the council would not agree to allow him to continue drawing pay and resigning at a later date. City Councilor Eugene Lambert has been serving as active mayor since Fledderman's arrest earlier this month.

Joe Hogsett Against Child Predators: Has Tips For Parents

There's yet another Joe Hogsett ad and Labor Day is still ahead of us.

Gannett Report Says Jared Foundation Was A Sham

A USA Today report analyzing the tax returns filed by the Jared Foundation, the nonprofit organization established by the disgraced former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle to help combat childhood obesity concludes it was a sham. It turns out that 60% of the money spent by the charity was to pay the salary of Russell Taylor, the former executive director who federal prosecutors charged in April with multiple child pornography offenses. The report says 26% of the charity's expenditures can't be accounted for. The charity never issued a single grant regarding its stated mission of providing grants to schools and community organization to combat the problem he had as a child. "The plan that Jared "The Subway Guy" Fogle announced in 2008 was like so many things about him: big, inspirational and, it would turn out, false," the USA Today report says.

Monday, August 24, 2015

RIP Justin Wilson

Indy Car driver Justin Wilson has died from severe head injuries he suffered at Pocono yesterday when he was struck in the head by flying debris from Sage Karam's race car, which crashed near the end of yesterday's race after it spun out of control. Wilson had been in a coma since he was transported unconscious to a hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife, Julia, and two daughters.

CIB Greenlights Pacers' Latest Deal With No Debate

The greedy billionaire NBA team owner and his trophy wife
I've told you before that by the time another giveaway by the CIB to one of the billionaire sports team owners becomes known to the taxpaying public, board members have already been thoroughly briefed behind closed doors and given their marching orders before it ever appears as an item on a board meeting agenda. History repeated itself today when the board conducted a very brief meeting and said, hell yeah, let's give away CIB property to Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers for the next 50 years rent-free to build new offices and practice facilities for his NBA team, along with a bunch of free parking spaces. They didn't have to debate it or learn any new information because they already knew how it was going to go down before they walked into the board meeting this afternoon and wrapped up their discussion in under 30 minutes. So much for our state's Open Door Law.

CIB President Earl Goode, a curmudgeonly, political crony of Mitch Daniels, immediately dubbed the plan a "win-win" proposition. Herb Simon gets a 40-year rent-free ground lease on the property across from Banker's Life Fieldhouse to build what is described as a $50 million, 130,000 square-foot, five-story building that will include a practice basketball court and training facility for the Pacers, office space for Pacers Sports & Entertainment and a parking facility for Pacers players and employees. The CIB is gifting the Pacers 204 city-owned parking spaces in the Virginia Avenue parking garage to make up for lost parking spaces the Pacers will lose because its building this new monstrosity on existing free parking space the CIB gives to the Pacers.

Noticeably missing from today's discussion after this important item was leaked to the media only yesterday afternoon was who the secret tenant was that Herb has lined up to fill the fifth floor of this new building. Why hasn't the tenant's identity been made public? How much rent will they pay Herb Simon? Incredibly, CIB officials could not answer whether this new facility to be owned by the Pacers will be subject to property taxes. The Indiana Constitution mandates it be taxed, but it also mandates that property taxes be paid on Lucas Oil Stadium and Banker's Life Fieldhouse since both facilities are occupied and operated exclusively for for-profit businesses but property taxes are not paid on either of those facilities. You see, in Indiana, if you're a billionaire sports team owner, none of the laws that apply to ordinary citizens apply to you.

The rationale for this latest giveaway is the same at it's always been. All NBA teams are owned by billionaires just like Herb Simon, who by their nature are the most greedy, selfish reptiles known to mankind. Their spokesman feeds us this meme about how we are dealing with "elite, elite athletes who require state-of-the-art facilities" and good basketball players come from colleges with "incredible state-of-the-art facilities." In other words, the existing practice courts and training facilities in the Fieldhouse don't measure up anymore. All the other NBA teams are building new, state-of-the-art practice facilities and we've got to keep up with them in order to remain competitive; otherwise, Herb will take his team elsewhere. If there was anyone ever at the table negotiating for taxpayers, these BS arguments wouldn't get anywhere. But our negotiators are always on Herb's payroll so we get the deal he wants no matter how bad it is for us. The Indianapolis Star, predictably, gives a pro-Pacer view of the project without disclosing the fact the woman who runs the newspaper is married to the man who runs Pacers Sports & Entertainment:
Taxpayers won’t foot the bill for any of a new $50 million practice facility being planned by the Indiana Pacers, city officials said Monday . . .
Larry DeGaris, professor of sports marketing at the University of Indianapolis, said “there is an element of truth to the keeping up with the Joneses argument.”
“Even colleges now have palaces to practice in,” he said.
But DeGaris said the Pacers may also be eyeing the facility as a big money-maker off the court. The top floor of the proposed building would be a space for an outside tenant, whom Benner wouldn’t identity.
Fellow blogger Pat Andrew makes a good point about the 40-year length of the rent-free ground lease for the CIB property, noting the Pacers would only commit to remain in Indianapolis for a period of 15 years (9 years remaining) after the CIB enticed them with an additional $200 million in incentive payments. At the end of the 40-year term of the lease, the CIB would own the building unless the Pacers opted to up the agreement for an additional 10 years, in which case it would not become the property of the CIB until 50 years into the future. So what happens to this new building if the Pacers walk at the end of the current 15-year agreement? The CIB can buy back what Herb Simon in reality built with our taxpayer dollars for the market value of the property with the improvements. And you can take it to the bank that contrary to what is being represented to the public the CIB will be billed for any extraordinary expenses related to the upkeep of this new building, just like it always was with Banker's Life Fieldhouse until the Pacers were able to offload all of those expenses for maintaining and operating the Fieldhouse at the same time it slow-walked its way towards offering over $200 million in incentive payments to the greedy NBA team owner.

Word to Gov. Mike Pence. It doesn't help your street cred with conservatives that you utilize the same person the CIB relies upon for their press spokesman, particularly when the person scoffs at all of the conservatives in your party.

UPDATE: So the tenant heretofore not identified is St. Vincent, which will have medical offices in the building. I suppose that's Herb Simon's way of trying to cast the entire project as public/nonprofit use to convince the assessor the property shouldn't be taxed. They're even naming the building The St. Vincent Center.
The 130,000 square-foot St. Vincent Center will be built in a pie-shaped space on Delaware Street immediately east of Bankers Life Fieldhouse and adjacent to the Virginia Avenue Parking Garage. The space is currently an employee parking lot.

“I am thrilled that St. Vincent is going to be providing ease of access to high-quality care for those living, working and visiting our great city,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “St. Vincent Center will be another important piece of the development in that growing area of downtown.”

 “St. Vincent is a tremendous partner and we are grateful for their continued support of our franchises. The St. Vincent Center will allow for greater and more varied uses of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the future,” said PS&E President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Fuson.

The St. Vincent Center will provide primary care, cardiovascular and sports performance services available for athletes and the general public. St. Vincent Sports Performance will offer sports medicine physicians, sports nutrition, sport & performance psychology, sports science and physical training, which the program currently offers to athletes of all ages ranging from middle school to professional.

Primary care services will also be available to the general public, including preventive care. Board-certified cardiologists will treat patients with cardiovascular disease while offering access to the nationally recognized comprehensive services, specialists, technology and compassionate care of St. Vincent.

NASA Employees Caught Buying Child Porn, Never Prosecuted

The Daily Mail learned through a public records request that federal authorities learned in 2010 the identity of 16 NASA employees who had purchased child pornography through Internet websites based in Belarus and the Ukraine. The NASA employees were among more than 5,000 Americans ensnared in Project Flicker, a joint investigation of the FBI and ICE launched in 2007 to track and prosecute those responsible for flooding the U.S. with child pornography.

NASA redacted the names of those employees implicated in the investigation, making it impossible to discern whether the persons are still working for the government. What is known is that none of the employees were prosecuted. In 2010 it was revealed that 264 employees working at the Pentagon were identified as purchasing child pornography. Some of those employees worked in national security and had top level security clearances. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service only investigated 52 of the identified Pentagon workers. At the end of the probe, only ten Pentagon employees were charged with buying or viewing child pornography. The DCIS complained it lacked adequate resources to investigate all of the employees.

Who Killed Nicholas Spitzer?

This photo of Nicholas Spitzer was distributed by family and friends searching for him.
A 27-year old Monticello man, Nicholas Spitzer, disappeared on August 15 after coming to Indianapolis with friends. He was first reported missing by family members on August 18. His body was recovered in a retention pond near 96th Street and Gray Road nearly a week later on August 21 when a local man discovered his body while boating. Social media is abuzz over the circumstances of his disappearance and death. Friends claim he was last seen with a prominent local Indianapolis businessman. Some were appalled to discover a cruel message posted on a social media website linked to the businessman the day he was reported missing, which read: "What if u go missing . . . how can we find you if you look like Beyonce on instagram and waka flocka in person." Information regarding the manner and time of Spitzer's death has not yet been released by authorities. News websites have deleted comments made to their websites referencing the Indianapolis businessman's name.

IBJ Article Discussing Cost Of Montage On Mass Very Misleading

The IBJ's Scott Colson has a story about the $50 million mixed retail project known as Montage on Mass now being ready for its first review by city officials. "The city is contributing the land and $3.5 million in tax-increment financing funds to build the underground parking garage," Olson writes. That's but a fraction of the cost Indianapolis taxpayers are paying to make this project possible for the politically-connected developers who were awarded the project by Mayor Greg Ballard based on all of the campaign contributions they've given him over the years.

Here's the reality. The buildings for the Indianapolis Fire Department headquarters and Station 7, which were perfectly fine for their use, are being demolished. The City had to purchase the former Red Cross property on Fort Wayne Avenue to build a new fire station and remodel the Red Cross' office space to house the IFD headquarters. It also had to provide money to the Red Cross to relocate its offices to Meridian Street. Then there was the cost the City is paying to relocate the Firefighters Credit Union to another location further up Mass Ave. City officials claimed a drive-up credit union was a bad fit on Mass Avenue but wound up approving another drive-up facility two blocks further north where it is arguably equally as ill-suited. Add up all of those costs and the City is spending about $50 million to make this project happen for these politically-connected developers, the same amount they are spending on their new project on the land gifted to them by the city. Yes, the cost to taxpayers to make this private development project equals the amount of private investment in the project.

The beneficiaries of the latest theft of public assets are: J.C. Hart, Paul Kite's Strongbox and Schmidt & Associates. The City will also pay a 7-figure real estate brokerage fee to CBRE's Gordon Hendry, husband of Democratic operative Jennifer Wagner, who once published a blog called The Accidental Mayor in which she repeatedly lambasted Mayor Ballard following his election in 2007. Hendry, a former staffer for Mayor Peterson, has won several no-bid contracts from the City after Wagner shut down her blog and purged it from the Internet. Among the work Hendry performed for the City was his disastrous attempt to choose a site for the mayor's controversial proposed criminal justice center, which the City-County Council killed earlier this year. Hendry had actually chosen a site next to the Indianapolis International Airport on the county's western edge as the best site for siting a new complex for the county's courts and jail complex until a firestorm ensued and the City had to settle on the old GM Stamping Plant site closer to downtown. For all of that, Indianapolis will be treated to more cheaply-built apartments charging high rental rates and adding even more bars to the overly-liquored up business district, none of which will add to the local tax base since it's located in a TIF district that will capture all of the revenues for future projects just like this one.

Sharp's Gymnastic Academy Owner Arrested For Child Molestation

Marvin Sharp
State and local police raided the home of a prominent Indianapolis gymnastics coach last night and arrested him for child molestation. Marvin Sharp, who has coached Olympic gymnastic hopefuls, operates Sharp's Gymnastic Academy on Georgetown Road on the far northwest side of Indianapolis. The website for Sharp's Gymnastic Academy describes it as the place "where kids go to fly" and "home of Olympians and world champions."

UPDATE: Sharp's legal problems are much worse than first appeared. He now faces two federal child pornography charges based on evidence law enforcement obtained during a search of his home. This is a tragic outcome for such a talented gymnastics coach so many admired. Sharp is accused of photographing and inappropriately fondling several of his female students according to seven state charges outlined by the Marion Co. Prosecutor's office.

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Stabbed To Death By Son

Photo -
There's a bizarre case out of Oklahoma where the state's Labor Commissioner, Mark Costello, was stabbed to death by his son after meeting him at an Oklahoma City restaurant last night to resolve a dispute with him. Costello's 26-year old son, Christian, reportedly began stabbing his father inside the restaurant before the altercation moved to the restaurant's parking lot where he stabbed his father repeatedly in the neck and head before bystanders were able to subdue his son. The father died from the stab wounds before being transported to a hospital.

Costello had been the state's elected Labor Commissioner since 2011. His son, one of five children, had prior brushes with the law according to The Oklahoman. He was arrested just last year for indecent exposure after standing in front of a school window with his pants down exposing himself. When police arrested him, he was chewing on bird feathers, dandelions and other weeds. He was also charged with assault on a police officer a few years earlier after he was stopped for driving under the influence of a drug.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Justin Wilson Suffers Head Injury From Flying Debris At Pocono

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson was rushed to the hospital after he appeared to suffer a head injury when he was struck by flying debris in the final laps of today's ABC Supply 500 at Pocono. Wilson was knocked unconscious and flown by helicopter to a hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania according to news reports. Sage Karam, who was leading the race at the time, spun out and struck the wall in Turn 1 of the track. It appears debris from Karam's car was what struck Wilson in the head. The race went on and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Wilson's teammate, went on to win the race under caution. No word on Wilson's condition yet. Let's hope for the best for him and his family. Karam suffered a minor foot injury in the crash and was able to get out of his wrecked car under his own power.

UPDATE: A statement released by IndyCar indicates Wilson is in a coma in critical condition. Not good news.


Stop Blue Indy NOW!

Blue Indy charging station under construction at 13th & Alabama
An Old Northside Indianapolis neighborhood activist has taken to Facebook to express his displeasure of the harm being caused to neighborhoods throughout the city as workers continue the process of seizing hundreds of prime public parking spaces and right-of-ways to install charging stations and rental sites for Blue Indy's electric car sharing service. Chas Navarra set up Stop Blue Indy NOW just today and is urging Facebook followers to express their support for it as a show of neighborhood discontent with the manner in which Blue Indy's electric car sharing service has been forced upon area residents by Mayor Greg Ballard.

Mayor Ballard executed the illegal, 15-year contract with the French-owned company, Bollore, that awards a monopoly business to the company, along with a public investment totaling in the tens of millions of dollars with no likelihood of any return to Indianapolis taxpayers during the life of the contract. Incredibly, the City's agreement with Blue Indy exempts it from paying any taxes or fees that would ordinarily apply to any similar business operating in Indianapolis.

The Mayor's action came after an earlier plan he sent to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission requesting IPL be permitted to raise electric utility rates on its customers to pay to install the power charging stations was rejected. The IURC did, however, allow IPL to charge customers the cost of running power lines to the charging stations. Blue Indy's agreement with the City allows IPL to be repaid its share of the costs, while Indianapolis taxpayers are unlikely to recover the $6 million Mayor Ballard pulled from the parking meter fund to add to the $42 million Blue Indy claims it plans to spend, at least during the initial 15-year term since Blue Indy must first recover its net cumulative investment before it shares its first dollar with the City.

Navarra has spoken to residents of the Englewood Lofts apartments at 13th & Alabama who are extremely upset about Blue Indy taking up all of the on-street parking available along the north side of the apartments. Some residents in the income-qualified, affordable housing project plan not to renew their leases because of the loss of parking according to Navarra. Blue Indy has plans to take even more free public parking spaces in the Old Northside neighborhood for Blue Indy.

The Indianapolis City-County Council's attorney has told council members the Mayor broke multiple state and local laws by entering into the monopoly, electric car-sharing agreement with Blue Indy. Councilor Zach Adamson (D) promised action in the form of a resolution calling for the towing of the Blue Indy cars that have been illegally parked on Washington Street downtown in a no-stopping, no parking zone. Adamson postponed action on his resolution at last Monday's council meeting after he said Blue Indy officials spoke of a desire to discuss public concerns over the siting of Blue Indy stations and to consider entering into a franchise agreement with the City, which would essentially wash away the wrongs and legalize the illegal actions taken by Mayor Greg Ballard broke by entering into the agreement and appropriating public assets measuring into the tens of millions of dollars for the private company's monopoly business.

The Indianapolis news media, for its part, has essentially been on the sidelines cheering on the illegal Blue Indy project as more and more business owners and residents grow increasingly frustrated by the inattention to legal processes and the harm inflicted upon them after receiving absolutely no advance notice of the City's plans for taking valuable public parking spaces in their neighborhoods. Complaints to elected officials have generated little more than lip service and finger-pointing.

Councilor Adamson engaged in testy exchanges on Facebook today with concerned residents, including me. He claims the council is acting with the "very limited authority" it has to act, even though it could have elected to go to court to nullify the agreement as it did earlier this year with the Vision Fleet contract. "We hammer [the Mayor] plenty and anyone who thinks we don't is a nutbag," Adamson said in response to my criticism the council isn't doing enough. Really nice when your elected council member calls his constituents "nutbags" for complaining about the misuse of our public tax dollars. Adamson then deflected the blame. "You know we have a strong mayor system and the council only has so much support from the judicial branch that we can count on." So public assets are being stolen but there's nothing our elected officials can do to put a stop to it? So much for Democrat mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett's claim that he's going to stop the downtown insiders from stealing from us. It's too bad he never prosecuted any of the downtown insiders during all those years he served as our federal prosecutor when he was in a position to do something about it.

Adamson initially endorsed the Blue Indy project and appeared at a press event announcing the Mayor's launch of the electric car-sharing service almost two years ago. Adamson, who chairs the Public Works Committee which has oversight over the project, says he never supported the eventual plan rolled out this year; rather, he only supported the concept and believed it was going to be a small pilot program initially. He says he opposed the plan once he learned Mayor Ballard planned to make the public subsidize its cost.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Hogsett Wants More Streetlights, Herb Simon Wants And Will Get A New Practice Facility For The Pacers

One of the things that surprised me soon after I moved to Indianapolis was that if residential neighborhoods in this city wanted streetlights, they had to collect money through a neighborhood association to install them and pay for their upkeep. The sky is the limit when it comes to meeting the many demands for improving downtown, but residential neighborhoods are pretty much on their own as far as the downtown power brokers are concerned. I think Hogsett hits on an issue in his latest in a string of TV ads that probably resonates with a lot of neighborhood activists. He says he's going to reverse a decades-old policy and start spending money on neighborhood street lights if he's elected mayor.

Meanwhile, billionaire Herb Simon is demanding and the CIB has already secretly agreed to build for him a new practice facility and offices for his Indiana Pacers on Delaware Street across from Banker's Life Fieldhouse for an untold sum just because the greedy bastard owns our elected officials and can get them to spend our taxpayer dollars however he wants so he can keep his billions to spend on his trophy wife and other objects of the life a dirty old rich man like him leads. There is no public process to these matters. When it's finally leaked to the public, it's always a done deal. Life in Indianapolis. The Simons own Joe Hogsett just like they own Evan Bayh, in case you didn't know, but it always sounds good to pretend to relate to the little people. Check who is bankrolling his campaign if you doubt me.

Blackford County Judges Issue Restraining Order Barring County Clerk From Entering Courthouse

The elected clerk of courts for Blackford County, Derinda Shady, became testy during a recent county council meeting over proposed budget cuts in her office and threatened to terminate her office's supervision of the county's superior and circuit courts. Shady grew even shadier when she threatened to deny the courts access to their records and told one judge he "better bring a cop" with him if he wanted his court's records. In subsequent meetings, Shady called one council member a "bitch" and approached the circuit court judge in a manner that he feared she intended to become physically confrontational. Those are among the findings of an emergency order Blackford Circuit Court Judge Dean Young and Blackford Superior Court Judge Nick Barry included in their signed order of August 20, 2015 barring Shady from entering her offices, the Blackford County Courthouse or even stepping foot on the courthouse grounds. Her immediate arrest and incarceration is requested if she violates the terms of their order.

Read the full order here. Hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog.

Indiana And Local Officials Checking Out Ashley Madison Data

Advance Indiana first told you there were dozens of Indiana and local government employees among the large dump of documents uploaded to the Internet earlier this year exposing those who had utilized the adult playground sites offered by Ashley Madison, whose data computer hackers managed to access earlier this year. State and local officials are examining their own records after those e-mail addresses were made public according to an Indianapolis Star report.
Officials are investigating after dozens of .gov email domains with ties to Indiana city and state government entities were among the millions of member email addresses outed in the Ashley Madison data breach . . . 
Among them were eight domains tied to the city of Indianapolis at . . .
Other Central Indiana domains listed in the data are tied to Carmel, Greenwood, Hamilton County and Madison County.
Greenwood officials said they quickly looked into the matter as soon as they found out . . .
Several .gov domains also show up with ties to state agencies such as Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Correction, Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Indiana Public Retirement System and the attorney general. They, too, are probing employee activity . . .
I would add to the list of local government employees affected by the released documents, Bloomington, Franklin, Monticello, Terre Haute and South Bend.  Greenwood officials told The Star the e-mail addresses attributed to their e-mail server were invalid. A spokesman for the City of Indianapolis and the Department of Correction told The Star they were still investigating the matter to determine if there were any employees who violated computer use policies.

UPDATE: The South Bend Tribune acknowledges South Bend and Mishawaka government e-mail accounts are implicated in the leaked data from Ashley Madison. Incredibly, the report credits the Indianapolis Star with first reporting on state and local government e-mail accounts being included in the leaked data. Sorry guys, but Advance Indiana first reported it. The Indianapolis Star merely picked up on the story first reported on this blog. South Bend City Clerk John Verde has confirmed he once opened an account with the site using his city e-mail address while he was single. He says he stopped using it as a dating site some time ago.

It also appears Bloomington has confirmed the authenticity of three e-mail accounts tied to its e-mail server. Two belong to firefighters currently employed by the city, while a third belonged to a former employee of the city.

Will The Other Shoe Ever Drop In The Jared Fogle Investigation?

Investigative reporters on the trail of pedophile rings involving the most powerful and influential people have long been demonized and marginalized by detractors in the mainstream media who want you to believe such tales are nothing but the fabricated fantasies of unstable conspiracy theorists. Yet evidence of its existence abounds all around us if people only open their eyes.

As reporters from all over the nation descended on Indianapolis this week to cover the arrest and initial appearance of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle on charges he paid for sex with underage girls in five-star New York hotels and received and distributed child pornography produced by the person he entrusted to run a charity whose mission was combating childhood obesity, the public witnessed no perp walk. Fogle was driven into a private entrance of the federal courthouse and walked out of the same courthouse building wearing an ankle bracelet he'll wear for an undetermined time while on house arrest prior to his sentencing. Not a reporter noticed the unusual treatment afforded Fogle as the federal prosecutor assured the public his "celebrity status" would not serve as a shield to his prosecution when "such despicable crimes are perpetrated against children."

Despite the federal prosecutor's assurances, we know his colleagues in the Justice Department covered up a large human trafficking case involving a New York billionaire, Jeffrey Epstein, who supplied untold numbers of young, female victims to some of the world's most wealthy and powerful men, including former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. In an unusual arrangement, federal prosecutors negotiated an unprecedented agreement with his powerful attorneys that allowed Epstein to be prosecuted under relatively minor state law offenses in Florida where he served less than two years in prison, while sealing from public airing  tens of thousands of documents gathered by investigators that would prove the vast reach of his pedophile network.

Remarkably, the fact that Epstein was even prosecuted represented progress in the right direction. Who remembers the DC Madam and her infamous black book?Federal prosecutors went after Deborah Palfrey ferociously to protect the identities of the rich and powerful to whom she supplied young women. Palfey was found hanged at her Florida home and her infamous black book has long been forgotten. Dead women tell no tales.

Federal investigators went to extraordinary lengths to cover up a vast VIP pedophile ring in the 1980s that involved some of the nation's most powerful men. The so-called Franklin Scandal involved the use of high-up military and intelligence agencies to traffic young boys and girls to our nation's capital where they provided sexual services to senators, congressmen, cabinet members, ambassadors and, according to some of the victims, a future president, George H.W. Bush, and a future vice president, Dick Cheney. The only real punishment meted out in the Franklin Scandal was to the victims, who were either prosecuted on specious grounds or died under unusual circumstances. The front man for the pedophile ring, Lawrence King, an Omaha banker, was prosecuted for unrelated financial crimes. A documentary that exposed the truth about this VIP pedophile ring was blocked from airing on the Discovery Channel after enormous pressure was exerted on network executives.

The mainstream media's curiosity with Jared Fogle doesn't extend far. Russell Taylor and Jared Fogle are just bit players here, if useful distractions. Federal prosecutors can lay claim to taking child and human trafficking seriously at the same time it protects the real family jewels from a public airing. Fogle may have paid for sex with young girls in five-star hotels, but who are the real forces behind the establishment of these honey pots used to ensnare people at times of convenience, such as occurred with the former New York prosecutor, Eliott Spitzer, who made life very uneasy for people engaged in widespread financial crimes for a brief period of time. Those truly responsible always seem to elude accountability. It is only wishful thinking to believe  the other shoe will drop this one time.