Thursday, December 31, 2015

Downtown Developer Underwriting Joe Hogsett's Inaugural Ball

Michael G. Browning
If you got an invitation to the inaugural ball of Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett, it was addressed from "The Inaugural Committee and Browning Investments." WRTV's Kara Kenney says the invitation is an error. Browning Investments is not underwriting the costs of the inaugural ball. That would be Michael G. Browning, Chairman of the Board for Browning Investments. He wrote a $30,000 check for the ball being held at the downtown Marriott Hotel's ballroom. The company's CEO defended Browning's financial support to Kenney:
“Browning Investments has been an integral part of helping Indianapolis grow for nearly 40 years, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in crucial projects that have contributed to economic development,” said John Hirschman, Browning Investments’ President/CEO, in a statement to Call 6 Investigates.“We're very dedicated to seeing the city be as successful as it can be. As part of that aim, Browning Investments supports the local election and political process -- for both parties and across issues.”
Hirschman said the company has contributed just under $8,000 to both candidate election campaigns in 2015.
As for Hogsett, his team pointed out the inaugural ball is completely separate from the January 1, bipartisan swearing in ceremony.
"In the tradition of numerous Indianapolis mayors, the campaign will be hosting an inaugural gala as a fundraising event,” said Hogsett for Indianapolis finance director, Emily Gurwitz. “This celebration is political in nature and separate from the efforts underway by Mayor-elect Hogsett and his transition team to address critical community issues like public safety and neighborhood development."
Browning's bio on his company's website boasts that he "has played an active role in the Indianapolis "public-private" partnership. Translated, that means tens of millions of your tax dollars have gone straight into the multi-millionaire real estate developer's pockets in exchange for the very generous campaign contributions he makes to politicians like Joe Hogsett. It's just further proof that Hogsett lied to Indianapolis voters when he promised to "take on the downtown insiders who cheat the system and steal your tax dollars." Happy New Year!. The next four years are going to be very profitable for the Browning household regardless of the fortunes that lie ahead for you and me.

In other news, Hogsett belatedly announced some key executive staff appointments on the eve of his swearing-in as Indianapolis mayor. The most disappointing appointment comes in the critical city controller's job. Hogsett passed over the imminently more qualified City-County Council CFO Bart Brown to pick Fady Qaddoura, a former FSSA project manager. Qaddoura's past experience does not even remotely qualify him to serve competently as the city's controller.

Hogsett named Angela Smith Jones, a senior staff member of the extremely corrupt Indy Chamber of Commerce as his deputy mayor for economic development. Hope Tribble, who struggled and stumbled as the City-County Council's CFO during much of the Ballard administration, has been named director of Audit and Finance.

Hogsett made a solid choice in Andrew Mallon to serve as corporation counsel. Mallon, an attorney in private practice, has served as counsel for the Marion Co. Election Board.

A lobbyist at Hogsett's law firm, Ahmed Young, will head up the Office of Education Innovation. That's quite fitting putting a lobbyist in charge of that office given that the Indianapolis charter school program has been nothing more than an extension of the mayor's campaign committee during the past two mayors.

Hogsett's campaign communications director, Taylor Schaffer, will become the mayor's communications director. An attorney at Faegre Baker Daniels, Timothy Moriarty, will serve as special counsel to the mayor. Hogsett previously announced his campaign manager, Thomas Cook, would serve as his chief of staff.

Who Are The Big Winners In Indiana's Public Subsidy Game?

Good Jobs First has compiled data from all 50 states regarding economic development subsidies awarded by state and local governments and published the information on its website for easy access to the public. The data for Indiana includes information about subsidies awarded between 1986 and 2013, although data from the earlier years is incomplete. It shows that 8,274 subsidies were awarded valued at more than $7.67 billion. The top 10 recipients aren't real surprising. They are:

  • General Motors: $708.8 million, 49 subsidies, dating to 2001
  • Community Health Systems: $421.5 million, 137 subsidies, dating to 2003
  • Michelin: $308.3 million, 19 subsidies, dating to 2003
  • United Continental: $298 million, 1 subsidy, dating to 1991
  • Eli Lilly: $214.5 million, 2 subsidies, dating to 1999
  • Duke Energy: $204 million, 1 subsidy, dating to 2006
  • Nestle: $200.8 million, 52 subsidies, dating to 2001
  • Simon Property Group: $187 million, 1 subsidy, dating to 1988 
  • Honda $166 million, 4 subsidies, dating to 2006
  • Mid Oaks Investments: $120.4 million, 20 subsidies, dating to 2003
The United Continental subsidy, the state's fourth largest, was a total bust. United's airline maintenance hub in Indianapolis closed only a few years after it opened. Other notable large recipients include:
  • Interactive Intelligence: $73 million
  • AK Steel: $71.6 million
  • Arcelor Mittal: $64.6 million
  • St. Joseph Energy Partners: $60 million
  • Delphi Automotive: $50 million
  • Caterpillar: $45.6 million
  • NTN Driveshaft: $42.1 million
  • Karl Schmidt Unisia: $35.3 million
  • Angie's List: $34.3 million
  • Rolls-Royce: $32.5 million
  • Zimmer Biomet: $30.2 million
  • Slater Steels: $25.6 million
  • Exact Target: $24.2 million
  • Indiana Packers: $22 million
  • EnerDel: $21 million
  • Berry Plastics: $19.9 million
  • SDI Lafarga: $17.6 million
The Indianapolis Star has a summary of the large recipients here as well. But don't forget, property tax caps are to blame for a lack of revenues to fund local government services. The billions in give-aways to public companies has nothing to do with it. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Utility Consumer Counselor Agrees To 16% Citizens Water Rate Increase

The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor has always been a bit of a misnomer in the state of Indiana since the office in reality is controlled by the utility companies. Nobody gets a job of any significance in the agency without the sign-off of the utility lobbyists. So it comes as no surprise the OUCC would say okay to a 16% increase in Indianapolis water rates charged by Citizens Energy starting sometime next year.

Citizens earlier this year requested a 20% rate increase as part of the Hoosier two-step dance. A utility always asks for about 25% more in rate increases than it really wants, allowing the OUCC to come along later and agree to a reduced rate increase the utility actually wanted. This gives an ignorant public the impression the OUCC is actually representing its interests when nothing could be further from the truth.

This is the real legacy Mayor Greg Ballard left behind. He arranged a sale of the water company, the utility's third sale over a period of a decade, at a grossly-inflated price to Citizens Energy, which pretends to operate as a nonprofit, public benefit corporation. Ballard used the cash Citizens Energy went deeply in debt to pay the city for the utility to finance a streets and sidewalks for votes scam during his 2011 re-election campaign. His campaign contributors made off like bandits performing a half billion dollars on substandard public infrastructure projects that began crumbling in the first months and years following their completion.

The Indianapolis news media lied at every step to the public about what was really transpiring. It's just the way things are done in America's most corrupt city. Enjoy your latest double-digit increase in water rates. Another round of double-digit rate increases for sewer services is just around the corner, on top of those gigantic storm water fees with which you got socked on your property tax bills this year.

More On Guyer's Ties To Convicted Ponzi Schemer Tim Durham

The Manning clan with Carl Brizzi and Tim Durham in the Bahamas after the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami
UPDATED: Birds of a feather certainly flock together in Indianapolis. We told you yesterday that Dr. Dale Guyer, whose clinic is at the center of the HGH doping allegations made in an Al Jazeera documentary that aired this past weekend and may involve a client of Guyer's clinic, Peyton Manning, had been a past business partner with convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham. The Indianapolis Star elaborates more on Guyer's ties to Durham in a new online story today.

Guyer received about a million dollars in loans from Durham which he failed to repay prior to Fair Finance Company's collapse that resulted in the loss of more than $220 million for thousands of Ohio investors. Those loans came either directly from Durham or one of the companies he controlled that bilked Fair Finance and were made to Guyer's Advance Medical Center, P.C. according to The Star. Guyer is now attempting to repay those loans to the bankruptcy trustee overseeing efforts to collect money on behalf of the defrauded investors of Fair Finance. As Advance Indiana told you yesterday, another business controlled by Durham and Guyer, Guyer Durham, LLC. received $268,990 in fraudulent transfers according to a judgment obtained by the bankruptcy trustee. The IBJ is reporting that the Fair Finance bankruptcy trustee settled $400,000 in claims against Dr. Guyer for just $30,000 earlier this year because of his struggling financial situation.

This is a very sordid bunch of characters involved here. Durham, of course, had bought and paid for our former corrupt Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, whom our Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett allowed to skate on multiple crimes he committed while in office while he was serving as federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Indiana. In addition to having briefly served on Fair Finance's board of directors prior to its collapse, Brizzi was business partners with Indianapolis attorney Paul Page, who pleaded guilty to a real estate fraud charge in connection with property the two owned together in Elkhart that was awarded a lucrative lease on a building used by the state's Department of Child Services. Brizzi is also business partners with Peyton Manning in the Harry & Izzy's restaurant franchise based in Indianapolis.

Brizzi and Page were at the center of another cover up of a local sports doping probe. Page represented Joseph Mobarecki, a local fitness gym manager, whom Indianapolis police arrested for illegally dealing anabolic steroids. At the time of Mobarecki's arrest, he was found to possess more than $100,000 of the drugs he was illegally dispensing, along with $17,000 in cash. Police sources were infuriated when Brizzi blocked a larger probe after entering into a sweetheart plea agreement with Mobarecki, which allowed him to get back $10,000 of the cash police seized after he pleaded guilty to just one felony offense. Mobarecki served just two days in jail and paid a $365 fine. Police working on the case believed Mobarecki was selling the steroids to a number of prominent professional athletes, as well as college and high school athletes. Hogsett stunned many in law enforcement when he ended a federal probe of Brizzi's corruption as Marion Co. Prosecutor in the face of overwhelming evidence against him. Hogsett incredibly claimed there was a lack of evidence to indict Brizzi.

Brizzi's predecessor was not much better than him when it came to cover ups. Who can forget Scott Newman's handling of Jim Irsay's prescription drug fraud problem. Irsay has battled an addiction to prescription drugs for the past couple of decades. WTHR's Roger Harvey had a blockbuster investigative report on Irsay's addiction in 2002, which included reports Irsay had been treated for drug overdoses at area hospitals on several occasions. No charges were ever brought against Irsay, although several health care professionals were sanctioned for their role in the affair. Our local powers that be decided the mess had to be quashed out of fear Irsay was in danger of NFL officials taking the Colts franchise away from him. Harvey left his job at WTHR-TV and became a PR person for the same law firm where Hogsett has been a partner. Not surprisingly, one of his firm's clients was the Indianapolis Colts. Irsay was again arrested last year for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and found to be in possession of quite a stash of prescription drugs. He got off with another slap on the wrist. We later learned that a woman associated with him had died of a drug overdose shortly before his arrest.

Book Claims To Solve Amelia Earhart Mystery Disappearance

Irene Bolam (a/k/a Amelia Earhart?)
Author W. C. Jameson has published a new book in which he claims to have solved the mystery disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her co-pilot, Fred Noonan, in 1937 when they were attempting to circumnavigate the globe in a Lockheed 10 Electra, a trip which was supposedly sponsored by Purdue University where she was a member of the aviation department's faculty. According to the book, Earhart and Noonan were actually working as spies for the U.S. Navy when their airplane, which was equipped with cameras used to photograph Japanese military installations, was either shot down or crash landed in the Marshall Islands. The book claims Earhart and Noonan survived the plane crash and were captured by the Japanese and held as prisoners of war.

The book claims Earhart assumed the identity of a childhood friend, Irene Craigmile Bolam, who was also an aviator, while in captivity. There is speculation in the book that the voice of at least one of the Tokyo Rose propagandists during World War II was that of Earhart. The U.S. government is accused of being complicit in a cover up of Earhart's status as a Japanese POW and use in Japanese propaganda efforts to avoid disclosing the true mission of her 1937 flight as a spy for the U.S. military. Bolam, who later became a prosperous banker in New York and shared many friends with Earhart, always denied she was Earhart and once sued a book publisher in the 1970s which made an earlier claim about Earhart's true identity.

As a side note, it's interesting to note that Amelia Earhart's mother attended the trial of Iva Toguri, a Los Angeles resident who was tried and convicted by the U.S. government for treason as a Tokyo Rose voice during World War II in 1949. Toguri was later pardoned by President Gerald Ford after it was learned that federal prosecutors forced witnesses who testified against Toguri to commit perjury while on the witness stand. Some who believe the narrative advanced by Jameson note the striking similarities in the voice of Earhart and the voice of Tokyo Rose heard by U.S. soldiers, in addition to the uncanny physical resemblance of Earhart and Bolam. Skeptics point out that Toguri spoke with an accent unlike the distinctive American voice of Tokyo Rose. Irene Bolam died in 1982. Many U.S. military documents related to Earhart remained classified as top secret and hidden from the public all of these years later.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Denver Post's Fast Facts About Al Jazeera Documentary

The Denver Post's Matt Dolloff provides ten relevant facts I recommend to anyone interested in understanding just the facts regarding the substance of the revelations from an Al Jazeera documentary on the use of performance enhancement drugs by professional athletes in the U.S. as they relate to Peyton Manning. I'm certain Dolloff's summary is less than comforting to Manning, his PR machine and his lackeys in the mainstream media. Here's a quick summary of what Dolloff tells us:

1. It's illegal to prescribe human growth hormones ("HGH") for off-label use. Unless you suffer from growth hormone deficiency, are wasting away because of HIV-AIDS or suffer from short bowel syndrome, it's illegal for your doctor to prescribe HGH to you.

2. The Guyer Institute has prescribed HGH in the past based on the personal account given by our most well-known local sports reporter, WTHR-TV's Bob Kravitz, who claims he was once prescribed HGH to treat a medical disorder by Dr. Guyer without success. The medical disorder described by Kravitz did not fit within the permitted medical conditions for treatment with HGH.

3. The Al Jazeera documentary quotes a former pharmacy intern at the Guyer Institute, Charlie Sly, as claiming the clinic regularly shipped HGH to Ashley Manning at an address in Florida.

4. Manning's spokesman confirmed Ashley Manning was a patient at the Guyer Institute and had a prescription with the clinic, the identity of which the Mannings have not disclosed. Manning has confirmed he was a patient there as well in 2010 for treating his neck injury, although he strongly denies he ever received HGH from the clinic.

5. Al Jazeera's documentary never directly accused Peyton of using HGH, although the subject matter of the documentary naturally led those reacting to the report, including Peyton, to infer just that. Sly's original claims strongly implied the HGH shipped to Ashley was actually for Peyton.

6. Al Jazeera is a reputable news organization despite its perception that it is aligned with radical Islam. Dolloff notes the news organization has won numerous awards for its reporting, including two Peabody Award wins for documentaries in 2014.

7. Peyton Manning has never denied Al Jazeera's allegation that HGH had been shipped to Ashley Manning in the past.

8. Sly has a motive to recant his allegations now that they've been aired because of potential liability he faces for violating the federal HIPAA law protecting patients from disclosure of their medical information.

9. Al Jazeera obtained verbal confirmation from the Guyer Institute that Sly had worked at its Indianapolis clinic for three months starting in October 2011, not the later 2013 date the clinic claimed he worked after the documentary aired.

10. The NFL is taking the allegations serious enough to begin a review of the information disclosed by the documentary.

UPDATE: The Star adds some more, unflattering news about Dr. Guyer. He's been going through a protracted divorce with his wife for more than five years, who accuses him of failing to file income tax returns since 2006 either personally or on his businesses. The Star says the IRS has filed numerous liens against him. His step-son, James Lockhart, III, died in a shoot-out with Fortville police in 2012 after he was stopped for a broken taillight. Police found a pound of marijuana and six guns in the car. Officer Matt Fox survived gunshot injuries from that shootout. Here's the most relevant information for the current allegations surrounding HGH:
In 2007, Guyer's name showed up in a federal indictment against Thomas Bader and his company, College Pharmacy of Colorado Springs, Colo. It alleged that Guyer received illegal Chinese HGH from College Pharmacy in February 2007. A jury found Bader guilty in 2010 and he was sentenced to 40 months in prison.
So the feds knew this as far back as 2007 but left Dr. Guyer untouched. Why? Oh, and guess who Guyer was once a business partner. He was a partner in a business known as Guyer Durham LLC. That would be convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham. The bankruptcy trustee for Fair Finance obtained a $268,990 judgment against the partnership in 2012 for what the trustee described as "fraudulent transfers." For those of you reading this blog from outside of Indiana, if you haven't figured this out yet, our city is a freaking cesspool of corruption. We badly need the intervention of the Justice Department to send most of our city and business leaders to prison, but we can't get their help.

Here's a WISH-TV news story of the 2012 shoot-out involving Guyer's step-son.

Shiel Sexton And Immigrant Workers

You would be hard pressed to find a local general contractor with more political influence than Shiel Sexton. The company's managing partner is Brian Sullivan, husband of Mary Ann Sullivan, the former Democratic lawmaker and current IPS board member who has been bought and paid for by the education profiteers. They're a favorite company of your local Indy Chamber of Commerce and receive more than their fair share of local public works projects. I think Indianapolis residents should see the legal argument this construction company is making against an "immigrant worker" from Mexico who was injured on one of their work sites in a case on appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals  :
Noe Escamilla v. Shiel Sexton Company Inc. (54A01-1506-CT-602) While working at a construction site at which Shiel Sexton was the general contractor, Noe Escamilla sustained injuries that prevent him from obtaining future employment as a masonry laborer. He sued Shiel Sexton for lost future income. Shiel Sexton wishes to admit evidence of Escamilla's status as an immigrant and asserts that future wages should be limited to what Escamilla could make in Mexico. Escamilla argues that evidence of his immigration status would be more prejudicial than probative and that his lost income should be based on U.S. wages like those he has been making. The Scheduled Panel Members are: Judges Baker, May and Bradford. [Where: Court of Appeals courtroom (WEBCAST)]
Yeah, that's the argument attorneys for Shiel Sexton will be making before the Indiana Court of Appeals on January 6 at 1:30 p.m.: evidence of his immigration status should be allowed to diminish his claim. Be sure to tune in and listen to the oral argument webcast live on the Internet by clicking here. You can bet none of the local media will pay attention to this case since the owners of Shiel Sexton are certified members of the downtown mafia that operates Indianapolis government as their personal profit center.

Hat tip to Indiana Law Blog.

Guyer Institute Employee Previously Verified Manning Accuser's Employment In 2011

Shortly after Al Jazeera released the findings of its bombshell documentary in which a former pharmacy intern for the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis accused former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning of receiving HGH treatments at the clinic to help repair his neck following surgery in 2011 that sidelined him for the season, Dr. Dale Guyer released a statement to the media in which he stated that the man at the center of the allegations, Charlie Sly, had only worked for his clinic as an unpaid pharmacy assistant for three months in 2013 after Manning stopped visiting the clinic, not in 2011 when Sly alleged the treatments occurred.

Al Jazeera has released a recording of a call it made to the Guyer Clinic prior to airing its documentary in which an employee of the Guyer Institute identified as "Heather" verified Sly's employment started on October 17, 2011 and last no more than three months, contradicting Dr. Guyer's assertion that his employment took place in 2013. Here's the full text of Guyer's statement following the airing of the documentary:
Charles Sly was never an employee of The Guyer Institute. At the time in question, Mr. Sly was a pharmacy student in Nevada who emailed my office a request for an internship. Arrangements for his internship, including the specific start and end dates, were made through his school adviser.
Mr. Sly began his unpaid student internship with us on February 18th, 2013. He had no patient responsibilities at any time. Further, he had no affiliation with our office prior to February 18th, 2013 and has had none subsequent to the conclusion of his internship in May of 2013.
Ari Fleischer, a former Bush White House press secretary hired by Manning as a media specialist, first told the Denver Post that Sly had not been employed by the Guyer Institute in 2011 when Manning received his treatments there. Sly also claimed his employment took place in 2013 in a video statement he released late Saturday night recanting all of the allegations he made about Manning's treatment at the Guyer Institute while being secretly-recorded by Liam Collins, who conducted the investigation while working under cover for Al Jazeera. I suppose it's possible that Guyer's employee got the date wrong when she provided his verification of employment to Al Jazeera. Or perhaps the damage control efforts have spun a bit out of control. It wouldn't be a first for Ari Fleischer, who was repeatedly caught in much bigger lies by White House reporters when he served as a spokesman for President George W. Bush. Sly, who Guyer says was attending school in Nevada, obtained his Indiana pharmacy intern license on April 27, 2010, and it expired on May 1, 2013. I'm not sure why he would have acquired his intern license way back in 2010 if he didn't plan to work in Indiana as an intern until 2013.

The Al Jazeera reporter Deborah Davies defended her documentary on the Today Show this morning. She insists their report did not allege Manning was taking HGH, only that shipments of HGH were being regularly sent by the clinic to her at an address in Florida.

Monday, December 28, 2015

$10 Billion For Mass Transit Plan?

Did I miss something or did a regional mass transit plan projected to cost a little more than a billion dollars not long ago suddenly grow to a mouth-dropping figure of $10 billion--without the costly light rail component? The Star's John Tuohy drops that $10 billion figure in a story in today's newspaper discussing the plans for the first rapid bus transit line extending from Westfield in far northern Hamilton County to Greenwood in Johnson County on the far south side.
It's the most subtle of City-County Council actions, the routine filing of a routine parking ordinance. But the measure also is a distinct indicator that city officials believe a bus rapid transit system will be built in Indianapolis, drastically altering the traffic landscape on the city's busiest streets.
The proposal, introduced Nov. 30, would restrict parking on Shelby Street in parts from Prospect Street to Hanna Avenue. The parking ban would make room for the Red Line’s 13-mile, $100 million first phase, from 66th Street in Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis at Hanna.
The move reflects the confidence leaders have that a $75 million federal “Small Starts” grant for construction of the line will be approved this spring. The city’s public transportation agency, IndyGo, applied for the grant in September.
If everything goes as planned, construction would begin in spring 2017, and the first phase of the Red Line would open in 2018. The master plan, called Indy Connect, is for the Red Line to stretch 35 miles from Westfield to Greenwood. It would be just one of five lines crisscrossing the city. The entire $10 billion plan needs to be funded and built in stages, so the timetable is uncertain. 
The parking restrictions on Shelby Street most likely would begin a few months before construction starts. City-County Council member Jeff Miller said the ordinance would allow the city to adequately prepare residents for any loss of parking spaces and to ensure the process is done legally. 
The city was criticized earlier this year when prime parking spots in front of businesses and homes were commandeered for construction of electric car charging stations for the BlueIndy car share service. The restrictions are a hint of the traffic overhaul that will accompany the Red Line, including the building of bus platforms, bus-only lanes, prohibitions on turns on Meridian and College avenues and elimination of street parking.
Where did this $10 billion figure arise? The figure previously thrown around was $1.2 to $1.3 billion. This reporter just throws out that gigantic figure in the most cavalier of fashions as if it's just a drop in the bucket. And then people who work for this newspaper wonder why people in this city have so much distrust and discontent towards the newspaper's content.

The dedicated bus lane required for the first leg of the bus rapid transit line will wreak havoc in areas where it operates much worse than Blue Indy has already created in some of those same areas through the displacement of on-street parking. The line will run right down College Avenue instead of the more obvious and logical choice--Keystone Avenue. Clearly it's a Palladium to the Stadium vision of a party bus of sorts for occasional bus commuters heading downtown to a Colts or a Pacers game as opposed to one that would be utilized on a daily basis by serious commuters to go to and from work. Fellow blogger Fred McCarthy has some more observations on the planned traffic obstacles seemingly designed to create gridlock for those commuting by automobile here.

UPDATE: The Star updated its online story at 9:30 p.m. tonight and changed the $10 billion figure to $1 billion. The updated story contained no mention of the presumed error in the original story.

Manning Hires Ari Fleischer To Respond To Doping Allegations

Ari Fleischer (Getty Images)
Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, has been hired by Peyton Manning to manage his public response to allegations by a former pharmacy intern at the Guyer Institute (since recanted) that Manning received HGH treatments as a patient of the anti-aging clinic according to NBC Sports.
. . . Peyton isn’t content to rely simply on his denial. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer also has been enlisted to speak on Manning’s behalf.
“There’s no truth to it,” Fleischer said of the report, via Troy E. Renck and Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “What they have is a well-known con man from England who secretly recorded a former intern.”
Manning's public denials regarding the Al Jazeera undercover report have been most emphatic. Some reporters, however, are starting to focus more on the lack of a statement issued on behalf of Peyton's wife, Ashley, whom Sly originally claimed received mailed HGH treatments intended for Peyton's use. Manning does not deny that he or his wife received treatments at the anti-aging Guyer Institute; only that his treatments did not involve the use of the banned HGH. NBC Sports elaborated on this point:
It’s odd that Manning would quibble over the notion that he and Ashley went to the clinic “after hours” with a precise explanation of when they arrived there, presumably to account preemptively for the possibility that other current or former employees of the Guyer Institute will decide to provide details regarding Manning’s situation, on or off the record. It’s also noteworthy that, despite Fleischer presumably providing a comprehensive media strategy for dealing with the situation, Ashley Manning has not yet issued a statement denying the purchase or receipt of HGH.
With so many statements and reports and developments emerging in a fairly short time frame, it’s fair to wonder what the next statement, report, or development will be. Either way, the story has quickly mushroomed into something that could potentially be far more damaging to Manning’s legacy than his on-field performance from what could be his last NFL season.
This whole story reminded me of that Joseph Mobarecki case from a few years ago. He's the guy police arrested for possession of more than $100,000 worth of anabolic steroids, which police believe he had been dealing to a number of prominent athletes. One of our former corrupt local prosecutors, Carl Brizzi, made a plea agreement with Mobarecki's attorney, Paul Page, who also just happened to be Brizzi's business partner, under which Brizzi returned to Mobarecki $10,000 of the $17,000 police had seized from Mobarecki at the time of his arrest and allowed him to plead guilty to just one felony offense. Mobarecki served just 2 days in jail after pleading guilty and paying a $365 fine. There was no follow-up investigation to determine who Mobarecki's drug clients were. Page later pleaded guilty to real estate fraud in connection with a business deal where Brizzi was his partner. Thanks to our former U.S. Attorney and Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett, Carl Brizzi skated on all of the crimes he committed while acting as the prosecutor of the state's largest county. And then there was the prescription drug fraud case involving Colts owner Jim Irsay that Brizzi's predecessor, Scott Newman, swept completely under the rug. There is probably no other place in America where the rich and privileged can get away with breaking the law so easily than Indianapolis. I don't think Manning has anything to worry about even if he or his wife did anything wrong.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting perspective that WTHR sports analyst Bob Kravitz shared on the allegations. Kravitz actually received HGH treatments from Dr. Guyer at one point and doesn't exactly provide a ringing endorsement for his unconventional medical practice:
Several years ago, I wrote a column and quoted former Colt Anthony Gonzalez, who is now out of football, insisting that HGH use was common in NFL locker rooms and the league and the NFLPA needed desperately to come to an agreement on testing. Gonzalez couldn’t, or wouldn’t, provide a percentage of players using the drug, which is used medically for various ailments including wasting from AIDS. But, he said, it was significant, and needed to be removed from the game.
I’m going to share something with you: About a decade ago or more, I was dealing with several health issues and, in desperation, went to see Dr. Guyer at the Guyer Institute on 82nd Street. Guyer, and his practice, are currently at the center of this growing scandal. My primary complaint was overwhelming and relentless fatigue, and after trying several different remedies, Guyer put me on HGH for a couple of months. He told me it would help with my energy and basically bring me back to the land of the living. Unfortunately, it had zero impact – except on my bank account.
I quit using it, and years later, doctors eventually discovered what my issues were and addressed them properly.
It’s safe to assume that if Manning did, in fact, receive HGH from Dr. Guyer, he used it in an effort to recover from the multiple neck surgeries that sidelined him the entire 2011 season and put his career in peril. This was a time when Manning was desperate to return to the field, even going overseas to try some procedures that are not yet accepted in the United States.
If it’s true, though, Manning cheated. No, he wasn’t trying to gain an edge from performance-enhancing drugs, as so many athletes do. He was simply attempting to return to the football field.
But no matter.
Whatever it was allegedly used for, it was wrong, and if proven, Manning has a major issue on his hands . . . 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

What Fred Said

If you wasted any time this weekend reading today's Indianapolis Star or the Indianapolis Business Journal, there was plenty of fawning over Greg Ballard and what a supposedly great legacy he's leaving behind after two terms as Indianapolis' mayor. I could take the time to explain my reaction to their drivel, but I think fellow blogger Fred McCarthy summarizes it better than I can:
We believe most readers look at the front section of their newspaper to find out what’s going on in their city, state and the nation. This morning’s paper used just under half that space for non-news advertising.
We understand that’s what puts the paper out. But for that reason, we marvel at the fact that an additional ten percent of that section was wasted on a laudatory good bye to Mayor Ballard.
The fifth paragraph of the story admits that he "...has left his successor, Democratic Mayor-elect, with a public safety crisis...." The next paragraph tells us "...criticisms never seemed to stick."  Maybe that’s because true investigative reporting seems to have been banned by media management.
The business weekly paper has an even more syrupy - though less relative space - sendoff, quoting city "leaders" about the magnificent record of his honor.
One of the quotes is from the vice chairman of Pacers Sports and Entertainment. He tells us that as people got to know Ballard there was great confidence that "...this was going to be OK." What else might you expect to hear from the recipient of an additional annual gift of $16,000,000 taxpayer dollars?
 A bit of an editorial in the same paper generated some additional thought. With regard to the paper’s subscribers, we are told: their average household net worth is $2.4 million; average individual income is $234,000; 40 percent have attained millionaire status. And 42 percent are owners or partners in a business.
Is it fair to wonder how many of those specific businesses are among the recipients of the corporate welfare so avidly supported by the paper. Which are getting those TIF dollars which ought to be supporting legitimate municipal functions? Have any of those folks become millionaires in the last eight years? Why are millionaires on the public dole at all?
Perhaps the most distressing thing of all is the apparent elation and hope with which both papers report that mayor-elect Hogsett can be expected to follow the same path.

Manning Denies Report He Used Human Growth Hormone Treatment

A Texas pharmacist formerly affiliated with the Indianapolis-based Guyer Institute is denying a report contained in an Al Jazeera documentary in which he claims former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning used human growth hormone treatment (HGH) for a neck injury that sidelined him during his last season with the Colts in 2011. HGH was banned by the NFL in 2011.

The pharmacist, Charlie Sly, is recorded by an undercover reporter, Liam Collins, claiming Manning was given a supply of HGH in his wife's name in 2011 while Sly was still employed at the clinic specializing in anti-aging treatments. According to the report, Manning was just one of several professional athletes who were supplied illegal performance enhancing drugs. Sly, who could face professional sanctions for discussing a patient's confidential medical information, released a video statement in which he recants what he told to the undercover reporter.

The Denver Broncos released a strong statement on behalf of Manning denying the allegation. "The allegation that I would do something like that is complete garbage and is totally made up," Manning said. "It never happened. Never. I really can't believe somebody would put something like this on the air. Whoever said this is making stuff up."

This is not the first time Manning's medical treatment has become the subject of public speculation. There were also news reports that Manning had traveled to Europe in 2011 to receive stem cell therapy to treat his neck injury after his surgery. Stem cell therapy is one of the treatment therapies utilized by the Guyer Institute.

UPDATE: News reports describe Charlie Sly as a "pharmacist," although it's not clear whether he ever was a licensed pharmacist. I checked Indiana's online licensing records for Sly. He was never issued a license as a pharmacist. He was issued a pharmacist intern license on April 27, 2010, which expired on May 1, 2013. Sly is reportedly now living in Texas. According to Texas pharmacy records, he has never been issued any pharmacy-related license in Texas.

The documentary, "The Dark Side," has now been uploaded to YouTube.
In the undercover recordings, Sly says Dr. Dale Guyer regularly administered HGH drugs in his clinic in Indianapolis when he was employed there. A medical expert Al Jazeera spoke to said the drugs could only be administered to persons with growth hormone deficiency related to pituitary gland disorders, HIV wasting and short bowel syndrome where bowel has been removed during cancer treatment. It is illegal to prescribe the drugs for any off-label use. Sly told Collins during the secretly-recorded interview he was surprised the Guyer Institute hasn't been shut done already. He claimed Guyer's clinic frequently shipped the drug to Manning at various addresses, which were addressed to Manning's wife, Ashley. He also said he saw Manning in the clinic being treated on several occasions.

In response to Sly's claims, Manning said all of his treatments at the Guyer Institute were done in consultation with physicians and with the knowledge and approval of the Colts franchise. He cited medical privacy for not discussing any treatment his wife may have been receiving from the Guyer Institute. He said through his spokesperson that any drugs shipped to Ashley were used solely by her.

What Sly is captured on video doing is clearly illegal as well. He appears to be illegally dispensing drugs from his high-rise luxury condominium in Austin in the video. In one case, Collins captures MLB player Taylor Teagarden visiting Sly and discussing banned drugs he was receiving from Sly to improve his performance as a catcher for the Chicago Cubs. The Guyer Institute claims Sly was only an unpaid intern for the clinic in 2013, not 2011 as claimed in the Al Jazeera report when Manning was receiving treatment there. Manning says he used a hyperbaric chamber at Guyer's clinic recommended by his doctor and team officials. He also acknowledged receiving some nutrient IV treatments at the clinic.

In the video web ad below, Dr. Guyer discusses the use of bio identical hormone replacement therapy.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gannett's Predictable Top 10 Stories Of 2015

You knew before I told you that RFRA, the synthetic news story manufactured by Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star, would be the top news story of 2015. The others rounding out the top 10 stories of 2015 are similarly predictable for the Langley-run newspaper:

2. Jared Fogle and child pornography
3. Soaring violence as symbolized by the Amanda Blackburn fatal home invasion
4. Education rift between Supt. Glenda Ritz and the Pence-dominated State Board of Ed
5. BMV scandals
6. Indianapolis housing blight
7. The HIV outbreak in Southern Indiana blamed on abuse of opioid painkillers
8. The election of Joe Hogsett as Indianapolis mayor
9. The downtown apartment boom driven by millennials
10. The retirement of David Letterman

The undeniable realization that Mayor Greg Ballard's entire final year in office was devoted to schemes to defraud Indianapolis taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars, all of which were endorsed by the Indianapolis Star, failed to earn even an honorable mention.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ballard Vetoes Council Pay Raise

As one last parting shot at a council he does not like, Mayor Greg Ballard today vetoed a 43% pay raise the lame duck members of the City-County Council passed at its final meeting of the year. Ballard said he vetoed the pay raise because its last-minute approval wasn't subject to sufficient accountability. Well, I would like to believe that's why he really vetoed the pay raise, but he's had no problem signing into law other more substantive, costly measures that lacked sufficient accountability or transparency. It's more probable his veto was made for pure spite. Council members will now have to wait at least another year to get the pay raise they want, and all of the sitting members who will benefit from that pay raise will be forced to vote on it. And that's the way it should be. Ballard also vetoed a proposal requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen guns or face civil penalties, a law most objective observers agree is unenforceable due to state law preemption.

Investigation Of Multi-State Lottery Fixing Scheme Spreads To Fifth State

A week ago, investigators in Iowa announced the former security chief for the Multi-State Lottery Association was under investigation for fixing lottery winnings in at least four states. Hoosier Lottery officials quickly dismissed the possibility anything untoward had occurred with Indiana lottery winnings, but those same investigators have now added a fifth state, Kansas, to the list of past lottery winnings under investigation.

Eddie Tipton, a former security chief for the Multi-State Lottery, is accused of scripting a computer program that allowed him to know in advance a winning lottery number for games of chance where winners are supposed to be chosen by random number generators. Officials have discovered Tipton personally purchased two winning tickets in Kansas in 2010 worth $44,000. Prosecutors believe Tipton's scheme involved several associates, including his brother, Tommy Tipton, a former Texas judge, and Robert Rhodes, a Texas businessman.  Eddie Tipton has already been found guilty of fixing lottery winnings totaling $16.5 million dating back to 2005.

Prosecutors believe Tipton fixed jackpots valued at $8 million in Colorado, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. The Kansas charges were added just this week. Tipton's attorney insists there is no evidence he used a computer program to fix lottery winnings and a three-year statute of limitations should bar any claims against him for alleged rigged winnings dating beyond that period.

Iowa officials first became suspicious of something untoward going on after a New York lawyer representing a newly created trust tried to claim the $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot on behalf of a Belize-registered corporation, turning in the ticket hours before a one-year deadline. The trust eventually withdrew the claim rather than identify the ticket purchaser. The case took a big twist when investigators recovered surveillance video showing a man later identified as Tipton buying the winning ticket. Investigators say Tipton passed the winning ticket to Rhodes, a Sugar Land, Texas businessman, who in turn gave it to a Canadian offshore banking expert before it found its way into the hands of the New York attorney who attempted to claim the winning ticket on behalf of the trust.

WRTV's Call 6 earlier this year questioned the statistically improbable number of repeat winners playing the Hoosier Lottery. A Portage man, Michael Cuculic, has won 323 times over the past 20 years, claiming prizes worth $1.2 million, mostly from playing the Daily 4 game. A statistician calculated Cuculic would have had to spend $320 a day, or a total of $2.3 million on tickets, in order to win at the rate he picked winning numbers. Another Portage man, Tom Hatch, won 35 times over a one-year period, claiming $154,850 in winnings. He also played the Daily 4. Cuculic worked at a liquor store that sells tickets, and Hatch's brother owned a liquor store where tickets are sold. William May, an Indianapolis man, had won 113 times for total winnings of $406,957, mostly from Daily 4 and Daily 3.

In the video above, you will hear a video blogger raising questions about the improbable repeat Connecticut lottery winnings by several of the victims' parents and local officials in Newtown, Connecticut in a time period near the Sandy Hook school shooting case in 2012 in connection with news of the Multi-State Lottery fixing scheme. Connecticut, like Indiana, has partnered with the Multi-State Lottery Association, which operates random number generators for about 37 states. Where I've always suspected the area of fraud would occur is not in the picking of winners; rather, officials would rig the winning numbers in big jackpot games to cause repeated roll-overs. As the jackpot prize grows, lottery players buy more tickets, generating greater revenues for the lottery. The privatization of state lotteries by states like Indiana provides an extra incentive to the private operator to engage in that type of fraud because of the penalties the private operator must pay if it fails to meet minimum revenue targets.

Fort Wayne Council Votes Down 3% Pay Raise

It wasn't a big raise that the lame duck Fort Wayne council proposed for next year's council members, but when you're already the highest paid council members in the state, a pay raise at any time doesn't look good. The three percent pay raise proposed for Fort Wayne's council members was defeated when council members deadlocked 4-4 on the vote. Outgoing council member, Mitch Harper, was absent for the vote. Fort Wayne's nine council members currently earn $22,279 a year for their part-time jobs. The council approved 2% pay raises for Mayor Tom Henry and City Clerk Lana Keesling. The mayor currently earns $128,593, while the clerk earns $77,946.

UPDATE: Just for clarification purposes, Fort Wayne council members do not receive an additional per diem payment for attending council meetings. Indianapolis council members will earn pretty close to what Fort Wayne council members earn when you factor in the approximately $5,000 in additional pay they receive from per diem pay. Indianapolis council members voted to raise their base pay 43% from $11,400 to $16,400. With per diem pay, most Indianapolis council members will earn more than $21,000 for their part-time jobs. Also, Indianapolis has a 25-member council compared to Fort Wayne's 9-member council.

Washington Post Cartoonist Portrays Ted Cruz' Daughters As Monkeys On A Leash

The Washington Post published a cartoon by Ann Telnaes of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz in which his daughters were portrayed as monkeys tied to an old music box he's shown cranking. Post editor Fred Hiatt yanked the cartoon off The Post's website after some conservatives criticized the newspaper for breaking the cardinal rule of leaving the candidate's children out of politics. "It’s generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it,"Hiatt said. "I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree."

Telnaes was unapologetic. "I’ve kept to that rule, except when the children are adults themselves or choose to indulge in grown-up activities (as the Bush twins did during the George W Bush presidency)," Telnaes wrote. "But when a politician uses his children as political props, as Ted Cruz recently did in his Christmas parody video in which his eldest daughter read (with her father’s dramatic flourish) a passage of an edited Christmas classic, then I figure they are fair game." I don't recall Telnaes making any cartoon parodying Obama's daughters, who have been frequently used as props by him at White House events and in his past political campaigns.

Breitbart notes that children of Republican candidates never seem to be off limits when it comes to the mainstream media.

Hogsett Hosts Bipartisan Dinner With Council Members

Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett is doing something Mayor Greg Ballard never did during his eight years as mayor. He hosted a dinner meeting with a bipartisan group of City-County Council members. Councilors Jack Sandlin (R) and Zach Adamson (D) posted the photo of the council members with Hogsett taken during the dinner to their Facebook sites. Ballard's relationship with the council could not have been worse. He was not on speaking terms with a fair number of them, including some within his own party, let alone taking the time to sit down and have dinner with them. At least Hogsett appears willing at the outset of his administration to keep lines of communications open. Ballard, who had never held an elective office prior to being elected mayor, seemed to think it was beneath him to have to deal with council members.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Brainard Prepares Tax, Borrow And Spend Binge To Ring In New Year

Carmel Mayor James Brainard has big plans for the new year when his rubber-stamp council takes office. He tells The Star's Chris Sikich that he plans to spend $217 million over the next three years constructing another two dozen roundabouts and other street and road improvements. He plans to borrow the money by issuing bonds backed by a property tax increase--at least enough to bump those homeowners who have not already reached the property tax caps to that constitutional limit--along with a mix of federal and state funds.

All of those controls the old city council imposed on the Carmel Redevelopment Commission after the council had to bail out the RDC's run-away borrowing and spending with a $195 million general bond obligation backed by property taxes will come to an end if Brainard has his way. Restrictions the council placed on spending by the RDC without council approval is unconstitutional Brainard says. Instead, the council will have an appointee on the RDC, a Brainard stooge, it will have to rely upon to keep the RDC in check.

Brainard also plans to push ahead with his plans to make Carmel a second-class city. The council's size will grow from 7 to 9, and the mayor will get to appoint a controller to manage city finances rather than being bothered with an independently-elected clerk-treasurer. Those changes, however, will have to wait until the next election cycle in 2020. 

Homicide Rate Reaching Near-Record Level As Public Safety Is Job One Mayor's Tenure Ends

The proof is in the numbers. Violent crime has skyrocketed during Mayor Greg Ballard's two terms in office despite the benefit of two different local income tax increases, both of which promised more police officers to combat crime, and a pledge by the mayor to make public safety job one. We quickly learned that campaign pledge was a lie. His number one priority like that of every mayor since the creation of UniGov has been to redirect hundreds of millions of dollars in new borrowing and spending to subsidize downtown development projects pushed by his campaign contributors. According to a Fox 59 News report, the number of homicides for the year has now reached 141, up 7% from last year. That number is approaching the 150 homicides the city experienced in 2005 under former Mayor Bart Peterson, the worst year for homicides during his two terms in office.

Monday, December 21, 2015

How Quickly They Learn

Newly-elected City-County Councilors don't take office until January, but they've already learned the greatest perk of being a council member--free tickets to Colts and Pacers games whenever you want them. Suite tickets, no less, for the newly-elected Council members Colleen Fanning (R) and Blake Johnson (D) at this bipartisan affair. It's old hat for Councilor Jeff Miller (R), who is completing his first term after being re-elected to another four-year term for a job he complained paid too little before he just voted himself a 43% pay raise. Does Faegre Baker Daniels provide free babysitting services too? Don't forget to omit the free tickets from your ethics statements, boys and girls.

UPDATE: An observant reader catches this story in the Florida Times-Union about ethics concerns surrounding free tickets given to Jacksonville City Council members by the Jaguars' owner:
Several members of the Jacksonville Ethics Commission, who were briefed on the policy at their Wednesday meeting at Jacksonville’s City Hall, spoke in favor of the new system, which they say is more transparent and accountable.
The commission also approved proposed legislation, which the City Council would ultimately have to pass, that would allow the commission to fine city officers and employees for public records violations — such as not making records available, destroying them, or making a false statement about whether they exist. Ethics Director Carla Miller pushed for the change after some City Council members, who communicated during a September council meeting through a union boss using text messages, originally were unable to produce their text messages in response to a request from the Times-Union.
Miller and General Counsel Jason Gabriel wrote a memo to Council President Greg Anderson on Dec. 10 outlining the policy for Jaguars football tickets.
Miller was concerned the value of the suite passes and tickets exceeded the $100 gift limit allowed under states ethics laws from lobbyists or entities doing business with the city.
The lobbyist for the Jaguars would arrange for City Council members to attend a game and they would receive a black envelope with two $125 tickets, two passes to the owner’s suite, a premium parking pass and a note with instructions for game day. Several council members took gift boxes containing a pair of Tiffany champagne flutes.
Miller advised council members to stay in the owner’s suite for only 30 minutes to an hour, not the entire game as some have, using their judgment.
Instead of going through the lobbyist, the memo states the city’s share of the tickets should all go through the offices of the council president and the mayor, which will distribute them. The city owns Everbank Field, receives tickets and has its own suite. Once the city receives and distributes those tickets, the city will post them on the city’s online gift registration, which Miller said provides transparency and accountability.
City officers and employees must also report the tickets, still considered a gift, to the Florida Commission on Ethics.
Commission member Richard Brown, an attorney, said the Jaguars team is an integral part of the Jacksonville community, but is also a business and each year will likely come before the City Council asking for action on its behalf.
“We have to keep a very, very close eye on attempts to glad-hand and influence our officials,” Brown said. “It is no accident it was a lobbyist distributing the tickets.”
The council voted unanimously this month to give the Jaguars $45 million in public money for a project including an amphitheater and indoor practice facility.
You'll never read a story in the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star expressing any ethical concerns that the owners of the Colts or Pacers are bribing our local elected officials with free tickets to games. The newspaper is a co-conspirator with the professional sports team owners in ensuring that hundreds of millions of our tax dollars are constantly flowing to the teams to subsidize their billionaire owners. If that means bribing the mayor, city-county council members and state officials, then more power to them as far as The Star or any of the other media in this town is concerned. If we barred all of our elected officials from accepting free tickets to any sporting event or concerts, regardless of the source, and or any other gifts or free meals regardless of the amount, I suspect support from these same officials of subsidies to billionaire sports team owners might fade a wee bit.

Howey Politics: Pence Trying To Dump Ellspermann With Ivy Tech Job Offer

A lot of conservatives and some Republicans were never real happy with Mike Pence's choice of Sue Ellspermann as his running mate in 2012. Ellspermann is actually a Democrat who had to get the permission of Republicans when she first ran for the House of Representatives in 2010 against former House Majority Leader Russ Stillwell (D-Boonville). Howey Politics is now reporting that Pence is urging Ellspermann to apply for the top job at Ivy Tech, which will soon come open with the impending departure of President Tom Snyder. Howey Politics says Pence asked Ivy Tech trustees during a recent meeting to appoint Ellpsermann to the job.
. . . Following the October Indiana Republican Fall Dinner, rumors surfaced that Ellspermann might be off the Pence ticket in 2016. Matt Lloyd, deputy chief of staff for communications for Gov. Pence, immediately tamped that story down, telling Howey Politics on Oct. 28. “Gov. Pence believes Sue Ellspermann is the best lieutenant governor in the country and is grateful for her service every day. He looks forward to serving with her throughout his second term.”
Since governors were constitutionally allowed to seek second terms in 1976 with Gov. Doc Bowen, all of the tickets seeking reelection remained intact. The Pence administration source told HPI that if Ellpsermann is not selected as Ivy Tech president, she would remain on the ticket. “Nothing has changed since the quote you ran,” the source said.
A spokesman for Ellspermann said that her office would be issuing a statement later today.
On Friday, informed and reliable sources told Howey Politics Indiana that Gov. Pence was meeting with Ivy Tech trustees, urging them to appoint Ellspermann to be the next president. The Pence administration did not respond to HPI requests for information on Friday, Saturday and again Monday morning.
Ellspermann's office has confirmed interest in her potential appointment to the job according to Howey. Pence detractor Bill Ooesterle blames RFRA for the interest in her being moved over to the Ivy Tech job. Ellspermann's office says RFRA has nothing to do with it.

UPDATE: The Star is now up with its story on the development confirming that Ellspermann is poised to become Ivy Tech's next president. Naturally, the Gannett newspaper does not confirm its reporters learned of this development from a competing news source, Howey Politics. The Star's story is no different than the Howey Politics report. The governor is happy about Ellspermann's prospects of becoming Ivy Tech's president, even if it means losing his running mate, and The Star's favorite Pence dissident, Bill Oesterle, is convinced the move is over her disagreement with Pence on social issues like RFRA and an LGBT rights bill:
“Governor Pence believes Lt. Governor Ellspermann is uniquely qualified to lead Ivy Tech and strongly encouraged her to seek the position,” said Matt Lloyd, Pence’s spokesman. “Governor Pence believes Ivy Tech will play a key role in strengthening Indiana’s workforce and believes the lieutenant governor is an ideal candidate for the position. The governor will support the lieutenant governor's effort to lead Ivy Tech but respects the role the Board of Trustees will play in the decision-making process.”
Ellspermann did not return calls from The Star late Monday.But in a prepared statement, she said she was honored to be considered for the Ivy Tech job.
"While I have made the governor aware of this opportunity, this is a decision of the Ivy Tech Board of Trustees," Ellspermann said. "As lieutenant governor I am focused on making Indiana a state that works and improving the lives of Hoosiers.”
According to a senior Pence administration official, Ellspermann was approached during the summer by a member of the Ivy Tech board, who encouraged her to apply for the position. Ellspermann then spoke with Pence and expressed interest in applying, according to the official
News of Ellspermann’s potential departure comes just weeks before Pence is expected to make public his stance on a potential expansion of the state’s civil rights laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers.
In September, Ellspermann said she believed that as long as there was a perception that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act might be used to discriminate, it was important to fix it . . . 
Former Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle, who was one of Pence’s top donors until a falling out over RFRA, said “it’s obvious something precipitated a separation.”
“Clearly there were divisions over the handling of RFRA and non-discrimination, and have been for months,” Oesterle said.
Lloyd denied that a disagreement over LGBT rights played a role in Ellspermann’s interest in leaving the ticket.
“I’m not aware of any disagreement they’ve had over that issue,” he said . . . 
Lloyd said Pence is confident he can find someone qualified to fill the position if Ellspermann leaves, but he declined to speculate about possible candidates. Any replacement would have to be confirmed by the Indiana General Assembly . . . 
A reader has also pointed out that Ed Feigenbaum's Indiana Legislative Insight speculated about a rumored job change for Ellspermann into a job in academia. Rumors at that point focused on whether she would take a job opening at Vincennes University back in July. That rumor discussed the possibility that Teresa Lubbers, Commissioner of Higher Ed. would be appointed by Pence as lieutenant governor in a move to head off a primary challenge to Pence led by Bill Oesterle. Lubbers, of course, is very liberal former state senator who only identified with the Republican Party and landed lucrative jobs because she was married to a long-time moderate Republican operative, Mark Lubbers, who made a bunch of money during Daniels' tenure as governor pushing that corrupt, one-sided Rockport coal gasification deal brokered by Gov. Daniels, even while he freelanced as a communications consultant for Daniels' office.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Brainard's Month-Long Trip To India, Germany Paid For By State Department

A source familiar with corruption in Carmel city government has insisted that the Justice Department ordered the local FBI office and U.S. Attorney's Office not to pursue corruption leads in Mayor James Brainard's city administration. When I asked why, the person claimed it was because Brainard had agreed to serve as a leading Republican who would take up the cause of promoting Agenda 21 objectives premised on faulty, discredited science regarding global warming. Mayor Brainard recently took a month-long trip to India and Germany paid entirely by the State Department to promote building sustainable cities. From our local Langley-run newspaper:
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has spent the past month speaking to community leaders in India and Germany about ways to build sustainable cities while combating climate change.
He was among several local leaders throughout the country who attended the trip as a lead-in to the conference on climate change in Paris, which wrapped up Dec. 11. The U.S. Department of State paid for the trip.
Essentially, Brainard said, he told the story of Carmel.
Since 1996 Brainard has led an effort to create a new downtown in the suburb. While Brainard has championed the redevelopment of the city's urban core as a way to bolster economic development while creating a sense of community, he also believes that creating walkable, dense communities will allow residents to give up or lessen their reliance on cars.
India and Germany are "dealing with a lot of the same growth and infrastructure issues that we are," Brainard said, "and how to finance those issues. I told our story and how we handled it."
Brainard said India was eye-opening. The smog was so thick in cities that he felt as if he was chain-smoking cigarettes.
But he said many local mayors there were interested in Carmel's story.
"Planning departments in India are a new thing," he said. "As a result, they have tremendous traffic congestion. Everyone wants a car, and traditionally most Indians have not had a car. We're trying to help them think about the cost and how to build a grid and some very basic infrastructure."
Brainard, a Republican, recognizes that some in his political party have not embraced the science behind climate change. In all, 97 percent of climate scientists say human activity likely is worsening climate change, according to multiple studies cited by NASA.
But since 2013 Brainard has been one of 26 local government leaders who is on a task force on climate change created by President Barack Obama in 2013.
I'm wondering what Brainard told folks in India and Germany about what he's done since he's been in office to lessen Carmel's dependence on automobiles. All the street and highway improvements, particularly those made to Keystone and U.S. 31, have made travel by cars in his city much easier. All of the crony development occurring in downtown Carmel with TIF money has included the construction of publicly-subsidized parking garages to encourage people to drive their cars. Carmel operates no public transportation system of its own. His own city attorney, Doug Haney, was recently called out for billing taxpayers $1.15 to drive less than a half mile in his car from City Hall to a meeting at the Center for Performing Arts less than a half mile away. He obviously doesn't preach reducing carbon emissions to his own city employees. Here's what one India newspaper reported Carmel told local officials there about Carmel's efforts:
During his tenure in the past 20 years, the population of Carmel City witnessed a three-fold increase, according to the Mayor. He said that the effective measures taken by them for cutting down carbon emission, extending tree cover, management of generated waste and parking could be implemented in Thiruvananthapuram also.
Earlier, an average American drove two-hours a day, emitting high amounts of carbon and escalating the fuel. Taking note of this, the civic body decided to set up Traditional Neighbourhood Development (TND) units which had concrete plans and design principles to promote energy conservation while also creating walking and biking communities. A department of community services was setup to encourage Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. The city became the first in the US to set up the first municipal biopasteur system, he said.
He pointed out that green cover rose from 40 acres to 800 acres. As part of the tree plantation programme, more than 42,000 trees were planted in the city. Hybrid vehicles that run on battery and gasoline operated engines are being used. To produce electricity, wind power is tapped.
"Solid waste management there is undertaken by private players. The city is divided into five parts and door-to-door carting of waste takes place. Everyday from Monday to Friday, waste is cleared from a particular division is cleared and taken to a landfilling site where the garbage is recycled. Like the utility bills, waste management is also a paid service and each household is charged $8.95 cents per month.
In his reply speech, Mayor V K Prasanth said the city corporation will check the feasibility of carrying out similar projects in the city with the help of the respective committees. Deputy Mayor Rakhi Ravikumar, M A Baby MLA, Andie De Arment of US Consulate and municipal chairpersons were also present.
Mayor with officials| Kaviyoor Santhosh
Mayor Brainard meeting with local Indian officials (Kaviyoor Santouch/Photo)
In another India news report, Brainard was quoted about the use of public-private partnerships. "It’s important to have public-private-partnership mode but it should be done in a transparent way by taking people into confidence," Brainard said. "It is also important to choose civil engineers who suits larger public good." Hah! Brainard hires civil engineers based on how much they contribute to his campaign committee. Who does he think he's fooling?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

State Awarded $8.7 Million Loan To Indianapolis Charter School With Questionable Finances

Indiana officials who boost the benefit of charter schools claim they are held to the toughest standards in the United States, but a loan state officials made to an Indianapolis charter school facing a precarious financial situation is raising concerns. According to the IBJ. Tindley Accelerated Schools received an $8.7 million loan recently from the state, which represented half of its annual operating budget, as the school faces a cash crunch and two of its most recent treasurers quit amid questionable spending by its high-flying CEO, Marcus Robinson.

Hayleigh Colombo's report says the state loan, the largest of any granted under a new loan program offered by the state to charter schools, came as the school faced a cash crunch that caused it to eliminate some positions at its six schools and Robinson faced criticism of his lavish spending on travel outside the state where he's flown first class and stayed at first-rate hotels. In its application for the loan, the charter school system overstated its revenues, saying it needed additional money to "buy more time to grow enrollment" while it deals with "a short-term cash crunch." Some board members tell Colombo they are concerned about Robinson's management of the school and its ability to repay the state loan.

Board members told Colombo that the charter school network planned to spend more than it took in during each of the last three months. The IBJ was able to obtain credit card records of the school that showed its CEO spending lavishly during the past two years on first-class airfare and staying at luxury hotels like the Ritz Carlton and Waldorf Astoria. The school network even billed more than $10,000 for personal fitness training of its staff, which Robinson told the IBJ they were too busy to use. The board's most recent treasurer, Eric Stovall, said he resigned because he wanted nothing to do with Robinson's "unethical behavior." "He was living lavishly when he was on the road representing Tindley and that was inconsistent with the values necessary in order to serve the population we were serving," said Stovall, a managing director at a Chicago financial advisory firm. "If you’re a public-company CEO, maybe that’s OK. But a CEO of a nonprofit has no business staying at five-star hotels and flying first class."

The school network paid Robinson to frequently travel to New York where he was completing work at Columbia University on his doctoral program. The 43-year old Robinson claimed he needed to fly first class because of a back problem he had. John Neighbours, a board member who is also a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, the same law firm that serves as outside counsel to IPS, says the board has taken steps to curtail Robinson's future travel budget. "We don’t feel he needs to do some of the travel he was invited to do," Neighbours said. "As much as he’s become a well-regarded charter school leader, [travel] is not important right now because we need to be focusing on enrollment, how our schools are being run, and our academics."

Oddly, when Colombo spoke to Tindley's board chairman, Jan Guffin, he claimed he was unaware of any issues about excessive spending by Robinson. "The board doesn’t spend a lot of time on that," Guffin said, although he added, "We look at all the records routinely." Colombo notes that a recent State Board of Accounts report raised concerns about a lack of internal controls over financial reporting. management of outsourced bookkeepers, preparation of an accurate schedule of expenditures and late submission of financial reports it's required to provide to the Mayor's charter schools office.

The 2012 tax return filed by Tindley, the most recent one publicly-available, pegged Robinson's annual salary at over $210,000. He received additional non-taxable benefits and retirement benefits worth more than an additional $20,000, bringing his total compensation to over $231,000. The school reported over $110,000 in travel expenses in 2012. Meanwhile, the school enrollment target was at only 75% of its goal, and its expenditures were on a path to outpace revenues by $1.5 million. One board member raised concerns about borrowing money it could not repay. "If we borrow money from the Charter [School] Growth Fund and the state and we don’t get our enrollment up, that means we have no money to pay them back," Jo Anne Rutigliano wrote in an email obtained by IBJ. "So what happens to us when we renege on all of our loans? Is the board protected? Will we be sued?"

I don't think the board members of Tindley have anything to worry about. Indiana officials are bought and paid for by the education profiteers behind these charter schools. State lawmaker simply forgave $91.2 million in loans it previously made to charter schools before throwing another $50 million in loans their way this year. The money is essentially a blank check. They don't give a damn how the money is spent and these school officials at the charter school trough know it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Closer Look At Hogsett's Latest Appointment

Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett finally got around to announcing the naming of Rev. David Hampton yesterday as his deputy mayor of neighborhoods nearly a week after word leaked of the appointment. That announcement came with news Jeff Bennett would serve in another deputy mayor role in community development. Bennett previously worked in the Peterson administration as a director of Animal Care & Control. A less clear role for Kathy Davis, a former Lt. Governor and City Controller under Bart Peterson, raises some concerns.

Hogsett described her role as that of a "city systems engineer." By all appearances, her appointment is only short term and she will not fall under any single department of city government. Hogsett doesn't even know from which department she will be paid. She currently works as a consultant in the education sector with her work being financed by the likes of the Lumina Foundation and the William and Melinda Gates Foundation, although she's consulted other areas like IT as well in the past. Our immediate question is whether she will be a true city employee or merely be employed as an independently contracted consultant able to direct significant changes in the city-county government while drawing payments from other clients of her Davis Design Group, LLC. Independent consultants enjoy power without the ethical restraints imposed on city employees. A media that's doing its job would delve into those matters a little more closely and figure out what her potential conflicts are as she goes about re-directing how city-county government operates.

Her agenda already troubles us because the first thing on her mind according to news reports was the $50 million in city and county revenues she complains is being lost because of property tax caps. The fact she immediately went after property tax caps when anyone who has studied Indianapolis city-county government knows that overly generous tax abatements and ever-expanding TIF districts are largely to blame for the erosion of the property tax base. By pointing the finger at property tax caps right out of the shoot, she undermines her credibility with this writer. She correctly notes the city has used a number of one-time events like selling the parking meter assets and its water and sewer utilities, which can't sustain the city financially in the long run. That's the same water utility her former boss, Mayor Peterson bought for an inflated price and then turned over to a French company to operate for us at considerable cost before his successor came along and sold it off to Citizens Energy for an even more grossly-inflated price, all of which have contributed to our skyrocketing water and sewer bills.

Media And Universities Tolerate Terrorists But Not Critical Thinkers

There's a very disturbing story out of Florida today where officials at Florida Atlantic University have taken steps to terminate a tenured professor, James Tracy, who has questioned the government narrative on a number of high-profile shootings, including the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre, and terrorist events like the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing and the Boston Marathon bombing. The Sun-Sentinel newspaper owned by The Tribune Company appears to have led the charge to convince FAU officials that people like Tracy who espouse what the newspaper considers to be "wacko conspiracy theories," are too dangerous to be allowed to teach at a pubic university. A strongly-worded editorial by the newspaper today applauded FAU officials' move to terminate Tracy.
Should professors be able to espouse hurtful and offensive opinions while hiding behind the protective shields of academic freedom and tenure?
In our view, academic freedom is not a license to do or say whatever you want, consequences be damned. So we welcome the termination proceedings begun against Tracy this week by FAU, a university he continues to embarrass with his "didn't happen" conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter, the Boston Marathon bombing, the San Bernardino shooting and other mass attacks.
Like all freedoms, academic freedom has its limits. And Tracy has gained national notoriety not because he's a blogger spouting wacky theories, but because he is a tenured professor at FAU, where he has influence over students.
Yes, freedom of thought and expression should flourish at universities, but so should high standards of research. If a professor wants to be famous for controversial theories, let him first offer some peer-reviewed proof . . .
Well, this is quite a slippery slope. I have encountered in my lifetime dozens of respected people working in academia who subscribe to the belief that President John F. Kennedy's assassination was the result of the actions of a conspiracy involving rogue elements within our own government, not the lone gunman theory advanced by the government in the now widely-discredited Warren Commission Report. Tens of thousands of government documents related to the Kennedy assassination remain under seal more than 50 years later, further fueling suspicions the government has something to hide from us. Should every professor who believes the CIA orchestrated the assassination of President Kennedy be fired from their jobs?

Why does the American Left have so little tolerance for people who have a good faith basis for questioning what we're told by the government since history tells us government leaders often lie to the citizens, particularly on matters that would undermine their credibility or hold on power if the truth came to light? After all, it's not been that long ago since it was people on the Left who rightfully questioned our government's narrative about Vietnam, Watergate and Iran-Contra. All of these shameful episodes in American contemporary history involved conspiracies committed by those at the highest levels of our government. What would have happened in each of those instances had the media joined hands to condemn everyone who questioned why we were involved in the Vietnam War, believed Watergate was more than just a second-rate burglary or dismissed the notion our government was trading arms for hostages, or illegally funding a revolution in Nicaragua with proceeds from illegal drugs smuggled into the U.S. from Central America?

By contrast, the American Left and their friends in the media had no problem with Weather Underground Terrorist Bill Ayers being a tenured professor at the University of Illinois. Ayers admitted his unrepentant role in the bombings of the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and the New York Police Department as a form of protest against the Vietnam War. Ayers' long-time university employer more recently hired another notorious terrorist, James Kilgore, who was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army. As a member of the SLA, he participated in the kidnapping of Patti Hearst and the armed robbery of a California bank during which an innocent bank customer was shot and killed. Kilgore assumed a false identity of a deceased child before fleeing the country. Kilgore earned degrees at a university in Australia using his false identity. Kilgore was later found in South Africa where he was a teacher after nearly 27 years of being on the lam. He was extradited back to the United States where he was prosecuted and sentenced to six years in prison for second degree murder. Kilgore had no problem obtaining a research job with the University of Illinois following his release from prison, and the media and academia largely defended the university's employment of Kilgore.

I totally understand people's discomfort with discussing the possibility that our own government would stage mass shooting and terrorist events to manipulate public opinion and engineer consent towards the ends it seeks, but anyone who is a student of history knows that those in power have been doing such things as long as governments have been instituted among men to maintain the desired civil order. The Sun-Sentinel's complaint that Professor Tracy's beliefs lack peer-reviewed proof is laughable. Firing him from his job is the newspaper's fall back position since law enforcement concluded there was no basis for arresting him for supposedly committing a crime because the parents of the victims, each of whom have collected millions of dollars in public donations following the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, believed he is engaged in unlawful harassment. Why those parents choose not to sue him for defamation for suggesting they were paid for their roles as crisis actors in a drill, not a real shooting where they lost a child, is a question they should answer if they believe they've been harmed by his public views.

Please listen to Professor Tracy's discussion of modern propaganda techniques utilized by the corporate state to effect anti-democratic and destructive policies. If our country has no tolerance for the participation of rational and reasoned ideas of persons like Professor Tracy in academia, then we truly are no better than Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union or Communist China.

If you wonder how someone with a Phd could conclude that "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook" because it was just a FEMA drill to promote gun control, I would urge you to read this well-researched work found in this on-line book by clicking here, which has barred from sale on its website. Critical thinkers would allow for a free discussion of their research and debate about the very strange facts they turned up in their efforts to learn the truth about Sandy Hook and unprecedented changes in the state's freedom of information law to block access to otherwise available public records in the event's aftermath.

From the horse's mouth, Attorney General Eric Holder explaining how the government is going to "brainwash" people into viewing guns differently, which is precisely what Professor Tracy theorizes is behind the need for staged events.
Author and professor Jim Fetzer summarizes it all succinctly here:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hated Pharmaceutical Entrepreneur Arrested For Securities Fraud

The 32-year old pharmaceutical entrepreneur who became hated worldwide after buying a life-saving drug and jacking up the price from $13.50 per pill to $750 has been arrested by federal authorities at his home in New York on securities fraud charges. According to Bloomberg, Martin Shkreli is accused of taking stock from Retrophin, Inc., a biotech firm he started in 2011 and using it to pay off unrelated debts. Shkreli is accused of creating a complicated shell game after a hedge fund he created, MSMB Capital, lost millions in bad investments. He allegedly set up sham consulting agreements to cover up secret payoffs he made to investors. Shkreli's New York attorney, Evan Greebel, was also arrested and is accused of conspiring with Shkreli to commit the fraud.

Shkreli is the son of Jewish immigrants from Albania and Croatia. He cut his teeth in the world of Wall Street finance working for hedge fund manager, Jim Cramer. He held jobs at UBS and Intrepid Capital Management before launching his own hedge fund in 2006. His arrest follows a well-publicized lawsuit Retophin brought against him after he was ousted as its CEO in which he was accused of breaching his duty of loyalty to the company and violating securities rules. The company sought $65 million in damages from him, which he said "would not dent me." "I'm licking my chops over the suits I'm going to file against them," Shkreli said." It was his acquisition of the life-saving drug, Daraprim, that would bring him unwanted notoriety. News that he was raising the price of the life-saving drug 5,500 percent brought him worldwide condemnation.
Trouble: Martin Shkreli, 32, has been arrested on charges of securities fraud
Shkreli being arrested in New York (AP Photo)