Monday, March 28, 2016

IPS Board President's Husband Has Financial Stake In Outcome Of Coca-Cola Property Sale

Mary Ann Sullivan (left) with WRTV's Rafael Sanchez (WRTV Photo)
It's quite amazing what our local news media failed to disclose when it obtained copies of bids submitted to the Indianapolis Public Schools by competing developers to purchase and redevelop that valuable Coca-Cola property on Mass Avenue. Thanks to a tip from a reader, buried in documents made available on the IPS' website we discover that Shiel Sexton is listed as the general contractor on the two alternative bids submitted by Milhaus Properties.  Brian Sullivan, who is the managing partner of Shiel Sexton, is married to IPS Board President Mary Ann Sullivan. None of the news stories reported by our local mainstream media have once mentioned the financial ties Sullivan's husband has to the prized development project on the board's agenda. Sullivan has no choice but to recuse herself from this decision, although I'm sure prior acts by the board have ensured her wishes will be carried out.

Milhaus Properties submitted two of the six proposals the IPS board will consider after getting a recommendation from a Real Estate Advisory Committee the board established to review the proposals. Under proposal A, Milhaus is offering to purchase the Coca-Cola property for $15 million for a $121 million investment. It is seeking a $6.5 million public subsidy from the City of Indianapolis for that proposal. Under proposal B, Milhaus is offering to purchase the property for $17.5 million for a $217 million investment. It wants $25 million in public subsidies for its alternative proposal. In addition to Shiel Sexton, Milhaus is partnering on its two proposals with Core Redevelopment, Ratio Architects, SHK, Shrewsberry & Associates, High Alpha (i.e., Scott Dorsey) and Nextech.

The real estate advisory committee making recommendations to the board consists of Maria Quintana (Bose McKinney), Bill Taft (LISC), Hope Tribble (City of Indianapolis), Bud Myers (IHA), Andy Hine (ARC Design), Lisa Jeff (L'Acquis' Ventures), George Tikijian (Tikijian Associates) and Maury Plambeck (Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center). The tangled web of conflicts these individuals have makes it impossible for them to objectively evaluate these competing bids, but hey, who's asking any questions anyway? The committee was originally supposed to recommend a preferred bidder at the board's March 17th meeting but a vote was delayed until next month after board members requested more time to review the competing proposals. It's not clear which bid proposal the advisory committee favors at this time.

According to the IBJ, Abbe Hohmann of Site Strategies, LLC is coordinating the bid process for IPS. In addition, IPS hired a former mayoral staffer in the Ballard administration, David Rosenberg, who seemed to play some role in almost all of the controversial, illegal transactions in which the prior city administration was involved, including Vision Fleet, Blue Indy and the aborted Criminal Justice Center project. He gets a key role in this project after he was hired by the board as IPS' new director of operations despite the fact he lacked any of the qualifications the posted job opening required applicants to possess, a fact of no interest or consequence to our useless local news media. Obviously, IPS has no authority to make any decision over what subsidies the City of Indianapolis plans to offer for the project, but Rosenberg told the IBJ he had discussed the subsidy question with city officials and that he didn't think the request for subsidies "would kill the project." Of course not. The politicians won't bite the people greasing their palms regardless of how much it costs the lowly taxpayers.

Brian Sullivan, incidentally, penned a column in the latest edition of the IBJ promoting the passage of the quarter percent increase in the local income tax to fund a bus rapid transit system that could cost taxpayers upwards of $1 billion. Sullivan's construction firm will no doubt get a piece of that action as well if it comes to fruition. All of the firms which pay off the politicians with large campaign contributions always seem to be on the winning bid teams.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Wow, Wow, Gary Welsh! I am not a bit surprised at all this news nor am I a bit surprised that local broadcast and print media ignored these incestuous relationships. Is there not one crooked process hack Democrat Mary Ann Sullivan and her little hubby do not like or are not willing to participate?

I have zero doubt the outcome of that valuable Coca Cola Plant parcel is already determined. Remember, NOTHING occurs in politics that is not first planned and ironed out in advance and usually in secret.

Also no surprise that Tadd Miller, owner of Milhaus, seems to be playing all sides. He of the contemporary vinyl village-style downtown buildings, he of the many Marion County GOP candidate fundraisers he threw money at. It might be advantageous and eye-opening to learn if it is true that Miller double-crossed the Kosenes and cost them a downtown project about which I was told the Kosenes believed Tadd was working for them. Wasn't that outcome a surprise to Hillary and Jerry? So much for expecting loyalty for mentoring an up and comer, huh?

Anonymous said...

Nice work, Gary! I wonder how many local news reporters read this blog to find stories their bosses don't want them writing about.

Anonymous said...

Why does IPS have any say at all in the redevelopment of this property? If it is surplus property, it should be sold to the highest bidder period. Let the buyer sort out with city officials what will pass muster as a suitable redevelopment project.

Anonymous said...

Great work, Gary. I've tried to understand the lizard brains of those who exploit the people of Indy. I've tried to reconcile the reality I see on the ground (abandonment, crumbling infrastructure, the flight of the productive) with their vision of this city as dynamic and vibrant and I it drugs or something else? Does their obsession with gay sex blind them to everything else? Are these people really as stupid as they appear? The irony in all of this is that as the productive flee Indy, there's no way this ends well for them. The tax base continues to evaporate. Have any of these big thinkers thought of the end game? Do they even know what the end game is? This is gonna be fun to watch. I'm glad I'll be far away when it all comes tumbling down on them.

Flogger said...

Anon 10:09 your solution is so logical, that it will never see the Light of Day. There is money to be made in commissions, expense billing and studies when the process is drug out and over complicated. Then we have this supposed valuable property that will need a Que the Drum Roll and Flashing Disco Lights - A Subsidy.

Anon said...

Another dirty deed from our loyal to the better of the children board. You all treat us teachers like pond scum and then you line your own beds with silk sheets. When does it end!!!

Anonymous said...

I wondered how long it would take before Mary Ann Sullivan was found to be helping out her husband and other pals as a school board member. A look at the list of contributors who provided all the money to get her elected would no doubt be productive for anyone looking into entanglements now or in the future. This proponent of charter schools, along with the other board members with charter school ties, will not be a positive for poor old IPS.