Saturday, July 2, 2011

IBJ On Topic Yet Again

The IBJ is on top of it, yet again.  In today's issue, Cory Schouten follows up on the issue of the Broad Ripple Parking Garage.  (Unfortunately for those without a subscription, the article is locked)

To summarize the article without trespassing too far into IBJ copyright territory...  the summary provided as a teaser to all says:
"City mum on economics of $15M Broad Ripple garage project"
Both city officials and the developer of a proposed 350-space parking garage in Broad Ripple have refused to share financial projections for its construction and operation, describing the documents -- as a "trade secret" exempt from public disclosure."
The article covers more than the public assess issue.  Schouten goes through the high points of each competing bid and offers quotes from many of the players.

Schouten has a fantastic quote from Ersal Ozdemir, CEO of Keystone Construction, a partner in the winning project.
“I think it’s a heck of a deal,” Ozdemir said. “We’re spending a lot of time and money developing this project. Do we want to make money? Sure. We won’t make the same profit as a private deal, but there are intangible values for us here.”
All I can say about that is -- if the garage was doable as a private deal, and they would make more money doing it that way, why are the taxpayers involved at all?

Of particular interest, to my eye, was the side bar that provides an IBJ analysis of the cost breakdown of the proposed garage project and how it might add up to $15 million.  This analysis includes $4.5 million for acquisition of the property.  The property will be leased, however, not purchased.  The cost of the land, therefore, becomes an operating expense, and not a cost of construction.

Schouten also touches on the 2007 study of parking needs in Broad Ripple, done by Walker Parking Consultants, another partner in the winning proposal.  This study determined that the current site was inadequate and also estimated the cost of construction, without land purchase or building demolition, at about half the price of the current proposal.

Schouten brings up Ozdemir's campaign contributions to Greg Ballard and his hiring of former Ballard Chief of Staff, Paul Okeson.

Schouten goes into the fact the the winning bid actually proposed two versions of this project FOR LESS MONEY.  Yes folks, thanks to the keen fiscal responsibility and business acumen of the Ballard Administration, the price tag went UP during negotiations between the City and the bidders with the winning proposal.   Wow ! Adequate words escape me.

Back to the public access issue.  As I noted in a previous blog entry (see "Are Taxpayer Dollars Being Flagrantly Misused?"), I was denied the financial analysis of the winning proposal, with the City stating it was information to be protected as a 'trade secret'.  I have filed a formal complaint with the State's Public Access Counselor.  I will have to amend that complaint to add the fact, ferreted out by Schouten, that other bids, losing bids mind you, had the financial analysis included in the materials provided to the public by the City.  So, how can they claim that only the winning bidder's numbers need protection.  In addition, Schouten reports that the City will release the winning bidders' financial analysis, once the deal has closed.  

So, let me summarize the Administration's position on public access to the key portion of the winning proposal.  Nope, you can't have it because it is a 'trade secret' and State law protects disclosure of 'trade secrets'.  Yes, you can have the financial analysis from non-winning bids.  No 'trade secrets' there.  Once we have the deal finalized and the terms become contractual obligations of the City and the City's taxpayers, then the financial analysis of the winning bid will be provided to the public.  At that point it will no longer be a 'trade secret'.  Anyone know what kind of logic is being applied here? 


Paul K. Ogden said...

Pat that doesn't make sense. If it's a trade secret before, it's a trade secret after. Then to release the "trade secrets" for the other bidders?

Had Enough Indy? said...

Paul, you had me at "that doesn't make sense" !

Had Enough Indy? said...

Oh, and I forgot the part where is wasn't a trade secret before it was a trade secret.. When Walker did the 2007 study, they included the very same 'trade secrets' in that report that are now being protected.

Maybe, just maybe, the City is protecting the bidders with public access policies, and not the citizens they were elected to serve. Just throwing that out there....

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the whole IBJ article yet, but it sounds like they were caught bid rigging and now they are regrouping to cover their butts after you uncovered that taxpayers were actually paying 100% of the cost of this garage with no ownership or revenue in return.

Don't think the mysterious land lease is enough to keep some people from getting burned if not going to jail assuming the local or federal prosecutor have any integrity.

We know the state will do nothing considering they are willing to believe Whites made up story about voting residency. (ie I didn't live with my hot girlfriend, but lived in my ex-wifes basement with her new husband out of respect for my ex-wifes wishes;)

The cover up is usually the thing that puts people in jail.

Anonymous said...

Once again simple explanation:

Public Risk / Private Gain

Objective: Create profit centers
for corporate clients.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm not sure going to the PAC is a good idea. You are not required to go to the PAC first...only if you want attorney's fees if you do have to take it to court.

The PAC has generally been very hostile to citizens asking for open records. Maybe it's better under the new guy (who could hardly be any worse than Heather Willis Neal). But the guy is from Barnes & Thornburg, naturally of course.

I think it's almost better to have one of the media outlets take the issue straight to court instead of messing around with the PAC. Unfortunately the PAC may give a bogus opinion that helps the City and the contractors. Then when you go to court that opinion becomes persuasive to the judge...more so than it should be.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I would also point out that that land does not cost $5 million to buy. Plus they are leasing that makes no sense to include "acquisition costs" in the cost.

Had Enough Indy? said...

The PAC is the only hope that us peons have. They have helped me get records in the past, so...

Ultimately we need stronger sunshine laws in this state. If any Legislators are reading this -- please help with better access to public records and penalties for those governmental units that deny access or that play games in order to intimidate and harrass those trying to find out how their tax dollars are being spent.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:20 wrote:

"We know the state will do nothing considering they are willing to believe Whites made up story about voting residency.

The cover up is usually the thing that puts people in jail."

There's a risk of jail only if they happen to be Republican. Otherwise the get a pass.

Anonymous said...

Check out the "profit" in CED projects (NSP, CDBG, etc.) of DMD.

Anonymous said...

Any comment about Phil Webster being forced to retire?

I personally think it's a shame he's gone.

Paul K. Ogden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 11:10,

Wow, I don't know how you managed to bring Charlie White into this, but I find it interesting that you think the Commission (including the Democrat) should have not believed the four witnesses who all testified that White was living at the ex-wife's house instead of at the condo with his fiance because the fiance is "hot."

Apparently you don't believe that some women may not actually want to live with a man before marriage. I do find your condescending attitude toward women to be more than a little curious.

As you think evidence should be discarded because of the physical appearance of a witness, let me say I'm thankful you're not a judge.

Had Enough Indy? said...

anon 2:12 - What does CED and NSP stand for?

Anonymous said...

CED = Community Economic Development

NSP = Neighborhood Stabilization Program