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"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.
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."
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?