Monday, November 8, 2010

Council Committee - Some Curious Items Introduced In Mysterious Ways

I was pulling down the public notices of this week's Council committee meetings when what did I see, but an example of a proposal that comes in by the side door - usually too late for the public to realize what is happening - and some Councillors don't even realize that this side door exists.

The prescribed pathway for introduction of Proposals is to meet a date certain to submit the Proposal in writing - usually 10 days prior to a full Council meeting. Then, the Proposal is read into the Council record along with all of the other Proposals introduced that night. The introduction of the Proposals always includes the name of the committee to which that Proposal is assigned. The committee then takes up discussion of all Proposals assigned to it, the next time they have a scheduled meeting.

This pathway does not hold for some Proposals that come before the Economic Development committee. I am still not clear on the limitations of topics that may avoid the usual pathway, but they include applications for State financial assistance to build apartments that will include some low income units - or section 42 housing. It seems there are other uses for the side door, as well - as in hiding the setup for a development called 'North of South' - or No-So, as dubbed by a commenter on another blog. There is also a pesky little $14 million bond for Harlan Bakeries that is using that side door tonight.

Proposals 284 and 293 will be considered by the Economic Development committee of the Council when they meet tonight at 5:30 pm in room 260 of the City-County Building.

The digest of Prop 284 states:

consents to the waiver of certain recovery zone bond volume to the state in exchange for an allocation of midwestern disaster area bond volume

The digest of Prop 293 states:

authorizes the issuance of one or more series of Economic Development Revenue Bonds in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $14,000,000 for Harlan Bakeries, LLC for the design, construction, renovation, improvement and equipping of a new building and expansion located at 7575 Georgetown Road (Council District 1)

If you were to look for these Proposals online, you would be disappointed. They have not been posted. I have asked for a copy of Prop 284. But, each individual having to make an open records request for a Proposal to be discussed within 12 hours is more than preposterous, and begs the question - what are they trying to hide?

The only thing that comes to mind for Prop 284 is No-So, because it calls for the use of 'midwestern disaster area bonds'. That caught in my memory, because the area proposed for the development isn't the site of a disaster, by any means.

Yup, this side door has been opened to allow the consideration of these Proposals without taking a chance that the public might object and want to appear in person to speak out against them.

How's that for transparency?

[edited to update - 11-8-10] I received a copy of Prop 284 from Melissa Thompson, Clerk of the Council office. It proposes swapping an UNSPECIFIED amount of stimulus money bond volume that is due to expire at the end of 2010, for an equal amount (whatever that might be) of bonds from the 'Midwestern Disaster Area' bond volume, that will expire at the end of 2012. The swap would be between the City and the State. The Proposal further says that this deal was struck by the Director of the Indianapolis Bond Bank, who would be Deron Kintner. Kintner is the City's point person in pushing the No-So deal. At the Economic Development committee of the MDC meeting that I attended a week or so ago, Kintner told the Commissioners that they wanted to close the No-So deal by the end of the year to take advantage of the stimulus bonds. Guess that's not so important now. Since the MOU with the No-So developers mentioned the Midwestern Disaster Area bonds and not the stimulus bonds, I have to be suspicious of his comment to the Commissioners, anyway.]

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