Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Superbowl Ordinance Back At Council Committee Tonight

The first item on the City-County Council Rules committee agenda for tonight is Prop 188, the Superbowl Ordinance.  The meeting starts at 6 pm in room 260 of the City-County Building.

Prop 188 hands over almost all of the detail and certainly all of the authority for decisions to the Department of Code Enforcement.  More specifically, it hands over the promulgation of specific regulations to the approval of that agency's Board, and the licensing and more decisions to the Department's License Administrator.

The ordinance defines 'special event zones' and 'clean zones', but leaves the approval of same in the hands of the License Administrator, with no public input possible.  Licenses for vending and other activity within the clean zone also requires the approval of the event sponsor.

The License Administrator would also have the sole power, again without any public input, to approve signage that is currently illegal inside Marion County.  This is "including but not limited to inflatables, cold air balloons, banners, pennants, flags, building wraps, A-frame signs, T-frame signs, projected image signs, electronic variable message signs, and light emitting diode signs. Mobile advertising signs shall not be  permitted under this provision."

From the beginning (see "Superbowl Ordinance Before City-County Council")  I have tried to obtain the details of what is actually going to be the end result should this ordinance pass.  I have been rebuffed by the Administration that claims to be 'transparant'. 

I first requested of DCE, what regulations it was considering proposing to its Board, should Prop 188 be enacted.  I was told, "As a matter of process, we cannot develop or propose regulation unless an ordinance is in place".  I then asked them for a copy of all correspondence between DCE and any member of the Indianapolis 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee, as it was apparent that the NFL and the Host committee and the City had some sort of agreements in place - if only to land the 2012 Super Bowl.  Monday I obtained 702 pages of emails - more on them below. 

At the same time, I requested of City Legal, a copy of any agreement between the City and the NFL regarding Super Bowl 2012.  I was told the City "did not locate any documents responsive to your request".  I then asked for any agreement between the City of Indianapolis and any organization regarding Super Bowl 2012.  I was told that my request lacked enough specificity to be fulfilled, according to State Law requirements. 

Nobody is divulging exactly what is being agreed to through this ordinance.  The public and the Councillors are being asked to buy a pig in a poke.

Back to the 702 pages of emails that I did receive.  Most were mundane - setting up meeting dates, etc.  Here are some of the piece that I could glean from the messages:

1) the superbowl ordinance is based on what the City or the Indianapolis 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee (ISC),I do not know which, proposed to the NFL as part of its bid package to land the 2012 Super Bowl for Indianapolis.  In an email dated September 18, 2010, Adam Collins (the author of the ordianance and DCE's license administrator) introduced himself to Michele Raines (VP, Event Operations & Government Relations, ISC) saying:
By way of introduction, I have been tasked to head the City's efforts to revise our current special events ordinance to accommodate changes required for the upcoming Super Bowl and other civic sponsored major events.  To ensure that we are tackling all the areas that the City has agreed to in the Super Bowl bid, I was hoping you had a copy of the executive summary that you could send to me electronically.
the response from Raines:
Adam - it's nice to meet you and I look forward to working with you.  Attached are the bid specs for the Clean Zone ordinance from the NFL that we have committed to meet.
There was an attachment which was not provide to me in the 702 pages.  I subsequently requested a copy of it.

2) the public has been the last to be enlightened about what is in the ordinance - and I would also say that we are still very much in the dark as to what details will emerge AFTER prop 188 passes.

For several months, the draft ordinance that Collins was working on was called the 'Clean Zone ordinanance' in emails.

The initial draft ordinance was ready in mid-December, 2010.  By early January, 2011, the ISC was reviewing it.  On January 28, 2011, a review and comments on it were returned to Collins from Scott Bearby, Managing Director of Legal Affairs/Associate General Counsel for the NCAA.

On June 13, 2011, there was an inquiry to Collins from the ISC's Andrew Arnold, Director of Event Operations, as to whether he might share the draft with the NFL's Clean Zone attorney.  The response was:
I see no issues with it, so long as he agrees that we're in the top 1% of ordinances relative to the Clean Zone in the country.
Personally, I think that the City needs to create ordinances that hold the residents' interests above all others.

On June 22, 2011, there was a meeting with the Indiana Sports Corp. to inform them of the ordinance and solicit their support before the Council.

Also on June 22, Collins requested help in arranging a briefing for Mark Wolf from BRVA and Susan Vogt from Riley Area/MAMA and to solicit their support at the Council.

Prop 188 was introduced at the June 27 meeting of the full Council.

On June 30 there was a meeting with residents of the Babe Denny neighborhood that abuts the south side of Lucas Oil Stadium, where an 'events ordinance' was noted fairly in passing.  It was mentioned that this ordinance had been introduced to the Council as Prop 188.

3) meetings with neighbors deliberately held back information

There was a meeting with residents of the Babe Denny neighborhood earlier, as well, on January 26.  In an email conversation that started two days earlier between Arnold (ISC), Collins (DCE), and Rick Powers (Director, DCE) -- Arnold asked Powers if he wanted to discuss potential parking ordinance changes with the neighborhood.  Powers asked Collins if his work was far enough along to do so.  Collins said "So long as we emphasize the fact that our concept is preliminary, we could begin to provide information.  Andy [Arnold], I'm assuming this means that you didn't have any significant issues with the parking portion of the ordinance?"

The response from Arnold was:
That's correct...however, after further discussion with Mel [Raines] today, we think that we should hold off on discussing this detail for now, and save it for a future meeting that when we can discuss in further detail, along with most of the other details.  If I remember correctly, we initially added this to the agenda as a way to flush out potential issues/concerns with the changes.

I think our general course for tomorrow should be to briefly mention parking in the overall Super Bowl planning overview, saying that we know everyone has some interest in the topic.  Inform them that we will be gathering additional info while in North Texas, and share that we will continue to address in ongoing meetings with them. If attendees have specific questions during the Q&A period, try to avoid too much detail until a future meeting.

Our goal is to work very hard to keep the meeting positive, and we're afraid that introducing something that everyone may not agree with could turn the meeting negative quickly, I hope that this makes sense and that you both agree.

This also gives us time to discuss the draft ordinance as a committee on Friday, before presenting anything to anyone publically.

Please let me know if you have additional questions.


Parking is the number one issue with the residents of Babe Denny.  The neighbors were handled, not dealt with as adults who had a right to information.

4) there are, indeed, specifics being considered that are not called out in Prop 188, but would be implemented should it pass into law.

A number of links to news items were circulated regarding the Dallas Super Bowl.  Of note is one from the the Fort Worth Star Telegram ("Super Bowl kept Arlington staffers busy")
From cracking down on counterfeit NFL merchandise sales to addressing illegal parking and advertising, Super Bowl weekend kept Arlington's code compliance officers busy.

Code officers, along with health inspectors, logged more than 320 inspections at neighborhoods and businesses around Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 4-6, city records show.

Much of the activity focused on making sure private businesses and churches were legally operating their entrepreneurial parking lots, though code officers also addressed issues such as junked cars, abandoned shopping carts and illegally operating pedicabs and pulled up at least 80 so-called bandit signs along street medians.
We know from a presentation that Collins made on July 16, 2011, to the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, that there are plans for a 'rocket docket' during the weeks of Super Bowl festivities, where a Judge will be available at all times to shut down violators nabbed by Code Enforcement Officers.  Who, exactly will be paying for these services that will be provided to protect the NFL's commercial license agreements?

Minutes of the December 9, 2010, meeting of the ISC Restaurant Super Service Commitee provided as part of the 702 pages illuminate some additional expectations.  The NFL will be the deciding factor if vendor food carts will be allowed.  A requirement of a special placard for display in restaurant windows to indicate state inspection complete will likely be built into the superbowl ordinance.  Permanent restaurants should expand their seating by 20%.  They should use their sidewalk cafes to prepare food and beverage outside of their restaurants.  They should seek encroachment permits to serve food and beverage on the sidewalk.  The city should clarify laws to allow the public to walk around with an 'open beverage' [I think they are referring to alcohol and not Sprite].  The city should also work on a legal manner through which businesses will be able to serve these beverages to the public for walking around with.

All in all, I did get some details of what is actually intended to be accomplished with the passage of Prop 188.  But, the entire story should be shared with the public before that proposal is passed into law and it is too late for public input.  This ordinance should fit our City and our residents.  We should be its focus, and not the NFL.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, but the Superbowl won't cost taxpayers a dime! We just need to sit back, relax and enjoy it and watch the money roll in - to paraphrase Bobby Knight.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Maybe I'm just reading your comment incorrectly and not seeing the ironic nature of it... But, just in case I should take you literally, let me say

What are you talking about - won't cost the taxpayers a dime??? It has been costing us, is costing us, and will only grow in its cost to us.

Just one small example is that many management folks from DCE are co-chairs of the ISC committees - working on our tax dollar. There will be sweeps by code enforcement officers during the several weeks leading up to the event where - which we will pay for in their salaries and the loss of code enforcement in our neighborhoods.

There's police security and fire security and homeland security that is likely to land in the taxpayer's lap.

Two years ago, the city budgeted $600,000 to Wi-Fi the mile square for the benefit of super bowl visitors.

You might want to rethink the whole thing.

Is it worth it? Maybe. Will anyone tell the taxpayers what the real tab is? Not a chance in hell.