Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Slush Funds Advance Out of Public View

From WCTY archives:

There were no proposals seeking to establish TIF districts on last night's Metropolitan and Economic Development committee's agenda.  This is all we have this morning.  You can clearly see and hear Chairman Steve Talley adjourn the meeting at time stamp 1:33:40.  At the end of the WCTY tape you can hear, but not see, Councillor Virginia Cain ask Republican Council Attorney Elrod for advise.  Then audio cuts out, too.
Early on, before this clip begins, when members of the public are addressing the committee, you can see Deron Kintner in the last row of the room.  Trust me, I've been to more budget hearings than some Councillors, but nobody comes to one if their interests aren't being entertained.  So, Deron  Kintner, Executive Director of the Bond Bank, was given a heads up that this would happen.  The public was not informed.
From Jon Murray, IndyStar reporter, we have the skeleton of what happened.  He reports that Democrats Mary Adams, Zach Adamson, Vop Osili and Republicans Virginia Cain and Jeff Miller all voted in favor of the proposal, evidently after amending it.  There was one lone "no" vote by Democratic Councillor Leroy Robinson. 
Thank you, Councillor Robinson.
Murray reports on the amendment:
But the ice thawed Monday after the administration reached an agreement with Democratic council members Vop Osili and Joseph Simpson. They represent districts near those proposed new development zones.

In a newly released memo outlining the agreement, Deron Kintner, Ballard’s new deputy mayor for economic development, commits to tapping $13.5 million from city economic development funds for three loan and workforce training programs.

The committee also amended the proposal to require some local hiring by contractors on new projects and to promote minority employment.
The proposed expansion of the downtown TIF to the west aims to capture 604 acres to support road improvements around Bush Stadium and to the east to capture 111 acres to support redevelopment of a block no more than 3 acres in size.  Now add to it more tax dollars swapped by the two district Councillors and you clearly have huge new slush funds being set up. 

There has been no disclosure of basic information justifying or answering the questions : Why this TIF?  Why this place?  Why this project?  Why this footprint?  The three submissions in response to the RFP for the Mass Ave TIF (the 111 acre expansion to the east) are held in embargo; kept out of sight of public eyes and disclosure.

The recommendations of the TIF Study Commission would have required all of this disclosure so that the public AND the Councillors had real information upon which to base a real evaluation of the proposed TIFs.  These recommendations would have protected the public.

The Ballard administration, including Ryan Vaughn and Deron Kintner, do not want any details to escape into the public and have held as much under wraps as they could.  Now we find that Councillors are deliberately helping them keep the wraps on.  This is foul.

The full Council will have an opportunity to send this back to committee where the public can take their rightful place in the discussion.  As it stands now, this action by Adams, Adamson, Osili, Cain and Miller is a travesty that screams of their real distain for proper proceedure, public process, and putting in place recommendations that will protect the public interest.  If this is an inaccurate review of their attitudes, then they have the opportunity to clarify things by walking this proposal back to committee themselves.


Citizen Kane said...

This is what thieves - steal you blind under the cover of darkness. I expect nothing more from my councilor - who played a critical role at this meeting.

It is all about them getting a slice of the pie for their constituents - themselves!

Since it was a continued item, it probably - technically - did not need to be advertised.

If it was not legal, then all of these councilors should be sanctioned for participating in this fraud.

By the way, these "robot" things are really difficult to decipher.

Anonymous said...

This is nuts. We're not going to agree on everything political, but I would hope we could agree on transparency where the taxpayer's money goes. This is in the wrong direction. What's even scarier is it's got the bipartisan cooperation of a Republican mayor and a Democratic council, in concert to keep the taxpayer's ignorant.

They might as well come to our front doors at night to break-in. If they're not going to disclose where our money goes, they need to formally declare martial law, instead of informally.

Anonymous said...

Was it the Mayor or Osili who got the several minutes of critical taping to go dark on Channel 16? Just another way to keep the public in the dark. Actually I see a legitimate part of this TIF commonly referred to as 16TECH. The Mass Ave is a payoff to lobbyists and at least one blogger.

Anonymous said...

Hmm one of the new tif districts is right next to the land that the gas company (old water company building and land ) now owns. I assume the building and land are being vacated and put up for sale ,it will be interesting to see if that is the reason for the tif district over by the stadium. Road improvements my ass!