August 28, 2008
Mayor Gregory Ballard
Indianapolis City-County Building, 25th Floor
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Re: Selling City Property; Venture Real Estate Deal
Dear Mayor Ballard:
First of all, I want to let you know how much I wish for your success. As a Republican, I am deeply proud of the campaign you ran and the commitment you expressed for a more open and ethical city government.
It is exactly for that reason that many people are troubled by the Venture Real Estate deal. Giving a private company a profit motive (commissions) as to what is supposed to be the rendering of objective advice about selling city property, creates a major conflict of interest. It is likewise a conflict for one of your top advisors to also represent John Bales of Venture in negotiating the contract with the city. I have no doubt this advisor and his law firm will also earn fees on the legal work every time a piece of city property is sold or leased pursuant to the Venture deal.
Since this story broke, many Republicans, including those who worked directly on your campaign, have expressed concerns you have surrounded yourself with political advisors more interested in using their positions to profit financially than giving you sound advice. They believe, and I agree, that you received poor advice as to the Venture deal. Mayor, if your administration is going to be a success, you need to give those advisors their walking papers and replace them with people who will make your success the No. 1 priority.
Aside from the Venture deal being a bad political move, it is not clear consideration was given to the legal requirements that must be followed when selling city property and park land in particular. First, the sale of any city property requires a professional appraisal (IC 36-1-11-4) and notice and a public hearing. (IC 36-1-11-3). The selling agent has to take bids. (IC 36-11-11-4). The sale of any city property over $50,000 has to be approved by the City-County Council. (IC 36-1-11-3). The sale of any park land, regardless of value, has to be approved by the council and the sales proceeds paid into the parks department budget or used to buy new park land. (IC 36-10-4-8). We would expect that Venture follow all these requirements.
Paul K. Ogden
cc. Members of the Indianapolis City-County Council
This looks like sour grapes coming the same day Chris Cotterill threw you and your unqualified client under the bus in the Star's editorial.
Transparent....? I think so....
I was "thrown under the bus" by the suggestion that a purely legal issue be submitted to the Attorney General's Office for an advisory opinion? You do realize don't you that was the very suggestion made at the council meeting when the original decision was made and that suggestion was rejected? Not sure when backtracking became evidence of victory.
Nonetheles, you're trying to connect two totally unrelated things. So you do not think there is anything wrong with giving a vendor who is supposed to provide the city with objective advice regarding the sale of city property a financial incentive when that property is sold? And you have no problem with the top advisor for the Mayor representing the vendor in negotating a no bid contract with the city in which he's set to make substantial attorney's fees? Let me assure you, you'd be in the minority in holding that view.
I want to see Mayor Ballard re-elected. It's not going to happen though if he's surrounded by people who are more interested in making money than in providing the Mayor with good political advice.
Paul, I applaud you for calling out the self-dealing of Barnes and Thornburg. Joe Loftus and Bob Grand aren't the mayor's superiors. The mayor works for THE PEOPLE.
Didn't Sarah Palin sell Alaska's private jet on Ebay? Why can't we sell land parcels on Ebay? That way the whole process is open to the public.
Or let's open this process up so that people outside of Barnes and Thornburg get to help put this deal together.
First Pan Am Plaza, now this?
Mayor Ballard made promises to us. And it is to the people, not Barnes and Thornburg, that he owes his loyalty.
B&T have fooled Mayor Greg Ballard into thinking he will be governor, thereby, paralyzing him into the same ambitious stupor that has possessed Brizzi. They've convinced Ballard that they'll take care of everything, you sit back shrug your shoulders and point at your appointees and say you have the utmost confidence in them.
Actually, they are treating him like a woman, just sit their and don't worry your pretty little brain on all the details. Just look pretty, we'll take care of it.
Mayor Ballard needs to snap out of it and surround himself with a 'real' cabinet of advisors who tell him the truth, not blow smoke up his but and laugh at him behind closed doors.
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