Thursday, January 15, 2009

Breakfast with the Capital Improvement Board and the Indiana Sports Corporation

This morning I grabbed some breakfast, spent about 15 minutes reading the Indianapolis Star from front to back, and then flipped on the television. There for my viewing pleasure on Channel 16 was a meeting of the Capital Improvement Board. Pat Early and not Bob Grand was chairing the meeting. Not sure why. Even when I tried to play the recording back on my computer the explanation wasn't there or cut off. But something of the things I saw were interesting.
  • Susan Williams, President of the Indiana Sports Corporation came before the CIB asking for $150,000 for the Sports Corporation's general operating fund. Now why in the world should CIB be giving money for the operating fund of the non-profit corporation, especially since the Lucas Oil Stadium is "bleeding cash" and the CIB does not have the money to cover its operating expenses?
  • During her presentation, Susan Williams again referred to the Indiana Sports Corporation as a "charity." I guess she believes if she repeats a lie enough people will start to believe it. The Sports Corporation is a non-profit corporation and not a "charity." I'm sure Williams knows the difference but she continues to mislead the public including the media. Fortunately most people in the media I have talked to are not buying her claim the Sports Corporation is a "charity."
  • Susan Williams has a lot of nerve coming before the CIB asking for $150,000 in taxpayer money when she, working with the outgoing Peterson administration, screwed taxpayers out of millions of dollars on the sale of Pan Am Plaza by in late December of 2007 sneaking through a change in a 22 year old agreement.
  • The CIB approved the Sports Corporation grant. However, to the benefit of board members, there seemed to be a growing reluctance to continue these payouts.
  • During the meeting Barney Levengood, Executive Director of the CIB, talked about ways to spend the "CIB's money." No, Barney, that is taxpayer money.
  • The meeting included a presentation from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. The representative wanted to show what a great job they were doing around the city. Although this particular meeting was not a request for money, the Arts Council talked about appreciation for the past generosity of the CIB. Why in the heck is the CIB giving money to an arts organization?

An observation: The CIB really needs people on the Board who will be assertive and dare I say question some of the things Bob Grand and the CIB have done in the past and are likely to do in the future. Of course, that's probably why those kind of people are not on the Board.


Diana Vice said...

The elected officials need to read Davy Crockett's famous speech, "It's not yours to give".

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks for pointing this out, Paul. Mayor Greg Ballard really screwed the public big time in his choices to run the CIB. There is absolutely no one on that Board who will ask tough questions or challenge the status quo. They're all "players" and can always be counted on to go along to get along. Ballard deliberately chose not to put any watchdogs on the CIB because that's what Bob Grand ordered him to do. The CIB isn't worried about doling out money because it's confident it will get the state legislature to approve a bailout, forcing taxpayers to shoulder the unfunded costs for the Lucas Oil Stadium.

Patriot Paul said...

No long ago, it was reported that the Arts crowd was going directly to the CIB instead of the contentious atmosphere of talking in public to the city county council (fear of protestors with signs?). Look for more brown-nosing before they get what they want.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Patriot Paul,

I think those protesters need to start keeping an eye on the CIB meetings and what is proposed. You're exactly right that they're trying to get money through the back door. CIB meetings are open to the public. Nobody comes though.

AI, have you found any bills yet where they're trying to get that money from the public coffers. Of course it could be stuck in the budget bill or amended into another bill later. We'll have to keep a close eye on this.

Anonymous said...

AI, Speaking of "no boardmembers who will ask tough questions or challenge the status quo", its difficult when your breadwinner spouse and is hired to manage a city department at the same time you're put on the CIB board. Talk about CHECK MATE!

M Theory said...

Channel 16 = Paul's favorite channel. I'm too cheap to buy cable, so I don't get it. Channel 16 should be a free digital channel.

M Theory said...

I think the Arts Council gets a little over $12 million from the CIB...although I'm not sure how current that number is. Needless, it's money that could be better spent elsewhere in this economy.

Never forget that the Arts Council President and Vice President make more money each year than the Governor or Mayor Ballard.

And Paul...maybe a pack of us should go to the next CIB meeting. Get me the info and I'll publicize it, make phone calls, and get it on an email route list.

Can you imagine their faces when all of us show up with notebooks and a couple cameras?

Anonymous said...

The thing you all seem to forget is that these "arts organizations" employ staff--secretaries, cleaners, etc.--in other words, fairly low-paid employees who otherwise would need the same assistance that you think could be "better spent elsewhere in this economy." So, you would prefer those employees to be laid off, like several ISO staff were recently, so they can now go to the unemployment office, apply for food stamps, and generally get on the public dole with everybody else?

There may, indeed, be better ways of spending the money, but let's at least look at it in an intelligent manner, not just the knee-jerk "why are the arts crowd asking for money."

Robert - NW Side said...

To Anonymous:
Since the money that the CIB is throwing around is taxpayer money, doesn't it follow that these low-paid employees are on the taxpayer dole anyway?
I want to know the names and home addresses of ALL of the CIB members.
THAT is where we should be protesting!