Sunday, October 18, 2009

Star's Editors Continue To Ignore Facts About Wishard Referendum, Suggest the Ends Justify the Means

This morning brings the third Sunday editorial favoring a "yes" vote on the Wishard referendum. I don't know when the Star has ever run multiple editorials in favor an election outcome or anything for that matter. Once again though the Star's editorial board is selective in the information it chooses to present in their editorial. Let's look at some of those things that the Star's editors ignored:
  • Health and Hospital Corporation is basing its "no tax claim" completely on an assertion that its nursing home income stream can support the new hospital without tax increases. That is based on a Medicaid reimbursement practice that Mitch Roob, a former CEO of HHC, has labeled a "scam" and who suggested will be cracked down on by the feds. If this income stream does not continue for the next 30 years, taxpayers are on the hook, a fact the Star continually ignores. It is almost certain the Feds will crack down or the Medicaid refunding formula will change during the next 30 years, leaving taxpayers on the hook. Nonetheless, the pledge of no increase in taxes is solely backed by an unenforceable promise by HHC.
  • The Star claims that general obligations bonds backed by property taxes are being used because of the lower interest rate than bonds backed by HHC's income. Has the Star ever considered why that is? It is because, lenders do not believe that the HHC's Medicaid nursing home scam can be maintained for 30 years. Those lenders do not want to assume the risk that the feds are going to put a stop to it. Instead the Star is endorsing that taxpayers assume a risk that lenders do not want.
  • The referendum was intentionally placed in a non-election year so that the new Wishard proponents could take advantage of low turnout which will favor their side. This referendum could have easily been held during a regular election. Instead having it, in a non-election year, will cost taxpayers over a million dollars, a fact the Star continues to ignore.
  • Likewise the Star ignores the fact that HHC representatives were allowed to write a referendum question that does not mention they would be building a new hospital and does not mention how much money they could borrow. The Star's silence on these points endorse a dishonest referenda practice that will undoubtedly spread to other public questions. The Star claims to be for "good government" like lobbying and redistricting reform, but that apparently honesty and full disclosure take a back seat when it is for a "good cause." Shouldn't voters have before them how much is being borrowed and what the money will be used for when they vote? The Star suggests in its editorial today that that is simply not important.
  • Mayor Ballard used the city's email to promote a "Yes" vote on the Wishard referendum. That is clearly a violation of city ethics rules, if not Indiana law. IUPUI Chancellor Bantz used the university website and university's email system to also promote a "Yes" vote. The Wishard folks are using government resources to promote their cause. Throughout it all, the Star has said nothing about the blatant misuse of public resources in support of the Wishard referendum.
  • A recent financial report filed by the Wishard PAC showed incredibly only three individuals gave to the PAC, but two 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporations gave combined over a million dollars. The Star should be greatly disturbed by the fact that the Wishard PAC is undoubtedly using these nonprofits to hide their contributor list as well as to provide those individuals with tax deductions they are not otherwise entitled to by sending their contributions through a nonprofit before flowing to the Wishard PAC. The Star, by its silence on these tactics, is endorsing the worst abuse of our campaign laws which are intended to protect the right of the people to know.
  • The message from the Star, through its last three editorials, is clear. The editorial board is saying that the ends justify the means and the Star is simply going to ignore the dishonest means used by the proponents of that hospital because, hey what the heck, it is for a good cause.

For a newspaper which has publicly declared itself to be a proponent of lobbying and redistricting reform, it is disheartening that the Indianapolis Star has decided to ignore dishonest, bad government tactics of one side when their editors like what that side is trying to achieve. We deserve better from our newspaper, especially one which claims to be on the side of good government reform. Being in favor of a certain result at the polls, does not excuse dishonest election tactics and violations of the law.


Carl E Moldthan said...


We need your help, now. We are almost 2 weeks from the November 3rd election involving the Wishard Bond Issue referendum. From what I have seen and heard I truly believe we have a real good chance of winning. To date the opposition has received over $1 million in donations from IU and IU Medical Group. This brings back my point that this new hospital is being built for IU School of Medicine and only IUSOM. But we need your help in two ways; WE NEED MONEY, NOW, get your friends, neighbors, follow workers, enemies, family and everyone you know OUT TO VOTE “NO”. If this bond issue passes your taxes will increase. PLEASE DONATE.



Make Check payable to:

Taxpayers of Indianapolis
PO BOX 0021
Beech Grove, IN 46107

PS: I attended the Mcana meeting on Saturday and was astounded at the small percentage of the people there who were supporting the bond issue. I do recall some of those very people shouting at the top of their lungs that their taxes were too high during the property tax battle. Folks, you can’t have it both ways. The spending that this country, state and city are involved in is way out of bounds. I know we need this and that but somewhere along the line we have to say NO. I have attached an article I wrote a couple of years ago and I feel it is appropriate now.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

Hey, I've already voted "no" on the referendum.

I didn't need The Star's third editorial to convince me (grin).

And, incidentally, when I went to vote at the City-County Building (the lone voter at the time), there were at least eight people working in the polling place. What a waste of manpower and talent!

Had Enough Indy? said...

The Star is missing in action when it comes to the 'bad government' issues that are entwined in this referendum. Either they are irrationally slow on realizing those elements, or they want Wishard to 'win' at all costs.

But, let a low level office worker deny them access to someone's parking ticket and all hell will break loose. And rightly so.

At least this morning there is an article that discloses that taxpayers ARE on the hook with this referendum and that there are rational reasons to vote no. And, it is on the front page.

Paul K. Ogden said...


True, however, I think even that article misses that fact that HHC's "ownership" of the nursing homes is a legal fiction being used to get more money from Medicaid.