American Structurepoint has been tapped by the Indianapolis Department of Public Works as program manager for the city’s “RebuildIndy” infrastructure-improvement initiative.What is not in the article, is the fact that American Structurepoint used to be known as American Consulting Engineers and its owners, executives James Wurster and Willis Conner, were indicted for bribery by former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman. The indictments had to do with ACE giving a $50,000 political contribution plus a job to Indiana House Ways and Means Chairman Sam Turpin. The job was not disclosed and Turpin allegedly engaged in actions to favor Ace. Wurster and Conner took an appeal of the indictment and won on the basis that the allegation did not include a quid pro quo ("this for that") and without a specific allegation regarding what Wurster and Conner received for their money, the bribery allegation could not stand.
RebuildIndy is the formal name of the massive infrastructure improvements Mayor Greg Ballard wants to make with $425 million in expected proceeds from selling the city’s water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy Group.
Contract terms with American Structurepoint are still being negotiated, said DPW spokeswoman Molly Deuberry.
Indianapolis-based American Structurepoint was one of four companies to express interest in the city project, she said. The 44-year-old firm, which also has offices in South Bend and Columbus, Ohio, has worked on a number of high-profile projects, including design work on the Interstate 69 expansion.
Besides helping the city develop strategies on project selection and implementation, American Structurepoint also will work with the city to manage its stormwater capital-improvement program, DPW said.
As a side note, the "quid pro quo" requirement remains one of the biggest obstacles to the enforcement of the state's bribery law. Rarely do those wanting favors hand over money with specific instructions to vote a certain way or engage in certain conduct favorable for the one offering the bribe. Rather Indiana's version of "Pay to Play" involves a wink and a nod which generally can't be prosecuted under Indiana law, but can be prosecuted under the federal Hobbs Act which has a lower standard.
While Wurster appears to be out, Conner is still with the company. During 2008 and 2009 (years when the Mayor wasn't even a candidate), Conner individually donated $22,500 to Mayor Ballard's Campaign. American Structurepoint executive Marlin A. Knowles, Jr. contributed $30,000. There are probably others from American Structurepoint who contributed to the Ballard campaign as well.
Blogger Gary Welsh calls it "Pay to Play the Ballard Way." (To find Gary's take on the story click here.) Indeed it is exactly that. While Ballard pledged to change how business was conducted on the 25th Floor, those of us who supported him never expected that the "change" was to take Indianapolis pay to play politics to a new and unprecedented level.