Tuesday, September 21, 2010

City Promotes Salaries of 200 Jobs Promised by ACS; Agreement However Does Not Mention Salaries

The Indianapolis Business Journal reported today:

A proposal to lease the city’s parking meters for 50 years would require the vendor to bring 200 jobs to Indianapolis for at least seven years.

City officials this week begin touting that part of the agreement with Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc., as the deal increasingly becomes a subject of heated debate.
According to documents published Monday on the city’s website, the 200 jobs would include call center and data entry positions, information technology workers and managers.

The salaries and benefits would be “market-competitive to similar positions in Indianapolis,” which ACS put in the range of an annual $16,000 to $40,000 for data entry and call center jobs and $45,000 to $95,000 for the information technology and managerial roles.

To see the rest of the article click here.

I recall reading another published report today that Mayor Ballard suggested the average salary of these 200 jobs would be $50,000. Apparently, that figure was arrived at by averaging the highest and lowest salaries ACS suggests such workers might be paid.

Let's forget for a second that the ACS parking contract has an "incorporation clause" which says agreements outside the contract are invalid. A review of the Agreement posted on-line raises other troubling questions and concerns.

First, as someone who use to review business documents for real estate closings, there are some red flags with the Agreement, which is nothing more than a four page letter from ACS to the Mayor's Office. Although the Agreement purports to be from ACS, it is not on ACS letterhead. Rather it looks like someone simply typed it up with an ACS's name and address at the top. Surely, ACS could afford letterhead for such an important document.

Second, if you look on page four, you will simply see a scrawled signature for person who signed it on behalf of ACS. No printed name of the person, no title. I could not let a real estae closing go forward unless I knew exactly who signed that document and his or her title. If you don't know that information, you don't know if the person had the authority to sign. I don't know why the Jobs Agreement with ACS would be any different.

Finally, the document is signed by Michael Huber. Huber is only a Deputy Mayor and wouldn't have the authority to sign unless he was given that power by the Mayor.

Moving on from those housekeeping items, it should be noted that despite the spin by the City and ACS about the salaries that woudl be coming to Indianapolis there are no salary promises in the Agreement. (Nor are there promises about minority jobs in the Agreement, an omission which belies the efforts of the City and ACS to get the votes of African-American councilors by pandering to them on the issue of minority jobs.) Rather here is what it says about the jobs ACS was promising:
"The Jobs include, without limitation, call center positions, data entry jobs, technical and information technology roles, and/or management positions. The Jobs shall pay wage and benefit packages that are market-competitive to similar positions in Indianapolis, Indiana, and include benefits consistent with ACS' overall corporate practice."
There are no salaries in that language or anyplace else in the agreement. In fact the jobs aren't even required to be full time. ACS could simply offer 200 jobs for one day a week and fulfill the Agreement.

There is a penalty for if ACS doesn't provide the jobs...a whole $2,000 a year. As Urbanophile's Aaron Renn pointed out in a comment to the IBJ article, that is less than the price owed by the City to ACS for taking out one parking meter.

Then again, the City would never know if ACS were living up to the agreement in order to impose that fine because as in the Parking Contract, in the Agreeement (bottom of page 1) the City is leaving it up to ACS to provide the calculations on how many jobs it provided and ACS's penalty. How convenient.

On page two, ACS also promises to pay $25,000 per year to "community organizations with a focus on downtown Indianapolis, Indiana." What do you want to bet that that money ends up in the pocket of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.? Am I too cynical to see a connection between this $25,000 annual payoff, er, donation, and IDI's support of the ACS parking agreement, support that in fact directly flies in the face of many downtown businesses IDI claims to represent?

Does the administration really think people are so stupid as to not see this one-sided deal for what it is - insiders trying to use their positions in the Ballard administration to enrich themselves and their clients?


The Urbanophile said...

They are taking no chances on this thing actually being enforceable. First, it is explicitly listed as supplemental to the main agreement to be sure it is captured under the incorporation clause and not considered a separate standalone contract. Second, there's no consideration exchanged so it isn't a contract in any case, just a list of promises.

Downtown Indy said...

What happens (what payments are we stuck making) if (let's say) 20 years from now automobile parking on downtown streets is banned. What if, god forbid, terrorism gets bad enough that cities ban on-street parking altogether?

Or for a less extreme/grim scenario, what if we develop large-scale no-parking areas? Let's suppose we get our s**t together and implement a really decent mass-transit system that occupies lots and lots of curb space.

Do we end up on the hook paying ACS for decades, for meters that no longer exist?

50 years is SUCH a long time and urban changes that are beyond thought today will surely come to pass. Just reflect on Indy in 1950 or 1910. Could they have imagined what the city looks like today? No!

Paul K. Ogden said...

Urban, if they were able to tie it to the parking contract, they would have consideration. But you're exactly right...you have that pesky incorporation clause and, without consideration, it can't be a stand-alone contract either.

Frankly, I don't understand the lengths they have gone to to make sure the jobs promises is not enforceable. After all, Indy has a lot of actual contracts with private companies they've never enforced, so why not go that route? Maybe they're concerned with a future administration that has a different attitude to these public-private partnerships.

Lenore Hanick said...

Salaries of ACS falls below the average. They actually fall with in the poverty level. Their employee's are also on a salary freeze and have not received a raise in over three years. They have posted management positions for starting wage $9.50 hourly. Take a look at glassdoor.com and the comments from the employee's that work for ACS from all over the country. ACS has a 2.2 company rating. This is a strong indicator that ACS is not the kind of company our city and the people of our city need. Indianapolis needs good, strong, ethical companies like Google, SAS, Qualcomm, and Genentech. Each company has a program that enables employees to voice their ideas, enhances the innovative culture, and ultimately develops ideas that will benefit the business, community, and employee's. Each company supporting innovation. They offer stress free environments and offer their employee's livable wages with exceptional perks. AND their annual earnings and profits are less than ACS.
So, for ACS to "say" they are going to bring 200 jobs with this deal, is insulting.
Their current employee's throughout Indiana live off pennies, food stamps, and are regular patrons of local food pantries.