|Indianapolis Pan Am Am Plaza (Sports Corporation Allowed|
Property to Fall Into Disrepair During Peterson Adminstration)
In 1985,, the City of Indianapolis entered into a contract in which they gave away a city block to the Sports Corporation to develop the property. The only "cost" of the property was that the Sports Corporation build a public plaza, i.e. Pan Am Plaza and maintain that plaza for 30 years. The Sports Corporation could quit the plaza requirement after 20 years if it paid the city $3 million adjusted for inflation, which would be $6 million in today's dollars.
It was a remarkably favorable deal for the Sports Corporation. But not sweet enough. The Sports Corporation wanted to sell the property, but the plaza requirement made the property worth less. When Mayor Peterson lost the election, the Sports Corporation, headed by former Democratic Councilor Susan Williams, saw an opportunity. In late December 2007, while the Peterson administration was literally packing moving boxes to vacate the 25th Floor, a simple resolution was introduced before the Metropolitan Development Commission. It simply said that the plaza would be reduced to 10,000 square feet and made permanent maintained by the Sports Corporation. There was no mention of the fact the plaza was being reduced by nearly 90%, no mention of the $6 million dollars owed to the public if the plaza requirement was ended earlier, no mention that it was changing a 22 year old deal.
The resolution was summarily passed in a stack of other resolutions. The nondescript nature of the resolution and the fact nobody came to testify on it, left MDC members in the dark about what they were really approving. Following the passage of the resolution, the City executed paperwork to change the plaza requirement, moving with alacrity before the Ballard people could take over.
The Sports Corporation though had no interest in maintaining any permanent tribute to the 1987 Pan Am games. On April 1, 2008, Pan Am plaza was sold with Sports Corporation walking away with millions. The City's taxpayers got nothing for that city block it gave to the Sports Corporation in 1985.
While going through some city real estate documents, I stumbled across these last minute Peterson administration shenanigans. I alerted Marilyn Pfisterer of the Indianapolis City-County Council. She was initially very interested in exposing the Peterson misdeads and taking up the issue. She said she woudl talk to the Ballard administration about what I uncovered. I never heard from her again.
When we filed the Pan Am taxpayer lawsuit, we still thought we were setting the ball on the tee for the Ballard administration. Surely the Ballard wouldn't defend the last minute maneuvering by the Peterson administration to screw over taxpayers in favor of a downtown company led by a former Democratic councilor. Boy were we wrong. Ballard has zealously defended the sweetheart deal, and even has city lawyers helping the Sports Corporation go after taxpayers who filed the lawsuit. The pro-taxpayer Ballard of the 2007 campaign was gone when we filed the lawsuit in 2008. Mayor Ballard's administration had been captured by insiders, people like Bob Grand who sits on the Sports Corporation Board.
The the City and the Sports Corporation filed to dismiss the case. We won in the trial court but lost at the Indiana Court of Appeals. It is currently on rehearing and if we lose that we certainly intend to appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court to consider the unique issues of law.
The Washington Street Politics blog suggests we are wasting taxpayer money by pursuing the lawsuit. Of course, we're actually trying to recover taxpayer money. Mayor Ballard does not have to be using City Legal attorneys to work on the case for the benefit of a private company. WSP makes a good case of wasted tax dollars for attorneys, but it's Mayor Ballard who is solely responsible for those wasted tax dollars.
But, then again, I'm pretty sure Washington Street Politics, the mouthpiece piece of the liberal, big spending, big taxing, taxpayer-unfriendly Ballard administration, isn't worried about the facts.