Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No-So Measure Putting Taxpayers on the Hook For Nearly $100 Million Passes the Council; Council President Urges Downtown Ponzi Scheme to Continue

This morning, I watched the debate on the North of South proposal backed by the Ballard administration. Basically you have a developer, Buckingham, which wanted to do a development on the near south side nearly Lilly.  Buckingham took the mixed use project proposal, which includes new hotel space, apartments and retail, to private lenders.  It was deemed so risky that no lender was willing to back the project at any price.

Councilor Angel Rivera
So what did Buckingham do?   It hired top Republicans, including then Marion County Chairman Tom John and long-time Republican insider Lesa Detrick, to lobby the Mayor's office to back the proposal as a "public-private" partnership.  Taxpayers would be on the hook for the financing of the project, now to the tune of nearly $100 million.  Of course the Mayor's office immediately signed on to the project. Republican councilor Jeff Cardwell agreed to sponsor it.
Republicans dangled a job creation estimate and MBE opportunities to try to pick up Democratic support.  Of course, they didn't actually make the job creation a contractual requirement, nor did they specify what types of jobs, mandate that they would be full-time or how much they would pay.  While such a demand for such assurances would be inappropriate in normal circumstances, when we taxpayers are being put on the hook for nearly $100 million, our councilors at the least should be demanding more than vague creation estimates.
Some interesting things I noted about the council debate.  First, of all, someone needs to tell Councilor Angel Rivera to stop talking.  Rivera, the consummate cheerleader of every tax/fee increase and hair-brained spending project proposed by Mayor Ballard, praised the administration putting taxpayers on the hook for $100 million for a development that every lender found as too risky.  He said it was a "great idea." Seriously conservatives, do you want that guy defending taxpayers?

Council President
Ryan Vaughn
The measure passed 16-12.  It would have failed 15-13 had it not been for three cross-over Democrats, the two usual suspects, Jackie Nytes and Paul Bateman, and a newbie to supporting Mayor Ballard, Jose Evans.  Republican Councilor Aaron Freeman was absent.  Republican Councilor Lutz voted against the measure.

Finally, I found Council President Ryan Vaughn's closing comments most telling.  (Not sure why a presiding officer in a legislative body is not only involving himself in a debate on a proposal, but closing it.  That is highly inappropriate.)  Vaughn said that in order to keep afloat previous downtown development subsidized by taxpayers, we need to keep pumping more taxpayer dollars in.

The law enforcement authorities have a term for that.  It is called a Ponzi scheme.


Gary R. Welsh said...

Did you catch the snide comment Rivera made to Brian Mahern? Vaughn quickly cut him off after he made the comment. It is absolutely astonishing that Cardwell could sit there and claim that project is going to generate 2,500 jobs. He cited a London Witte study, which obviously has zero credibility if they actually put their name on a study that suggested we're going to realize 2,500 jobs. Have you ever noticed how they always pick big round numbers? Seriously, these people just pull the numbers straight out of their asses and expect us to take them at their word. Looks like another story for WTHR's Bob Segal to investigate.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I didn't hear what he said. I look forward to a council where I don't have to listen to Angel Rivera. Hopefully his shameful political career will be thrown on the scrap heap of history.

Those job creation figures are always a joke.

Maybe my reference to Ponzi Scheme isn't accurate. Usually in a Ponzi Scheme you have to go after new victims to keep it going. Here we taxpayers continue to get shafted.

Last Minuteman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul K. Ogden said...

While I don't always agree with him, Brian Mahern is one of the more thoughtful members of the council. He is articulate and his grasp of issues is quite impressive. Angel Rivera rarely has an intelligent comment to say and usually when he opens his mouth it's about acting as a cheerleader for some insider deal that screws over taxpayers.

Ben said...

You wont have to listen to Angel after November

M Theory said...

Paul & Gary? Are any Barnes & Thornburg clients profiting on this deal? If so, who?

Paul K. Ogden said...


Buckingham's lobbyists were from Ice Miller. In Barnes & Thornburg's defense (a phrase I bet you'd never hear that), B&T is not the only one cashing in on these insider deals). B&T is just better than all the rest, more than willing to throw the naive Mayor under the political bus.

Cato said...

"Vaughn said that in order to keep afloat previous downtown development subsidized by taxpayers, we need to keep pumping more taxpayer dollars in.

The law enforcement authorities have a term for that. It is called a Ponzi scheme."

That is the classic definition of a Ponzi scheme.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Next stop on the downtown Ponzi train will be public financing for the 450 E. Market Street deal (Regions backed out). Then it will either be 'incentives' for the Circle Center mall anchor stores to stay put, or 'incentives' for Wellpoint to stay put. Can't tell which will edge out the other on the timeline.

Then expect the passage of more tax increases for the CIB, and another great plan with a new price tag for City Market. Followed quickly by a bill for the Superbowl - some how, some way, we will pay for millionaires to party.

Pete Boggs said...

The Ponzi Line, that's good.

Citizen Kane said...

"Vaughn said that in order to keep afloat previous downtown development subsidized by taxpayers, we need to keep pumping more taxpayer dollars in."

That quote should be plastered all over the newspaper - but with is proper translation - "Vaughn says No-So must be approved to perpetuate downtown Ponzi scheme!"

But that won't ever happen.

Aspergers.life said...

The nice thing about being an elected official is you can "invest" millions of other peoples' money and, when the project fails, walk away.

Pete Boggs said...

Rank amateurs or public officials discussing "economic development" is nauseating.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I always love how those elected officials think they are so much better at predicting success than the private sector that lives or dies by those predictions.