Friday, April 18, 2014

Is $3,500 the Price of Political Influence in Fishers?; Political Leaders Solicit Funds From Business Community For "Exclusive Meetings"

Across my desk came a very disconcerting letter authored by Pete Peterson, the Vice President of Fishers Town Council who is seeking election to the Fishers City Council.  (The Town of Fishers voters recently approved a referendum to become a city.)  The letter, which bears the letterhead, "Royal Tiger Progress Committee," says that $3,500 is the price for "business and industry leaders, consultants, and other professional community advocates" to have "exclusive meetings" about the future of the city.    Here is the letter verbatim:


April 19, 2013

Dear Friend of Fishers,

Throughout the past several years, the Town of Fishers has seen growth and expansion unlike any other in the area.  Despite a slowly recovering economy, we have seen continued interest from the development community as we work to improve the quality of life in Fishers.  It is easy to forget how fortunate we are to have these opportunities that many other communities might not have at this time.

In January of 2012, the Fishers Town Council hit the ground running, and we continue to work hard for the Future of Fishers today.  Many major project, such as the development of the Nickel Plate District, Downtown area, 1-69 & 106th Street interchange, and various road improvement projects throughout the town are quickly becoming a reality.  These projects, along with many others, are essential to maintaining and improving Fishers economic vitality going forward.

With he passage of the referendum in the fall of 2012, Fishers will soon take the biggest step forward in our history.  This step will bring about drastic changes to the way Fishers is governed, with an expanded City Council and our first ever Mayor.  It is more important than ever for us to have elected officials who are committed to improving Fishers' quality of life and managing the enormous growth that is sure to continue.

We have created an advisory committee comprised of business and industry leaders, consultants, and other professional community advocates to meet on a periodic basis and provide a forum to discuss innovative ways in which to make Fishers and [sic] even better place to live and work.  Your opinions and individual expertise are valuable to our elected officials and the future of Fishers.

I invite you to assist us by becoming a Member of the Royal Tiger Progress Committee for an annual membership fee of $3,500, where we can meet to discuss your suggestions and ideas about improving our community.  Members will be invited to exclusive meetings throughout the year in Fishers where we will plan to present a brief program to discuss current issues in the community followed by some open discussion.  We will be able to share information about what is happening in Fishers, in many cases before you hear about it in the news.

Our first meeting for Royal Tiger Progress Committee Members will be on May 1, 2013 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the home of Mike Williams in Fishers (address redacted).  Please join me and other elected officials including Town Council President John Weingardt, and Town Council Members David George and Renee Cox, and Commissioner Christine Altman as we enjoy cocktails appetizers from Bella Vita, and discussions about the future of Fishers.  I hope you will be able to make it.


Pete Peterson, Treasurer
Royal Tiger Progress Committee
On the original CFA-2 filed with the Indiana Secretary of State's Office in April of 2013, Pete Peterson is named as the treasurer of the Royal Progress Committee while a gentleman named Andrew Greider is listed as chairperson.  Greider's LinkedIn profile lists himself as Executive Director of the Hamilton County Republican Party and that he had been campaign manager for Andy Cook for (Westfield) Mayor and Jim Brainard for (Carmel) Mayor in 2011.  Mayors Brainard and Cook have been identified on this blog as two of most fiscally irresponsible mayors in the State of Indiana. Brainard, in particular, has made it his practice in office to borrow heavily and redistribute the tax dollars of hard working Carmelites to corporate interests who then, in return, support Mayor Brainard as a thank you for their taxpayer subsidies.  This is known as corporate welfare, a type of crony capitalism that too many Republicans, especially in local government, have started engaging in.

It should also be noted that Pete Peterson, who is also Vice-President of the Fishers Town Council, supported an additional 1% food and beverage tax in Fishers but reluctantly agreed to table it when faced with a public backlash.  According to the Fishers Current, Peterson believes the tax increase will have more support when a specific "economic development deal" is struck for which the tax can be used.   Translation:  Peterson has no problem increasing taxes on Fisherites and then handing that money over to business interests that he (and perhaps members of the Royal Progress Committee) deem worthy.

At some point apparently Greider and Peterson thought better of their direct and unseemly involvement in the Royal Progress Committee.  In an amended CFA-2 filed in November of 2013, Pete Peterson's wife, Robin, is named as the new chairperson and Charles Lannan is listed as the new treasurer.

UPDATE:  An alert reader pointed out that Andrew Greider is working on the Scott Fadness for Fishers Mayor campaign.


Eric Hollister said...

Very interesting that Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Pete Emigh's name is absent from this audacious and outrageous "pay for play" solicitation letter... Since he has bragged that NOTHING happens in or by the Hamilton County Republican Party without his blessing, approval or guidance... He should be removed by State Party or resign immediately.

Racoon said...

Don't assume Greider is no longer associated with this just because he's removed his name as chairperson.

This reads to be all about dividing up the gains they can manufacture. I think I encountered something like this in the Seattle area about 20 years ago. Not good.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Racoon, even on the new form in which he was removed as chair, Greider is still listed as the holder of the records of the PAC.

Nicolas Martin said...

What’s to stop them? There is no area news department that opposes cronyism, except possibly Nuvo, which doesn’t begin to have the scope. (The entire existence of Currents in Fishers is based on the boosterism that leads to ad placements.) The people of Fishers are utterly at the mercy of politicians, and that’s how they prefer it. You can get the local Republican voters worked up over abortion or child molestation, but they could give a hoot about govt accountability. What passes for conservatism is very different in Indiana than in, say, Texas.

Speaking of Nuvo, it should take a clue from web sites which publish unpaid journalists. It won’t though since ownership doesn’t have entrepreneurial gusto.

Pete Boggs said...

Nick may be right about a few things; especially the failure of crony capitalism.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Nicolas, The Current used to be Brainard's mouthpiece and the mouthpiece for taxpayer-subsidized development. However, it's actually developed into a publication that does actual investigative journalism, with a thoroughness and willingness to confront issues that puts the Star to shame. I know it's hard to believe given how The Current got started. I too was skeptical at first.

David Giff said...

It is ok for this PAC to meet and discuss ideas for Economic Growth.

May I point out that Renee Cox is not part of this group and they used her name without permission.

Ok.. So this blog post is about "pay to play" and government use of funds for business use.. without public input.. etc.

What’s to stop them?

I can.

It can be done with a PAC.

SO, I am thinking about forming a PAC myself. I have no idea if it can get support or not.

My PAC will have a goal of this.. "Debt Free Fishers by 2025 while maintaining a high quality life standard."

David Giffel

Greg Purvis said...

Paul, I had seen this letter before, and some anonymous allegations of even worse conduct, which no one has ever documented. I had written about this before, asking anyone with actual evidence that town vendors were being intimidated into donating to come forward.

Paul K. Ogden said...


The letter simply says that Renee Cox will be at the meeting. I don't know if they need advance permission to say that. Of course, it if isn't truthful information - and she never had any plans to attend the meeting and they knew that when published - there could be consequences for that.

Thanks for your comment. Yes, please start that PAC.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Thanks, Greg, for your input. Good luck in your campaign.

Nicolas Martin said...

I’ll look at the Current again, Paul, but I have seen nothing like you say.

Eric Hollister said...

Look at both archives and present day CURRENTin and NOW and you will find evidence of what Paul said... If only the STAR would pick up the ball and run with it?

David Giff said...

There are ways to change...