Thursday, July 31, 2014

Inspector General Concludes Woodruff Should Have Disclosed Land Deals But Broke No Ethics Rules Or Laws

INDOT Chief of Staff Troy Woodruff may have failed to disclose his and other close family member's financial interest in land purchased by the state agency for the construction of I-69, participated in costly change orders he demanded in a bridge's design at the request of his uncle and got a job for his mother at the same state agency that already employed him and his wife, but Inspector General David Thomas concluded as he always does in high-profile cases involving political cronies that no laws or ethics rules were violated.

According to an Indianapolis Star report, Thomas' report says that while Woodruff's actions "give rise to the appearance of improprieties" and "diminishes public trust," his actions didn't amount to any criminal or civil violations. Former state lawmaker and law professor David Orentlicher disagrees with Thomas' interpretation of state ethics laws, but it's irrelevant because our useless federal and state prosecutors refuse to do anything to combat the rampant public corruption taking place in state government for the benefit of select political insiders that Thomas has moved mountains and oceans as the state's top ethics officer for the past decade to protect from public prosecution. Woodruff's only punishment, if you can call it that, is that he will be barred from doing work for INDOT for a one-year period as either an employee or contractor.

Thomas' report says that INDOT's ethics officer, Tiffany Mulligan, had advised Woodruff that he needed to disclose his and his family member's interests in the I-69 land deals, but he turned down her advice. Because the Woodruff family's land was acquired through the eminent domain law, Thomas said the conflict of interest rules didn't apply. Orentlicher disagreed, arguing that the transaction still involved a purchase within the meaning of the state's conflict of interest law regardless of whether it occurred through an eminent domain process. Thomas also concluded there was nothing wrong with Woodruff hiring his mother to work for INDOT because she did not report to him. Again, Orentlicher disagrees with Thomas' interpretation of the state's nepotism law. But like I said, it doesn't matter because our useless federal and state prosecutors have already decided they won't second guess Thomas' interpretations of law no matter how warped his conclusions are.

Star Asks If Hogsett Wins Mayor's Race Whether His Law Firm Will Benefit: Does The Sun Rise In The East?

When Greg Ballard was running for mayor in 2007, he liked to make a big point of arguing that his predecessor, a former partner at Ice Miller, spent too much money on "other services" in the budget, which is more accurately described as pinstripe patronage. The big law firms which contribute the most to a candidate are always big beneficiaries of no-bid contracts where they are given a blank check to inflate their billable hours to run up as big of a legal tab as possible when it's a government entity paying the tab. As long as they keep their end of the bargain and continue kicking back money to the mayor's campaign committee, all is kosher.

The Star's John Tuohy has a story asking if Bose McKinney & Evans will benefit from U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett's decision to join the firm starting tomorrow if he is elected mayor next year as many political observers now believe he will be. Yes, the firm will make out well, but so will law Hogsett's former law firm, Bingham Greenebaum Doll, where he worked for many years. Hogsett's former law partners at Bingham will contribute just as generously to his campaign as Hogsett's new law firm, which is likely the reason he made a conscientious choice to select a different law firm to work temporarily between public jobs. He's now got two big cesspools from which he can mine campaign contributions.
. . . By joining the large, respected law firm, Hogsett has immediate access to a cadre of well-paid donors and experts in myriad legal and consulting fields. The firm also benefits because Hogsett lends a degree of name recognition and could elevate the firm's prestige said Cynthia A. Baker, a law professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis
And if the Democrat does run for mayor and wins, it could mean a victory for Bose McKinney. Traditionally, new mayors bring more than themselves to City Hall. They also bring consultants, aides and lobbyists — often lawyers — and reams of no-bid legal work for local law firms .  .  .
The Republican administration of Mayor Greg Ballard has awarded more than $16 million in legal contracts since 2008, about $2.2 million a year. More than $9 million of those contracts have gone to the Indianapolis law firm of Barnes & Thornburg, which is also the city's lobbyist.
The firm's managing partner, Robert Grand, and its lawyers backed Ballard when few others would for his first run for mayor in 2007. Since then, several Barnes lawyers were appointed to top level jobs, including two chiefs of staff (Chris Cotterill and Ryan Vaughn), a public safety director (Scott Newman) and a top lobbyist (Joe Loftus).
The firm has snagged a steady lobbying contract of between $211,000 and $226,000 each year since 2008. In addition, Barnes & Thornburg has rung up $9,389,639 in legal and bond bank counseling fees during that period.
Among the legal work was $100,000 to defend the city against lawsuits by the victims of the drunken driving crash of Indianapolis police Officer David Bisard. The city paid $3.7 million in settlements to Kurt Weekly, Mary Mills and the family of Eric Wells.
By comparison, Hogsett's new firm, Bose McKinney, has received just $471,031 in contracts of all types since 2008 — and none in 2013 or 2014.  
During former Democratic Mayor Bart Peterson's time in office, Baker & Daniels, received a large portion of city business. In 2007, the Peterson administration spent $8.8 million on outside lawyers. Baker and Daniels collected $444,240 in lobbying fees, $863,035 in bond consulting fees and $1,095,000 in legal fees that year . . .
Yet another in a string of campaign promises Ballard broke. He doles out more no-bid "other services" contracts to his campaign contributors than Peterson. Pay To Play is the Ballard way, and Mayor Joe Hogsett will conduct business no differently since he's as much of a political animal as is humanly possible for a public official.

CIA Admits Hacking Into Senate Computers

The treacherous and deceitful man who leads the CIA, John Brennan, said it was "beyond the scope of reason" when members of the Senate first accused the spy agency of hacking into the computers of Senate staff members. Now Brennan is apologizing to the Senate after he says he has determined his employees "acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding" brokered between the CIA and the Senate. The joke is on us. Brennan says he has forwarded his findings to an accountability board led by, drum roll please, former Sen. Evan Bayh. Does anyone actually expect any real fallout from the CIA's illegal acts? Of course not. The CIA spies on Americans more than foreign threats, particularly persons in a position of power or influence, in order to blackmail them into submission. Don't forget that Brennan is a key figure in the false identity fraud of Barack Obama that has been perpetrated on the American people. An employee of the private firm he ran while in the private sector was accused of illegally gaining access to Obama's passport file for nefarious purposes aimed at hiding facts about Obama's past from the public.

UPDATE: Law professor Jonathan Turley best summarizes this latest transgression:
So let's just keep score. We have the recent admission of [the NSA's] Clapper lying to Congress in testimony. He is allowed to keep his position and even put on the board reviewing the very program that he lied about. We have the CIA lying to Congress about torture and destroying evidence. No one is charged and the man who ordered the destruction is allowed to retire with full honors. We have the hacking of Senate computers and lies to Congress by CIA officials. The Senate then thanks the Administration for not investigating the victims and no investigation is ordered of the CIA officials. It appears, as explained by the pig Squealer in Animal Farm, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Lugar Goes To Bat For Export-Import Bank

Richard Lugar has a long history of supporting policies that hurt, not help American interests, so I suppose it should come as no surprise that he emerges to promote saving the Export-Import Bank from the federal chopping block. Lugar makes an astonishing claim in the Indianapolis Star today that the Export-Import Bank saved his family's business that primarily provided manufactured processing equipment for the snack food industry by providing a loan to a Mexican business customer at a crucial point. From the Indianapolis Star:
The Lugars got a breakthrough when a Mexican company wanted to place a sizable order for machinery used to make cookies and other baked goods. An obscure federal agency, the Export-Import Bank, underwrote the contract, the first of many sales the company made in other countries. 
But now the bank's future is in jeopardy because of a philosophical split in the Republican Party between the populist, tea party wing and the GOP establishment tied to business interests — the same split that contributed to Lugar's primary defeat two years ago. 
Lugar said the assistance from the Export-Import Bank was transformative.
"Within three years," Lugar wrote in an opinion piece in a Capitol Hill newspaper recently in support of the bank, "our employee numbers jumped from approximately 50 to 100, and we had repaid loans and other obligations incurred by the factory during leaner years."
A look at the history of the Thomas L. Green company tells us that a long-time employee and its executive vice president, Frank Hubbard, was essentially the brains of the firm after Lugar's father, Marvin, died. Marvin, a farmer, had inherited control of the Green family business by marrying into it. Hubbard is credited with opening the company to markets south of the border, not the Export-Import Bank. Lugar didn't join the company until he returned from service as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy from 1957 to 1960 and left after a few years to devote his time to politics full-time. The Lugar's family business later stalled and was eventually acquired by Reading Bakery Systems in Pennsylvania in 2001.
Hubbard, although not officially the president of the organization, was the recognized authority in the plant after Marvin Lugar’s death. He single-handedly opened new markets for the company’s products in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Hubbard’s knowledge of the machinery and ability to develop good customer relations was one of the major reasons for the company’s growth in the 1950s and 1960s. 
At best, Lugar is telling us we should be happy that federal taxpayers helped grow his family's business by underwriting a Mexican company's contract so they could produce food products there paying slave wages instead of being produced by an American company employing American workers. At worst, his account is a fabricated story by a New World Order sycophant with ulterior motives for supporting continued federal taxpayer support of a bank that primarily benefits businesses overseas that compete with American businesses and workers.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been leading the charge to defund the Export-Import Bank, which he calls "big businesses' big government bank." He complains that the bank sends "huge amounts of assistance to foreign corporations, buyers, and companies that are hostile to our economic and security interests." Cruz complains that the bank has loaned money to countries like the Sudan and the Congo with "horriffic human rights records" "It has financed Chinese power plants and backed Russian billionaires buying luxury planes," Cruz laments. "And, it has provided lots and lots of financing to oil companies in Russia, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia that compete directly with America’s energy companies." He points out a federal court criticized the bank for supporting an Indian airline that helped it undercut Delta Airlines and put up to 7,500 jobs at risk. Democratic lawmakers in Michigan and Minnesota complained that the bank's support of an Australian earth-moving company was harming mining interests in their states. That's to say nothing of the dozens of documented cases of fraud uncovered since 2009. The bank's chairman pleaded the Fifth Amendment when recently asked to answer a House committee's questions about fraud within the agency. Agency employees have been accused of accepting bribes from businesses that benefited from its handouts.

According to the Star, only one member of Indiana's congressional delegation, Rep. Larry Buschon (R) has signed on to reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank's charter. Others are wishy-washy, against reauthorizing it or want to see changes made before they agree to renew the bank's charter. This creation of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal has long since outlived its useful life. It's time to close the doors on it, but I fully expect it to survive because most of our members of Congress answer to their New World Order masters, not their constituents, no matter how much harm they inflict on the people they are elected to serve. At any rate, if Richard Lugar cared about Hoosier's interests he would be living here now instead of his permanent home in our nation's capital. Didn't he tell us that Indiana was where he planned to return after he retired from the Senate when he was desperately seeking just one more term in that august body?

Troubled INDOT Official Resigns As Ethics Probe Concludes

The Indianapolis Star is reporting that embattled INDOT Chief of Staff Troy Woodruff will step down from his state job one day before the state's Inspector General is planning to release the findings of an ethics investigation that began more than a year ago after the newspaper first raised serious concerns about ethical wrongdoing on Woodruff's part. In a farewell letter to colleagues, the Star says Woodruff hinted that he would be cleared of any wrongdoing:
"I have always lived my life with no regret, but in leaving this agency I do have one and that is the fact I could no longer stay around waiting on a 2nd Internal Affairs Investigation of myself that started in October of 2012 finally come to an end," Woodruff wrote. "Believe me I wanted it to be out and one day it will be, not so much for me or my family but quite honestly for you all. I wanted to shout from the roof top that the people of this agency are owed an apology. Even as the media accused me of so many things, what they were actually implying is that this agency is corrupt. You don't deserve that."
Gov. Pence ordered an investigation of Woodruff, a former state lawmaker, after the Star reported on land sales and a bridge project related to the I-69 project that personally benefited Woodruff's family members. Woodruff recently requested permission from the state ethics commission to accept new employment with RQAW, an INDOT contractor. Advance Indiana exclusively reported that Woodruff had participated in a decision to restore RQAW's right to bid on state highway and bridge projects after it was suspended a few years ago for allegedly performing faulty bridge work on a project in Gary, Indiana. Woodruff personally signed contracts with RQAW worth at least $500,000 according to the Star. Woodruff has reportedly decided to start his own business for now rather than seek a waiver from the state ethics commission to accept employment now with RQAW, which could mean he'll be working in the capacity of an independent contractor rather than an actual employee for the time being until the one-year cooling off period passes.

Will Mayor Ballard's Latest Tax Increase Plan Actually Result In Higher Crime?

If Mayor Greg Ballard gets his way, the local income tax burden in Indianapolis will grow by another 20% on working taxpayers on top of the 65% increase in that burden without relief his predecessor imposed in 2007. But it's much worse than it seems. Part of that tax increase is being imposed for a new welfare program that will provide wealth transfer payments from middle and upper income tax earners to low-income, mostly single-parent mothers equal to more than $6,100 per qualifying child. Think about that. We will have just established a new entitlement program for single-parent mothers worth more than $6,100 per child. Thanks to Gov. Mike Pence's new pilot program, the benefit will only be offered in Marion, Lake, Vanderburgh and Jackson Counties. If Indianapolis is alone in matching Pence's state contribution to the early childhood entitlement education benefit for low-income parents, we have become the most attractive place in Indiana by far for low-income single mothers to live.

Ironically, Mayor Ballard has been saying that Indianapolis has got to reach out and attract higher income earners to move to Indianapolis who pay income taxes upon which we have become dependent to fund city-county government. Yet his plan for the income tax increase he proposes this year and the higher income taxes he wants to levy in the future to support the metropolitan mass transit boondoggle, will make income taxes the highest in the state of Indiana. At the same time, he's locking in a new entitlement program worth more than $6,100 to the lowest income-producing workers who don't even pay income taxes. Why wouldn't a single-parent mother living in Hendricks, Hamilton, Johnson, Shelby or some other county in the state move into Section 8 housing in Indianapolis to take advantage of this new entitlement program so she can drop off her one-parent child to free up more time to do the things that got her into the mess she found herself in the first place? The notion that this new entitlement program is somehow going to reduce crime in the inner city totally escapes me. Do we really believe that a child having a government-paid babysitter when they're four years old is going to make an appreciable difference on whether they're out on the streets committing violent crimes while they're living in that some household when they reach their preteen and teen years?

Frankly, I can make the case that Mayor Ballard's plan to raise taxes yet again and create another costly entitlement program for low-income families is actually going to contribute to Indianapolis' long-term crime problem by making it a less attractive place economically for middle and higher income earners while providing a perverse incentive for those contributing little or no taxes to move into the city. Mayor Brainard is sitting up there in Carmel saying "Go for it." He knows that every time Indianapolis raises its income tax rate, he's going to see more of the people he wants moving to his city to escape the higher taxes in Indianapolis buying new homes and paying taxes. And with Ballard's costly new entitlement program for low-income families, he's sealed the deal on keeping out the people he doesn't want to see moving into his city. And if Indianapolis delivers the mass transit boondoggle it wants so badly, he'll have subsidized transportation to transport those undesirables to and from low-paying jobs in his community that he doesn't want living in his city.

Watch this video of a speech Mayor Ballard gave as a candidate for office in 2007 if you have any doubt about what a fraud he has turned out to be on the issue of taxes and crime. Hat tip to fellow blogger Paul Ogden.

UPDATE: Chicago went all out on early childhood education programs for three and four year olds more than two decades ago. It's worked wonders to reduce crime in their city just like their ban on handguns, right? I don't doubt that many children benefit from early childhood education, but you're only offering false hope if you think at-risk children being brought up in troubled families are going to fare any better when it comes to straying onto the wrong side of the law just because they attended a free, early education program when they were four years old.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ballard Proposes Tax Increases For Preschool Education Spending And Calls It Public Safety Spending

The downtown mafia doesn't disappoint. They handed a new script to our self-absorbed, incompetent mayor and he ran with it. Yes, Mayor Greg Ballard teases the public with a press release saying he had a big announcement today to make on public safety. Instead, one of the tax increases already on the table for consideration for hiring additional police officers that the last 65% increase in the local income tax failed to produce seven years ago is now being proposed to be uses for a five-year, $25 million preschool program for children who come from lower income families. Education is not the responsibility of the consolidated city-county government, but this mayor will now raise your taxes to spend money that should be paid out of existing school budgets, such as the Indianapolis Public Schools, which we recently learned had a budget surplus of $8.4 million after falsely telling the public it had a $30 million deficit.

Mayor Ballard is proposing using additional money raised through the elimination of the homestead property tax credit, which will net the City about $7 million a year, on his preschool initiative. Ballard plans to turn that $5 million a year over to the unelected board of the United Way of Central Indiana, which the downtown mafia has been rest assured will deliver grant money to the education profiteers who are popping up all over the state and who are dumping big-time money in the campaign committees of corrupt pols like Mayor Greg Ballard. That money will be used to match nearly $25 million in federal and state money Gov. Mike Pence recently announced he would make available to Marion County for his preschool pilot program for children in low-income families.

Perhaps spending more money on preschool education is a swell idea, but it's not the responsibility of City-County government. I realize Mayor Ballard wants to create new programs and hand out money to campaign contributors for his re-election bid, but if Gov. Pence's Path to Quality program is worthwhile, then the school districts to whom we're paying precious property tax dollars every year should be funding it. They're not part of the equation because the education profiteers would be shut out, and that's what this is really all about. Ballard is already wasting millions of our tax dollars a year administering charter schools his office has approved for the benefit of his various campaign contributors, which under state law the City is entitled and should be assessing on the education profiteers. Now he wants to give away $5 million a year in new taxes and spending to an organization run by people who are not in any way accountable to the public or even representative of the taxpayers of Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, the Marion County Income Tax Council began deliberations last night on plans to raise your income taxes at least another $25 to $30 million a year supposedly to hire additional police officers on top of the $7 million a year they plan to raise through the elimination of the homestead property tax credit. That of course is a total lie because we know the downtown mafia's new criminal justice center to be built, operated and maintained by a foreign consortium starting next year will cost city-county taxpayers most of the promised new revenues in new annual outlays, leaving no additional revenues in the long-run to support hiring the 100, 200 or 300 new police officers these irresponsible public officials speak of funding on any given day with yet another tax increase as yet another diversion from their true motives for getting their hands on more of your tax dollars.

This is the only place you will get straight talk on what's really going on with your public finances. The management of the Indianapolis Star, the Indianapolis Business Journal and each of the local TV stations in town are all in bed with the downtown mafia on these bait-and-switch, shell game schemes to launder more of your tax dollars into the self-serving purposes of the ruling elite who could give a damn less about you or your children's station in life. They will feed you nothing but propaganda about these proposals and will silence anyone with a dissenting viewpoint. Wake up, people.

UPDATE: A reader points out that Ballard's plan is a retread of an idea first tossed out during the last mayoral election by his Democratic opponent, Melina Kennedy, to repurpose Rebuild Indy money to fund grants for early childhood education.

Man Wins $1 Million Playing Hoosier Lottery Twice Within Three Months

What are the odds? An Indianapolis man, Robert Hamilton, bought a $1 million lottery scratch-off ticket three months ago in Jasonville. This month, he purchased his second winning $1 million scratch-off ticket in Indianapolis. Lottery officials say the odds of winning the lottery's $120 million Cash Spectacular Scratch-off are one in more than two million. Hamilton's wife, Donna, says they are "just everyday, normal people." Robert Hamilton has no plans to stop working. He plans to use the money to grow his business after taking care of some financial obligations, purchasing a new home, taking a vacation and buying a new truck for his father. He also plans to buy a new motorcycle.

Public Safety Is Job One Mayor Plans To Make First Big Announcement On Public Safety In Seven Years

When Mayor Greg Ballard first ran for office in 2007, the first line of virtually every speech he gave during that campaign was to assure voters he planned to make public safety job one if we was elected mayor. Shortly after he began his first term in office, the City-County Council passed an ordinance shifting control of the  recently merged police department back to the mayor's office from the sheriff's office. Ballard quickly delegated control of the police department to his public safety director and thereafter had little to say on the subject. Despite having the benefit of the public safety tax enacted by his predecessor that contributed to his defeat in the 2007 election, Mayor Ballard actually oversaw a police department force that shrank rather than grew in numbers as he signed into law a series of new taxes to benefit the billionaire sports team owners and the downtown convention business while diverting more than a half billion dollars to the TIF slush funds used to finance the private real estate development projects of his campaign contributors, mostly in the downtown area. Morale within the police department is reaching an all-time low under the leadership of one of the most unqualified and incompetent police chiefs ever to hold the position. As he now prepares to seek a third term as mayor next year, he suddenly has a "big announcement" to make on public safety this morning. Will the voters be fooled again?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SuspiciousObserver's Mobile Observatory Journey Rolls Into Carmel

Regular readers of this blog know what a big fan I am of the work of Ben Davidson's Suspicious Observers in educating and enlightening the public on the powerful forces our Sun and space weather bring to bear on weather events we experience daily on Earth from earthquakes and volcanoes to severe weather, hurricanes and temperature extremes. Much to my delight, the 29-year old Columbus, Ohio resident and and his lovely wife, Katherine, rolled into Carmel's arts district today with their Mobile Observatory to greet his many area fans and well-wishers and engage in wide-ranging discussions with them that could have gone on for days. Davidson graciously took time out for a quick interview with me. The Mobile Observatory's journey across the United States and Canada began in earnest in April. Davidson's goal is to spread his love of science and the vast amount of knowledge he's gained about the impact of our solar system's Sun on daily weather events here on Earth.

In our interview, Davidson discusses his research and that of others that has completely debunked the global warming meme that fossil fuel emissions are largely responsible for climate changes we've experience on Earth in the industrialized era. For at least the past 17 years, Davidson says the data unequivocally proves that global temperatures have not been heating up on Earth despite the constant refrain we here from global warming theorists. To be sure, Davidson doesn't discount the need for vigilance in protecting our Earth from the harmful, adverse effects from manmade pollution, but he is critical of global warming theorists who ignore the evidence that the Sun has been weakening for a significant period of time now, which could just as well lead to another ice age.

Davidson's most fascinating work as of late has led him to develop a model for analyzing solar activity to predict major earthquake events with a relatively high degree of certainty. He shares his thoughts about the impact of the meltdown of three of six nuclear power plant reactors at Fukushima following the great Tsunami triggered by the powerful March 11, 2011 earthquake centered off the coast of Japan in the Pacific Ocean. Finally, Davidson shares with us his thoughts on the Chemtrail phenomenon, which he agrees with me are real.

God must have been listening to my interview with Davidson. Just as I arrived at my downtown home in the Lockerbie neighborhood this evening, the sky opened up and began pouring rain in my neighborhood. Our historic condominium building sustained substantial water damage from the brief but significant rainfall.

If you want to follow the journey of Davidson's Mobile Observatory across our country, you can follow it by clicking here. You can also follow Davidson's informative daily reports uploaded to his YouTube channel to keep up on the latest space weather and how it's impacting weather on Earth.

IMPD Officer's Drunk Driving Arrest Raises Questions

The Indianapolis Star's Jill Disis has a story discussing newly-filed court documents filed in the arrest of Officer Kevin Brown early Monday morning for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, his second such arrest in less than a year. Although her story doesn't seem to pose questions about the timing of his arrest and the administering of a blood-alcohol test, the recitation of the facts in her story certainly give rise to suspicions that his fellow IMPD officers may have taken steps aimed at protecting him from registering over the legal limit following his arrest, which should have been made by Morgan Co. authorities where he was driving at the time of his arrest but instead was made by IMPD.

Disis indicates that the court documents say that Officer Brown had gone out for drinks Sunday night after working all day at the Brickyard 400. He reportedly consumed six beers, including four, 20 oz. glasses of Blue Moon at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Plainfield. Brown and his girlfriend were dropped off at his home in Camby by a friend. Brown later decides to drive his police cruiser to a White Castle on Ind. 67 near the Marion, Hendricks and Morgan Co. lines around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. because he was hungry. This is where it gets confusing. At around 4:00 a.m., one to three hours after he left his home in Camby, someone places a 911 call to complain that a plain-clothes IMPD officer who appeared to be drunk was witnessed using his loud speaker and lights while going through the drive-thru at White Castle. Apparently, Brown was messing with some friends he recognized in a car in front of him. Before he left the White Castle, an occupant in the car in front of him got in Brown's police cruiser, and Brown drove the person to their home in Mooresville, which is in Morgan County.

An IMPD officer who responded to the 911 call figured out that the officer involved was Brown. Surely the officer knew about Brown's arrest for drunk driving last August. That officer told Brown to pull his car over. At that time, Brown was in Morgan County on Ind. 39. The officer arrested Brown around 5:00 a.m. and took him to IMPD's Southeast roll call site at 1150 S. Shelby Street; however, a blood-alcohol test was not administered on Brown until 6:41 a.m., almost two hours following his arrest and nearly three hours after the 911 call had been placed. Brown tested just over the legal limit at 0.09. IMPD spokesman Kendale Adams told Disis that "it is standard practice to take someone suspected of drunken driving to a place that has instruments for recording results taken from certified chemical tests." "Those tests, which give investigators evidence that can be submitted in court, are only available in certain locations, Adams said." But why was Brown's arrest handled by IMPD instead of Morgan Co. authorities since he was apprehended in Morgan Co.? And why did so much time pass before the BAC test was administered? When he tested over the legal limit, IMPD took Brown back to Morgan Co. where he was booked into the jail. The police report sounds kind of fishy. What do you think?

According to IMPD policy, an officer is subject to discipline whenever a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 or higher is registered at the time of his arrest. That discipline can go all the way up to firing. It's unclear what discipline Brown received following his drunk driving arrest last year, although he was reportedly placed on administrative leave immediately following his arrest.

UPDATE: Officer Brown has resigned according to WTHR.

Clark County Sheriff Arrested By FBI In Prostitution Sting

UPDATED: The two-term Democratic sheriff of Clark County, Indiana, Danny Rodden, has been a bad boy according to the FBI. A federal grand jury in New Albany has indicted Rodden on charges of attempted evidence destruction and making false statements to FBI agents during an investigation of his relationship with a prostitute. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Sheriff Rodden is accused of providing law enforcement credentials to a prostitute last year so she could rent rooms at a Louisville hotel at government discounted rates. Rodden is accused of meeting the prostitute at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Louisville where he allegedly paid her $300 to perform oral sex. Rodden is not seeking re-election this year due to the state's constitutional term limits barring him from seeking a third consecutive term. Clark County Commissioners are huddling with their attorneys to determine how to proceed in handling Rodden's possible removal from office before the end of his term.

Last month, Boone Co. Sheriff Ken Campbell (R) was forced to step down due to his relationship with a prostitute. An Indianapolis Star report this evening cites a source as claiming the same woman involved in the investigation of Sheriff Campbell is at the center of the charges now brought against Sheriff Rodden. Campbell has still not been charged despite his resignation last month when law enforcement officials became aware of his relationship with the woman in question.

An interesting sidebar is a conversation I had last year with a source involved in the escort business after I questioned the practice of undercover Carmel police actually engaging in sex acts with prostitution targets before placing them under arrest. This source told me that undercover Indianapolis police had actually completed sex acts with an escort before arresting them. According to the source, the undercover officer would only engage in sex with the prostitution target if he was physically attracted to his target; otherwise, the arrest would be made as soon as an agreement had been reached to exchange sex for money.

Another law enforcement source contacted me after Indianapolis police busted up a high-end prostitution ring that was being operated out of the Sheraton Hotel at Keystone at the Crossing where johns were paying $550 an hour and up for the sexual services of very attractive escorts. The law enforcement official complained that very prominent persons in the Indianapolis community were known by police to be utilizing the services of these escorts, including one of Indianapolis' most prominent criminal defense attorneys, but none of the johns were arrested in the sting to protect these  high-profile clients from public embarrassment.

Public Safety Director Criticizes Churches For Not Contributing To Public Safety Foundation Controlled By Downtown Mafia

The downtown mafia recently created yet another nonprofit organization about a year ago, the Indy Public Safety Foundation, to which part of the million bucks in crime prevention grant money doled out by the City of Indianapolis is funneled through the Central Indiana Community Foundation, which administers the grant money. Public Safety Director Troy Riggs sits on the board of the public safety foundation, along with the usual suspects who scheme to operate Indianapolis city-county government for their own self-enrichment purposes.  Comments Riggs attributed to Riggs in a recent column by the Star's Erika Smith has set off a bit of a firestorm among churches. It seems Riggs and the Indy Public Safety Foundation went around hitting up churches to kick in money for a program sponsored by the foundation to create make-work jobs for inner city teens to keep them busy so they won't be breaking into people's homes and shooting each other during their summer break from school. Here's what Riggs told Smith:
. . . We have a hard time working together for the common good because all of those things get in the way.
For an example, look no further than Riggs’ current source of ire — churches.
In preparation for the long-hyped plan to create jobs for teens who otherwise would be running the streets this summer, Riggs spent weeks canvassing the community for donations to the Indy Public Safety Foundation. He ended up with about $35,000, mostly from large institutions.
“We didn’t get a dime from any church,” he said. Instead what he got was resistance.
That meant a few hundred kids who wanted a job this summer couldn’t get one.
Next up, Riggs wants to help the thousands of teenage mothers who are trying to break the cycle of poverty — and violent crime — by finishing school, becoming self-sufficient and being good parents. He needs donations. But he’s not optimistic about that one either.
“I’m not making any political statements here. It’s just the way the world is,” Riggs said. “We have a group of wealthy, predominantly suburban churches that are against abortion. We have young ladies in the inner city that have been sexually assaulted — had a child because of that sexual assault because they made a decision to keep that child because, morally, they thought that’s what they needed to do.
“Why in the world aren’t these churches helping these young mothers?”
First of all, Riggs' job is to direct the various public safety agencies, not fundraising for a nonprofit foundation. Secondly, the foundation is trying to create entirely new programs that compete with existing government-funded and other nonprofit programs that have been around a lot longer than the past year, a number of which are administered by various church organizations. Only a few weeks ago the Indy Parks run by the administration in which Riggs serves complained that it was going to have to cut back hours of operations at the city's pools this summer because it couldn't find enough lifeguards to fill all of the summer job openings. Just who does Riggs think he is to demand that churches give money to a newly-created foundation with programs at cross-purposes with existing programs, and to seemingly blame them for the crime problems the city faces?

Riggs, by the way, gave an interview to radio talk show host Amos Brown. Ironically, Riggs had to call into the show from Texas where he was with his sons, who were attending a church-run sports camp in Texas where he formerly lived. He reiterated his concern that churches and businesses aren't doing enough to help combat the crime and violence in Indianapolis. If Riggs really gave a damn about public safety, he might ask one of his fellow board members, Pacers Sports & Entertainment's Jim Morris, to give back some of the tens of millions of dollars annually his billionaire boss is selfishly hogging for the Pacers before he criticizes others not on the public dole for not doing their fair share. Riggs might also stop wasting more taxpayers' money by creating a new high-paid position in his own office for retiring fire chief Brian Sanford, a position he said only a couple of years ago was not needed and spend that money instead on hiring more police officers. Interestingly, the $35,000 Riggs said the foundation raised was given to certain inner-city churches to run summer jobs programs, which might explain why some churches were reluctant in the first place to waste money on programs that have been exploited for personal use in the past by a few unscrupulous ministers who always seem to get their hands on this money.

Monday, July 28, 2014

IMPD Officer Arrested Second Time Within A Year For Operating A Vehicle While Intoxicated

(Provided Photo/Morgan County Sheriff's Office)
A 16-year veteran of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Officer Kevin Brown, was arrested in Monrovia by Morgan County officials early Monday morning for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, his second such charge within the last year WRTV is reporting. He also faces an enhanced felony charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a prior conviction within the past five years. Officer Brown was driving his IMPD police cruiser at the time of his arrest according to WRTV. Five other IMPD officers have been arrested for drunk driving since Brown's first arrest last August.

Hogsett Joining Bose McKinney & Evans

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett will be joining an Indianapolis law firm with a very large lobbying presence at the Indiana State House and the Indianapolis City-County Building. WISH-TV reports that Hogsett is set to join the litigation practice group at Bose McKinney & Evans when he steps down as U.S. Attorney at the end of this month. He will supposedly focus his practice on internal investigations and corporate audits. Hogsett was a partner in the labor practice group at the Bingham Greenebaum Doll before he became U.S. Attorney in 2010. Hogsett, a former Indiana Secretary of State, is expected to make a run for Indianapolis mayor next year so a law firm job is a natural step for him. He can spend as much time as he pleases campaigning for mayor, while drawing a large salary and having ready access to the law firm's influence peddling operation to raise a lot of money for his campaign. And people wonder why he refused to prosecute the rampant public corruption taking place right under his nose the past four years.

Former Indiana governor and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh followed a similar path. Hogsett worked for Bayh when he was Indiana Secretary of State. Bayh worked at the same law firm where Hogsett was later a partner before he became Indiana Secretary of State and then later Governor. Bayh then went to work as a partner at Baker & Daniels for a brief two-year period while he was running for the U.S. Senate after he left the governor's office. Bayh reportedly earned about $1 million working for the firm while he devoted most of his time campaigning and raising money for his Senate bid. Baker & Daniels, of course, has a lobbying arm in Washington that lobbies Congress and executive branch agencies. Bayh now works for a D.C. law firm, an international consulting firm, and he and his wife have both served on numerous corporate boards that have made the couple multi-millionaires. No, they don't work for us when they hold public office.

Former Marion Housing Authority Director Accused Of Stealing More Than $20,000

The former head of the Marion housing authority, Frederick Hunt, was arrested last week after a three-year long investigation according to the Chronicle-Tribune. Hunt is accused of stealing more than $20,000 by forging checks made out to a subcontractor and depositing the funds into his own account and using a credit card belonging to the authority to pay for numerous trips to North Carolina where Hunt originally lived. Grant Co. Prosecutor Jim Luttrull charged Hunt with two counts of forgery, one count of corrupt business influence and four counts of theft. The case was jointly investigated by the federal HUD office in Indianapolis and the Marion Police Department. Federal authorities were aware that Hunt was accused of stealing federal funds but chose to let Hunt be charged under state law.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Irsay Passes Out $100 Bills To Fans

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Colts owner Jim Irsay treated fans who showed up to the Colts training camp in Anderson this morning to $100 bills. Is he trying to explain to doubters why he was carrying $29,000 in cash on him when Carmel police pulled him over for operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a large stash of various prescription pills on him?

Dallas County Commissioner Charged With Taking Nearly $1 Million In Bribes

Federal authorities charged a long-time Dallas County commissioner, John Wiley Price (D), with multiple corruption charges yesterday after a lengthy, 3-year long FBI investigation. Federal prosecutors charged Price with scheming with two business associates to amass nearly $1 million in cash payments, automobiles and land as part of an influence-peddling scheme that extended for more than a decade. Price is accused of being the mastermind of the criminal enterprise whereby vendors and businesses would hire Kathy Nealy, a lobbyist and friend of Price, to help win favorable action from Price in his official capacity as a Dallas County commissioner. Charges against Price include conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services fraud and income tax evasion. “For more than a decade, in a shocking betrayal of public trust, Commissioner Price sold his office on the Dallas County Commissioners Court in exchange for a steady stream of bribes,” U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña said in a news conference Friday morning. The text of the indictment against Price and his co-defendants can be viewed by clicking here.

What is interesting about yesterday's charges is the fact that the largest beneficiaries of the bribery scheme do not face charges. Federal prosecutors allege that particular minority subcontractors specified by Price were included in contracts awarded to other vendors. A Dallas art gallery owner, Karen Manning, allegedly schemed to help Price launder his money. Price also allegedly co-owned a business with political consultant Dapheny Fain, who was charged along with Nealy, called Male Man Sales, which allowed Price free use of a credit card to the tune of more than $133,000. Nealy acted as a straw purchaser for several pieces of real estate property valued at several hundred thousand dollars that were funneled to Price, and she provided him several luxury automobiles to drive. Nealy would also transfer money directly to Price or endorse checks made out to her to him according to the federal complaint.

One of the largest beneficiaries of the scheme was Schlumberger Ltd., an international IT company that was awarded a contract worth $43 million. Federal authorities allege that Schlumberger hired Nealy as a lobbyist, who would arrange secret meetings or obtain insider information about the procurement process for her client to get an edge in the bidding process. Identified as "Business S" in the complaint, Nealy was paid by Schlumberger more than $250,000 for providing consulting services, a large part of which Nealy kick backed to Price. After Atos Origin, a large international IT company later acquired Schlumberger, Price allegedly advocated on its behalf to continue receiving contracts from the county. A company owned by billionaire Ross Perot, Hillword Corp., hired Nealy to help win a Federal Trade Zone designation, which Price supported while opposing an application by a competing company.

Although Price has been very popular in Dallas' African-American community, he has been a very polarizing political figure who is not ashamed to express his disdain for whites. Nonetheless, some of Dallas' most wealthy and influential wooed him. Ross Perot, Jr. contributed nearly $10,000 to Price in recent years. Perot hired Price's friend, Karen Manning, to participate in design work for the W Hotel he developed in Dallas. In this video below, Price can be seen telling a number of white citizens who appeared before a commissioner's meeting to "go to hell" because they are white. Many in Dallas' black community told reporters they believe Price is being targeted because he's black. The Dallas Morning News noted in its story that Price is just one of a string of mostly African-American politicians charged with public corruption by Obama-run Justice Department in recent years. The newspaper noted that some of those prominent white business officials not named in yesterday's indictments could be charged as more facts are developed during Price's trial.

In another exchange captured on video, Price is seen going on an expletive-filled tirade at a public meeting after a disagreement with a fellow commissioner.

Whitley County Auditor Asked To Take Leave While Under Investigation

Discrepancies uncovered during a state board of accounts audit of the Whitley County Auditor's Office suggesting funds had been misappropriated led to a request by the county commissioners that Jennifer McGuire, the elected auditor, take a leave of absence from her work. News reports say McGuire was led from her office by human resources early Friday afternoon as she started a period of paid leave while investigators sort through financial records in her office.

Whitley Co. Commissioner George Schrumpf declined to discuss what matters had been uncovered by the audit when commissioners recently discussed its findings with state auditors. The most recently available audit on the state board of account's website gave the office a clean bill of health. Schrumpf said the matter had been turned over to the county prosecutor for further investigation after "some discrepancies in accounts" were uncovered during the audit. Whitley County Prosecutor Matt Rentschler told the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette that misappropriation of funds was part of his investigation. Indiana State Police investigators are assisting the prosecutor's office in the investigation.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Attorney General Greg Zoeller Partners With Colts To Combat Prescription Drug Fraud

The punch line of the press conference conducted by Attorney General Greg Zoeller this week was the absence of Jimmy "The Pill Popper" Irsay when he announced that his office is partnering with the Indianapolis Colts to combat prescription drug abuse.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force have teamed up with the Indianapolis Colts to heighten awareness of Indiana’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. 
According to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), more than 1,000 Hoosiers died from drug overdoses in 2012, compared to fewer than 500 in 2003.  The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Indiana is currently listed as one of the top 10 states for prescribing narcotics and Indiana is 17th in the United States in the drug overdose mortality rate.  More people in the U.S. abuse prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“Statistics show that the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is not limited to a specific age group, gender, or economic class,” Zoeller said.  “Teaming up with the Colts and their professional athletes will allow us to focus public attention on this epidemic and the need to help those held in the grasp of pain and addiction.  My hope is that, with the support of the Colts we can save many lives from this growing problem.” 
The sponsorship of the 2014-2015 Colts season provides a unique opportunity to reach a diverse audience across the state and a chance for youth to hear the message from athletes and a sports team they look up to.
"We're pleased to announce our partnership with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. Working together, we hope to make a positive impact in Indiana by focusing attention on the grave issues surrounding prescription drug abuse," said Pete Ward, Chief Operating Officer of the Indianapolis Colts.  
The Indiana Prescription Drug Task Force will have a presence during Colts home games, at Colts special events, and during Colts radio and TV programming. 
The Task Force - made up of more than 80 members including state legislators, law enforcement, professionals in the medical community, health officials, pharmacists, state and local agencies and education providers - was launched by Zoeller in 2012. The goal of the task force is to significantly reduce the abuse of controlled prescription drugs and to decrease the number of deaths associated with these drugs in Indiana.
I take it from this announcement that Zoeller's office won't be a part of any multi-agency investigation to determine how Irsay has been able to gain access to prescription pain killers to fuel his long-running addiction.

UPDATE: Hat tip to the commenter who recalled President Richard Nixon enlisting the assistance of Elvis Presley in his war on drugs. Presley, of course, was abusing prescription drugs at the time, which would later lead to his tragic death.
Elvis Presley's letter led to one of the most bizarre encounters ever to take place in the White House, an unlikely meeting of counter-culture icon and Right-wing bogeyman
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Largest Nuclear Bomb Drill Ever Being Conducted In Indy This Week

WISH-TV posted a story on its website today announcing a large scale emergency response drill that is being conducted this week, code named Vibrant Response 2014, that involves agencies from more than 28 states, the largest ever exercise conducted in North America. To what emergency is the practice drill in response? The explosion of a nuclear bomb in Speedway, home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where this weekend's NACAR Brickyard 400 race is being run.
This week agencies from more than 28 states are practicing for a large scale emergency in Indianapolis. The exercise, Vibrant Response 2014, is the largest exercise ever conducted in North America. Local, state and federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security are simulating their response to a nuclear bomb hitting Speedway.
Officials are acting through every scenario they would encounter should a nuclear bomb ever hit Indianapolis.
“Every incident, every emergency, every weather emergency, fire, every bombing and terrorist attack is local.  It would start at the local level, in this case in Marion county. In a situation like this, we would expect them to turn to the state very quickly. We would then turn to our federal assets very quickly,” said John Erickson with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
If a bomb were to hit Indianapolis, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said citizens should seek shelter immediately. The most important thing to do in the first few minutes is to stay inside.
“Get into a home, get in a business, where ever you’re at. Don’t travel. Get into a school, get as many walls as possible between you and the outside,” said Erickson.
Officials then start monitoring radiation levels, coordinating communication, and developing plans to get citizens to a safe location where they can seek treatment. Erickson said the exercise has been very beneficial so far.
“I’d like to say it’s worked flawlessly, but there are always going to be hurdles to overcome.  The goal is to find out where we need to meld processes better and how we can work together better,” said Erickson.
Christopher Royce with the Environmental Protection Agency said training exercises like Vibrant Response 2014 are opportunities for state and federal agencies to work together, that prove valuable in real-life emergencies.
“The quicker that we can get together and work together, getting services back to the community and getting everyone back to their homes, back to a normal state of living the better it is. It helps us to better understand other states, other federal agencies and other municipalities and how they operate,” said Royce.
Last year, a National Guard website posted a story about thousands of military and civilian officials gathering at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh and the Mascatutuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville as part of an annual Vibrant Response exercise for dealing with nuclear bombs being set off in two major metropolitan areas. That exercise involved about 5,700 service members and civilians from various federal, state and local agencies.

UPDATE: WTHR has more on the parts of the exercise being performed at Camp Atterbury and Mascatatuck with crisis actors. It says 5,500 persons are participating in the exercise, which runs through August 7.

According to this WISH-TV report, even the White House is monitoring the exercise taking place here in Indiana this week. The simulation involves the detonation of a 10 kiloton nuclear bomb in Speedway. A prior study of the impact of releasing a similar bomb just blocks from the White House a few years ago indicated that the bomb blast would cause devastation one-half mile in every direction, reducing most buildings to rubble. "But outside that blast zone, the study concluded, even such a nuclear explosion would be pretty survivable." The study estimated 323,000 injuries, with more than 45,000 dead. The blast would be about 5,000 times the strength of the bomb the government Timothy McVeigh set off in Oklahoma City in 1995 at the Murrah Building.

Indy Chamber Wants Suburbs To Pay Commuter Tax To Downtown Mafia, Tully Agrees

I've previously discussed how the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is perhaps one of the most anti-business, anti-taxpayer chamber of commerce organizations in the entire country. This should come as no surprise since the organization has become a de facto instrumentality of Indianapolis' Mayor's Office following its merger a few years ago with Develop Indy, the city-funded nonprofit organization that's supposed to support economic development activities within Indianapolis. The organization supports one tax hike after another, most of which are devoted to supporting the endeavors of the downtown mafia, which is only concerned about subsidies for the billionaire sports team owners, the downtown convention business industry and economic development, in general, within the mile square.

The Indy Chamber currently backs raising the local income tax and eliminating the homestead property tax credit ostensibly to hire more cops. The tax increase is actually being pursued to pay for the costs of a new privatized criminal justice system to be built just outside the mile square to allow prime real estate downtown to be redeveloped by members of the downtown mafia. The Indy Chamber also supports raising the local income tax to finance a regional mass transit boondoggle at the same time it has supported the city spending tens of millions of dollars to subsidize the construction of privately-owned parking garages in downtown and Broad Ripple. Now the Indy Chamber wants the General Assembly to approve a commuter tax that would be paid by workers who reside in the surrounding counties but work within Marion County. Not surprisingly, Star political columnist Matt Tully thinks that's a swell idea:
I’ve found that having a calm discussion about the issue of a commuter tax is nearly impossible. Even the mention of one leads to immediate, angry responses from those who either hate taxes in general or, quite understandably, don’t think their income taxes should be captured by a county other than the one they call home.
A man wrote me a couple of years ago to protest the very idea of a commuter tax, which has been both discussed and stalled for decades around here, and his protest summed up the opposition well: I moved out of the city, he told me, to get away from its problems. And one of those problems, he said, was the cost of paying for the city’s many other problems.
So I come today in peace, understanding the built-in opposition about commuter taxes but hoping to raise a few questions and start a conversation. It’s an important one because the numbers make clear that something must be done to improve Marion County’s financial situation, and it is inherently unfair to have the residents of the county accept alone the cost of funding public safety officers and road paving, and so much else, when those things clearly improve the lives of suburban residents who rush in for work five days a week . . . 
Marion County has been on an unsustainable fiscal path for a long time,” said Mike Huber, president of the Indy Chamber. “I think there is a growing sense that something has to happen. And that is magnified by debates about how to put public safety funding on a longterm sustainable path.”
In recent years, because of property tax caps and other decisions by the state legislature, cities and counties have become more reliant on income tax than ever. Growing income tax revenue is crucial to counties’ future. That is intensified by the fact that the state controls sales taxes — with the exception in Indianapolis of those collected for its sports stadiums, which, of course, benefit the entire region.
The bottom line, Huber said, “is that those who are benefiting from a system should pay into a system that makes those benefits possible.” . . . 
As usual, Tully accepts the talking points of the Indy Chamber's Mike Huber, who has absolutely no experience running an actual business, without any critical analysis since that would actually require some effort on his part. Property tax caps once again take the rap for Marion County being on "an unsustainable fiscal path." Of course, diverting $120 million a year in property taxes to the TIF slush funds and passing out tens of millions of dollars in new property tax abatements each year has had no impact. Just look at the billions of dollars in public subsidies that have been poured into Indianapolis' downtown over the past several decades, and yet more and more middle and upper middle income workers choose to move outside Marion County. Why? Having sports palaces and a large, first-rate venue for out-of-state organizations to host their conventions downtown obviously isn't the panacea its promoters dish out to sustain Indianapolis so their answer is to force suburban taxpayers to subsidize more of the City's reckless, misplaced spending priorities like they're already doing for Lucas Oil Stadium. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. If you are wasting your money on a membership in the Indy Chamber, I would highly encourage you to drop it immediately--unless you just love seeing your taxes raised for more of the same foolish spending. And Mr. Tully, some of us think it's unfair that all of these nonprofits that populate Center Township with high-paid corporate executives don't contribute a dime to support city services like the rest of us. Why aren't you talking about them contributing their fair share instead?

Frankfort Police Officer Stole $150,000 To Feed Gambling Addiction

A former Frankfort police officer has pleaded guilty to felony theft charges for stealing $150,000 from a private company that hired him to make cash bank deposits. The Good Oil Co. hired retired Lt. Randy Emery to pick up its cash deposits from one of its BP gas stations at the intersection of I-65 and Indiana 28 and transport them to a local Regions Bank branch. Emery reliably picked up the cash deposits while working as an off-duty police officer but stopped making deposits at a certain point. Emery told the court that he used the money for a gambling addiction for which he has since received help. A special prosecutor, Todd Meyer, told Clinton Circuit Court Judge Brad Mohler that casino receipts corroborated Emery's account.

Emery retired as a police officer shortly after his arrest in February. Under a plea agreement, his charges were reduced from a Class C to a Class D felony. He received a 3-year sentence, all of which was suspended, and ordered to pay $110,000 in restitution. Best of all, he gets to keep his public pension for his years of services as a police officer. "Chief Troy Bacon said the former officer gets to keep his pension because his retirement halted an internal investigation by the department," the Lafayette Journal & Courier reported. Bacon said he hoped the misdeeds of one police officer "won't lead the public to believe immoral behavior runs rampant among the ranks."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Angie's List's Share Price Down Sharply In After Hours Trading As Losses Mount

Angie's List has been in business for nearly two decades but has never turned a profit. Second quarter earnings reported by the company at the close of the stock market today didn't disappoint the company's many skeptics. Despite a 33% increase in revenues over the same period a year ago, the company reported losses of $18.4 million for the quarter, up from $14.3 million from the prior period last year. That's a larger than expected loss at the same time its second quarter revenues of $78.9 million was lower than expected. Net losses for the year topped $22 million, almost exactly where the company's losses stood at this point last year. The company's stock was trading down nearly 15% an hour after the markets closed, trading well below $9 a share.

Perhaps the most disturbing trend in the numbers is Angie's List's growing reliance on its revenues from service providers. Service provider revenues are growing faster than revenues from memberships sold to consumers who supposedly rate those service providers. Angie's List now relies on 77% of its revenues from service providers. In addition, its marketing costs continue to soar. The cost of signing up a new member increased from $80 a year ago to $90 for the most recent quarter according to Seeking Alpha's David Trainer. "These two numbers reinforce the fact that ANGI, which markets itself as a 'consumer driven organization' is actually beholden to service providers, and consumers recognize that fact," Trainer notes in questioning the reliability of its ratings.

Secretary Of State's Securities Division Recovers Impressive Sum From Ponzi Schemer's Accounting Firm

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced this week that her agency's security division had reached an agreement with an Indianapolis-based accounting firm, DeWitt & Shrader, to pay $1.8 million to settle a lawsuit her office brought against the firm for its work on behalf of convicted Ponzi schemer Keenan Hauke's Samex Capital Partners, LLC. That represents about 25% of the $7.1 million in restitution and most assuredly represents a significantly larger amount than the firm received for its work. Hauke was ordered to repay the $7.1 million as restitution to nearly 100 defrauded investors. Lawson's office had already returned over about $1 million to the investors that it has recovered from Hauke's remaining assets.

In sharp contrast, the bankruptcy trustee for Fair Finance recovered only $500,000 from Indianapolis-based Somerset CPAs for the work it performed on behalf of various business entities owned by convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham, who defrauded thousands of Ohio investors out of more than $200 million. That amount didn't even cover the amount of fees the accounting firm had been paid for its work over a several year period. Someret took over the accounting work after two separate accounting firms walked, finding too many discrepancies and problems with the companies' financials. An accountant for the resigning accounting firm wondered how Somerset could issue "a clean opinion on Fair" after the "serious issues" he had uncovered.

After federal authorities convicted the Illinois city of Dixon's former comptroller, Rita Crundwell, of embezzling $54 million from the city over a 20-year period, attorneys for the city went after two accounting firms that performed audit work for the city during that period to recover some of the losses. Clifton Larson Allen agreed to repay the city more than $35 million for its failure to uncover the theft. Another local accounting firm in Dixon, Janis Card Associates, agreed to repay the city $1 million. Fifth Third Bank also agreed to repay the city $3.85 million for its failure to detect anything wrong as it processed numerous wire transfers from government accounts into Crundwell's personal bank accounts.

Brian Bash's work as bankruptcy trustee on behalf of the defrauded Fair Finance investors leaves much to be desired. He has recovered so far less than 5% of the amount investors lost in Durham's Ponzi scheme. Nothing has been returned to the investors because Bash's fees and expenses to date have consumed what little he has managed to recover. Many large judgments he obtained against Durham and his business partners will likely never be recovered as they rot the rest of their lives away in a federal prison.

South Bend Tribune Wants Council Member To Resign Following Drunk Driving Arrest

Henry Davis Jr.
South Bend Common Council member Henry Davis, Jr.
The arrest of a controversial city council member this past weekend is the last straw for the editors of the South Bend Tribune. "South Bend common council member Henry Davis, Jr. should resign," an editorial in the newspaper declares. Davis was arrested for suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated after a St. Joseph County sheriff's deputy stopped him for driving west in the eastbound lane of the St. Joseph Valley Parkway at 3 a.m. Saturday morning. Davis admitted to consuming alcohol but denied being drunk. A portable breath test recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.14. He refused to take a certified breath test.

In January, Davis stirred controversy when he posted an obscene bestiality photo on his Facebook page, which he explained was "an unfortunate mistake." He recently stirred controversy again with an offensive Twitter post he made about Republicans and abortion. Davis has also tussled with South Bend Police. He came under fire in 2012 after sending a letter to the Justice Department accusing members of the police department of racial bias after improper recordings were made by city officials of their phone calls. Several police officers are suing him, accusing him of libel. He was later given two traffic citations by police and charged with resisting arrest, which he claimed was in retaliation for the letter he sent to the Justice Department. "Davis knows what he's done and if poor judgment has again ended in actions that disrespect the public, then Davis should take responsibility and do the right thing by stepping down," the Tribune editorial reads.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Obama State Department: The Russians Did It Because That's What We Learned From YouTube And Social Media

AP reporter Matt Lee is apparently the only mainstream reporter inside the Washington Beltway who is challenging the Obama administration to produce what evidence it has to support its conclusion that the Russians and the rebels they back are responsible for firing a missile that allegedly blew Malaysia Airlines Flight #MH17 out of the sky at 33,000 feet, killing all 295 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 777 aircraft. What Lee learns from State Department spokesperson Marie Harf after much poking and prodding of her is that the American assessment that the rebels and the Russians are likely responsible for bringing the airplane down is primarily based on a YouTube video and supposed social media posts in which the rebels claimed credit for downing the airplane.

There are reasons to doubt the authenticity of the social media posts that were quickly taken down. A YouTube video claiming that the Russian-made Buk missile launcher that was allegedly used in the attack was observed returning to Russia shortly after the attack has been completely debunked. As it turns out, the video was taken back in May at an entirely differently location in Ukraine. The evidence almost immediately produced by the Ukrananian government of audio of a supposed exchange between a Russian commander and a rebel leader discussing the plane being shot down also appears to be of dubious origin.

Russian officials presented satellite and radar evidence to make its case that neither they nor the rebels were responsible, while the Ukranian and American governments are withholding any forensic evidence they have to support their contentions. A second aircraft that was likely a Ukranian fighter jet was shown on radar very near MH17 before it crashed according to the Russians. Satellite imagery produced by the Russians also showed several Buk ground-to-air missile launchers in the area close to where the plane crashed. The Russians insist those missile systems could only belong to the Ukranian government. No explanation has been offered as to why the airplane veered off its planned route, traveling further east over an area of the Ukraine commercial pilots knew was unsafe for air travel. Even more troubling is a report by investigative reporter Robert Parry, who claims a source within the U.S. government has told him that U.S. satellite imagery actually shows that the likely missile battery used to shoot down MH17 was under the control of Ukranian government troops dressed in Ukranian military uniforms.

It is unclear to me why the American news media is so quick to accept the Obama administration's rapid conclusions about what happened to MH17 given its recent track record. The administration completely lied to the American public and Congress about the circumstances of the attack on the Benghazi consular outpost that claimed the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. It then falsely accused the Assad government of launching chemical weapons attacks in Syria as an excuse for escalating American military intervention in that country's civil war on the side of the rebels, whom have been trained, funded and armed by the U.S. government. We later learned that the rebels and not the Assad government was responsible for the chemical weapons attacks. Those same rebels, now calling themselves the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ("ISIS"), have spread their war into Iraq, seizing large portions of that country while inflicting a large number of civilian casualties. One doesn't have to like the Russians to question our own government's motives in laying the blame for the loss of MH17 at their doorstep regardless of where the real evidence points.

UPDATE: Watch CNN's Chris Cuomo and a Russian Times correspondent Peter Lavelle quarrel over responsibility for the downing of MH17. Cuomo claims without substantiation that the U.S. government has been forthcoming with forensic evidence that supports its assessment. Contrast Cuomo's questioning of Lavelle with Lee's questioning of Hart. It's not hard to conclude which is a real journalist.

Journal-Gazette Editor: Indiana Is An Ethical Swamp

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette's editor Karen Francisco had a spot-on column this past weekend condemning the state's ethics laws in the wake of the slap on the wrist handed to former Education Superintendent Tony Bennett received for transgressions that landed criminal charges against one of his predecessors. It's so bad in Indiana that State House leaders actually advise constituents on which lobbyists they should hire. She says the lacks of ethics enforcement in the Hoosier State ensures nobody from this state will make it to the White House.
Indiana Inspector General David Thomas and the state ethics commission dispensed with the Tony Bennett mess as quietly as possible, but making something disappear doesn't mean it never happened or that it should have happened in the first place.
Bennett's champions outside Indiana have an easier job because their audiences don't know the details of the former state superintendent's transgressions and don't realize they represent just more of the muck in the ethical swamp of Indiana state government.
Under one-party rule, anything goes here. Democratic elected officials in northwest Indiana have appropriately noted that the same campaign violations for which Bennett was fined $5,000 have sent politicians there to prison.
“We don't have an ethics commission in northwest Indiana. We have the FBI," Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. told a radio station.
At the Statehouse, however, the most blatant of conflicts can be dismissed and anyone daring to point them out can be labeled as a "self-serving opportunist" or "crusading journalist."  . . .
Indiana's leaders make no apologies for the ethical mess. Like Bennett's champions, they wonder aloud how anyone could possibly suggest these "public servants" are doing anything but serving Hoosiers.
The problem for them, however, is that the swamp doesn't go beyond Indiana's borders. When one of these public servants makes a bid for a post elsewhere, they quickly learn what is acceptable in Indiana is not only frowned upon most everywhere else -- it's not legal most everywhere else. That's why you won't see a former Indiana governor in the White House for awhile and why Florida's commissioner of education is not a Hoosier.
That's all good for people elsewhere, but those of us who call Indiana home continue to live in an ethical swamp.
Boosters of Gov. Mike Pence's presidential hopes should take Francisco's comments seriously. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels dropped talk of running for president in 2012 like a hot potato after reporters outside the state started examining aspects of his personal life and corrupt dealings as governor that received very little coverage beyond the blogs within the Hoosier state. Those reporters are already similarly starting to dig into Pence's past, and they're already chomping at the bit to take on his record. Remember, the mainstream media holds Republican candidates to a much higher standard than the Clintons or Obamas.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Judge Orders Ballard Administration To Turn Over Concealed ROC Documents

After months of stonewalling by city officials, Marion Co. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg has finally issued an order compelling the Ballard administration to produce public documents related to the one-sided lease agreement the City entered into with a campaign contributor of Mayor Greg Ballard for the Regional Operations Center at the site of the former Eastgate Consumer Mall to a special council committee investigating the lease deal. According to WISH-TV, the order signed by Judge Rosenberg compels city attorneys to produce documents related to the cost of sites other than the former Eastgate Mall property; documents related to the city’s obligation to provide security during the 2012 Super Bowl; and documents related to expenses incurred with the ROC. Judge Rosenberg also asked city attorneys to review other documents requested by the ROC Investigating Committee.

The controversial lease was executed by former Public Safety Director Frank Straub, who bypassed normal approval processes for such leases through the corporation counsel's office. Straub rushed approval of the lease agreement through the City-County Council with the assistance of the Mayor's Office, which claimed the ROC had to be up and operational prior to the Super Bowl the City hosted in February, 2012. The form of the lease lacked standard provisions contained in typical government leases and included other unusual terms that favored the landlord over the tenant.

Straub had rejected a preferred site identified by the former head of the emergency management services near the Indianapolis airport that would have required little work and would have cost the City much less than the $18 million, 25-year lease Straub executed for the ill-suited Eastgate Consumer Mall site. Straub then fired the former EMS director and absorbed the functions of his agency into his department under the department's homeland security division led by former Perry Township Trustee Gary Coons, a political hack with no prior experience in homeland security. Straub relied on Councilors Ben Hunter (R) and Mary Moriarty-Adams (D) in whose district the ROC center resides and both of whom received campaign contributions from the building's owner to usher approval of the lease agreement through the council with little discussion. During public testimony, city officials lied to council members about the ability of the City to get out of the lease if it found the site unworkable. Councilor Hunter was highly critical of council members who initially sought to slow down the approval process to allow more time for their questions about the deal to be answered. Despite his conflict of interest, he is sitting as a member of the council's investigating committee where he has engaged in obstructionist tactics and sought to discredit the investigation at every step of the way.

Before Straub left his job to start a new job as Spokane's Chief of Police after being asked to step down, he and his staff allegedly destroyed almost all documents in the public safety director's office regarding the controversial lease agreement and wiped computer hard drives clean of any information that could be accessed by his successor, Troy Riggs. That's a criminal violation under Indiana law. Yet Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry announced that his office would not be pursuing any criminal charges in the case after a dubious Indiana State Police investigation concluded that no laws had been broken despite the undisputed fact that it was a criminal act to destroy those public documents. The ROC Investigating Committee was able to obtain some of the missing documents from the building's owner, Alex Carroll. The ROC Investigating Committee also learned that Straub had ordered WCTY not to videotape any of the Public Safety Board's hearings for nearly a one-year period while discussions concerning the ROC lease occurred. Shortly after the council began investigating the lease, city officials entered into a settlement agreement with the landlord which relieved it of any liability and locked the City into the lease for its full term despite numerous problems with the property that forced city employees to evacuate it for nearly eight months due to unsafe conditions while the landlord made necessary repairs to it.

GOP Prosecutor Candidate Hits Terry Curry For Allowing "Rampant Prosecutorial Misconduct" In His Office

Picking up on a theme in a recent blog post by IU Robert McKinney School of Law Professor Joel Schumm at the Indiana Law Blog, Marion Co. GOP candidate Duane Merchant issues a press release today taking Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry to task for "rampant prosecutorial misconduct" happening under his watch since taking office in January 2011. Merchant's press release notes that Schumm's blog observed "22 cases since January 2012 in which an Indiana appellate court has found improper conduct by Democrat Prosecutor Terry Curry’s office."  Schumm concluded, "Terry Curry, who was elected in 2010, is either oblivious to or unfazed by these opinions." The press release goes on to say:
Prosecutor candidate Duane Merchant vows to make changes.  “I spent more than 20 years of my career as a Deputy Prosecutor and I’ve never heard of such an egregious number of violations,” stated Merchant.  “There is simply no excuse for Prosecutor Curry to tolerate this level of misconduct.  He is charged with leading that office and he has failed his legal duty to ensure that deputies conform to the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct.” 
If elected Prosecutor, Merchant plans a full review of all policies and procedures within the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.  “As Prosecutor, I’ll make it clear from day one that prosecutorial misconduct will not be tolerated and those who violate those rules will be held accountable,” concluded Merchant. 
Duane Merchant is a veteran attorney with over 25 years of experience.  He served over two decades as a Marion County Deputy Prosecutor.  Duane has successfully prosecuted over 100 jury trials and well over a thousand court trials.  He has also served in many supervisory roles during his tenure at the Marion County Prosecutor’s office.
Schumm's blog post is well worth the read, which you can access here. He is equally as critical of the Supreme Court for failing to "expect at least as much of lawyers in the justice systems as it does [from non-lawyers]."  "The Indiana Supreme Court leads the State’s judicial system," Schumm wrote. "If it shows little or no concern about prosecutor misconduct, one cannot expect the Court of Appeals, the Disciplinary Commission, and others to care much either."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Indianapolis Man Kills First Wife And Released After Short Prison Sentence To Kill Second Wife

Tony Rashad Degrafreed
Tony Degrafreed was convicted of killing his first wife in 1994 and sentenced to about 30 years in prison. He served only 12 years of his sentence and managed to find another woman who would marry him. Today he is accused of killing his second wife, Rebecca Degrafreed, by stabbing her to death inside the couple's home on Laurel Hall Drive on Indianapolis' north side. He tried to stab his step-son as well before fleeing the home according to the arrest report. Police caught up with him about a half mile from the couple's home and took him into custody. How many lives will be lost from these repeat offenders before prosecutors and judges start getting serious about handing out sentences that match the crime?

Militarized Police State The Cost Of Preventing Violence In Downtown Indy During Summer Celebration

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Mayor Lil Greg showing off his bling for Black Expo's All White Party. Is that the Super Bowl ring he received as a gift thanks to the $50 million Indianapolis taxpayers spent hosting the 2012 Super Bowl? (Photo/Amos Brown)
Some folks are busy patting themselves on the backs for a lack of violence at this year's Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration. I arrived back in town late Saturday night after attending a wedding out-of-town. As I drove through the heart of downtown Indianapolis about 11:00 p.m., I found a frightening scene--a full-blown military police state in place with more uniformed police officers than visitors downtown and an army of police cruisers, tactical vehicles, mobile command centers and other toys of the police state lining the streets of downtown Indianapolis. There was nothing inviting about the scene; it was a place to be avoided at all costs. Downtown businesses most assuredly saw little business on what should be a bustling summer weekend but for this event taking place annually downtown. Taxpayers no doubt shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay to have nearly a third of the City's entire police force patrolling downtown at a time the administration claims it lacks funding to hire enough police officers to safely patrol the city. While the police were patrolling downtown, three men were shot in another shooting near 33rd Street and Washington Blvd. on the City's north side.

There's another event that takes place annually every June on the American Legion mall that draws more than 50,000 people crammed into one small area where alcohol is served and live stage music is performed. IMPD is so content that the gay revelers and their straight supporters who attend the Indy Pride Fest and Parade won't cause any crime-related problems that the department doesn't even bother to dispatch more than a handful of police officers to direct traffic in the area packed with residents and out-of-town visitors. Rarely are any arrests made during the event. The City of Indianapolis subsidizes the organization that sponsors Summer Celebration, which is chaired by Greg Wilson, a city employee in charge of doling out minority contracts for Mayor Ballard's administration, but Indy Pride has never received a single tax dollar as it continues to grow and contribute substantially to downtown tourism the weekend it is held annually. What's wrong with this picture, Mr. Mayor? If you're so concerned about building a vibrant downtown, why do you allow an event to be hosted annually that costs so much to patrol and causes visitors to avoid downtown like the plague?