Sunday, May 31, 2015

Indiana's Senators Don't Support The Fourth Amendment, Want Patriot Act Renewed

Not that this will surprise long-time Advance Indiana readers, but both of our state's U.S. Senators, Dan Coats (R) and Joe Donnelly (D), prove their unwillingness to uphold the Constitution of the United States which they took an oath to uphold when they were sworn into office. They both want to renew the misnamed Patriot Act so government agencies can continue to capture in bulk our most personal records and sift through those records, all without first obtaining a warrant from a court based upon probable cause. Despite the explosion in the growth of the military/industrial complex and the accompanying unwarranted spying on American citizens following the passage of the Patriot Act after 9/11, there is no demonstrable proof that the law has achieved any of its objectives.

Isn't it ironic the federal government can sniff out hush money former House Speaker Dennis Hastert paid to keep nearly 40-year old misdeeds having nothing to do with national security quiet, but it couldn't detect supposed terrorist inclinations of two young Chechen immigrants brought to this country by the son-in-law of a high-ranking member of the CIA and whom at least one foreign government had warned our government posed a terrorist threat? Federal law enforcement officials didn't even bother to look into how Speaker Hastert managed to grow his personal wealth of $270,000 when he entered Congress into an estate worth somewhere between $7 and $11 million when he left public service two decades later. Sen. Dan Coats had virtually nothing when he entered Congress but is now a multi-millionaire just like former Sen. Evan Bayh. Sen. Donnelly had trouble paying his taxes before he got elected to Congress. His financial problems magically disappeared once he joined the world's most exclusive club. I think it's clear our Members of Congress breach their duty to uphold the Constitution because they are either bought off or blackmailed. Perhaps Hastert's indictment last week was a warning from the Obama administration of just how far his administration is willing to go to convince lawmakers that it's not in their best interest to challenge King Obama's ability to rule by fiat.

Watch as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) explains why he is spending his Sunday on the floor of the U.S. Senate fighting our senators and others of their ilk to protect our sacred constitutional rights. Disturbingly, Sen. Paul is being vilified by President Obama and members of both political parties and the mainstream media for standing up for your sacred constitutional rights. Welcome to Nazi Germany.

J. Dennis Hastert Center Is No More At Wheaton College

Officials at Wheaton College wasted no time in scrubbing the name of one of its most famous alumni, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, following his federal indictment last week for illegal cash withdrawals he made to make hush payments to a man who claimed to be a victim of sex abuse during the time Hastert was a wrestling coach and teacher at Yorkville High School. The school's Center for Economic, Government and Public Policy had been named after Hastert, who graduated from Wheaton College in 1964 with a B.A. in Economics. Hastert also resigned from the Center's board of advisers. Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan also shelved a plan to spend $500,000 to erect a statue in Hastert's honor in the State Capitol in Springfield.

Wheaton College named the Center after Hastert more than seven years ago. Hastert donated to the school many of his papers from the eight years he served as Speaker of the House and helped secure the $10 million in donations and grants required to establish it. Wheaton College, a Christian liberal arts college, counts the Rev. Billy Graham and Sen. Dan Coats among its alumni. College officials would have done well to heed the Herman B. Wells Rule. Wells, a former long-time chancellor of Indiana University, would not allow anything related to the university to be named in honor of a person until they had been dead for at least five years. That thought came to my mind when the university allowed its two law schools at Bloomington and Indianapolis to be named after two living men.

Beau Biden Dead At 46

Beau Biden, the eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, died yesterday at the age of 46 after losing his battle with brain cancer. Biden, a former federal prosecutor who served a tour of duty in Iraq as a JAG officer in the Delaware National Guard, served two terms as Delaware's Attorney General. Biden had survived a fatal car accident in 1972 in which his mother and a younger sister was killed a month before Biden was to be sworn in as a newly-elected U.S. Senator.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hillary Clinton Has Serious Primary Opponent In Martin O'Malley

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley kicked off his presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination today at Baltimore's Federal Hill Park with a populist message that implicitly represents an indictment of the Obama administration. O'Malley described the American Dream as "hanging by a thread" and identified rebuilding that dream as his number one priority if elected president. In a direct broadside hit at the presumptive nominee, O'Malley told his supporters about a recent statement Goldman Sachs' CEO made about his great satisfaction with a likely choice between Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton for our next president. O'Malley has a message for the "bullies of Wall Street": "The Presidency is not a crown to be past back and forth between two families."

O'Malley's message is clearly directed at middle class and lower-income Americans. He decried the growing "gap of injustice between a strong, just nation and the nation we are becoming." He bemoaned the fact that 70% of Americans earn the same or less than they did 12 years ago, a first since World War II, a higher unemployment rate than we had 8 years ago and the struggle of family-owned businesses to survive. To illustrate just how much incomes have changed, O'Malley pointed out that a typical GM Worker 40 years ago could send a child to college on two weeks' pay.

O'Malley continued his attack on Wall Street. "We are allowing our land of opportunity to become a land of inequality," he said. "Main Street struggles while Wall Street thrives." He lamented the scourge of hopelessness evident in the recent Baltimore riots: "Conditions of extreme poverty breeds extreme violence." "Our economic system is upside down and backwards, and it's time to turn it around." He promised to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, a post Depression era law abolished under President Bill Clinton that created a wall between commercial and investment banking. He promised to crack down on Wall Street crimes. "Why is it that not a single Wall Street CEO was convicted of a crime related to the 2008 economic meltdown," he asked. "You can get pulled over for a broken tail light but if you wreck the nation's economy, you are untouchable." If a bank is too big to fail, then O'Malley says it should be broken up so it's not. O'Malley said the damage inflicted to the American Dream didn't happen by chance; "powerful and wealthy special interests" used their clout "to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few and taken from the many."

O'Malley provides an attractive alternative to Hillary Clinton for Democrats. What will Democratic power brokers have to say about his broad side attack on Barack Obama's legacy?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Yorkville Schools Claim No Knowledge Of Hastert Sexually Abusing Boys

Hastert shown in 1981 year book photo with Yorkville high school wrestling team
Now that sources familiar with the federal investigation of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert have confirmed the $3.5 million payment he agreed to make to another man was a male victim of sexual abuse dating back to his days as a high school teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in Yorkville, Illinois, school officials are being asked about it. Not surprisingly, school officials say records from Hastert's tenure at the school don't indicate any problems. Hastert, who was employed by the school district from 1965 to 1981, left the school shortly after he started his first term as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. The school's superintendent at the time told The Tribune he remembered Hastert's commitment to his athletes, whom he often took on road trips to wrestling camps or to compete in non-conference events. Some of his former wrestling students told The Tribune they were shocked to hear of the allegations.

Hastert served three terms in the Illinois House, including part of the time I served as a member of the Illinois House Republican Staff. Hastert's office was just down the hallway from mine so I encountered him frequently while the legislature was in session. Hastert, who suffered from diabetes, was considerably overweight. His wife and two young sons occasionally came down to Springfield to visit him.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I didn't much care for the guy because of a bad encounter I had where he made false accusations against me in front of several other House members. I thought it was a bit unusual at the time for Hastert to give up his job at the school just because he was a lawmaker. We had quite a few members who juggled their regular teaching jobs with being a state lawmaker. Most lawmakers complained they couldn't live on their legislative salaries alone. Two public jobs in Illinois also meant a much higher pension benefit when you retired. Hastert had a very high opinion of himself and frequently ruffled the feathers of our House Republican Leader. It was not unusual for Hastert to go behind the Republican leadership's back and cut deals with Democrats across the aisle, which infuriated our boss. He was deal-maker who seemed to have little or no philosophical leanings and was a bit too cozy with some lobbyists for my comfort.

The federal indictment against Hastert relied on the $1.7 million in hush payments he made to one of his male student victims as part of a $3.5 million agreement he made with the victim in 2010. Sources familiar with the investigation also say federal investigators talked to another victim as well, but Hastert had not made financial payments to him. During the House page scandal back in 2006 during which Florida U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned over allegations he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a male page, investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, a former NSA employee, cited sources in Illinois mentioning that there were persistent rumors in local political gossip that surfaced during his first run for the Illinois House implying that he had engaged in inappropriate relationships with members of the wrestling team he coached at Yorkville. Hastert was later heavily criticized for his handling of the page sex scandal, which Madsen claimed implicated other members of Congress as well.

If Hastert is convicted of the crimes with which he's charged, his public pensions, all three of them, are not likely at risk. According to The Tribune, Hastert collects about $116,000 a year in pensions, including a $73,000 federal pension for 21 years of service as a congressman, a $27,000 pension for his six years of service as a state lawmaker and $16,000 a year he receives for his 16 years of service as a teacher. Because Hastert's alleged federal crimes occurred after he resigned from Congress, his largest pension payment is not at risk. The other two state pensions are likely not at risk as well, although his smallest pension payment from his teaching days is potentially vulnerable.

The Washington Post just now decides to write a story about how wealthy Hastert became while a member of Congress, a story which would have been much more relevant while he was still serving  in Congress:
. . . In one controversial trans­action conducted through a trust, Hastert reaped millions of dollars by selling farmland near the site of a proposed highway that was to be financed in part with funds that the then-speaker had earmarked.
The rise in Hastert’s personal wealth during his time in Congress was a marked change in lifestyle for the former high school teacher and wrestling coach.
When he arrived in Washington in 1987, Hastert’s biggest asset was a 104-acre farm in southern Illinois that his wife inherited, worth between $50,000 and $100,000, according to his personal financial disclosure. By the time the Illinois Republican left 20 years later, his reported assets had swelled to between $3.1 million and $11.3 million, largely because of his investments in farmland in booming parts of Illinois . . . 
It was not until after he was elected speaker in 1999 that Has­tert began stepping up his land investments, parlaying some early real estate deals and a small inheritance he had from his father. By the mid-2000s, Hastert and two partners had amassed 138 acres of farmland outside Plano, Ill., several miles from the proposed site of the Prairie Parkway, a highway connector that would have cut through the northern Illinois countryside.
The then-House speaker’s ownership of the property was not a public record, as it was held under a blind land trust called the Little Rock Trust No. 225, which identified only one partner in public filings: Dallas Ingemunson, a local GOP leader and longtime political mentor to Hastert. At the time, Hastert was championing the highway, which opponents said would tear up the farming region and hasten its suburbanization.
“Our sense was this was being crammed down the throats of a rural community backed by commercial interests, and we called him the chief cheerleader of the project,” said Jan Strasma of the Citizens Against the Sprawlway, a local group against the construction of the Prairie Parkway. “He had the power and could put so much money behind the project, it was hard to oppose.”
Hastert eventually earmarked $207 million for the $1 billion parkway project in a federal transportation bill, which then-President George W. Bush signed during a trip to Hastert’s district in August 2005. The Prairie Parkway is crucial for economic development in Kendall and Kane counties,” Bush said during the signing, held at a Caterpillar plant before thousands.
Four months after the bill was signed, Hastert’s trust sold the land to a real estate developer who planned to build 1,700 homes on the parcel. Hastert’s share of the proceeds was worth more than $3 million, Ingemunson later told the Chicago Tribune.
But his role in the deal was not made public until Hastert reported real estate transactions in the area on his annual personal financial disclosure in May 2006, which the Sunlight Foundation used to match against local land records and connect him to the trust.
Hastert dismissed the idea that the land was more valuable because of his earmark. “Nothing to it,” Hastert said at the time.
In the end, the Prairie Parkway never came about. Strasma’s group filed a lawsuit challenging the environmental impact statement, and the federal government rescinded the approval for the project after it failed to get local funding priority. In 2012, the money was diverted to widen an existing two-lane highway in the same area.
Hastert continued to invest in land after the Plano sale, taking as payment from that deal — along with some cash — another parcel in booming Kendall County. He estimated that property’s worth at between $1 million and $5 million when he left office in 2007.
I'm also including this interview of investigative reporter Wayne Madsen by InfoWars' Alex Jones. Madsen made shocking allegations of Hastert having inappropriate relationships with his former wrestling team members he coached way back in 2006 during the House page scandal Hastert helped to cover up. His reporting was roundly dismissed by mainstream reporters at the time.

Reason Foundation Claims Daniels Rescued Indiana From Bankruptcy Through Privatization Deals

Savas Award 1
Daniels shown accepting Reason's Savas Award earlier this month
The Reason Foundation is financed by companies that profiteer from the privatization of government facilities and services so it's no surprise it would be a major fan of former Gov. Mitch Daniels. In its exuberance in awarding Daniels its 2015 Savas Award for Public-Private Partnership Agreements, the organization's magazine gets a bit carried away in describing Daniels' accomplishments as the state's governor:
. . . During his tenure, Indiana went from bankruptcy to a AAA credit rating, led the nation in infrastructure building, and passed sweeping education reforms, including the nation's first statewide school choice voucher program.
His administration implemented several major statewide public-private partnerships, including a long-term lease of the Indiana Toll Road, a major welfare eligibility modernization initiative, and a private management agreement for the Hoosier Lottery. After a series of reforms—which included the passage of a right-to-work law—Indiana's business climate is now rated among the nation's best . . .
Indiana was bankrupt when Daniels became governor? Please. Remember, this was the same organization that touted huge benefits Indianapolis taxpayers supposedly gained from the privatization of the city's parking meter assets for the benefit of ACS/Xerox and its law firm, Barnes & Thornburg. You pretty much have to take what the say with a grain of salt.

Scott Walker Wants Wisconsin Taxpayers To Build New Arena For Billionaire Owners of Milwaukee Bucks

It only took this one decision for me to decide I will never support Scott Walker for president under any circumstances. The Wisconsin governor has put his support behind a proposal that will require the state's taxpayers to build a costly new arena for the new owners of the Milwaukee Bucks. A pair of New York hedge fund billionaires purchased the NBA team from a fellow tribesman, billionaire Herb Kohl, for $550 million on the condition the team get a new taxpayer-financed arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center built in 1988. Being extortionists like all of the billionaire owners of NBA teams, Milwaukee faced a threat of the team moving elsewhere if the greedy owners didn't get what they demanded.

Gov. Scott Walker, who by all appearances is already owned by the billionaire Koch brothers, has gladly capitulated to the extortionists' demands. Walker defended the move by claiming the state financing deal will not mean higher taxes because the state is only extending authority to continue levying a tax that was set to expire by law. Taxpayer contribution to the new arena will be at least $250 million, not counting interest that will accumulate on the arena's debt over the life of the debt issued to finance its construction. "Walker said getting a deal for the Bucks is essential because the team will leave if it doesn't have plans in place for a new arena by 2017," the Journal-Sentinel reported. "Whether you like, dislike or are undecided about the Bucks, the bottom line is that would create a significant hole in a future state budget and for the long term," Walker said.

A real conservative would see the hole that's being created in taxpayers' wallets, not the fat cat billionaires who own our nation's politicians. The countdown has started for billionaire Herb Simon to tell our Capital Improvement Board that Banker's Life Fieldhouse just doesn't measure up to newer, taxpayer-built arenas. The number one obligation of our elected officials in Indiana is to ensure that the billionaire sports team owners remain the wealthiest people in the state. And who honestly believes our government is any better than the Russian government?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Former House Speaker Indicted For Hush Money Paid To Keep Past Wrongdoing Quiet

Dennis Hastert
It turns out the old wrestling coach from Yorktown, Illinois was as dirty of a man as I always thought him to be from my days working with him as an Illinois House Republican staffer back in the 1980s when he was a former state lawmaker. Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has been indicted for making cash withdrawals of $1.7 million from an Illinois bank over a four-year period as part of an agreement with an unidentified man to pay him $3.5 million to stay quiet about misconduct committed by Hastert known to the man and then lying about the purpose of the cash withdrawals to FBI agents. The unidentified man to whom the payments were made had known Hastert most of his life. The $3.5 million payment scheme allegedly began after a 2010 meeting between the two men about bad acts that pre-dated Hastert's political career (pre-1980) according to sources familiar with the case--in this case sexual abuse of an underage boy.

Hastert served as Speaker of the House for eight years after two successive House Speakers, Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, were forced from their positions in quick order by political scandals. The former high school wrestling coach has been working in Washington as a lobbyist since his resignation in 2008. Hastert faces two felony charges of structuring currency payments to avoid federal currency reporting requirements and lying to FBI agents. The indictment was made by the U.S. Attorney in Chicago. Long-time Advance Indiana readers will recall an under-reported allegation made by a government whistle blower, Sibel Edmonds, who claimed she had knowledge of bribes Hastert, former Indiana Rep. Dan Burton and other members of Congress had accepted from officials in Turkey. Hastert denied the allegation, but his first client as a lobbyist was the Turkish government, which reportedly paid him $35,000 a month.

I'll never forget a bad experience I had with Hastert when he was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. I was in a meeting of Republican members of the House Revenue Committee as the staff member for the committee when Hastert accused me of making misrepresentations about a bill he had sponsored before the committee in front of all of the members. His accusation was completely unfounded and his bill was a piece of crap he had introduced for some political crony in his district. The Republican spokesman for the committee later went to him and told him he was completely out-of-line and he owed me an apology. The classless Hastert refused to apologize to me. My boss, the House Minority Leader, would later tell me to keep an eye on Hastert because he didn't trust him. I told him I knew what he meant. Karma's a bitch, Denny! You're dirty secret is no more a secret.

A Chicago Tribune opinion offers this on Hastert's "Dark Secret":
. . . According to an affidavit, he'd made 15 withdrawals of $50,000 each by July 2012 when bank officials — who are required to report transactions greater than $10,000 — questioned him. After that, he made frequent withdrawals of less than $10,000 "to evade the reporting requirements," it says.
When FBI agents confronted him about the withdrawals, Hastert said he was stashing the cash because he didn't trust the banking system, according to the feds. By that time, he'd withdrawn $1.7 million.
Why? The affidavit provides few clues. "Individual A" is a resident of Yorkville, where Hastert taught high school and coached wrestling from 1965 to 1981. The two have known each other "for most of Individual A's life."
Hastert left teaching for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly and quietly worked his way up to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he became the longest serving Republican speaker in history. He's been a lobbyist since he left office.
Many of the people who knew and liked Hastert were, frankly, surprised that he rose to such national prominence.
But not nearly as surprised, no shocked, no stunned, as they are today.
On paper, he's accused of moving money around illegally and fibbing to the feds about it. Between the lines, prosecutors suggest he has harbored a dark secret.
Pedophilia is a right and privilege for the rich and powerful. Remember how badly Hastert handled the sexual abuse of congressional pages by the perverts in Congress?

What does Bruce from Yorkville know?
UPDATE: Tribune sources confirm the payments stemmed from an improper sexual relationship Hastert had with a boy while he was still a high school wrestling coach prior to entering politics in 1980:
Indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was paying an individual from his past to conceal sexual misconduct, two federal law enforcement officials said Friday.
One of the officials, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges in Chicago, said “Individual A,” as the person is described in Thursday’s federal indictment, was a man and that the alleged misconduct was unrelated to Hastert’s tenure in Congress. The actions date to Hastert’s time as a Yorkville, Ill., high school wrestling coach and teacher, the official said.

Asked why Hastert was making the payments, the official said it was to conceal Hastert’s past relationship with the male. “It was sex,’’ the source said. The other official confirmed that the misconduct involved sexual abuse.
Hastert and his attorneys could not be reached. Representatives of his lobbying firm declined to comment.

Married DC Attorney Was Killed By Lesbian He Met On Craigslist He Thought Was A Man

Jamyra Gallmon
A 30-year old D.C. attorney who worked at one of the world's most prestigious law firms thought he was meeting another guy for sex last February at a hotel just blocks from the White House whom he met on Craigslist. David Messerschmitt, a married man originally from Cincinnati who worked for the international law firm DLA Piper, checked into a room on February 10 at the Donovan Hotel with a laptop computer, condoms, lube and an enema ready for hardcore action. When his online hook-up showed up and turned out to be a woman, things turned really bad.

The person who entered Messerschmitt's hotel room was a 21-year old woman, Jamyra Gallmon, who had graduated from Forestville Military Academy in Maryland where she was described as an "exemplary" student. Gallmon told police things turned violent when the two began arguing and Messerschmitt grabbed her arm. That's when she says she pulled out a knife and stabbed him multiple times. Gallmon fled with $40 she found in Messerschmitt's wallet and his Metro travel card.

According to the Daily Mail, police say Gallmon's 19-year old girlfriend, Dominique Johnson, conspired with her to rob Messerschmitt. Johnson waited outside the hotel for Gallmon, who pleaded guilty this week to second degree murder. Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery after she admitted to police she knew of Gallmon's plan when she accompanied her to the hotel.

This case reminds me of the killing of a prominent Indianapolis attorney, Donald Jackson, in 1988. Jackson, who was the president of the local bar association, was married with children but liked hooking up with young rent boys who hung out around the Central Library downtown on the down low. Jackson decided to kick off his 4th of July weekend a little early. He took his trick to some cheap, sleazy motel on the west side where he was later found stabbed to death without any identification on him. Police had to furnish a sketch of Jackson to the media for help in identifying him since he hadn't been reported missing. One of his law partners got the job of going down to the morgue to identify him. When police finally caught up with the young hustler who stabbed him to death, he said he acted in self-defense because Jackson became too rough with him during sex. A jury bought it, finding him guilty of the lesser charge. The assailant's small stature compared to Jackson's comparatively towering size made an impression on the jurors.
Murdered: 30-year-old David Messerschmitt, pictured with his wife Kim Vuong, was stabbed in the groin, abdomen and heart. He was killed after soliciting for gay sex on Craigslist, police have said
David Messerschmitt with his wife, Kim Vuong

As List Of GOP Presidential Candidates Grows, Only One Candidate Benefits

By my count, there are now at least 14 candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016 or planning to take that step. The list includes:

Jeb Bush
Ben Carson
Chris Christie
Ted Cruz
Carly Fiorini
Lindsey Graham
Mike Huckabee
Bobby Jindal
John Kasich
George Pataki
Rand Paul
Marco Rubio
Rick Santorum
Scott Walker

I believe that most of those Republican candidates in the field are not serious candidates for the office; rather, they are only in the race in the early goings to muck up the field in order to ensure that the CIA/Military-Industrial/Wall Street-backed candidate, Jeb Bush, wins the race by default and to prevent a legitimate alternative candidate like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul from emerging early in the race in a head-to-head match-up with Bush. Why do I say that? Most of these candidates have deep ties with the Bushies and are/will receive their funding from the very same people who really want to see Bush as the nominee. The oligarchs who run the United States would love nothing more than to see Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush as the two major party candidates in 2016 because that outcome ensures they win and we lose no matter which of those two candidates wins the presidency. Sadly, the 2016 presidential election is essentially over before it even started.

Lawsuit Reveals How Mourdock Tried To Lock His Successor Into Three-Year Contract With His Chief Deputy

Some would consider it a pretty dirty move on former State Treasurer Richard Mourdock and his chief deputy and former general counsel's part. Mourdock, who did not seek re-election as State Treasurer last year because he was term-limited, signed a three-year employment contract with his chief deputy and general counsel, Jim Holden, to serve as counsel to the Indiana Board of Depositories at $100,000 a year on terms very favorable to Holden. The contract was signed last June after Holden lost a bitter primary battle in a Boone County judicial race and was to take effect on Mourdock's last day in office.

As it turned out, Mourdock chose to resign his office several months before the end of his term in order to take advantage of a retirement benefit scheduled to expire days before his resignation. Mourdock's elected successor, Kelly Mitchell, a former co-worker of Holden, accused Holden of engaging in unethical conduct and violating state conflict of interest rules. She fired him and had him escorted from the State House by State Police before his 3-year contract could take effect. Holden is now suing Mitchell, claiming she breached the contract and violated a federal law protecting U.S. serviceman from adverse employment actions because of active duty service. Holden was scheduled to be called up in December 2014 for active duty as a National Guardsman. His contract provided that his 3-year contract was to be credited an additional 2 days for each day of active military duty he served.

Holden claims in a lawsuit he filed recently in Marion County that Mitchell fired him in violation of the federal USERRA law and breached his employment contract. Holden is asking a a Marion Co. judge to enforce his employment contract and sanction Mitchell for violating USERRA. The Attorney General's Office is representing Mitchell in the lawsuit in her capacity as a statewide officeholder. Mourdock should be holding his head in shame for participating in this stunt, but I doubt he is.

More Than Decade-Old Prank Photo Costs Chicago Cop His Job

Timothy McDermott (right) with Jerome Finnigan (left) and unidentified man
A prank photo taken more than a decade ago of two Chicago police officers holding guns while standing over a black man wearing deer antlers resulted in the police officer's firing last year. Despite evidence the man wearing the antlers consented to participating in the prank photo, the Chicago Police Department fired Officer Timothy McDermott last year because the photo, which was described as "degrading and humiliating," discredited the department, disrespected a citizen and unnecessarily displayed a gun. Chicago police had sought to keep the photo sealed, but a Cook Co. judge hearing an appeal of a police board decision to fire McDermott ordered its release. The other officer in the photo, Jerome Finnigan, is a former police officer now in jail for unrelated crimes he committed as a police officer in the department's now disbanded Special Operations Section. Federal prosecutors uncovered the photo during the investigation of Finnigan and turned it over to Chicago police. The case provides an interesting contrast to the case of the now-deceased Officer Gregory Slaven, who posted numerous images on social media of his BDSM lifestyle that some people would consider "degrading and humiliating."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

IMPD Waits Two Days To Identify Gregory Slaven As Deceased Police Officer

Officer Slaven (right) with Aaron Barnes
Last month, Advance Indiana exclusively reported the death of 34-year old Aaron Barnes whose body was found in the home of a 15-year IMPD veteran detective, Officer Gregory Slaven. Police sources fearing a cover up by the department told Advance Indiana that Barnes was found bound in a cage wearing a chloroform mask. IMPD denied public records requests of Barnes' death investigtion, but the Marion Co. Coroner's Office confirmed at the time it had recovered Barnes' body from a home owned by Officer Slaven in the 8600 block of Ingalls Lane on the city's southwest side. The coroner's office told Advance Indiana that Barnes' cause of death was pending while the office awaited toxicology test results.

Police were called to Officer Slaven's home again on Memorial Day after a roommate in the home found him unresponsive. IMPD refused to release the police officer's name until two days later even though his identity was made clear when a department spokesman confirmed the deceased officer was found in the same home where Barnes' body was recovered last month. The Indianapolis mainstream media never reported on Barnes' death until Slaven's body was discovered Monday. Fox 59 News said in its reporting on Monday that police had confirmed they had removed used duct tape and chloroform from Officer Slaven's home during Barnes' death investigation. IMPD Chief Rick Hite told The Star that Officer Slaven was not under investigation regarding Barnes' death or being subject to any discipline. Police claim no foul play is suspected in Officer Slaven's death. It is being treated as a suicide.

A Facebook site maintained by Officer Slaven discovered by Advance Indiana chronicled a BDSM lifestyle he led with Barnes, who was depicted as his sex slave. Numerous images were posted to the social media page showing Officer Slaven in various stages of undress and in sexually-provocative poses. Slaven had been the winner of the Mr. Eagle 2014 competition at the 501 Eagle, a gay leather bar in the 500 block of North College Avenue. Slaven complained on his Facebook site, which was later deleted, that IMPD had required him to submit to blood and drug testing three days after Barnes' body was recovered from his home. Police sources faulted IMPD investigators for waiting three days until after Barnes' death to order drug testing. Barnes' Facebook site documented his BDSM-lifestyle where he proudly claimed the role as Slaven's sex slave. Barnes went by the name "Aaron Slaven," although it was not clear the two were legally married. A GoFundMe site was set up by a third party at Slaven's request to pay for Barnes' funeral expenses. Some time before Barnes' death, Officer Slaven established another master-servant relationship with a younger man, who goes by the name Steve Slaven. Steve wrote on his Facebook wall: "I miss him a lot . . . And it hurts I will never see him again. I will always love you Greg."
Facebook photo of Officer Slaven (left) with Steve Slaven

Facebook photo posted by Steve Slaven with Officer Slaven

The Indianapolis Star is now reporting that Officer Slaven was the subject of an internal affairs investigation and had been placed on paid administrative leave contrary to what Chief Hite previously told the newspaper:
. . . IMPD spokesman Lt. Rick Riddle said Slaven was placed on paid administrative leave as a result of the investigation. According to a police report, officers who responded to the 34-year-old man's death April 5 found chloroform and used duct tape in the home.
IMPD Chief Rick Hite told The Star in April that Slaven was not a suspect in any criminal probe in connection with the 34-year-old's death and that Slaven was not suspended because of the death.
A suspension, during which an officer is unpaid, is the result of a completed investigation in which wrongdoing is uncovered by the department.
According to personnel files released by IMPD on Wednesday, Slaven's only department suspension was in 2004. The personnel file does not specifically say what actions led to the one-day suspension.
Riddle said the police chief has the discretion to place a member of IMPD on administrative leave during an internal investigation, which Riddle said is what happened in Slaven's case.
Hite did not respond to phone calls Wednesday requesting further comment about that internal investigation.
Riddle said the internal investigation was still active when Slaven was found dead Monday.
WRTV is now reporting the investigation of Officer Slaven included an attempt by him to purchase drugs with no known medicinal value on an underground website:
Sources told RTV6 reporter Jack Rinehart on Wednesday that police started looking into Slaven after Barnes' death. According to those sources, police discovered that Slaven went on an underground social media website to find drugs that had no medical purpose.

GM Plans $1.2 Billion Investment In Upgrades To Truck Assembly Facility In Fort Wayne

It's a massive investment that Allen County officials say will cement GM's long-term commitment to the Fort Wayne area, but it won't create any long-term jobs. Yesterday, Gov. Mike Pence joined Allen County officials and GM representatives to announce the company's plan to invest $1.2 million in upgrades to its truck assembly facility in Fort Wayne. The project includes installing state-of-the-art vehicle painting and pretreatment technology. Construction work on the project is expected to create hundreds of short-term jobs, but GM officials conceded no long-term jobs are expected to be created as a result of the project.

According to the Journal-Gazette, Allen Co. officials last year approved $15 million in property tax abatements over a 10-year period for a prospective $1 billion upgrade to the facility. Although the Pence administration supposedly worked closely with GM officials in cementing the deal, no details were provided at yesterday's announcement on any state incentives that are being offered. If GM qualifies for a new tax credit created by the General Assembly this year, state incentives could easily total in the tens of millions of dollars, and that may be why state officials were mum on the size of the state contribution to the deal.

It was recently announced that Indianapolis' Rolls Royce operations would qualify for a $17 million incentive for agreeing to spend a half billion dollars in upgrades to its facility on Tibbs Avenue that won't create a single job. That so-called refundable tax credit allows major companies to reduce their Indiana corporate tax liability to less than zero and actually recover a refund from the state to make up the difference. The Journal-Gazette notes that Pence voted against a government bailout out of GM while he was a member of Congress. Pence credited the local workforce for GM's decision to invest here. 

International Soccer Association Rocked By Sweeping Indictments

More than a dozen leaders of a multi-billion dollar organization that promotes soccer events around the world, including the World Cup, have been arrested in a sweeping FBI probe investigating the awarding of bids for the World Cup, as well as broadcast and marketing deals, over the past two decades. Top officials of FIFA were taken into custody by Swiss authorities in Zurich as officials of FIFA gathered there for their annual meeting.

The New York Times reports that 14 officials of FIFA are facing charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. The indictment includes sports marketing officials in the United States and South America who are accused of paying more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals associated with major soccer tournaments. "The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States," said United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

According to U.S. officials, four persons have already pleaded guilty, including former FIFA executive Chuck Blazer and two sports marketing companies. Blazer forfeited $1.9 million when he entered a guilty plea in 2013 and has agreed to make a second payment at his sentencing. The Times described the probe as "a startling blow" to the organization that governs the most popular sport worldwide.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Indiana Securities Commissioner Resigns

The woman Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson appointed as the state's securities commissioner less than two years ago abruptly resigned her position last Friday. Carol Mihalik offered a curt, two-sentence letter to Lawson announcing her resignation. Without commenting on the reason for her departure, Lawson praised her work on behalf of the state in a statement her office released to the media. Lawson's chief of staff, Brandon Clifton, will serve as an interim securities commissioner.

Mississippi Senator Marries Long-Time Aide Five Months After Wife Dies From Dementia

Fast turnaround: U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (left) on Saturday married his longtime aide Kay Webber (right) just months after his wife of over 50 years died in a Mississippi nursing home. The new husband and wife are seen here in 2013
Sen. Cochran shown with his mistress and staff aide, Kay Webber, at a gala in 2013
In what was described as one of the nastiest political campaigns last year, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) denied he was involved in an affair with a long-time member of his Washington Senate staff. Cochran's wife of 50 years, Rose, had been institutionalized in a nursing home suffering from dementia when a political blogger walked into the nursing home and snapped a photo of her sleeping in her bed at the nursing home. A local prosecutor in Jackson who backed Cochran's re-election indicted the political blogger and several others, including a local radio talk show host and a prominent attorney, on conflated conspiracy charges in an effort to discredit Cochran's Republican primary opponent, Chris McDaniel. Sen. Cochran steadfastly denied he was having an affair with the long-time staffer, Kay Webber, from whom he claimed to only be renting a baseroom apartment in her Washington home. It turns out Cochran was lying to the state's voters. Over the Memorial Day weekend, Cochran married Webber just five months after his 73-year old wife passed away.

Meanwhile, the blogger at the center of the accusation still awaits trial on charges of criminal voyeurism, burglary and conspiracy. The prominent attorney who allegedly aided him, Mark Mayfield, committed suicide last year after a SWAT team descended on his law office and arrested him like a violent offender. The two other men charged in the case pleaded to lesser crimes in exchange for cooperating with the prosecutor in his case against the blogger, Clayton Kelly. Cochran went on to narrowly defeat his Republican primary opponent and win re-election over his Democratic opponent. Another long-time Cochran aide, Fred Pagan, was recently arrested in Washington for buying and distributing a date rate drug. The Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger, which backed Cochran's re-election, was at the center of the flash mob media mentality that sought to demonize the McDaniel supporters who thought Mississippi voters should know that their long-time senator was having an illicit affair with a high-paid member of his staff whom he was shacking up with in Washington. And then they wonder why Americans have no confidence in the people elected to Congress. Washington is nothing more than a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.

Monday, May 25, 2015

IMPD Officer Found Dead At Same Home As Aaron Barnes

Advance Indiana readers may recall the mysterious death we told you about of 34-year old Aaron Barnes, who was found dead inside the home of IMPD Officer Gregory Slaven, a 15-year veteran of the department. Indianapolis news media was silent about the death, but concerned police officers expressed concern of a police cover up of Barnes' death. Sources told Advance Indiana that Barnes was found in a bondage-like scene wearing a chloroform mask. Some of Barnes' friends, who defended his BDSM-lifestyle he led with Officer Barnes, claimed his death was accidental. IMPD refused to release any information about Barnes' death; however, the Marion Co. Coroner's Office confirmed it had recovered Barnes' body from Officer Slaven's home in the 8600 block of Ingalls Lane in his southwestern Marion County home in Camby on April 5. The coroner's office told Advance Indiana it was awaiting toxicology test results to determine Barnes' cause of death.

News reports today indicate that police have returned to Officer Slaven's home where they are investigating the death of an unidentified IMPD police officer who worked for the northwest police district. Police told news reporters that no foul play is suspected and that his cause of death is being investigated as a possible suicide. According to The Star, police responded after receiving a call from the officer's roommate at 10:00 a.m this morning. Officer Slaven's relationship with Barnes raised many eyebrows when social media posts of both men depicted Barnes as Slaven's sex slave. Although Barnes' Facebook site listed his name as Aaron Slaven, it was unclear whether he was married to Officer Slaven, the Mr. 501 Eagle 2014 winner who had vocalized his opposition to RFRA and lashed out at Gov. Mike Pence on his Facebook site, which was subsequently deleted following Barnes' death. At Slaven's request, a GoFundMe site was established to raise money to pay for Barnes' funeral costs, which raised $3,305. Slaven complained on social media three days following Barnes' death that he had been ordered to have blood and drug testing performed at Methodist Hospital Occupational Health Center. "I just have to wonder if everything would be the same if we would have been straight and my wife died while I was at work--feeling pissed off," Officer Slaven wrote on his Facebook wall on April 8.

Fox 59 News adds this information on its latest story on the officer's death:
. . . This is the second death investigation at the southwest side home since April.
According to a police report, officers responded to the same home on April 5th. They found an “unresponsive male,” later identified as 34-year-old Aaron Barnes. The report said used duct tape and chloroform were seized from the home.
Sgt. Adams said that investigation is ongoing and would’t say if it’s being investigated as suspicious. He said they are still waiting on a coroner’s reporter before releasing the cause of death . . .
But The Star quotes Chief Rick Hite as saying last month that Officer Slaven was not under investigation or subject to any disciplinary proceeding regarding Barnes' death:
The death comes nearly eight weeks after a 34-year-old man was found dead at the same home in the 8600 block of Ingalls Lane. That man’s estranged mother told The Indianapolis Star in April that her son and the IMPD police officer were in a relationship. 
The cause of the 34-year-old’s death was unclear. The Marion County coroner’s office told The Star in April that toxicology tests to determine the cause of death would take six to eight weeks. The coroner’s office was closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.
IMPD Chief Rick Hite told The Star in April that the officer was not under investigation, suspended or disciplined in connection with the 34-year-old’s death. 
Police were notified of the officer’s death Monday when a roommate called 911 around 10 a.m., Adams said. He did not provide any additional details. 
The officer had been with IMPD for 15 years, Adams said, and was assigned to the Northwest District.
It's interesting that IMPD provided information to The Star and Fox 59 News about Barnes' death when it denied in toto a public records request made by Advance Indiana. It's just another reason why I trust nothing IMPD says about any investigation. The department illegally withholds public records requests under the guise of the investigative records exception whenever anyone who isn't in the business of writing press releases for the department requests information. No mainstream Indianapolis news organization ever reported on the fact that a man died in a police officer's home until today even though they were furnished information about his death last month that was denied to Advance Indiana. Fox 59 learned that police took used duct tape and chloroform from Officer Slaven's home at the time of Barnes' death. Police sources told Advance Indiana that Barnes was found bound in a cage wearing a chloroform mask. The bottom line is that you cannot trust the local news media to fairly and accurately report on matters involving the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Thinking Of America's Hidden History On Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a federal holiday we celebrate to honor American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in time of war. When we were taught American history in school, we were mostly told the wars we've fought were for noble purposes like preserving our freedom, deposing brutal dictators or fighting terrorism. Those who dare to look behind the curtain learn that things are rarely as they were recorded in our history books or told to us by the mainstream media which predominates news reporting in our country.

A recent book I came across, Donald Jeffries' Hidden History, tackles a conversation mainstream media won't permit to occur. Jeffries' book begins with a thorough look at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Any American who hasn't been taught or refuses to accept that elements of our own government planned, executed and then covered up President Kennedy's assassination, are missing the Rosetta Stone for understanding contemporary American history. One could make a strong argument that without the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the King and RFK assassinations, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the first Gulf War, Oklahoma City Bombing, 9/11 and the War on Terrorism would have never come to fruition. These are all topics Jeffries tackles in his book, plus much more.

Imagine what America might be like today if our country had heeded President Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning about the creeping power of the military/industrial complex? In the introduction to his book, Jeffries paints a sobering picture of what America looks like today with staggeringly high, chronic unemployment in the double-digits hidden from the official government unemployment numbers, the loss of our manufacturing industries, growing income disparity, the declining health of our people as measured by key indicators like life expectancy and infant mortality despite spending far more on health care than any other country in the world, large prison populations, and young Americans drowning in student loan debt, all leaving one to wonder why our government resources are so poorly allocated among its people. I highly recommend the book to anyone who seeks the truth, not the spoon-fed lies we get from our government and mainstream media reporting Here's an interview InfoWars' Rob Dew did with Jeffries recently in which he discusses Hidden History.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Don't Mess With Mari

Apparently Mari Hulman-George's daughter, Nancy George, thought mom was a little slow with her "most famous words in racing" line at today's start of the Indianapolis 500. Mari nearly popped Nancy in the mouth when she jumped in to help her finish her line. It's classic Mari Hulman-George. That's all I can say. Here's how the final laps of the race looked from where I sat during today's race. Congratulations to Juan Pablo Montoya on his second Indy 500 win.

Star: BMV Fee Overcharging Problem May Have Been Attributable To Patronage System

The Star's Tony Cook and Tim Evans have a good story today pondering the possibility that the political patronage system that led to the hiring decisions regarding persons in key administrative positions at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles may have contributed to the agency's decision to illegally raise the fees charged for certain services by about $60 millions and to ignore subsequent concerns raised about doing so, which are now being refunded after a couple of class action lawsuits drew attention to the fact it happened. The story is very informative, though not surprising to those of us who follow state government.

In particular, the story examines the hiring of Harold Day as the BMV's chief financial officer. A video clip of his deposition in the legal proceeding accompanies the story. Day, who has no college degree, could aptly be described as an amiable dunce who was unable to answer the most basic questions, including which branch of government the BMV was a part. It never occurred to him that BMV bank accounts with balances between $5 and $20 million should be earning some interest, let alone whether the fees the agency was charging were legal. His only apparent qualification for the job was the fact that he was a ward chair in Perry Township and is married to Susie Day, a former Indianapolis City-County Council member and current Perry Township Trustee. Day was recommended for a state job the former Perry Township Trustee. Politics obviously drove the hiring of Day, notwithstanding a BMV spokesman's assertions to the contrary.

Day wasn't the only top official whose qualifications were examined. Ron Hendrickson, the former deputy commissioner in charge of driver's licenses has no college degree and previously worked as a snow plow operator and pizza shop owner who served as a precinct committeeman on the east side. Former BMV Commissioner Scott Waddell had a business degree from IU and formerly ran his family's business. He got the job due to his friendship with former state GOP chairman Jim Kittle. It's interesting that the lowest on the totem pole who got his job through political patronage, Mathew Foley, a deputy director, discovered the fee overcharges and recommended the agency correct the problem but ran into resistance from Waddell and his staff, who were more concerned about the impact the loss of the ill-gotten revenues would have on Gov. Daniels' budget priorities.

It's interesting that all of this happened on the watch of Mitch Daniels, just one of many bad decisions made while he was governor that will continue to haunt state government for years to come. To hear Star political columnist Matt Tully, you would think only bad things started happening in state government when Mike Pence became governor. Tully bases his opinion that Pence has been a disastrous failure as governor almost entirely on his decision to sign Indiana's version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law and to pursue the JustIn information portal, neither of which cost Indiana taxpayers a dime. Wait until people figure out what a colossal boondoggle those Ohio River bridges prove to be when they have to start paying those tolls being levied to make big payoffs to more of Mitch's political cronies. It's unfortunate the Star hasn't examined those as closely as it has the BMV mess, which Pence inherited from Daniels. The $106 million penalty the state paid this month to Goldman Sachs to unwind another one of those messy interest rate swap agreements that happened on Mitch's watch was but another colossal and costly failure.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Star Glosses Over $106 Million Termination Payments Paid To Goldman Sachs To Refinance Stadium And Convention Center Debt

More than a week after Advance Indiana told you about the nearly $106 million in termination payments the Indiana Finance Authority is paying to Goldman Sachs in order to get out from under risky interest rate swap bonds that should have never been utilized to construct Lucas Oil Stadium and the expanded Indiana Convention Center, the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star gets around to writing an obligatory short news story buried in its higher priority coverage of anything related to the Indianapolis 500 this holiday weekend. Naturally, the newspaper's writer finds a way to put lipstick on a pig.
The state is paying $71 million to investment bank Goldman Sachs to allow refinancing of risky debt on Lucas Oil Stadium — a move than one economics expert said might be prudent, but also underscores the risk of the original deal.
Dan Huge, chief financial officer of the Indiana Finance Authority, said the $71 million will be offset by more favorable, fixed terms for $296 million in debt on the stadium. The payment to Goldman is included in the new financing.
Lucas Oil Stadium opened in 2008 at a cost of $720 million, including at least $620 million from taxpayers.
Huge said the cost of the debt — principal and interest — on the refinanced bonds is “at almost the same level as it was prior to doing this refinancing and making the termination payment.”
The previous debt involved “interest rate swaps,” a type of financial derivative that has been widely criticized as an inappropriate gamble with public money.
Princeton economics professor Uwe Reinhardt said the situation “wasn’t a big disaster, but it could have been.”
“It means I got my (butt) in a sling and now I have to get out of it,” he said. “Sometimes you have to pay the arsonist to prevent a worse fire.”
A separate bond issue will be used in part to pay Goldman Sachs $34.7 million to exit an interest rate swap deal for the Indiana Convention Center.
Goldman Sachs spokesman Michael DuVally declined comment.
In 2012, a top Goldman Sachs executive who worked in derivatives resigned and wrote in The New York Times that the company had become “toxic and destructive” in its pursuit of making money . . .
Notice the unwillingness of The Star to address just who it was who was responsible for getting us into the interest rate swap mess. The newspaper doesn't even bother to add the two termination payments together to get the much higher dollar amount, leading with the much lower figure and throwing in the additional amount further down in the story. Why are the same lawyers and financial advisers allowed to continue to reap professional reward for their past colossal failures from their past, imprudent advice? God forbid we focus on anything bad that happened on former Gov. Mitch Daniels' watch. It's just a "prudent" move that means we now owe an additional $106 million on stadium and convention center debt, which in all likelihood will never be paid off before someone decides it's time to tear down the buildings and replace them with new ones.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ballard Loses It When Questioned About Illegal Vision Fleet Contract

Mayor Greg Ballard in typical fashion shows his backside when asked a question he doesn't want to answer about that controversial Vision Fleet lease agreement. Of course he broke multiple laws in ordering his administration to award a no-bid, 7-year, $32 million contract to his political cronies. Until this man is hauled out of the City-County Building in handcuffs and held to account for the multiple public crimes he has committed while in office, taxpayers have every reason to be weary of what he'll do with their tax dollars before his term runs out at the end of this year.

GenCon Sells Record Number Of Tickets: So Much For RFRA Fallout

It's just more proof that Indiana's image took no real hit from the manufactured news story about RFRA, which was never anything more than a ruse led by the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star to advance the gay rights agenda by falsely claiming the law gave a license to Indiana businesses to discriminate against them in an effort to demonize people of faith and help drive Gov. Mike Pence from office. The annual big convention whose leaders had threatened to move it elsewhere if lawmakers didn't backtrack on the new law has sold a record number of tickets for this year's event at the end of July according to WISH-TV.

Some of us aren't prone to manipulation by mass media propaganda, which is pretty much what you get from mainstream media organizations in this country today. Something our local news media will never report on is just how lavishly Visit Indy and local convention folks wine and dine convention planners to host their conventions in Indianapolis, which basically operate under no code of ethics in the manner in which they are allowed to lobby convention planners. On cue from local officials, a few convention organizers who are very tight with Visit Indy officials played along with the act that they were concerned about RFRA, but they never had any intention of walking away from a city that is so generous with its taxpayer dollars. And that's a story Rafael "Don't Call Me" Sanchez will never report.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Another IMPD Officer Arrested For Drunk Driving

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department may not be interested in enforcing drunk driving laws against its own officers, but neighboring police departments aren't giving them a pass. A 7-year veteran of the police department, 32-year old Christopher White, was stopped while off duty by a Hamilton Co. Sheriff's deputy after he saw White operating his personal vehicle in a reckless manner, weaving in and out of his lane and crossing traffic lines.

After White failed field sobriety tests, a certified chemical test was performed and he tested more than double the legal limit at 0.182. He was charged with two misdemeanors, driving while intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.15 and operating a vehicle while intoxicated and endangering another person. White has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. A first-time alcohol offense typically results in a least a 30-day suspension according to department policy. White is a Noblesville resident. Don't just love the fact that so many IMPD officers live outside Marion County?

While we're on the topic of drunk driving charges, remember Butler Toyota President Robert Butler being arrested for felony drunk driving charges last December after a car he was operating on I-465 on the city's northeast side struck two cars parked on the emergency shoulder, causing one of the vehicles to crush the legs of 25-year old Latin McKinney, who was trying to jump start his car? The quick actions of an Indiana State Trooper was credited with saving McKinney's life. Butler's blood alcohol level was more than double the legal limit at 0.184. Butler was charged by the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office with two felony counts for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and causing serious bodily injury and causing serious bodily injury while operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level greater than 0.08. On March 17, the prosecutor's office filed a motion to dismiss both felony charges, which Judge Annie Christ-Garcia signed the same date. Butler was directed to the BMV for a citation in lieu of the felony charges. Seriously? A different set of rules for the rich and powerful, eh?
Robert Butler makes his first court appearance.
Robert Butler (left) with his attorney Jim Voyles at his initial court appearance

Council's Attorney Says Vision Fleet Contract Void If Not Voidable As Committee Votes To Initiate Lawsuit Against Ballard Administration

The Public Works Committee of the Indianapolis City-County Council voted tonight to introduce a resolution at the next council meeting on June 8 authorizing the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of the council to have the controversial 7-year, $32 million contract the Ballard administration illegally entered into with Vision Fleet last year declared void. The committee's vote came after the council's attorney, Fred Biesecker, laid out his legal analysis showing that at least five laws were broken by the city when it executed the initial lease agreement in February 2014, as well as the subsequent Master Fleet Agreement it signed with the company four months later in June, which was backdated to give the appearance it had been executed last February.

For the first time we learned at tonight's meeting that it was a memorandum of understanding Mayor Greg Ballard himself signed in August, 2013, which singled out Vision Fleet to be the exclusive, sole source provider of a fleet of 425 electric and hybrid cars. In a scathing legal analysis of the subsequent actions taken by city legal to carry out the agreement broadly set out in the August 2013 memorandum of understanding, Biesecker described city attorneys disregarding basic legal principles a first-year law student would understand.

What Biesecker described was an initial agreement executed by the parties in February 2014 that was clearly described as a lease/purchase agreement on its face. Under the state's procurement law, the renting and leasing of goods and supplies are expressly subject to competitive bidding requirements and cars clearly involve the delivery of goods or supplies. The administration insists a later rendition of the agreement clearly makes it an agreement for services, which is not subject to the state's competitive bidding requirements. Biesecker pointed to a state law expressly providing that a services contract cannot involve the delivery of supplies unless the supplies are merely incidental to the performance of the contract. Biesecker could not understand how anyone could argue with a straight face that the fleet of cars is incidental to services being provided by Vision Fleet concerning fleet management.

A city ordinance required the contract approval process to go through OFM, not the Department of Public Works, followed by the approval of the lease agreement by the Board of Public Works, neither of which occurred. Under state law, lease/purchase agreements must expressly provide that they are subject to available annual appropriations and must be subject to renewal annually if it extends beyond the term of one year. The city's lease agreement with Vision Fleet says the exact opposite, binding the city to make payments to Vision Fleet through its term of at least seven years. Competitive bidding procedures are mandated for all contracts in excess of $150,000 instead of the no-bid, sole-source procedure city legal utilized. In no event, can a contract for supplies be made for a period of more than four years. Vision Fleet's lease agreement is for at least seven years for the hybrid vehicles and eight years for the electric vehicles.

Biesecker told council members he believed the administration figured out in May 2014 that its February 2014 lease agreement was clearly illegal on its face. Rather than void the agreement and re-do the contract approval process in accordance with state and local laws, city legal rewrote the agreement as a Fleet Management Agreement through gymnastic linguistics to make it appear to be a services agreement rather than a lease agreement. The second agreement, which was electronically executed on June 12, 2014 by the parties, was backdated to make it appear that it was originally executed in February 2014. It made no reference to the original contract, and it did not state that it superseded the originally-signed lease agreement, which led to the confusion over which agreement governed the terms of the vehicle lease agreement.

Mayor Ballard did not publicly announced the Vision Fleet agreement until last October. The council, which had heard nothing of the proposal prior to that announcement, immediately requested a copy of the contract. The administration did not provide a copy of the contract until December, and that copy was so heavily-redacted the council's attorney was able to ascertain little about it. Through negotiations, the administration eventually agreed to release an non-redacted version of the lease only after the council's attorney agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement since it claimed the redacted information involved proprietary and/or trade secrets protected from public disclosure under state law. After the firestorm created over the administration's refusal to release the full version of the lease agreement, Vision Fleet sent the entire agreement to council members, but according to Biesecker, the contract has substituted the signature page from the February 2014 lease agreement as the signature page for the Master Fleet Agreement signed in June.

Biesecker told council members he believed there was a strong legal argument to be made that the contract that exists today with Vision Fleet is void on its face because of the legal deficiencies, if not a voidable agreement. He believes both versions of the contract contained the same fatal legal flaws regardless of the terminology used to gloss over the glaring legal omissions made in the original contract execution. Ballard's cake boy, David Rosenberg, addressed the council at that point to criticize Biesecker for putting Vision Fleet's reputation at risk as it sought to enter into contracts with other cities and organizations around the country. Council members quickly disabused Rosenberg of the notion the criticism was directed at Vision Fleet instead of the administration and, in particular, the city attorneys responsible for the legal blunders. The sole Republican council member present at the committee meeting, Janice McHenry, dissented from the Democratic members' vote to move forward in recommending the initiation of a lawsuit against the administration to void the lease agreement. She was concerned litigation would be wasting taxpayer dollars as if the $32 million contract itself wasn't a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Speaking of our law-breaking mayor, a little birdie tells Advance Indiana his honor met with DPS Director Troy Riggs, Deputy Director Valerie Washington and city attorneys today to discuss the Vision Fleet contract. In no uncertain terms, Ballard made it clear he wasn't about to terminate the illegal contract and that if anyone didn't agree with his position, they needed to seek employment elsewhere. It's like I told you, Ballard is Rod Blagojevich on steroids.

Ballard Blames Sloppy Legal Work By City's Attorneys For Vision Fleet Flap

M. Alex Beatty
The confusion over what contract governs the City of Indianapolis' 7-year, $32 million agreement with Vision Fleet to lease a fleet of more than 400 electric and hybrid cars is now being blamed by Mayor Greg Ballard on sloppy legal work by a couple of the city's attorneys, not internal confusion within his administration. WTTV's Russ McQuaid got the Mayor's reaction to the discovery that the City re-wrote a contract it initially entered into with the untested, unknown company in February 2014 and backdated contract documents without actually rescinding the first contract it signed.
. . . “No, I don’t think it was internal confusion,” the mayor told CBS4 Indy. “You’ve got to understand, in contract law, if the parties are not in dispute, the parties to the contract are fine with each other, so that’s not the problem. The problem is this is just sloppy legal work on a couple peoples’ part. That’s what it is.”
The “sloppy legal work” Ballard referred to included inconsistencies in contract language and submissions to city county councilors and reporters, backdated, undated and unnumbered signature pages and at least three different signature pages attached to various versions of the $32 million seven-year lease/rental/fleet services deal that promises to deliver 425 electric and electric-hybrid cars to Indianapolis’ municipal fleet by the end of this year.
An admitted example of the “sloppy legal work” described by his boss would be Corporation Counsel Andy Seiwert’s acknowlegement that his staff should have revoked an original Lease Agreement which was replaced by a backdated Master Fleet Agreement in the spring of 2014 . . .
Nonetheless, Ballard remains convinced the city's contract with Vision Fleet is a good one that will save the taxpayers money despite there being no evidence it will save one dime. The city attorney in charge of the legal work on the project was Alex Beatty. He's the same attorney the administration has put in charge of re-working the City's process of entering into real estate lease agreements after the one-sided, costly lease agreement the City entered into for the Regional Operations Center created a firestorm with council members. Beatty's LinkedIn profile lists the Vision Fleet lease as one of the transactions on which he served as lead counsel, along with that controversial recycling agreement with Covanta that raised a lot of eyebrows.

The fact remains that Ballard's administration illegally entered into yet another contract by failing to put the proposed lease agreement out for bid, and by failing to obtain the approval of the City-County Council. The Ballard administration has no fear of breaking the law because there is nobody to stop them from doing it. Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry refuses to investigate the rampant corruption occurring in the Ballard administration either due to gross incompetence on his part or because of some corrupt deal he entered into with the Republicans not to investigate crimes committed by Republican officeholders in exchange for throwing last year's prosecutor's race in which Curry was re-elected. That was the first election in known history that the Republicans in Marion County did not seriously contest the prosecutor's race. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis is perhaps the weakest office in the country when it comes to investigating and prosecuting public corruption.

Family Of Michael Lanter Believes He Was The Victim Of "Unprovoked Attack"

It has been almost a week since a 31-year old Carmel man, Michael Lanter, died from an apparent head injury he suffered when he was struck by another patron of the Chatterbox jazz club on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis. Police have still not identified the man who allegedly struck Lanter before he fell to the ground a very short time after entering the bar last Friday night, but a statement Lanter's family released to the media through their attorney indicates they believe he was the victim of an "unprovoked attack." The family's attorney, Ron Elberger, told the Indianapolis Star it was still premature to talk about civil litigation or potential criminal charges. “Right now it’s a matter of getting the trauma of the moment behind them,” Elberger said.

According to Lanter's obituary, he was a 2002 Carmel High School graduate where he played football and baseball. Carmel High School football coach John Hebert told The Star he had coached Lanter since he was about 12. "He was quick and tough and ran hard," Hebert said of the running back. Lanter graduated from IU's Kelly School of Business with honors before landing a job as a trader for Goldman Sachs in New York in 2007 after a short stint at ThinkEquity in San Francisco. In 2011, Lanter left Goldman Sachs to attend the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business where he earned an MBA. He briefly served as a consultant for Angelo, Gordon & Co. in New York before starting his own consulting company earlier this year.

News reports indicate that Lanter entered the Chatterbox shortly before midnight last Friday and initially argued with the bar's owner, David Andrichik, about paying a $7 cover charge before being admitted to the bar. The situation quickly escalated after bar personnel determined Lanter was too intoxicated to serve any alcohol. Lanter and another man at the bar got into a scuffle. The other man allegedly struck Lanter, causing him to fall and hit his head. By the time police arrived, the man involved in the altercation with Lanter had already left the bar. Police have since identified the man and interviewed him, although it's not clear yet what he told to police.

One rumor that has been circulating is that Lanter was actually struck by a member of the jazz band that was performing at the Chatterbox that night. The band was reportedly taking a break when Lanter arrived that night. According to that rumor, the band member was trying to be helpful to the bar's management after Lanter became upset about not being served alcohol. Earlier news reports indicated that Lanter lost his balance and fell after being struck by the other man in the neck area. Lanter was believed to have struck his head on the bar according to news reports, although another account Advance Indiana has heard says he struck his head on the edge of the raised stage where the band played.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hogsett Pledges Same Ethics Reforms Ballard Promised But Failed To Deliver Upon

Indianapolis mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett (D) announced a series of ethics reforms he would implement if he becomes mayor. They make for good talking points, but if the past is prologue, little change will occur if he is elected mayor. Why? We've heard the same promises before and not delivered upon. Our local news media isn't real big on making ethics an issue so the politicians can talk a good game without delivering and never worry about suffering any negative consequences.

Hogsett wants to put restrictions on lobbying, provide greater transparency by making information easier to access on the city's website and curtail the use of no-bid, professional services contracts. If it sounds a bit familiar, it's because Greg Ballard made the exact same promises when he first ran for mayor in 2007. Yeah, he made a few changes here and there, but in the final analysis, those changes provided no real benefit and city government only became less transparent, not more transparent as promised.

Ballard set up an online lobby registration and reporting system that exempts many lobbying activities and the law's enforcement mechanisms are so weak that few, if any, persons lobbying the legislature bother to comply with the registering and reporting requirements. Yeah, Ballard set up an online database of all contracts, but the searching capability of the database for users is so byzantine that it's almost like looking for a needle in a haystack to find a contract contained in the database. Hogsett says he's going to create a "Disclose Indy" website where the public can more easily access contracts, ethics statements, campaign finance reports, crime stats, budgets and other public records. It sounds a lot like what Ballard promised and never delivered upon.

Hogsett picks up on the weak reporting under the city's current lobbying law, noting that only two gifts have been reported and no enforcement actions taken in the five years since it was first enacted. One of the problems is that there are a large quantity of free tickets being handed out for events at Lucas Oil Stadium, Banker's Life Fieldhouse and Victory Field that are funneled through the mayor's office, the CIB or Visit Indy, which current law seems to exempt. The mayor, members of his administration and council members are receiving thousands of dollars a year each in free tickets that are never reported because they aren't covered by the law. The statements of economic interest forms themselves are not designed to provide the public any useful information to detect many conflicts of interest that might arise while officials are carrying out their public duties.

Hogsett also says he will turn down free memberships at exclusive country clubs like Mayor Ballard and previous mayors have accepted. He also says he will avoid taking taxpayer-paid trips. That's not ethics reform in my mind. Ballard claims that the dozen or so junkets he and his wife have taken during his time in office were paid for by private donors of Develop Indy, not taxpayer dollars. It just so happens that those private donors are the very same people who are making off like bandits with those no-bid contracts and public subsidies Ballard has doled out to his campaign contributors. I don't see Hogsett proposing any curtailment on campaign donations from city contractors, which comprise most of the more than $2 million in campaign contributions Hogsett has received to date.

Hogsett talks about enacting a one-year cooling off period for city employees who helped oversee companies to which city contracts were awarded. If it's anything like the state's cooling off period, it's not going to be worth the paper on which it's written. He also wants to resurrect the city's two-term limit for mayors, which was repealed to allow former Mayor William Hudnut to serve longer than two terms in office. He served four terms altogether. That's an easy promise for Hogsett to make. I seriously doubt he wants to stay in the office for more than one or two terms. He doesn't seem to be the type who is content working at one place for a long period of time.

Finally, Hogsett is proposing a "top to bottom" audit of city finances. Ballard promised the same thing. Remember all of that "fluff" he promised to eliminate from the city budget, in particular all of those professional service agreements? It didn't take Ballard long to figure out those contracts were the bread and butter for his campaign fundraisers. That campaign promise, like most of  his campaign promises, fell to wayside before his first day in office.