Saturday, April 25, 2015

Transparency In Policing Is Just A Slogan

It's been two weeks since two Indianapolis police officers shot and killed an Indianapolis man, Mack Long, who fled his vehicle on foot after being subjected to a traffic stop. An IMPD spokesman initially told the public the two officers who pursued and then shot and killed Long sustained minor injuries after being grazed by a bullet fired from Long's gun. At a press conference 24 hours later, police admitted Long had fired no shots from a handgun he was carrying at his side, and that only one of the officers had suffered very minor injuries during a supposed scuffle with Long. One of the police officers was wearing a body camera, while a private citizen recorded at least part of the shooting. Unlike other highly-publicized police action shootings around the country, authorities refuse to release video evidence of the shooting to the public, and the local news media doesn't seem at all interested in seeing it, even after learning IMPD initially misstated key facts regarding the shooting.

Yesterday, Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry appeared on WTLC-AM's "Afternoons With Amos." The show's host, Amos Brown, asked Curry about the reason the video evidence was not being released to the media. Incredibly, Curry hid behind grand jury secrecy rules, claiming that it was against Indiana law to release the video evidence since it was evidence in a pending grand jury investigation. Curry said the videos might be released in the future after any grand jury proceedings had been concluded but not before then. Curry's claim is a complete misstatement of Indiana law. Indiana law gives law enforcement agencies discretionary authority to withhold investigative records. They may and do, however, release investigative records such as video evidence, 911 calls, police reports and other evidence all of the time when it serves their interest. The mere fact evidence will be presented at a grand jury proceeding doesn't bar its release to the public; rather, it's the testimony offered by witnesses and discussions of evidence during the grand jury proceeding that is subject to the secrecy rule.

Additionally, Brown asked Curry about whether his office responds to information requests from citizen journalists and bloggers regardless of their political affiliation or beliefs. Curry stated that his office fulfilled his 2010 campaign promise to be more open and responsive to the public and does generally respond to all inquiries. In fact, Curry's office has ignored repeated requests by Advance Indiana to respond to questions not only about the Long shooting but also the IMPD cover up of the citizen complaint Austin Joseph made in a 911 call on December 20, 2014 during which he reported observing an IMPD police car driven by Capt. Phil Burton being operated erratically at rates of speed topping 90 mph on a non-emergency run, or the death of Aaron D. Barnes in the home of Officer Gregory Slaven on April 5, 2014, whose body police sources told Advance Indiana was found in a sex bondage position wearing a chloroform mask. Perhaps Curry's office has no information to release about either of those incidents involving police officers, but there's no way of knowing that because his office won't even acknowledge receipt of the request for information. In both cases, the only reason Advance Indiana was able to provide any information to the public was because of concerns expressed by IMPD officers that proper investigations were not being conducted.

It is absolutely stunning just how little interest the traditional media in Indianapolis has in newsworthy stories involving very serious questions concerning police misconduct, particularly following the fatal alcohol collision of Officer David Bisard that cost taxpayers at least $10 million, not to to mention the loss of life. I can't imagine anywhere else in this country where the news media would display such a dismissive, disinterested attitude towards such matters. Nowadays, they seem only interested in writing press releases for the police and prosecutor. How times have changed from the days when reporters for the Indianapolis Star & News were conducting daily public battles with police and prosecutors and the newspaper's reporters were turning out blockbuster news stories of police and prosecutor corruption that won them a Pulitzer Prize.

On a final note, Advance Indiana has requested from the Marion Co. Sheriff's Department any 911 calls or police dispatch records regarding the Aaron D. Barnes death investigation. That request got routed to Samantha DeWester in the Corporation Counsel's office, who sent a letter this week denying the release of the requested records as a matter of discretion for the investigative records exception to the state's public records law, the catch-all exemption IMPD always uses to block release of any information it doesn't want the public to see. Recall that DeWester used that same exemption to deny Advance Indiana's request for the 911 call and dispatch records regarding Capt. Phil Burton, which the Sheriff's Department produced in response to the exact same request. Apparently, Sheriff John Layton has instructed his staff to forward all requests made by Advance Indiana to the Corporation Counsel's office and not respond to them as his office does for other media requests. Ask yourself: What are they hiding? Why did IMPD Chief Rick Hite announce a new policy this past week prohibiting any police officer from recording other officers or city officials? Who is he protecting and why?

Tully Shamelessly Uses Tragic Death Of 6-Year Old To Push For Commuter Tax

Reading Star political columnist Matt Tully's latest column, I couldn't help but picture Star Trek's Spock's raised eyebrow reaction: "Highly illogical." Recently, an adorable 6-year old boy, Dar Wee, was tragically killed when he was struck by a car while crossing the street that separates an apartment complex from an elementary school where Wee was a first-grade student on the City's far north side near College Avenue and 91st Street. For whatever reason, requests made by the school's principal for the past several years to invest a few hundred dollars to place a stop sign and painted cross walks in the area had not been a high enough priority by the local council member or the Ballard administration's Department of Public Works to make it happen. After Wee's tragic death, the city council and the DPW took emergency steps to install stop signs at the long-ignored dangerous crossing.

To believe Tully, Wee's death is to be blamed on the lack of revenues to pay for the City of Indianapolis' infrastructure needs. He then goes on to use the tragedy to pitch a commuter tax on suburban residents who live outside Indianapolis but commute to work in Indianapolis to pay for infrastructure costs. This is the same columnist who praised the City for providing $6.5 million to the mayor's money bag man, Ersal Ozdemir, to build a parking garage and donating another $6 million to the politically-connected developer, Browning Investments, for another mixed use retail project in Broad Ripple. Those are just two of many projects to which Tully and his bosses at The Star have supported giving away public tax dollars totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Sorry, Mr. Tully, the problem isn't a lack of revenues; it's a lack of spending priorities on the part of those making the decisions, who value their campaign contributors more than their fellow citizens. Your shameless plug for yet another tax increase we know will largely benefit the same campaign contributors who feed at the public trough is beneath decency even for you.

UPDATE: To my point, the IBJ's Kathleen McLaughlin has a story about the downtown TIF fund being awash in cash, which I've long dubbed the Mayor's slush fund:
The Indianapolis downtown TIF district is so flush with cash that the mayor can cover all its debt payments, fund two layers of reserves, and still have tens of millions to spend at his discretion.
Free cash in the downtown TIF could amount to $59.3 million by the end of 2018, according to the city controller’s projections.
Like all tax-increment financing districts, the downtown TIF is essentially a reservoir for property-tax revenue that otherwise would flow to government units throughout the county. The way cash is piling up in the city’s largest TIF raises the question: Is it time to open the floodgates?
“It definitely allows an opportunity,” Controller Matthew Kimmick said . . .
Ballard plans to spend $22 million on one-time projects this year and leave $7.3 million in the fund when he steps down Dec. 31 after two terms.
This year’s spending includes the IUPUI roads, repairs to Union Station and buying a Citizens Energy property on Waterway Boulevard to create a shovel-ready site for the 16 Tech business park.
There’s no shortage of demand for downtown improvements. In an interview with IBJ, Democratic mayoral hopeful Joe Hogsett said he’s hearing a drumbeat from downtown stakeholders for a makeover of Circle Centre. He also foresees the need to boost Monument Circle as a family attraction.
Hogsett declined to get into specifics about how he would finance economic development. He’s aware the downtown TIF could be perceived as benefiting real estate developers, but he’s not ruling out any tools at his disposal.
“I think it ought to be used very cautiously,” he said of the downtown TIF’s excess cash.
Chuck Brewer, the Marion County GOP’s endorsed candidate, declined to comment ahead of the May 5 primary, in which he faces two opponents, Jocelyn Tandy-Adande and Terry Michael . . . 
The Indianapolis downtown TIF was the only exception to a 2014 law that required all TIF districts created before 1995 to dissolve by 2025. Lawmakers cited the city’s past revenue-sharing practice as one reason for special treatment  . . . 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Long-Time Senate Staffer For Thad Cochran Busted For Dealing Date Rape Drug

A long-time staff member for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) was arrested this week after D.C. police and the Department of Homeland Security officials charged him with possessing drugs with intent to distribute. Fred Pagan, 49, was found to be in possession of meth and GBL, which is used as a date rape drug. Pagan told officers he distributed the drugs in exchange for sexual favors. Customs officials first detected the drug in a DHL package shipped from China that was addressed to Pagan's D.C. home. Pagan earns $160,000 a year as a personal assistant and office administrator for Sen. Cochran.

SEC Charges Three Local Investment Advisors In Ponzi Scheme

Two local investment advisers, along with a Carmel attorney, stand accused by the Securities & Exchange Commission of running a $15 million Ponzi scheme. Charged in the scheme are Veros Partners' Matthew Haab and Tobin J. Senefeld, and Jeffrey B. Risinger, a Carmel attorney.

According to a press release issued by the SEC, the three men raised $15 million from about 80 investors for the purpose of making short-term loans to farmers. In actuality, the investment proceeds were used to cover unpaid debts already owed by farmers who had been previously loaned money. At the same time, the three men are accused of paying themselves $800,000 in undisclosed "success" and "interest rate spread" fees.

In addition to Veros Partners, Haab, Senefeld and Risinger, the federal complaint also names as defendants Veros Farm Loan Holding, LLC and FarmGrow Cap, LLC, the issuers of the offerings and PinCap, LLC and Pin Financial, LLC as the registered broker-dealer. According to the press release, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson issued an asset freeze order against the defendants, as well as a temporary restraining order prohibiting them from soliciting, accepting or depositing any monies from prospective investors.

Stutzman On Controversial Congressional Trip With Schock Paid For By Saudi Government

Disgraced former Illinois U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R) was forced to resign his seat in Congress after questions swirled about questionable campaign and travel spending from his congressional allowance. A federal grand jury convened by federal prosecutors in Springfield has been sending out subpoenas and calling former Schock congressional staffers before the grand jury to testify. The Chicago Tribune is raising new concerns about a trip Schock took to Saudi Arabia in 2011 on which he was accompanied by Indiana's U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R), who has been mulling over a bid for Dan Coats' Senate seat in 2016. According to The Tribune, the Saudi government paid for the trip, although Schock did not disclose that fact in his official filings with the House, as well as the costs for two prominent businessmen in his district who were large donors to Schock's campaign committee.

According to The Tribune, Peoria automobile dealer Jeff Green, who also owns a private plane on which he frequently flew Schock, accompanied Schock on the official trip, as did Adam Vitale, the owner of a Galesburg beer distributorship. The Tribune describes the presence of the two campaign donors with Schock on the trip as unusual. The Saudi governmental also picked up the tab for their expenses, although Vitale said he paid for his own flight expense. Green refused to answers The Tribune's questions about the trip. Schock failed to disclose the trip on his financial disclosure form, which is a potential violation of the Ethics in Government Act. Rep. Stutzman disclosed on his 2011 financial disclosure form that the Embassy of Saudi Arabia financed the cost of his 10-day trip to Riyadh on March 17, 2011 through March 27, 2011. He also disclosed a second, 8-day trip to Israel on August 13, 2011 through August 21 2011, which was financed by the American Israel Education Foundation. From The Tribune story:
. . . The other lawmakers on the trip to Saudi Arabia said in disclosures that the Embassy of Saudi Arabia paid their way. Both Reps. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming said the trip was March 17-27, 2011.
Aides to Stutzman and Lummis, both Republicans, declined to answer questions about the trip. So did Saudi Arabia's embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia. Schock's top aide, who also was on the journey, also refused to address the trip.
Schock's chief of staff at the time, Steven Shearer of Peoria, appeared with the former congressman in Saudi Arabia in a photo in the Arab News on March 26, 2011. Shearer put the trip on his disclosure but on different dates: May 18-27, 2011.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, in a Web post, said Schock and the other lawmakers were on an "official visit" accompanied by a delegation of U.S. businessmen, none identified by name.
Members of the U.S. delegation met with princes including Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the post said, and visited the Saudi national museum and historical sites.
Stutzman later told The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., that the trip was arranged and paid for by the Saudi tourism and antiquities commission. He said the group spoke with Saudi officials about counterterrorism and trade, noting that the country was in the midst of a construction boom and an attractive market for Indiana manufacturers.
Two sources said Green talked freely about the Saudi trip upon his return and posted travel photos on Facebook, taking them down after Schock fell under scrutiny this year.
One source said he saw Green flip through 40 or 50 travel photos on his phone showing images of camel rides, cities and palaces.
Arab News quoted Schock during the trip as saying people in the U.S. were interested in that country's lack of democracy, its ban on women driving and the requirement that women wear abayas.
"We have a clearer vision now that we have visited Saudi Arabia," he added. "What is applicable in America does not necessarily has (sic) to be true here also."
It's curious that the purpose of this congressional trip was to discuss counter-terrorism among other things given that one of Saudi princes with whom the delegation met has been tied to the financing of the 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia.

Malik Obama: Deceived By Barack Obama, Feels Betrayed


Filmmaker Joel Gilbert whose documentary, "Dreams From My Real Father," posits that Frank Marshall Davis and not Barack Obama, Sr. is the true biological father of President Barack Obama, has a shocking interview with Obama's half brother from Kenya, Malik Obama. The elder brother who stood up with President Obama as his best man at his wedding now accuses him of deceiving him and other members of the Kenyan Obama family in an exclusive interview with Gilbert. Malik admitted after reading Gilbert's book that he has his own doubts about whether Barack is truly his father's son. He would be willing to take a DNA test to determine whether Obama is his real half-brother.

In the interview, Malik accuses President Obama of turning his back on his Kenyan family, even refusing to help out the family with his Aunt Zeituni' Onyango's burial experiences when she passed away a year ago. Obama has also refused to support a foundation established in his father's name. It's a "betrayal, big humiliation and embarrassment" Malik said of Obama's treatment of his family, which he believes he only used for purposes of selling his "unique" background to the American people. Malik claims he helped Obama edit his book, "Dreams from My Father," which Malik claims was originally titled, "Where my father lies buried," later changed to "Claims of Inheritance," before later changing to the ultimate title that formed the carefully-crafted biographical narrative Obama shaped in preparation for his meteoric political rise.

Those who have followed this blog over the years know how I truly believe that Obama's entire biographical narrative was fabricated out of whole cloth. All of his close, early handlers had close associations with the CIA. Indeed, his first employer after supposedly graduating from Columbia University was a CIA front company. Someday, the American people will come to realize that his presidency was the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people, even topping the 9/11 false flag attack and the government cover up of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by evil elements of our own government.

The Star Suddenly Has Questions About IEDC's Transparency

Advance Indiana has complained for years about how the economic development arms of the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis operate as nothing more than an extension of the governor's and mayor's campaign committees. Gov. Mitch Daniels was responsible for creating the Indiana Economic Development Corporation board as a quasi-governmental entity empowered to dole out tax benefits, grants and other economic development incentives to companies that locate or expand their businesses in Indiana. The IEDC raised funds to pay for all of Daniels' overseas trade mission trips just like it does for Pence. Similarly, Develop Indy funds all of Mayor Greg Ballard's overseas junkets with donations from undisclosed donors. The governor and mayor are always accompanied on these trips by well-heeled campaign contributors or others seeking favors from government.

The Gannett-owned Star had few questions of how either IEDC or Develop Indy operated, but now that it is on a mission to drive Gov. Mike Pence from office, it's now got an issue with its operations. In a story in today's paper by Tony Cook, The Star questions lobbying tactics IEDC is employing to gain legislative support for Gov. Pence's regional cities initiative:
Promotional gift bags. A slick, campaign-style website. Undisclosed corporate donors.
Gov. Mike Pence has employed each of those strategies in a last-ditch effort to save one of his top legislative priorities — a new $84 million "regional cities" initiative intended to boost economic development across the state.
The campaign is being operated out of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's semi-public job creation and business attraction arm. And it's being funded with donations to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation from undisclosed private companies.
It includes a website, indianaregionalcities.com, that criticizes the General Assembly, saying lawmakers "SIGNIFICANTLY SLASHED FUNDS FOR HOOSIER COMMUNITIES' TRANSFORMATION."
The site directs people to "TAKE ACTION!" and provides a form letter for residents to send to legislators urging them to "restore Governor Pence's proposed $84 million appropriation for the Regional Cities Initiative."
At the same time, the IEDC sent gift bags to 25 key lawmakers last week. Inside were letters of support from the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and mayors of several cities. There was also a gift: a magnetic paper clip sculpture with the regional cities website written on it.
The end-of-session lobbying effort is raising eyebrows among Pence's fellow Republicans in the legislature. Some are questioning the tactics and refuting the administration's claims . . . 
IEDC's president, Eric Doden, defends the propriety of its actions since its a quasi-governmental entity, unlike other state agencies--just why former Gov. Mitch Daniels created. Of course, The Star could care less about anything the IEDC did when Daniels was governor. Times have changed. As I warned you, The Star is in the process of building a case against Mike Pence to force his resignation from office. Just sit back and watch as news stories will continue to appear questioning Pence's ethics and then asking out loud whether Pence has broken any laws before deciding he has committed crimes that warrant his resignation from office. It will likely involve tying campaign donations to state actions, something it could have done on any number of occasions with former Gov. Daniels and Mayor Ballard but chose not to do so. Massive public corruption scandals were overlooked in both the Daniels and Ballard administrations by The Star. Their end game is to get rid of Pence, and there's more than one way to crack that nut. You read it here first so don't be surprised when it plays out.

UPDATE: Indiana political observers will get a kick out of this. The idea of privatizing the state's economic development agency has been exported to neighboring Illinois where former Daniels' political crony and Barnes & Thornburg attorney Jason Barclay now serves as Gov. Bruce Rauner's chief legal counsel. From Crain's Chicago:
A bill to partially privatize the state's economic development agency has surfaced abruptly in Springfield, and it may be on a fast track to passage.
The proposal, contained in an amendment filed yesterday by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie to a bill sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan, would give both the speaker and Gov. Bruce Rauner something they want.
Rauner would get to establish a private Illinois Business & Economic Development Corp. that would pick up many of the key functions of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, a state government agency. For instance, the corporation would have the power to negotiate tax incentive deals with companies, subject to final approval by DCEO. The idea is similar to proposals Rauner made during his race for governor.
Madigan, in turn, would get something he's pushed for: the creation of an independent, free-standing agency to run the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. That responsibility would be taken away from the state's Historic Preservation Agency, which would be dissolved and its remaining functions assumed by the DCEO, according to the proposal.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Westfield High School Stage Collapse


About a dozen Westfield High School students were injured during tonight's "American Pie" performance when the stage collapsed during the final act of the show. Local news reports indicate that at least one of the injured student's condition was listed as critical. An amateur video taken by Sara Camden of the collapse and uploaded to YouTube captures the moment of the collapse.
Photo taken by Leann Meyer following the collapse

Muncie NAACP President Arrested For Dealing Cocaine To Police Informant


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Timothy Wade Miles, 49, is the president of the Muncie chapter of the NAACP and the assistant director of the city's public transportation service, MITS. The Delaware Co. Sheriff's Department says Miles sold cocaine to a police informant on three separate occasions while driving a vehicle owned by the local transit agency. One of the drug transactions allegedly took place in Westside Park while children played nearby. Miles supposedly volunteered to the informant during one sale that he was president of the local NAACP. According to the Muncie Star Press, Miles told police following his arrest that he had gone into cocaine trafficking as a way of supplementing his income to pay court-ordered child support. He told police he paid $1,250 an ounce for the cocaine and sold it for twice that amount.

Hillary Clinton Has Evan Bayh's Full Support


Just got this "important announcement" from Evan Bayh that he is fully supporting Hillary Clinton for president in 2016:

Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton formally announced her campaign to be our next President.
Evan Bayh and Hillary Clinton
Now it's time to make an announcement of my own: She has my full support, I’ll do everything I can to help her, and I hope you will, too.
We've been friends for years and served together in the U.S. Senate, and Hillary has never forgotten who she is or where she came from.
She's always been a strong champion for the American family and those who work hard to get ahead and stay ahead.
We all know things have been challenging for middle class families but are finally getting better -- we've added more than 11 million new private sector jobs since 2009.
But we need a strong leader to continue that growth and turn economic data points into better-paying jobs and a chance for everyone to succeed.
America must be a land of opportunity for everyone, not just the fortunate and the few.
That's why I'm reaching out to you now to ask you to support Hillary as she ramps up her efforts.
This campaign isn't about her. It's about the American people and what we can do together to help.
That's why you'll continue to see Hillary interacting one-on-one in local communities with folks who are most affected by what happens in Washington, D.C.
Your voice is the voice that matters.
So will you commit today to a contribution of $50, $100 or whatever you can afford to help keep that conversation going as we head into 2016?
Next month, Hillary will unveil a broader agenda shaped by the people she's meeting across America right now.
With your support, we can show those who would reverse the progress we've made since 2009 that America is not going backward. We are finally moving in the right direction, and Hillary is the right candidate to lead us forward.
I'm proud to call her my friend, and I hope you'll be part of our team.
Best wishes,
Evan Bayh
Evan Bayh