Category Archives: Delaware County

Who’s minding the store?

American Dollars Falling from the SkyOn April 14, Delaware County Treasurer, John Dorer, was arrested.  Per the Muncie Star newspaper Dorer saw “47 criminal charges that accuse him of repeatedly mishandling, and in one instance stealing, county funds.”  No one from the local level to the Indiana Statehouse can say with any certainty if money has been stolen on more than one occasion.  The books are in such bad shape, it is impossible to follow the accounting records, making it easy to siphon off funds unnoticed.  

As would be expected, varied opinions on his guilt or innocence appeared in the story chats.  Some went as far as to say he was framed by the local Democrat Party.   The Democrat Party may be in control in our little neck of the woods.  Doubtful their power extends to the state government.   Dorer is a Democrat, but divorced his affiliation from the Headquarters and instead ran on the Team Democrat “ticket”.  He won in 2008 and again in 2012.

Rather than take the newspaper’s word as gospel, decided to head to the Indiana State Board of Accounts and read for myself the audit reports.  Having read audits on the Muncie Sanitary District, City of Muncie, Muncie Public Schools and other various taxing units I gleaned quite a bit of information on the workings of Delaware County. One common theme seems to be the same mistakes are repeated again and again.  You’ll find the audits below:

2012 Treasurer audit

2011 Treasurer audit

2010 Treasurer audit

John Dorer is responsible for his actions and should he be found guilty will need to be accountable to the State of Indiana and finally the taxpayers of Delaware County.    The treasurer is the start of the financial chain and may even possibly be the leading cause to  Delaware County’s  fiscal woes.   The Treasurer’s Department prepares the financial information and submits it to the Auditor’s Office, which in turn disseminates the fiscal information to the County Council and County Commissioners.  If the records are in such disarray from the start, then it’s obvious their decisions are based on faulty accounting.  That’s a problem, folks.

Who’s minding the store?

At the close of every audit, an exit interview is conducted by the State Board of Accounts with sundry elected officials attending.  No action is taken by the elected officials to insure the violations are curbed, the same happens again the next year.  Again and again.    Public servants, elected, have ignored the audits while untold millions in taxpayer money slips into the abyss of shoddy management.

While we point our fingers and cluck our tongues at Dorer’s arrest, we refuse willingly or out of ignorance to ask our elected officials what role did they play in all this?  By their inaction, plenty.   When they knock on your door, seeking your vote, gently ask of them  “Who’s minding the store?”

If you have some time to kill, take a gander at other State Board of Accounts audits.  Imagine allowing non-bonded employees  to collect cash; employees paid cash without any paperwork;  one cash drawer (City Clerk lost $13,000); no contracts for services rendered; $3,500,00.00 with no internal controls(2012 Redevelopment audit), etc, etc, etc.

State Board of Accounts website

“Governmental units should have internal controls in effect which provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial information and records, effectiveness and efficiency of operations, proper execution of management’s objectives, and compliance with laws and regulations. Among other things, segregation of duties, safeguarding controls over cash and all other assets and all forms of information processing are necessary for proper internal control. (Accounting and Uniform Compliance Guidelines Manual for Counties of Indiana, Chapter 1)”

Saturday Rambling – A few days Late

no more rumors 3The rumor has finally been put to rest.  Did the City of Muncie Building Commissioner, Craig Nichols, get the remodeling contracts for the City of Muncie’s City Hall?  This very rumor had been circulating for months, and finally a rumor that has truth attached.  Yep, folks, he got it.  In fact, other city projects, you know, the ones that have received city as well as State  tax dollars may have his company written all over it.

Unfortunately, we won’t know how much his company made.  That’s private.

Mr. Nichols signed a conflict of interest disclosure, so everything is O.K.  I wonder,  the person responsible for the construction code, as in the position of Building Commissioner,  will cite his own company for violations?  Or will it just be disguised as a change order, and payment submitted so the Advanced Walls & Ceilings won’t lose any money?  I don’t believe the Board of Public Works will even consider questioning any bills from Mr. Nichols, the Building Commissioner a/k/a owner of Advanced Walls & Ceilings.

Advanced Walls and Ceilings Indiana Secretary of State information

Just last year, the attorney for Muncie Sanitary District, Mike Quirk, started a business and began collecting payment for services rendered.  His business was filed with the State of Indiana several months later.  As with Mr. Nichols, we have no idea if this is saving us money or costing us money.   SOS

However, there is a bit of history which can help you determine if this is beneficial.

The County purchased a truck from a county’s highway employee’s son.  Cash for Clunkers, Delaware County Style.   I’m glad as a taxpayer, we could help a poor fella out of his upside down truck loan.

The county dog catcher resigned after the County animal control truck was stolen by a drunk neighbor.   The ex-dog catcher later received a contract to roof a county building.  The contract was rescinded and he threatened to sue the county.  But, never fear, the City of Muncie, saved the day.  How, you ask?  Simple.  Fire a company that did building debris clean-up and hire the ex-dog catcher.  Problem solved.

Remember the rumor the previous mayor would fire anyone that disagreed with her? MITS board member, Karl Kizer, felt it first hand.  25 years on the board, well-respected and knowledgeable had the audacity to question the mayor.  Out he went.  Oh, this was done by the current mayor.

Does anyone remember Culpepper insurance?  If you don’t, being a big Democrat party supporter, the commissioners hired the company to take care of the county’s insurance.  Boy did he, as costs skyrocketed out of control.  2003 mayoral candidate Dennis Tyler said there was no place for Culpepper in his administration.  Tyler won in 2011 and take a guess who showed up to offer us insurance?  No word if he saved us money on our liability policy.

We take care of our own here.  We’re loyal like that.

What a fiasco when the commissioners tried to pass an ordinance limiting the area that Center Township  Fire could service.  Kind of like if your house is located in Muncie but closer to CTFD station, they were not allowed to go put the fire out.  Oops, some 911 calls got misrouted, too.

Friendships and loyalty run deep here.  In fact, it is the backbone of our very existence.  Take for example, when the Democrat Chair was being indicted for forging papers to remove a candidate from the ballot.  The chair, Phil Nichols, resigned and appointed Dennis Tyler, the  now current mayor.  Mr Tyler then appointed Phil Nichols to the election board.  Let nothing like an indictment stand in the way of a friendship.

Time doesn’t allow for everything in complete detail, as that would really take a book.  But consider these things:

The Fair Board ordinance requires an even number of members from both parties.  This didn’t happen so solving the problem was simply rewrite the ordinances to match the appointments.

The Justice Center which was filled to the brim with party favorites, made national news and cost a pretty penny for the taxpayers.

Royerton Sewer, again a board filled with wives of party members, cost the taxpayers some dough.  And it hasn’t stopped costing the residents.

Sigh….

Indiana SB 176 Central Indiana Transit

no loit quirk sign

LOIT comin’ back?

Here we go again, an opportunity for Muncie City Council to open back up the LOIT debate.  This time we can be taxed for public transportation throughout the county.

In 2009, if you will recall, Muncie City Council held a public hearing to pass a tax on every working person regardless if you lived in the city or county.   It never got passed, and I don’t believe it was ever tabled.  Somewhere in the abyss it’s still festering.    This time though, Indiana wants to use it for transportation.

At least, voters will have a say instead of allowing nine people to make the decision.  The majority of which salivate over any tax increase, where spending millions delights and barely blink an eye at increasing city tax levies.    The majority increased the Muncie City tax levy and the budget, County was looking at passing Cumulative Capital Development (CCD tax).  They also came out in support of $45 million tax increase and finally in ’09 the love for the Wheel Tax  came to fruition.

LOIT was their baby, too.

Muncie City Council ignored the budget for nearly two years, and what is the first thing when realizing there is a fiscal problem?  Why increase your taxes, of course.   Last year the city ended with over $8 million balance and a tax increase.  Proof any time is a good time for more taxes with the majority of Democrats in office.

Anderson Herald Bulletin has a down and dirty article.

Summary SB176:

Provides for the establishment or expansion of public transportation services in an eligible county through local public questions placed on the ballot under ordinances adopted by the fiscal body of the eligible county. Provides that Delaware County, Hamilton County, Hancock County, Johnson County, Madison County, and Marion County are eligible counties. Authorizes eligible counties to fund approved public transportation projects through various parts of the local option income tax rates that are available under current law for other purposes and by imposing on C corporations a county income tax or a county employment tax. Specifies that fares must cover 25% of the operating costs of a transportation system established or expanded under the bill. Authorizes interlocal agreements, public-private partnerships, and bonding with respect to a public transportation project. Provides that if a transportation project is approved in an eligible county, transportation services must be provided through the transportation project throughout the eligible county and must be made available under this article to all citizens of the county. Prohibits a political subdivision from using public funds to promote a position on a local public question regarding transit. Prohibits an eligible county from carrying out a light rail project. Provides that in the case of a public transportation corporation in an eligible county that has approved a local public question, labor agreements may provide for the nonbinding mediation of salaries, wages, and salary and wage related fringe benefits, including accident, sickness, health, dental, vision, life, disability, retirement benefits, and paid time off. Provides that the provisions in the bill do not create a moral obligation of the state.

Click on the Indiana General Assembly for  SB176 and 2014 Session.

Indiana general assembly 2014 copy

School Choice. What is it?

ABC 123 Apple copy copy

We have been reading a lot about the state of education in this country.  From Common Core curriculum to school vouchers.  Muncie Community Schools is seeing a complete change over from closing schools, to bus waivers.   A few days ago, the local newspaper published an “Our View: Voucher system creating two education classes“.  In all honesty, I very seldom read the paper’s “Our View” yet this title sparked my interest.

I like to feel the pulse of what local citizens think about a particular subject.  Although , very seldom surprised by the comments,  read with interest their obvious dislike for any change in the education system outside of the “how it’s always been run”.  They all seem to be big on “choice”, only it must be their choice, not your choice.   Most did not favor the parent’s right to choose and definitely against any tax dollars going to “private” schools.  Never mind we have been financing the 21st Century Scholars, PELL grants, GI Bill and the like, for decades. Continue reading →

Saturday morning ramblings: What’s happenin’?

breaking news copySome big news stories in our small part of the world.

If you care to read the ruling from Indiana Department of Education, you may find it here.

MCS waiver denial (PDF)

Muncie Community Schools has some daunting issues and no plans on how those will be addressed.  No plan for transportation and possibly no cost savings for the high school consolidation or closing.

Muncie Community School’s waiver request was denied by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).

IDOE says the waiver was denied because the district’s plan was “insufficient and fails to demonstrate that Muncie has formulated a sufficient plan that provides for the safe movement of eligible students to and from school,” as required.

Muncie Star Press 1-11-14

*****

We weathered  (pardon the pun) a snowstorm.  A major casualty when a snowplow caught fire.  A total loss to a county with no money.  and with hopes to recoup the loss with outside funds. The driver escaped injury, and that is definitely something to rejoice over.   The next big weather event will be flooding.  Can’t wait.

None of us will be looking forward to the utility bills. This storm is going to be expensive for everyone.

*****

The filing season has begun and will continue until February 7th.  As expected, some of the old gals and guys will be looking to continue their tenure or switch positions.  Mayor Tyler and his crew were ecstatic in 2011 all of his good friends were now controlling both city and county.  No excuses, he said.  There are, though.  It’s not their fault, it’s yours.    The judicial race is pretty much sewn up for me.

*****

Another big event is watching the Muncie Sanitary District as they slowly slide into the $168 million storm water project.  Removing Steve Murphy from the board and replacing him with Joe Evans was a major turning point.    Joe was an intricate player in the Royerton Sewer Fiasco and so one must entrust him to a project 168 times more expensive.   My prediction is:  you will be paying a lot more.

No matter where you choose to live, you just can’t get away from the crew.  Although we looked for homes in Royerton, the expensive sewer bills deterred us.    Neighboring county, Hamilton, is looking like a good place to retire in 10 years.    Talk about progress.

*****

We live in a strange little area.  While we constantly talk about bridging the gap between town and gown, as soon as a gown addresses the town all bets are off the table.

Yesterday, a local economist Dr. Cecil Bohanon, (one of my favorites) wrote another column.   This one titled Why Politics is so Nasty is really a non-partisan look at our current political climate.  Many good points made and the one which resonated with me “it is so much more fun to be entertained than to have to think through a serious argument.”

Fortunately, one doesn’t need to travel far for entertainment.

“Of course one of the big problems he ignored was the amount of money ij politics today and Cecil is a fully owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers. ” wrote a local  poster in the newspaper chat section.  The person attached a link to PDF document as proof, I suppose.  30+ pages of grant information complete with graphics.    I’m sure many took the time to read it.   Not.

I had read the document earlier, so I just skimmed through the pages.  Yep, the dude was right.  Dr. Bohanon received a $2,000 grant from…drum roll, please…

Charles Koch Foundation

All the proof one needs right there in black & white.    Perhaps the informed poster was first alerted to the connection from reading the Muncie Squeak.

Have a nice weekend, y’all.

2013 in review-Muncie Politics

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.  I am humbled and very grateful for your support.  Thank you very much!  Hope 2014 is even better.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,800 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

57 countries have visited the blog. Mostly from the United States, Canada and the UK.

The most widely read and shared post of 2013 was 6.5 Million dollar question with 235 views.

The busiest day of the year was November 6th with238 views. The most popular post that day was The $6.5 million question – Muncie Community Schools referendum-update.

Your most commented on post in 2013 was Seeking full-time Donkey Whisperers in Delaware County. Steady employment.

Again, a very big thank you to all the readers and visitors.  I can’t stress enough how humbled and grateful I am to you all.  Never expected this when I first began Muncie Politics, which really started from a pure desire to publish some type of record for posterity’s sake.  It was fun, too.

We are fortunate enough to have the tools available, for a minimal cost or even free.    Even more blessed to live where we can voice our thoughts unfettered.

Happy 2014 to all!  Wishing you all peace, health and prosperity.

Saturday Morning Ramblings: Here it comes – 2014!

2014 copyIt doesn’t seem to take long for another year to pass us by.  We look forward to new beginnings, make New Year’s resolutions, and mull over the previous year.  What did we do wrong?  What did we do right? What can we do better in the new year?

Getting an early start on 2014 resolutions, the first one is systematically removing every negative influence.  So far,  it has been very successful and already feeling a burden lifted…kind of like pulling yourself out of a pit full of mire.    I won’t reveal my 2014 resolutions just yet, though.

One of the easiest thing to give up is watching main-stream media.  Easy because I haven’t so much as tuned in to watch the razzle-dazzle, professional news journalists for many years.   Here’s why.

Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt: “I honestly don’t understand why you would rather have people be victims of a crime than be able to defend themselves. It’s incomprehensible.”

CNN host Piers Morgan: “You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?…You have absolutely no coherent argument whatsoever….You don’t give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America?…I know why sales of these weapons have been soaring in the last few days. It’s down to idiots like you. Mr. Pratt…. You are a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense. And you shame your country.”

— From the imported British host’s anti-gun tirade on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, December 18, 2012

To be honest, I had never heard of Piers Morgan until he demanded an apology from Sarah Palin over the Arizona shooting.  Thinking, maybe she should apologize for some things, this just isn’t one of them.  He desperately tried to find a link between Palin and Arizona.  Maybe she was governor of a state that begins with the letter A?  Similar to an episode from Sesame Street where the program is brought to  you by any  one of the 26 letters.  Now, Big Bird definitely knows how to properly link a letter.  A is for Apple, B is for Butter so on and so on…

Funny how Piers Morgan never apologized over Chris Dorner’s diatribe.  In reality, no thinking person would hold Morgan responsible for Dorner’s killing spree.  Which is  why Morgan’s demand for Palin to apologize is so acceptable.  He just doesn’t fit into the “thinking person” category.    Some people adore Piers.  I like Piers, too.   The British accent and sharp wit propels him to the top of my list.

Enough about Morgan, let’s take a look at local events, shall we?

One of my favorite local columnists, Larry Riley, penned a recap of the last week of 2013.  The topic –  governmental meetings.  Riley is not favored amongst the powers that be in local government.  Nor their staunch supporters.  A Piers Morgan, he is not.  Probably the best explanation for their disdain of his columns.  But, I digress.

Riley’s column highlights some of the current happenings around Delaware County.   A local poster finds his use of the word “incent” confusing and asks what his point is.

Riley covering the $45 million tax increase, a county  that ain’t got a pot to pee in, can’t pay back their loans to us, possible bond refinancing for the city, a PAC looking at election fines , etc, etc, etc…has far less impact on the citizens than the use of the word incent.

I may be off base here, something tells me she is a regular viewer of the Piers Morgan Show.  Just a wild guess.

We had the Democrat party come out in support of the massive $45 million tax increase, even though the Democrat Headquarters has not paid a penny of property tax for decades.  Tax exempt, ya know.

We have four Democrats voting to not pay back the debt owed to the taxpayers.  Continuously borrowing from the fund until $738,000 slipped through their fingers.  The endless excuses of tax caps, credits, loss of revenue is what guided them in approving the $7 million bond, the lovely County plaza at $700,000, a rail spur and the pie in the sky $5 million visitor center as just a few examples.

Despite not being able to meet their debts and tapping into the rainy day fund, the 2014 budget increased without the  financial cushion of the Rainy Day fund.     It’s always someone else’s fault, and never poor fiscal management skills.  Personal responsibility anyone?  This has been going on since ’09, or nearly six years.

Raise your hand if you voted for bonds, hiring, borrowing, remodel of the plaza, costly legal issues with the judges.  I often wonder why the county is broke and they look for more tax revenue from you.  The city which ended with a $8 million balance looked for more tax revenue from you.  Cha ching!  Increase the tax levy, that’s the ticket.

Broke or not, they still seem to want more of your income.

Many of the citizens have far less revenue and making hard financial decisions.  It’s time we stop tapping into a false endless resource, you, when your funds are drying up.

There is no reason why Delaware County can’t be fiscally sound, made attractive to businesses, families.   Why we can’t have better schools.  We are full of resources just waiting to be tapped.  The power to change the direction of this county is in the hands of the people.  We’re not afraid of hard work, but we are leery of letting go of the past.

The past is not working to our benefit any longer.

Saturday morning ramblings ~ barely surviving Friday the 13th

Fireplace stockings-freeHappy Saturday, folks!  T’is the season to shop till you drop, spend to the end.  The snow is falling, and we are expecting a nice accumulation.  It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas.

Unfortunately, it seems just a tad bit harder to get into the spirit of the season this year.  I dunno, maybe because the season started in July?  Shopping at Hobby Lobby for 4th of July trinkets at a discounted price when lo and behold, an aisle full of Christmas tree ornaments and garland.  In July.  Heck, we hadn’t even gone to the State Fair yet.  What gives?

Then the unthinkable happened, almost dividing our nation.  Black Friday started on Thursday.

Americans are resilient, man.  With an unprecedented show of solidarity, and despite overstuffed tummies, we headed out to the 6:00 PM sales.  Oh the joy and laughter that filled the stores.  Look, an iPad for $299.00, Blu-Ray movies starting at just $5 and Subway open for a late night snack, too!  T’is the season, to be sure.

 Christmas in July, jump starting Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the saying “the early bird catches the worm” I love it when it all comes together.

Of course, I am far from political and prefer reading People Magazine over the Weekly Standard, still it seems that Christmas isn’t the only season being fast-tracked.  Maybe some of you don’t know this, but mid-term elections are just around the corner.

Steve Craycraft, current county clerk, is running for auditor in 2014.  Following in the footsteps of Hobby Lobby, Mr. Craycraft has had a pop-up advertisement in the newspaper for his  campaign since 1974.  Just kiddin’, of course.  I can’t imagine the dollars his campaign stumping has raised.

I’m kinda keeping my eye on the judicial races.  This happens every six years and those elected in ’08 are up for re-election.  Three spots open.

Judge Feick squeaked over Diane Frye in ’08, and that was a close one, especially considering the Democrat sweep.  The tough race for Linda Wolf and Tom Cannon was fought in the primaries, both being contested by some top guns.  I am expecting a full slate in 2014 primaries on the Democrat side.

Now, this is just a prediction folks, so don’t take it to the bank.  I think one of the Quirk girls is gonna run for judge.    You see, a meth dealer wrote a letter to the editor complaining he received more time than a child molester.   In his letter he cited both Wolf and Feick.  Gee, Feick was the bad guy.   I think it was “setting the tone” not that Judge Wolf is all that loved by the local party headquarters, mind you.

Next up, Megan Quirk filing election violation charges against a Republican poll worker.  One charge stemming back to 2012, and he is a bad driver, too.   Her complaint backed up by two county employees.    A letter in the paper today praising Mike Quirk and his company, SOS, for working with her on the sewer bills. The very last Delaware County frontier for the Quirk family is to sit on a judicial bench.  They occupy nearly every city and county spot already.

The election season has begun, ever so subtle.  Keep your eyes on the letters to the editor, newspaper articles and see who starts getting targeted.  I follow the careers of the officials from the moment they get sworn in.  That way, I don’t have to walk in to the polls and guess at which one should get my vote.

Although, who hands out the best candy or fingernail file, does have some bearing on my vote.  As it should.  Is it Godiva or Dollar Tree chocolate?

Is the name familiar?  Does the name begin with one of the early letters in the alphabet?  Did they come to my house and shake my hand?  All important factors in determining a vote.

Keep your eyes open and see who walks around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

When is no plan a plan? ~ Muncie Community Schools waiver hearing and other tidbits

If and when the referendum is passed we will begin strategizing -Tim Heller

December 9th 2013 the Muncie Community Schools (MCS) held their waiver hearing before the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).  No ruling was made, and none was expected.   In attendance,  the Muncie Community school board,  the superintendent, the financial officer, and  approximately 60 citizens.  I would have liked more people in the auditorium, but it is what it is.

Things went fairly smooth, and the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE)  asked some compelling questions.  I watched as they sifted through the paperwork which was presented.  They were extremely attentive to all parties which spoke that evening.  Asking for clarification when needed.  City Council person Mary Jo Barton cited State and Federal law regarding elementary children on the public transportation buses.  None of the IDOE members was aware of the law and asked Mrs. Barton to supply the law.  Hopefully, she will do so.

I am going to skip through the opening remarks from MCS and the testimony of the 20+ people and get to the closing remarks. Continue reading →

Muncie Community Schools – Public Hearing

Notice of Public Hearing: Indiana Department of Education, Muncie School Corporation

Monday, December 9, 2013 – 5:00pm

A public hearing will be held by the Indiana Department of Education on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 5:00 p.m., or as soon thereafter as may be heard at the Northside Middle School Auditorium 2400 W Bethel Ave, Muncie, IN 47304 concerning the Petition for Waiver under Indiana Code 20-27-13-7 made by Muncie Community Schools to the Indiana Department of Education. Pursuant to IC 20-27-13-3, upon approval by a governing body, a school corporation must provide notice to the public of its intent to terminate transportation services for students and said notice must be provided at least three (3) years prior to the date transportation services are to be terminated. However, IC 20-27-13-7 allows a school corporation to seek a waiver of the three (3) year notice requirement by petitioning the Indiana Department of Education. Muncie School Corporation has made this request by way of a petition. A copy of the Petition is attached herein.

All persons in favor of, opposed to, or in any manner interested in Muncie Community Schools’ request for waiver of the three (3) year notice requirement are invited to attend this public hearing or forward written comments to Michael LaRocco, Director of Transportation, Indiana Department of Education Indiana Department of Education 115 W. Washington Street South Tower, Suite 600 Indianapolis, Indiana 46204. All comments by individuals of the public will be limited in time to accommodate all those wishing to make public comments.

Pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act, any individual interested in attending the hearing should contact Muncie Community Schools and advise what, if any, accommodation is needed to attend the hearing. For more information, contact Mark A. Burkhart, Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer Muncie Community Schools 2501 N. Oakwood Avenue Muncie, IN 47304. mburkhart@muncie.k12.in.us.

Petition for waiver in the matter of Muncie Sommunity Schools. (pdf)

Department of Education 

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