We are just weeks away from the primary and it looks to be ramping up. Early voting has begun and some of us have done the deed. Others are still undecided.
Today, we’re going to talk about the Democrat mayoral candidates. They have five on the ticket. A current city employee, former law enforcement officer, businessman, perennial candidate and one citizen (not sure of his occupation).
The BSU Democrat student organization sponsored their debate. Hats off to the students for their hard work. Below is the audio of the debate.
If you want to get a well-rounded view of the election, we would recommend you listen to all the candidates. This is often a political blog, and in case you didn’t know, there is an election on the horizon. We follow all of the candidates. We visit social media to get our fingers on the pulse of citizens’ thoughts on the candidates. We carry on conversations with the people and sometimes we even interact with the candidates. If they have a history, we review it, too.
After introductions, the candidates went into corruption. Oh, boy, do we have it. How many of those candidates voted for Dennis Tyler? How many knew the history of Tyler and his cohort Nichols and still chose to place the corruption in the main seat of Muncie governance? Until they need your vote, they stand silently by. The opportunity was there in 2015 to get the city under control. That primary saw only two city council districts up for grabs. District 2 (R) Conatser vs. Ridenour and District 6 (D) Anderson vs. Ivy. Both parties fell short that year. The corruption was just beginning to come to light. It was going to be messy. Thoughts on the lack of candidates…for another time.
Just a brief history. In 2003, Dennis Tyler ran for mayor. One of the biggest concerns was how much involvement would Phil Nichols have in Tyler’s administration? Tyler said none. However, after Tyler lost it was believed he and Nichols joined forces and set their sights on dismantling Center Township Fire Department and behind manipulating the 911 call center. Some of the old-timers would remember. Not unlike what we are seeing from the Tyler administration today. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.
Tyler and Nichols have been joined at the hip since birth. In 2012 Tyler immediately appointed Craig Nichols as the Building Commissioner. Well, we know the rest of the story. Phil Nichols was privy to the private meetings with Mayor Tyler and others as they schemed to hide the crimes committed.
Oops, I digress…
One area of this debate centered on blight. The interesting part of this is the previous mayor, Sharon McShurley, also campaigned on the blight. She addressed the blight head on, looking for monies and the newspaper did “Blight Watch” keeping the people informed of the status and the challenges of the blighted community. That all ended when Tyler took office. Why?
We wrote about the Hardest Hit Fund program. When Muncie received notice we were selected, the city sat on the funds. Mayor Tyler claimed the requirements were so stringent the city had a hard time implementing it. Most of us believe Tyler was trying to find a way to funnel the monies to Nichols’ companies, et al. Other communities were well into the program demolishing properties, and Muncie was not. Everyone was on a level playing field yet Tyler’s administration just couldn’t get the program going. Hmmmm.
That being said, here is our synopsis of the candidates:
Dale: Maybe the best of the bunch if being well spoken was a prerequisite for mayor. He was involved in city government during the McShurly administration. Not sure if he continued the same involvement under the Tyler administration. He was part of the UNISON group which wanted to engage Commissioner President Todd Donati and the Commissioners as part of the Tuhey Pool plan in 2010. Fortunately, that went nowhere. Would he continue the MRC with Donati as president?
D. Smith: Focused on corruption. Yes, this administration is filled with corruption and there are two Tyler appointed department heads on the ballot. The first step in ridding the city of corruption would be to never place any person affiliated with Tyler in a position of power. Mayor or council both would still be governed from 214 N. Walnut.
Bailey: Appointed to the Community Development office by Tyler. In charge of the Hardest Hit Funds. Consider looking at Larry Riley’s FB post and at the State Board of Accounts audits. Bailey said she did the duties of the deputy mayor with no added pay. Bailey is the only mayoral candidate that has a history with the current administration and would be privy to the inner workings of this administration.
Riley: Saul is someone you would like as a neighbor, but not for mayor.
Davenport: Was vacationing in Urbana, Il and couldn’t make the debate. (just kiddin’)
In closing: Not much dialog on the current public safety issues or how they would address the issue once in office. No mention of the debt. Or how they would improve upon the paving. Candidates are fluffy nowadays. They have lots of words but no concrete solutions.
Terry Whitt Bailey, Democrat candidate for Muncie mayor, has tried to separate herself from scandals at City Hall, where for years she’s led Community Development department, appointed by Mayor Dennis Tyler. “I was not involved in any of that,” Bailey wrote in today’s Star Press. How uninvolved?
In autumn of 2015, I was one of few people following Muncie’s building demolition program – this was months before the FBI got interested – and saw an odd new company enter the picture.
Capitol Consulting and Property Management began getting municipal, Muncie Sanitary District contracts for demolishing houses. I wanted a copy of city documents with the firm, whose sole contract person was an obscure south-side woman who had run an income tax prep firm. Company headquarters was her home in a residential neighborhood.
My request to the Board of Works for the Capitol Consulting contract was turned down: the board didn’t have a copy. That seemed odd, too, since the board, presided over by a city attorney named Quirk, is the official agency that handles city business. I was, however, told to ask Terry Whitt Bailey. Only she had a copy of the contract. Nobody else.
The city’s CD office had for years handled routine demolitions of abandoned and blighted housing, usually with a $100,000 annual budget covering 20-25 demolitions – at the usual price of $4-5,000 tops for tearing a structure down.
So I asked Bailey for a copy of the Capitol contract, a public record. She gave me a copy. I read it, checked with the Secretary of State’s office. Sole name I could find was the same south-side woman. The company incorporated only a few months earlier. I dug through records of Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management to find Capitol had *no* employees certified for asbestos testing or abatement. Yet asbestos work and demolition is what Capitol would do for the city and MSD. Law requires asbestos inspection prior to any building demolition. More oddities.
At the time, a confluence of events shaped up that I was trying to connect dots on. First, a new federal Blight Elimination Program had dumped $4 million on Muncie, but the city was sitting on the grant, taking forever to get its program underway. Admittedly federal and state requirements were complex, but was anything else at work?
Meanwhile, Bailey fired the one CD employee experienced in property demolitions. The employee was in charge of the city’s demolition program and worked with the city building commissioner and Unsafe Building Hearing Authority. She kept the records and prepared bids for demolitions. No one else knew as much about the process. I had known the employee for a long time: she worked hard and honestly.
About the same time, I uncovered phantom demolitions done by the building commissioner’s private firm under pretense of emergency work – billing the city more than $80,000 for razing just four houses, none of which actually had been taken down by the firm. I wrote that up in early 2016.
A few months later, for reasons unknown The Star Press decided to part ways with me.
Now, as is well known, the city’s former building commissioner Craig Nichols has started a federal prison term for those phantom demolitions that the FBI investigated. That strange new company Capitol Consulting? Turns out to have been a firm Nichols secretly owned, too. Capitol would bill the city, say, $800 for an asbestos inspection, then farm out the actual inspection to a certified firm from Fort Wayne who’d do the job for $500. Then another firm would be contracted to do the demolition for less than what Capitol was charging.
In retrospect, one can’t help but think somebody was putting all the pieces in place for the right people to siphon off lots of the federal millions coming up for demolition: get rid of an honest employee who wouldn’t have put up with the corruption and concoct a sham company to get the contracts. Amidst it all was the woman now chosen to be Democratic Party Headquarters candidate for mayor, to succeed Dennis Tyler, who decided not to run for re-election.
Bailey was at the nexus, a key to both the fired, honest employee and the bogus contractor.
At best, was Bailey manipulated and used by forces more powerful than she to do their bidding? At best, could she have been naïve beyond unbelief? At worst … well, you decide whether she “was not involved.” I always got along well with Bailey. She was always willing to see me. When the employee in question was let go, Bailey was the person I went to for comment. Bailey had none, but she confirmed the employee’s discharge. When I asked for the Capitol contract, she did not evade the request.
Yet she straddled the corruption of the Tyler administration. She was at the epicenter of wrongdoing and would appear to have been on the precipice of helping create an even bigger money grab at City Hall before the feds stepped in. Now she runs for mayor. The candidate of Democratic Headquarters.
Do you all remember Hank the Dog? If not, here’s a synopsis. Once upon a time, there was a dog named Hank. Hank was notorious for being picked-up by city animal control. You might go as far as to say he was targeted. The owner was summoned to city court, and although the details are a little murky, one thing we do know, the City of Muncie violated their own animal control ordinances. You see, there was nothing about the number of times an animal could be picked up and nothing about an owner having to appear in court. Later they did change the ordinance after they violated it.
Funny, how the city’s attorney could find an ordinance that was decades old. Suddenly, the elected officials are concerned because they aren’t following this ordinance. City Code 32.33.
Sec. 32.33. Time and place for regular meetings.
The first regular meeting of the council shall beheld on the first Monday in January after thegeneral election of the members-elect of the council, at 7:30 p.m. as provided by IC 18-1-3-2. Allregular meetings shall be held on the first Monday evening of each month at 7:30 p.m. and maybe adjourned at the pleasure of the council. Adjourned meetings shall have all the force andeffect of regular meetings. Meetings shall be heldin the council chamber, unless otherwise determined by the president and designated on theagenda.(Code 1968, § 31.14; Ord. No. 620-80, 10-10-80)
The city council has been in violation of this for years. So, what’s to stop them from violating a 2013 Indiana State law? Or any law, for that matter? As you can see, absolutely nothing. Ah ha. Let’s have a meeting on January 1, 2018. Surely no one would show. And, and, and we’ll be following an ordinance we have never observed.
As the City-run EMS began to heat up, the elected officials, who are supposed to represent the people were hoping to find a something that would weaken the DCEMS supporters on council turnouts. Wrong on Muncie City Proper’s part.
Demolishing empty lots? No problem. We’ll change the addresses. Who said anything about bid rigging? Did you hear anything about bid rigging?
This has to be the most poorly run administration to date. Or at least it comes close. With all of the history and many of the old-timers would remember days gone by, there was quite a bit of action. Have talked with a few and the stories they would tell. Sadly, many have passed from this earth. Oral history is most effective.
So just for fun, and possibly to jog a few memories, here is a clipping from the local newspaper dated February 21, 1993. You would think the cost of corruption would be enough to throw these characters out on their ear. Nope. They are like a bad penny…just keep showing up again and again. Most have been replaced with the younger generation. Make no mistake they learn from their elders.
Well, it looks like Doug Marshall is finding himself in quite a pickle. The Indiana State Board of Accounts has levied the charge of “double-dipping”. Apparently, there is a law on the books which states you can’t hold a position of an elected official and a paid government position at the same time. Doug is contending the Muncie Sanitation District is not a city position. He has said he will resign from MSD. Either way, it’s a pickle. If he stays with MSD the salary and benefits would remain intact. However, if Republicans take control of the Mayor’s office he may lose that position. (Disclaimer: just surmising, not positive if it would be legal to dismiss him.)
He currently has a challenger for District 1 and that would be Ralph “Jigger” Smith.
If Smith beats Marshall in November, then Marshall would be out. Doug has said he will resign from the MSD and continue as Muncie City Council representative. It’s a gamble either way. Certainly wouldn’t want to be in that pickle jar. Feeling some sympathy for Doug.
Moving on. Here’s a sweet pickle. Sarah Beach is running At-Large. The funny thing is she is employed as the City of Muncie Human Resource Director and moonlighting as the spokesperson for Dennis Tyler, uh, City of Muncie.
Clearly, she won’t be able to hold both positions. The 214 Democrat Party didn’t know about the law? Yea, they did. You see, if there is a Republican mayor, she is out. Possibly, out if a Dem makes it in. The Democrat party headed up by the silent majority of Dennis Tyler and Phil Nichols need their people. They need someone who will do their bidding and take the fall, too. She votes the wrong way, Beach will be summoned to the interrogation room at Dem Headquarters.
A document filed by federal prosecutors in the Craig Nichols case reported that members of Tyler’s administration had been summoned to Democratic Headquarters in early 2016 to discuss – in groups that included the mayor and Phil Nichols – a response to allegations against the building commissioner. That document did not specify Stewart had attended those meetings.
Beach may be a plant, too. She’s at the beginning of the alphabet. Sure to gain at least 7% of the vote (statistically speaking). Some voters just vote for the first person on the ballot. No matter what, she’ll be governed by the hidden and quiet previous Democrat officials. Just because of Mayor Tyler saying he won’t run again doesn’t mean he is going away.
This is about as much political commentary we can provide today. Hope you enjoyed the humor.
And remember, a pickle a day keeps the State Board of Accounts away…
Muncie 2019 Primary ballot. Here is the first chance you have to rid this city of the 214 Democrat strongholds. Remember, when you vote for a candidate you are also voting for their appointments. Please know the candidates and spend some time researching their votes if they are an incumbent.
During an election campaign season, you will be told what you want to hear. Please keep this in mind.
It’s also good to find where they stand on the issues facing this city. Debt, corruption, infrastructure and how they will select and vote appointments, etc.
We don’t seem to ask the candidates difficult questions. They should be held to the fire. Questions should be pointed and on target. Don’t accept pat answers. There is so much at stake in this election.
As we were sifting thru the Muncie Politics files we found an editorial written after McShurley lost the election. The editorial ended with McShurley saying she is leaving the city in better shape than when she took office. The writers of the editorial concurred. This piqued our interest and decided to see if it was an accurate statement.
Mayor McShurley announced in 2011 during the Chats with the Mayor there was enough money to provide raises/or bonuses to every employee. At the end of her term, she said there would be enough money to fund the MFD if the SAFER grant was not renewed. These comments infuriated Dennis Tyler’s supporters and they lost no time calling her a liar and various other vulgar adjectives.
Was it a lie? She did leave the city with $8 million and it was confirmed by the audit Mayor Tyler’s administration commissioned. Government reports showed a minimal amount of debt. Of course, we knew the debt was Tuhey Pool.
The debt spiked in 2013 and it appears the city borrowed money and the next year paid off some debt. This is the only logical explanation minus a clerical error, which is doubtful. So, listed is the principal debt only (no interest) owed by the City of Muncie and MSD. If you want more complete detail, simply click on the link directly below each year.
Oh yea, 2013 is the year Mayor Tyler appointed Todd Donati as the MRC director.
Pulled up the Annual Financial Reports for 2011 & 2018 and searched for accounts which had a negative beginning or ending balance. The search showed 2011 with 10 negative balances and 2018 having 25 negatives. You will find the full Annual Reports for 2011 and 2018 at the end of this post.
All the data is from the Indiana Transparency Portal and based on the financial reports submitted to the State of Indiana from the City of Muncie and Muncie Sanitary. The city, knowing the revenue was declining, the debt growing and the insatiable need to use taxpayer-funded-monies for personal and party gain had no recourse but to increase taxes 43% in 2015.
If you’re reading this and a candidate for a city position, you may consider taking some time to review the documents. After all, should you win, this will be your baby to diaper.
As of 3-16-19
Debt Statement – 2011-2018
Ball State College Republicans – GOP mayoral debate
Thursday, March 14 @ 7:00 PM
Cornerstone Center for the Arts.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade starting at 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 @6:00 p.m.
Lineup will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Fieldhouse. The parade will proceed south on Walnut Street to Charles Street and return via Mulberry Street. (source: Muncie Star Press)
Muncie Resists, Democratic mayoral candidate forum
Sunday March 31 @4:30 p.m.
Forest Park Senior Center
“Seniors understand the importance of voting and are still active and want to have a say in things,” said Judy Elton, director of the senior center in the old Forest Park Elementary School. “They’re independent people living in their own homes or apartments, they pay taxes and they aren’t afraid to ask tough questions.”
“We are offering the candidates mini-town halls — mini in terms of only a half hour long between bingo and lunch,” Elton said. The center is also serving as host for many other campaign events, including a chicken-noodle dinner expected to draw multiple candidates 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, March 15. (source: Muncie Star Press)
Meet & Greet and other events
- Tom Bracken, Republican, a Ball State University board of trustees member — March 17 at 11 a.m., Antioch Baptist Church, 1700 E. Butler St.; March 20, 6-8 p.m., “Meet & Greet with Tom,” open invitation, Elm Street Brewery, light snacks provided.
- Nate Jones, Republican, county veterans affairs service officer — April 6, golf outing, Crestview Golf Course. Prior campaign events included the fundraiser “Under the Stars,” a prom for adults, including complimentary prom pictures.
- Dan Ridenour, Republican city council member, MutualBank regional lending manager — Taco ’bout Dan event, March 20, 5-7 p.m., Knights of Columbus. All you can eat tacos, $10 adults, $5 kids. Previous Ridenour campaign events have included Donuts with Dan and another Taco ’bout Dan.
- Terry Whitt Bailey, Democrat, director of the city’s Community Development Office — March 23, “Bowling Shoot Out,” Liberty Bowl, 3 p.m. Prior events included a voter registration rally at Kennedy Library.
- Andrew Dale,Democrat, self-employed business and design consultant — Saturday, “Pop-Up Breakfast” at Mac’s on Batavia Avenue at 8 a.m. Dale has held pop-ups nearly every Saturday since December at different locations. Other prior events have included two bowling tournaments; John “Doc” Peterson and Phil Dunn concert to benefit Dale for Mayor.
- Saul Riley, Democrat, retired on-call coordinator for home health-care service and former crisis intervention center staffer, past president Delaware County Workers for the Blind — Campaign meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m., Muncie-Delaware Senior Center; fundraiser at the center 4-8:30 p.m. April 3.
- David Smith, Democrat, former state police officer — “Dialogue with Dave at the Senior Center,” March 21 at 6 p.m. Prior events have included “Meet ‘n Greet” at the Buley Center.
Source: Muncie Star Press
Printable itinerary of Candidate sightings (PDF)