Muncie Community Schools

Missing Larry Riley

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As we get closer to the November elections we are beginning to see the 214 Democrats hard at work.  

Earlier Muncie Politics wrote about the unintentional candidate for a position as a Democrat precinct committee member.  Although, no elected officials, not the County Clerk Mike King or the County Prosecutor Jeff Arnold and neither of the political party chairs felt the need to pursue how the unintentional candidate was able to beat the intentional candidate.  Score 1 for the local Democrat Headquarters.  How to unintentionally win a race

Next on the list is the swinging door for the commissioner’s race.  Phill Peckingpaugh withdrew early on – citing health issues.  The seat for commissioner remained unfilled for several months until Brock Reagan stepped up to run.   A few weeks later Reagan dropped from the race.  He cited lack of time and money. providing an opening for the third time in the commissioner’s race.

As luck would have it, the Democrats immediately found a replacement in Jason Donati,  MSD Stormwater educator, and MCS advisory board member.  Jason was nominated by Mayor Tyler for the new school board but wasn’t chosen.

Asked if he had another candidate to fill the commissioner vacancy on the fall ballot, Craycraft said, “They’re talking to some people.”  Candidate resigns another files

Wonder if “they” talked with Dave Ring?  He ran as a Democrat, albeit, an outsider.  Now Ring is running as an independent for commissioner.    

Here is the timeline of the commissioner’s race:

  1. Phil Peckinpaugh files and drops out.
  2. The position sits vacant for several months.
  3. Brock Reagan drops from the recorder’s race and runs as commissioner.
  4. Jason Donati is not appointed to the MCS school board.
  5. Reagan quickly resigns from the race.
  6. Dave Ring files as an independent.
  7. Democrats immediately pick Donati.

Let’s go back to 2012.  Todd Donati lost his bid for a second term as commissioner.  A few weeks later, Muncie Redevelopment director retires unexpectedly after 20 years.  As luck would have it Mayor Tyler appoints the former commissioner and longtime friend, Todd Donati to the position recently vacated…as luck would have it.

So why the blog title Missing Larry Riley?  We lack solid political commentary in this county.  No one gets to the meat of an issue.  Perhaps there is no need.  We all know what’s what in Delaware County politics.  Here is an example:

Yet we’re facing stranger times. Once Dennis Tyler took over the Muncie mayor’s office in 2012, and then saw no Republican opposition in his re-election, the floodgates opened up for people running Democratic Party Headquarters. Nothing stopped Democratic HQ from using reins of Muncie government for its own purposes, including to line pockets.
That’s what the FBI has been investigating since late in 2015, and resulted so far in one arrest, that of the Mayor’s building commissioner, the son of the man in the seat of power in Democratic Headquarters. That FBI investigation remains ongoing in Muncie, recently heating up.
I’ve always liked Dudley, and he’s always been cordial and willing to talk with me. But joining your star to that particular Headquarters, a corrupt party and city administration, is treacherous. Larry Riley May 1, 2018

The only way Delaware County is ever going to advance beyond the corruption, poverty, absence of fruitful economic development, and 214 political appointments is to vote NO! to anyone who is affiliated with the 214 mainstream Democrats.

  #No!to214Dems

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MCS Board Public Forum

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Tuesday, June 12th

6:00 – 8:00 PM

Muncie Central auditorium

Live stream Public Forum

Please click on the Timeline tab to access the live stream.

Tyler & Marshall: Let the politics begin (HB1315)

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Muncie newspaper published an article today with reactions from Muncie City Council President Marshall.  As well, Mayor Tyler voiced his concerns.  We would like to highlight some of best quotes and respond.

City Council School Board Nominations

Marshall: “We haven’t really made any decisions yet.”

MP: House Bill 1315 passed on May 14, 2018.  Council has done nothing in 15 calendar days. Although the same council was able to pass a 43% income tax in 14 days.  The same council was able to fast track DCEMS.  In other words, when the council wants to be expedient they will do so.

Marshall: “We want to make sure we do the best we can for this school board,” he said. “With our appointment, at least we will have a voice (on the board), a bigger voice.”

MP: Yet, they have sat on their collective rears and did nothing.  Sounds like doing their best, right?

Marshall: “Nobody reached out to council from Ball State that I know of, not to me as president,” he said. “Nobody’s reached out to me and said this is on the fast track.”

MP: Timeline was published and as an elected body one should take steps to prepare    If the council is ignorant on HB1315 that is of their own doing.  It’s not like HB1315 has been hidden from the public eye.  All of this has to be in place by July 1, 2018.  Ignorance of this bill is not the fault of the bill.  City Council is masters of fast-tracking when it benefits them.  Lame excuse.

Marshall: “I’m just one person,” Marshall said.. “I have to bring this before council, and it has to be done publicly. We have been accused of not doing things correctly. As president, I’m following an open forum. Everybody has input.”

MP: Eight other members and the MCS appointments never discussed?  Never?  Again, this council was able to pass a 43% income tax in 14 days.  They pulled together on the city-run EMS proposal.  Collectively they worked to keep information from the public.

Star Press: Marshall is still bitter about how the state government trifecata (the Republican Party holds the governorship and supermajorities in the House and Senate) “rammed” House Bill 1315 into law.

MP:  Like this administration and city council has done since 2012?  Muncie City Council has been under Democrat majority for decades. There is a plethora of “rammed” ordinances, spending and taxes in their history.

“The way the Statehouse came in here and did what they did, it seems like they want to do away with public education,” Marshall said.

MP: Marshall making another ridicules political statement hoping to redeem the council from their obvious inactivity and direct the conversation away from the real issue. City Administration and Council have done nothing to prepare for this major legislation.

Tyler: When Tyler said he received information from the state, he meant Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, and his legal staff.

“There are still some areas not clear to us,” Tyler said. “It says we have the ability to nominate three, but it doesn’t say we couldn’t nominate just one or just two if we choose.”

MP: Mayor Dennis Tyler held the previous position of Indiana State Representative since 2006.  He was appointed to the House after Rep. Tiny Adams died.  He was elected in 2008 & 2010 until resigning to run for mayor in 2011. More than anyone he should have been on top of this bill.  Playing political games again with something as nonsensical as the number of nominations?  What legal staff is he referencing?  Is it the Indianapolis legal staff or is the Quirk -Hunter legal staff?

When Mayor Tyler won in 2011 he was asked if he would appoint any Republicans.  He laughed and said, “We have enough qualified Democrats.” (sic) . Has this changed?

 

 

 

 

MRC = Muncie Realestate Commission

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todd donatiDirector of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission speaks to the issue of Mitchell School.

Todd Donati shared his first post.

There is a lot of misinformation and confusion going around that needs to be addressed. We are going to invite all the entities involved with the misinformation and either clear this all up and determine if the MRC will continue with the projects in play. The MRC had always shown interest in some of the properties that the MCS had to offer, including Mitchell, Storer, Sutton and land on Cornbread Rd.

The MRC had been contacted by a demolition company out of Richmond, IN that wanted to demo the schools for salvage. The MRC could not really do anything with the properties with buildings in place. The demolition company said they really did not want the land. So the demolition company offered the land to the MRC, for free, once they removed the buildings. The MRC board agreed to this only after we contacted BSU and asked them if they were interested in any of the properties. They had the right to buy them all.

The MRC was told that they did not have any interest in any of the properties but Northside MS. You have seen the recorded document waiving their right to buy. So the MRC board agreed to donate $658,600 to the MCS if they were to accept the $125,000 offer from the demo company. This would garner the MCS much needed revenue, this would allow the MCS to achieve their objective, illuminate the liability of taking care of these abandoned buildings and help generate at least $20- $50 million in taxable revenue on these combined properties.

The MRC board did not close these schools. The MRC board, nor the City of Muncie administration did not create the financial crisis within the MCS. The MRC board was only trying to create opportunities for the community we support. It seems that there are comments out there that we, the MRC and the City of Muncie asked BSU to give these schools up when in fact, BSU really wanted them. We have no interest in doing that. The MRC board would like to ask BSU if in fact they do want these schools.

The MRC board does not want to get involved with any form of miscommunication, especially with our community partners. And, we feel that BSU is a very valuable and important community partner. If BSU wants these schools, our board is prepared to take action. However, it needs to be BSU that openly states that this is what they want…not hearsay comments from unauthorized citizens. 


There were no lies made or personal gains made from anyone in this group. I appreciate the hard work and dedicated members of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission. They volunteer their time to make our community better.

Disclaimer: The only changes made to this public post is breaking the comment into paragraphs for easier reading.  Nothing else has been altered.

Muncie Community Schools – Why MCS needs to change

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ABC 123 Apple copy copy

Why does MCS need to change?  Why is it imperative Muncie Community Schools must look outside the box?   It seems obvious, the old standard way of running the district is broken, it is ineffective, outdated and MCS is labeled as a “distressed district”.

Enter into House Bill 1315 and the latest amendment current as of 1-19-18  Here you can read the bill and read the amendments.

Here’s what we can glean so far.  Ball State University would like to manage the school district.  An appointed board of seven members, two which will be appointed by the Mayor of Muncie and Muncie City Council.    The board will hire a superintendent.  MCS may receive additional funds from the State of Indiana, but no funds from Ball State University will be used.   MCS employees will still be MCS employees.  Of course, this is only a short summary and more will be available.

Listen to the interview with President Mearns on Indiana Public Radio.

We don’t want to spend much time on how Muncie Community Schools became Distressed School District with a state take-over, but we do need to have a look at the history.

The chatter on social media sites is awash with opinions and comments.

One of the issues seems to be the loss of voting for school board members. However, we had five elected board members prior to the state take-over.  Today the board has absolutely no power.  At the most, they’re consulted by the emergency managers, they can’t vote on anything.  The superintendent is powerless, too.  He’s a lame duck.  State votes to take over Muncie Community Schools 

Less than two months past  Muncie Teachers Association and others supported relinquishing that right.  Knowing the State would make elected officials ineffective and all power removed and handed over to a hired company – the goal was achieved.  What’s the difference?

Muncie Community Schools has never had a solid long-term plan.

Circa 2005 the district embarked upon an aggressive improvement plan.  Bonding out approximately $50 million in debt.  Despite all the economic factors, such as the loss of jobs, decrease in enrollment and population, businesses shutting down the board decided to move ahead with the bond.

In 2010 the Blue Ribbon Task Force presented the administrators for consideration a plan for the district.    It collected dust until 2013 when the school board voted to consolidate the two high schools.  This after the referendum was defeated.

Prior to the referendum, MCS held four Town Hall meetings presenting several proposals for the district, yet at the State hearing for busing, we found the district had no plan.   No one from the City of Muncie, not the mayor, not the chief of police presented a safety plan although we were told there was one.  NO PLAN – let this sink in.

Doing the same thing and expecting results.

The administrators and boards have used the same plans for decades.  It consisted of shutting down schools or borrowing.  That’s it.   They ignored State Board of Accounts audits.  Ignored repeated deficit line items.  The newest school sold for pennies while keeping open deteriorating elementary schools. A short-term fix was all we were offered.  The $10 million bond for school repairs dumped into the general fund and used for administrative purposes.  No one can say for certain how that money was spent.

Debt reports:

Original bond information:  MCS 2014 Debt bond 1-27-18

Debt summary 2013 to 2017 MCS Debt Reports 2013-16 1-28-18

Having no plans, or limited plans have proven to not do a darn thing for moving Muncie Community Schools forward.  If the label “distressed” isn’t a wake-up call for change, nothing will open your eyes.

A fresh new plan:

Partnering with Ball State University, community organizations, and individuals, the school board, the elected officials in a collaborative and healthy environment will do more for our children and school district.  We must set aside our political ideologies, desire for control and stop thinking about our own wants over the needs of the most important people…the students of Muncie Community Schools.  A good school district will do more for Muncie then all the economic development we spend millions to produce with very little return on our investment.   Larry Riley penned a column several years ago similar BSU’s proposal. Incremental steps won’t help Muncie Community Schools

Accomplishing a working environment conducive to education and economic development may be the hardest thing the area has ever had to do.   Simply because it’s not in our nature to put aside our turf wars and think outside the box.

Nothing else has worked.

 

 

 

From Gearbox to Madjax – history tells a story

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Muncie City Seal copy
City of Muncie Government Seal

Sometimes the best way to see the future is to dig up the past.

Larry Riley predicted the outcome of Gearbox now Madjax.  His column appeared in the local paper on January 30, 2016.  One community member claimed Riley was biased in this column, although Riley did provide compelling arguments.

the organization has no revenue stream, no signed tenants, no record of accomplishment Source: Gearbox vs Greenspace Muncie Star Press 1-30-16

Sustainable Muncie hasn’t been around as an organization long enough yet to file its first required annual financial report, having been organized only in December of 2014. Source: Gearbox vs Greenspace Muncie Star Press 1-30-16

Another minus to Gearbox is the cost: $1 million, now guaranteed by the city (if Sustainable Muncie can’t make existing or future loan payments this year, then the city’s money kicks in, but the organization is to pay back the city by the end of this year … how?) Source: Gearbox vs Greenspace Muncie Star Press 1-30-16

So involved was Mayor Dennis Tyler no other ideas could be considered.  In fact, he was silent about another proposal,  Tom Bracken’s greenspace.  Which makes one wonder why he dismissed other ideas and put Gearbox to the feasibility test.  Or Bracken’s proposal for that matter.   Mayor Tyler brought only one idea to the public.

And that’s the end of that.

Let’s look at what has transpired since Riley’s column.  At the time, City council passed an ordinance backing $1 million to be paid back by the end of 2016.

Tyler told The Star Press he wanted to loan $1 million in EDIT revenue to the group rather than just give it to Sustainable Muncie to create an obligation to be repaid. The loan is supposed to be repaid by the end of 2016.

http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/local/2016/01/04/city-council-split-1m-gearbox-loan/78135796/

We know for a fact the money was not paid back.

“The city has not issued any money as it related to this line of credit,” officials replied through city human resources director Sarah Beach last week. Donati, who is also a Sustainable Muncie board member, told TheStar Press that the board was “trying to decide what direction we want to go with” the funding for Madjax, including the original $1 million line of credit. “Eventually, something will have to be done with it. … It’s totally Sustainable Muncie’s responsibility to pay that back and they’re looking at how to get that done.”   Source: Star Press June 6, 2017

After resignations, Madjax plans the way forward

Two months after this article appeared in the paper, the citizens of Muncie were looking at a $4.5 million dollar bond.    The bond was passed with the promise of no property taxes and a training program.  But, in June, Donati and Tyler were already considering bonding for this project, we just didn’t know about it.

Interesting to note:  The City Council had little financial information in 2016 and just a smidgeon more in 2017 yet, they still voted a big fat YES in both instances.

Let’s recap:

  • January 2016 Muncie City Council voted to loan Gearbox $1 million with no financial information
  • December 2016 Loan not paid
  • June 2017 Donati said it was Sustainable Muncie’s responsibility to pay back the money
  • August 2017 Notice for public hearing on $4.5 million bond published
  • August 2017 Muncie City Council learned of Sustainable Muncie’s debt
  • August 2017 Donati said $200,000 has been set aside by Muncie Redevelopment Commission & others  for $348,000 annual bond debt repayment (Muncie Redevelopment Commission & others)
  • August 2017 Muncie City Council voted to introduce the ordinance
  • September 2017 Public Hearing for Madjax – Sustainable Muncie
  • September 2017 Muncie City Council voted to approve the bond

Madjax was not able to pay the interest-free loan in 2016 or make any payments in 2017.  Muncie Redevelopment has set aside $200,000 to guarantee the 2018 bond payment.

This is the transparent government of Mayor Dennis Tyler.  But I digress…

 

Updated: Muncie Debt & TIF

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Muncie, INYou may be interested in looking at the City of Muncie’s total debt as of 9-29-17.  For your reading pleasure see links below on the TIF obligations.  As you can see, TIF revenues (property tax dollars) hold a large share of the debt repayment.

Recently Muncie City Council added $4.5 million in debt and Mayor Dennis Tyler is wanting to bond another $3.5 million for Muncie Community Schools.  $8 million additional debt in less than one month.  Chew on it, baby.

The sad part is the TIF revenue is real property tax dollars.  The reason why TIF districts are so popular amongst government units is simple.  The money collected in the districts can be spent any which way.  Even a $4.5 million bond claiming it is for training purposes for a cash-strapped start-up company.  One in which the mayor and his appointed president of the Redevelopment Commission (MRC) sit on the board.  Go figure.

That’s all, folks!  See y’all soon.

Muncie City Total Debt 9-29-17

TIF Debt 9-28-17