Muncie Sanitary District
- June 2012 Board of Public Works hires city engineer
- July 2012 Mayor Tyler demands MSD board member resign
- July 2012 City attorney informs MSD board they are violating a statute
- January 2020 Mayor Ridenour appoints city engineer
- January 2020 Mayor Ridenour demands an MSD board member resign
- January 2020 MSD attorney reports there is no city engineer on the MSD board
- January 2020 MSD attorney will review the statute.
MSD 5-minute meeting with the president, Bill Smith voicing his opinion about the letter, Mayor Ridenour presented to the Sanitation Board. He called it unprofessional and mused why Ridenour would quit a well-paying job to be mayor. (Rolling eyes)
In the July 18th, 2012 Star Press edition an article appeared “Tyler moves to flush Sanitary board member” The article goes on to say Tyler demanded board member Theresa Ford resign no later than Monday. John Quirk, city attorney, cited a statute that required the city engineer to sit on the board. In June 2012 the Board of Public Works (BOW) hired Mike Cline of Indianapolis consulting firm HWC to fill the role of an engineer. John Quirk was a member of the BOW.
That was then and this is now.
The meeting starts with Bill Smith receiving a letter “demanding” one of the board members resign. Mr. Smith is somewhat displeased and he hands the meeting to the MSD attorney Mark McKinney. Mr. McKinney says the letter reads “the commissioner (name unknown) needs to resign because of the city hiring an engineer who will replace the unknown commissioner”.
Approximately 50 seconds into the video, Attorney Mark McKinney says Cline is not on the board as an engineer. He was appointed by Mayor Dennis Tyler to sit on the board. McKinney said he would look into the statute. The same statute John Quirk used to remove Ford.
There seems to be a conflict. In June 2012 Cline was hired as the city engineer. In July 2012 John Quirk said the board was in violation of the statute requiring the city engineer to sit on the MSD board. Quirk demanded Ford resign. To our knowledge, Cline has been on the board ever since. We believed he was the city engineer during Tyler’s administration. Guess we were wrong.
McKinney said he would look into the statute. We don’t know when Cline stopped being a city engineer but certainly, the MSD is in violation of the 2012 statute as was the previous board.
Copied this statute from the City’s Facebook page. It was posted as a comment:
City Engineer must be a member of the Board as required under 36-9-25-3 (b)(3) because the district was established under 36-9-25-1(b)
.IC 36-9-25-1 Application of chapter Sec. 1. (a) This chapter applies to the following: (1) A second class city located in a county having a population of more than one hundred eleven thousand (111,000) but less than one hundred fifteen thousand (115,000). (2) Each municipality in a county having a population of more than four hundred thousand (400,000) but less than seven hundred thousand (700,000) in which the legislative body has adopted this chapter by ordinance. (b) This chapter also applies to each second class city not in such a county in which the legislative body has adopted this chapter by ordinance. (c) In addition, in a consolidated city, sections 9 through 38 of this chapter apply to the department of public works and the board of public works, subject to IC 36-3-4-23. [Pre-Local Government Recodification Citations: subsection (a) formerly 19-2-27-1 part; 19-2-27-3; subsection (b) formerly 19-2-14-32part; 19-2-28-1 part; 19-2-28-6; 19-2-28.5-1; 19-2-28.5-3 part; subsection (c) formerly 18-4-2-9(a) part.] As added by Acts 1981, P.L.309, SEC.98. Amended by P.L.12-1992, SEC.179; P.L.80-1997,
The City of Muncie is on the 12th day of rebuilding a new administration. Most of the high profile positions have been filled. The first city council meeting with nearly a complete turnover and a Republican majority came off better than expected. The meeting was like watching history in the making. The department heads were introduced. Mayor Dan Ridenour was on hand to answer any questions or provide information. Old habits die hard as former city council at-large, Linda Gregory, was quick to provide the parliamentary procedure as needed.
We had the opportunity to review the Board of Public Works (BOW) meeting and recommend any interested party to watch it on the City’s Fb page. Despite the newness of the board and lack of information, Linda Gregory, Jerry Wise and Ted Baker handled the business at hand professionally. Next meeting the board will be more prepared as well as the city controller. Everyone is working with limited information. (More on that later.)
Linda Gregory voted in as President. Jerry Wise, Vice President, and Secretary isTed Baker.
How does one define a living organism? Does it move? Grow? Change? All of these things and more. This is how we envision the local government to be. To move, to grow, to change, to be fluid.
Don’t be deceived, the past administration may have appeared to be moving, growing and changing but ultimately, it was only holding on to the past ways. We seemed shocked at the depth of corruption. To be sure, it is amazing. By far the City of Muncie under the direction of Dennis Tyler and a council filled with party operatives approved everything either by vote or by silence. It has been a revolving door of FBI personnel, economic development, gifts, and grafting reaching even into the private sector. It was bold and in your face corruption.
Muncie Proper surpasses the Delaware County Highway Department, Justice Center, Royerton Sewer and all the other minor issues that have cropped up over the decades.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues we are or will be facing.
First is the Muncie Sanitation District. For nearly 8 years the administration has taken a “hands-off” approach. Now among other things we’re facing the cost of $17 million dollars for a new building. A record increase in our monthly sanitation bills. You ready for that, ratepayers? The three-person board makes decisions with absolutely no oversite. The president is still expecting the District Administrator to return to her job after the FBI arrested her. US Attorney Josh Minkler says Grigsby used her authority to approve contractors to steer work to Franklin’s company, in exchange for kickbacks. And we have paid for “working lunches” as if kickbacks weren’t enough…sheesh. Madhouse. So adding three paid board members may seem to be government overreach, but in this instance, it seems warranted.
Then there is the Muncie Redevelopment Commission and you talk about millions of dollars in debt. The MRC was out of control. And Human Resources and Street Department and Parks and, and…..
So while some moan and groan over Ridenour’s picks or obsess over who gets the office with the window or the new coffeemaker or the newest iPad …have at it if these are the most important issues. Know this, change has come to Muncie, Indiana and change will continue, like it or not.
Considering every department head, the city council and the board appointments are fairly new and considering the ongoing FBI investigation, there may be changes and where we are at financially, projects administration’s records, Mayor Dan Ridenour has put together a solid team.
Perhaps many of you may be wondering how Muncie got herself embroiled in a massive FBI investigation. Most of us can agree it was the electing of Dennis Tyler and his cohorts on City Council. How did he get elected? He lost in 2003 yet won by nearly 1,000 votes in 2011. Mansfield and McShurley carried about the same number of votes in 2007 and in 2011 Tyler gained votes. McShurley hovered at the ’07 total. 214 really knows how to get out the vote, or AVBs.
214 Democrats were desperate to control the city once again. So their campaign to win began on 1-1-08 and as they pledged a “clean campaign” Tyler was ready to be mayor. He was ready to give the county all the 911 accrued monies. Ready to place his best bud’s son in a position of power and chomping at the bit to control the most lucrative department, Muncie Sanitary District.
You may be thinking what’s all this have to do with the FBI? Just a little background info, that’s all. Ready for a journey?
One of two critical informants whose tenacious persistence led to the FBI’s fight against public corruption in Muncie is willing to be identified and I have permission to congratulate them in public for their heroism on behalf of the community.
* * * * *
The other one is, of course, Les Marsh, and he’s never made a secret of his involvement. Indeed his bull-in-the-china-shop approach is a magnet for attention, and he’s never shied away from letting adversaries know he’s after them. Les is a Muncie native and I’m going off memory here. I think he graduated from Central in the 1960s and enlisted in the U.S. Navy for a hitch. After getting out, he served as a police officer in either Gaston or Eaton. His father had been a cop. But when Mick Alexander got elected Delaware County prosecutor in 1978, Les became Alexander’s chief investigator.
* * * * *
Not sure for how long, some number of years and I’m sure he learned lots. At some point, the pay for a public servant just wasn’t enough, and Les caught on at BorgWarner, probably in the mid-1980s. He stayed at the transmission plant for about 25 years, and then through some buyout procedures was able to retire 10 years ago, at which time he started attending more public meetings, including those of the Muncie Sanitary District board and city Board of Public Works. Sometimes meetings of the Delaware County Commissioners. I’d run into him at all three places.
* * * * *
He was often a loud critic at meetings and ask challenging financial questions. His ire really got roused when then-county attorney Mike Quirk on-the-record called Les some pejorative term. Can’t remember what. Maybe a “blowhard” or that Les was “full of it.” At about that time, Quirk also was Delaware County Democratic Party chairman. Later, he became attorney for MSD. Still later, though fairly quickly, Quirk relinquished all three positions, mostly because he, himself, had become too much of an attention-attracting distraction.
* * * * *
Les made himself well known asking MSD for copies of invoices, and then reporting to the board what he found. For example, in July of 2013, Les said that a $14,000 sewer project earlier that year ended up costing $137,000 thanks to change orders. He was aghast. He said one reason is because a contractor charged $265 per foot for all sizes of pipe from 8-inch to 24-inch. The board president politely thanked Les for his comments.
* * * * *
Which isn’t to say they didn’t take decisive action: the next meeting, MSD attorney Quirk proposed a new public records policy to the board. He told the board they had “recent requests” from citizens that were “seemingly unreasonable.” At his request, the board began allowing 25 free copies of documents to citizens and charging 15 cents for each page after that. Wonder if they tried to charge the FBI when the feds raided their offices and made off with records?
* * * * *
The other critical informant is Stephen Ballman. Ballman’s another Muncie native who graduated high school here, like Les in the 1960s, and afterward earned an associate’s degree in accounting. He worked for a bank for a short time, and hated the work, and found a position at Ontario Corp., which then operated a large smelting forge on West Jackson. He was a non-union inspector for several years.
* * * * *
Ballman then hired on at the Muncie Sanitary District in 1979, learning many of the operations over years and eventually becoming head of maintenance. He liked his job, and remained apolitical even as MSD itself got more politicized, especially under Mayor Jim Carey’s years. At some point, Steve thought he was mistreated as an employee, badly so in his eyes, and he sued the Carey administration in federal court. He won, and got $5,000 plus attorney fees, and a guarantee of no interference with his job. Carey and the Democrats were not happy.
* * * * *
But from 1992 until 2008, the Democrats were out at City Hall, and MSD became less of a political football. When Dennis Tyler became the first Democrat mayor in 20 years, regaining tight control of MSD became a priority. Tyler could replace one MSD commissioner right away, and pressured another, a city banking executive, to resign, and Democrats took control. Steve knew a major reorganization would come and Democratic Headquarters favorites would take over. He always had got along well with Bill Smith, who served on MSD’s board under most of the Republican mayors until Sharon McShurley wouldn’t reappoint him. Tyler brought Smith back and he’s currently president. Steve offered to retire, but Smith didn’t want him to.
* * * * *
Somebody did, because shortly after his offer to retire, Smith and the city’s new Human Resources director came out to Steve’s Kilgore Avenue office to tell Steve he was out. Steve retired after all. But he worried about the kind of mismanagement that he feared would be brewing: Tyler’s board appointed unqualified cronies to top positions, raising their pay dramatically on top of that. That was their first step. Bid-rigging their second. Steve then found himself willing to help the FBI sort out the corruption once it surfaced. Now thanks in part to him, two of those unqualified people are under indictment. Presumably more to come.
* * * * *
The community should be profoundly appreciative of both Les and Steve’s tireless work.
[Share with anyone interested.]
Baseball season known as America’s favorite pastime is in full swing. (Pardon the pun.) . But we’re not writing today about baseball, No, we’re dredging up some history and putting together a timeline we believe is showing a pattern.
This new post won’t be going into extra innings, however. It’s going to be short and sweet. After all, there is a game going on somewhere and 105-degree weather to enjoy.
Batter up! Let’s get this game on the road.
Do you think the corruption of Muncie City Proper is a new game? No, it’s just another play in another inning.
In 1992 the doors of Delaware County Justice Center opened. With the grand opening came indictments for perjury and theft. The newspaper called it a saga of “lawyers, politicians, protestors, bonds, bricks, and blunders. ” Summed up in one word absurd.
Just some of the issues in 1992 included equipment warranties to expire before the Justice Center is fully occupied. Commissioners failed to advertise notice on a public meeting. Budget surplus spent. Bull Computers sued for equipment that didn’t work. Open House delayed because s prisoner escaped the Justice Center, county borrows an additional $5 million. A defunct contractor had keys to the jail cells. Fire code violations, employees complaining of illnesses, the dispatcher sends firemen to the wrong location. Keep in mind this all happened in ’92 and doesn’t include a quarter of what went wrong with this project. Today, most people remember this fiasco. It’s in plain sight. The Justice Center has haunted us since.
A few months ago, we finished up a research project. While perusing the newspaper archives, way out in the left-field was an article from March 9, 1997. “Ex-worker “yardman” for ex-officials.” Testimony from a grand jury into the workings of Delaware County Highway Department detailing how employees performed maintenance on Bridge Supt. Rick Burnett’s residence and the Democrat Headquarters. In addition hauled trash from Democrat Chair, Phil Nichol’s house. Vendors testified if they did business with the highway department they were routinely asked to make a donation to the Democrat Party.
Hamilton Sewer; a sewer so nice, they built it twice. Royerton was suffering from failing septic systems, they needed a sanitation system badly. The residents petitioned the government and Delaware County officials complied. The lowest bid came in from a company, Midwest, and the county jumped on it. According to an article “Something rotten in the sewer” December 21, 2003, outlined the infamous Royerton Sewer project. The lowest bid from a company already in trouble with two Wisconsin cities for shoddy work and unfair labor practices. Adding, the owner had a criminal record of tax violation, false identity and cocaine charges. Some of the board members voiced concern, yet it went unheeded. In Royerton, the sewers didn’t run downhill, the lines were close to wells, specifications for specific bedding for the pipes not followed. Properties were damaged, too. In the end, the sewer was replaced at an additional cost to homeowners.
Obviously, there was much more going on than what could be listed in a few short paragraphs.
Although the batter has struck out, there is another who came to the plate. The Honorable Mayor Dennis Tyler.
Tyler hasn’t done anything that his contemporaries didn’t do before him. He’s played with 214 crowds for decades – he knows the game. Well versed in bid-rigging, hiring employee loyalists, deceiving the people, kickbacks and pulling a team together that would support every gameplay and stick by his side thru thick and thin. Yea, he didn’t need any coaching. He was experienced and well prepared even before 1-1-12.
Every infraction we see in the indictments today have all happened before. He wasn’t able to produce too many hits while he was on the State Representative team. Boy, oh, boy he was able to improve his score as Muncie mayor. Of course, the City Council team is pretty good, too. And the owners of the team backed him 100%. In other words, he had the same managers as the Highway Department, County Commissioners, and County Council teams. He just played the game better as mayor.
But the bottom line is, all these projects were done under 214 Democrat team members. Anyone who had been following the costly projects knew Tyler would be a hot mess.
And as it’s been said, we’re supporting 214 Democrat Headquarters with our tax dollars inadvertently. It’s not about serving the people of Muncie, it’s about continuing to finance their bankroll. They desperately need to hold on to the city and council spots.
All of this corruption has priced the average citizen right out of owning season tickets. We’re paying the players but we’re not able to buy tickets for the game.
The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door
We’re back. Not going to lie, it has been a journey the past few months. Life happens and we must travel the long, winding road at times. We’ve been watching the city, the elections, the candidates, the weather and it’s been interesting, to say the least.
Now that we have the niceties out of the way, let’s get down to business.
The City of Muncie is out of control. Shocking, we know. If it’s not Mayor Tyler’s city council giving him the nod for nearly eight years, it’s the board of public works approving the purchase of ambulances. Before the deal was even sealed, the city lined up an EMS director.
Dear people, don’t be fooled with Mayor Dennis Tyler’s feigned concern for the “underserved” of this city. He had ample time to address the “underserved” and did nothing much, in fact, he never even considered it until a few weeks ago. He held the position of state representative for six years. Again, where was his concern?
Tyler has never been one to be proactive, rather he would be considered reactive at least when it comes to serving his constituents. Do you know when he was proactive? When he was in the back room of 214 Walnut St. Also known as Democrat Headquarters. Talk about designing an elaborate scheme to funnel tax dollars into the pockets of the elite.
After the 4th of July, the campaign season will kick into high gear. You will hear promises, see plenty of smiles, handshakes. In fact, you may even see city council members actually looking as if they are working for you.
Here’s what we have, incumbents all have records. How did they vote? Did they spend the past seven years voting straight down 214 party lines? Suddenly, they are giving volume to your voice, or so it seems. Are they really? What will they be doing come January 1st, 2020? Will, there still be a place for them at the 214 dinner table? Probably.
You can be certain Tyler and Company had a plan in 2011 and it was executed fairly well. We believe all the things we are seeing today is also a plan. No, Mr. Tyler won’t be on the ballot but he and his cohorts will still be guarding their territory, make no mistake about it. They must have their own sitting on the council and in the top seat.
Voters! Wake-up and smell the stench.
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.