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MSD Board, statutes and what is truth?

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MSD Meeting

Timeline

  • 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.

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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,

 

 

 

Muncie & MSD total debt

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grey metal case of hundred dollar bills
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you have been following the articles in the Muncie Star Press you are probably aware the preliminary financials are showing -$3 million dollars.    The good news is there may be some reimbursable bucks coming back to the city.  At this point, we just can’t be positive.  We do know there have been violations noted in the Indiana State Board of Accounts audits year after year.  Despite the city claiming they will have measures in place to correct deficiencies, it doesn’t appear to have happened.

If you want to run the SBOA reports, please click on Audits.

For those of you who don’t do Facebook here is the debt report as of 1-14-20 for the City of Muncie and the Muncie Sanitary District.

UnitTotalDebt Muncie 1-14-20

UnitTotalDebt MSD 1-14-20

Muncie EDIT Expenditures 2019

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This spreadsheet came from a Facebook post.  It looks legitimate.  (Muncie Area Community Engagement page).  We edited the spreadsheet to create a viewable list.  Some people don’t like to download documents because of security issues.  Understandable.  Due to the spreadsheet’s size, we deleted some of the columns and created the PDF.  No data has been changed only redundant columns have been deleted.  This is why we have the original spreadsheet to compare.

edit-2019-expenses1 (PDF)

EDIT 2019 Expenses (Complete spreadsheet)

P.S. This is a typewriter…

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photograph of a vintage typewriter on table
P.S. This is a typewriter. Photo by Dzenina Lukac on Pexels.com

Following on the heels of Riley’s Fb post comes another editorial you might find interesting.  It’s not about news anymore, it is getting the first big story.  Facts may or may not come later.  There are many instances when the media jumped the fence and released breaking news.  Some to the destruction of innocents.  Take for example the Colorado theatre shooting in 2012.  Obtaining the name of the shooter, the media linked it to a person with no connection to the real murderer, James Holmes.

If we want to stay informed we need to understand most will be chasing the almighty ratings.  So often we hear this or that is “fake” news.  Sometimes it is, sometimes not.  One thing we do appreciate is links to substantiate the information.  It could be a newspaper quote or article.  Or a government document or a study.  Or perhaps just an opinion.

Anyway, enjoy this editorial.

‘Richard Jewell,’ Nicholas Sandmann and the media mob

Larry Riley – January 12, 2020

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Six months before The Star Press discontinued my services as a twice-weekly columnist in 2016, I became concerned that the newspaper was growing more enchanted with the Dennis Tyler city administration in Muncie. The mayor himself had long complained to me personally that I was too critical of him. I had to remind him that when I thought he had done something good, I was quick to acknowledge and congratulate.
* * * * *
One such issue was the downtown hotel, the new Marriott Courtyard. While I disagreed with underwriting the financing of the hotel by the city and committing the Food & Beverage Tax for 20 years to the parking garage, I still wrote that Tyler single-handedly deserved credit for bring the hospitality giant downtown. I even told the mayor I got flak from readers who said I shouldn’t be applauding the mayor, but I told them they were wrong.
* * * * *
Yet the mayor kept complaining, not just to me, but to the top editor at The Star Press, repeatedly, and once asked the editor to come to the mayor’s office so Tyler could air his grievances. Around that time, one of my columns got spiked—newspaper parlance for getting pulled from publication. The column was an important one about the difference between municipal “bids” versus “quotes” for a public project.
* * * * *
The difference is that bids on a project are open to any vendor who wants to compete for the work, while quotes are only from “selected” businesses—including firms that don’t even do the type of work the project calls for. That’s one of the problems that brought the city into the FBI’s sights and a major transgression I first brought to light.
* * * * *
Tyler’s Building Commissioner, Craig Nichols, son of the retired firefighter mayor’s good friend and fellow MFD retiree and fellow former Democratic Party chairman locally, had submitted bills from his private business for demolishing houses on properties where, for starters, no houses had stood. But he got the contract because the only other business quoting the work didn’t even do demolitions and had quotes higher than Nichols, hence Nichols won. Quotes were rigged.
* * * * *
But the newspaper’s top editor killed my column because I had quoted a city employee, Gretchen Cheeseman. The editor had evidently become convinced Cheeseman was the bad guy in an ongoing battle—playing out in public—in Muncie’s Community Development office. The editor didn’t want me to use Cheeseman as a source. I said I could rewrite the piece without quoting Cheeseman, and later did. Cheeseman, whom the administration wanted out of the way, got dismissed on trumped-up accusations.
* * * * *
Spiking my column did make me think The Star Press’s was leaning more and farther into the administration, buying into the mayor’s complaints. Four months later, the newspaper jettisoned me. Yet the FBI’s investigation into city wrongdoing intensified, since resulting in indictments of two high-level Muncie Sanitary District officials and three contractors, all on charges of fraud and kickbacks. And a conviction of that crooked Building Commissioner. And, of course, the indictment of former Mayor Tyler himself, on charges of accepting a bribe to steer business to a contractor.
* * * * *
And Gretchen Cheeseman was as honest as anybody in the city’s employ. In fact, she was the only obstacle between Community Development’s $4 million federal house demolitions grant and the shell corporation of Tyler’s cronies aiming to siphon that largess into their pockets. The principal crony will spend most of this year in prison. Cheeseman, meanwhile, is new Mayor Dan Ridenour’s Community Development director, replacing the woman who wrongly fired her. Delicious irony.
* * * * *
One new piece of evidence arose last week that continues my theory about the newspaper as chief apologist for the Tyler administration: the lead for the front-page story about the Muncie City Council’s refusal to appropriate money for fire department equipment purchased by Tyler last year without legal authority. A reporter wrote that Council members “refused to sign off on what they considered a mistake by the old administration.”
* * * * *
“Mistake”? What? No, this was no mistake, this was a crime, and that’s what Council members thought. If you rob a bank, you won’t be arrested for “making a mistake.” Spending city money without authorization was no mistake. The Tyler administration purchased $1.5 million in equipment without approval. To their credit, the new City Council refused to abet the crime

Day 12 – We’re still kickin’

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Photo by Ricardo Esquivel

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.

Later…

 

 

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.

 

214 – Let them eat cake

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Here in Delaware County, we have a nickname for a branch of Democrats.  It’s called 214. What is 214?  Where is it?  What does it mean?

To begin we need to go back decades when Muncie was a small and thriving metropolis labeled as Middletown.  A typical American city with not so typical politics.  Smack dab in the middle of government buildings, attorney offices, and an infamous jail sits the headquarters of the local Democrat party.  214 N. Walnut.

It seems there was always some type a bruhaha around election time and every day is election time down at 214 N. Walnut.  Even when it isn’t an election year.

Take for example the 2003 mayoral race.  The former Democrat chair of the party stepped down to run for mayor.  Although all candidates were promised a level playing field one candidate complained because his campaign signs continued to fall off the windows of 214 N.Walnut.    Most likely due to generic scotch tape. The candidate, his mother and his campaign manager went to headquarters and gathered up his campaign paraphernalia.  He ran independently from headquarters and won, but the ex-Dem chair lost in the general election by less than 500 votes.

Never a dull moment.

2008 is the year it began to heat-up.  Judicial candidates were asked to donate to party headquarters.  They refused to “pay to play” and were shunned.    Party rules were updated, candidates distanced themselves from headquarters, poll books found in the trash.  The newspaper reported threatening telephone calls, cold shoulders, nasty letters and destruction of property.  It looked as if Democrat Headquarters was going to implode.

One lone citizen penned an essay “Fahrenheit 214” and published it on the political forum of the newspaper.  It created quite a firestorm, pardon the pun.  Out of this came the name “214” and it encompassed any Democrat who aligned themselves with party leadership.

214 is far more than the address of the Democrat Headquarters, it’s a mindset.  In other words, you don’t need to be sitting in the backroom of headquarters to have the mind and heart of a 214er.  Some Democrats will vehemently say “I am a Democrat, but I’m not a 214 Democrat.”  They think of it only as a place.  Never once considering their actions and thoughts fit the very definition of 214.

We’ve had decades of corruption, infighting, election issues, malfeasance.  Today in Middletown, USA it makes all the past decades look like a walk in the park.  As they raked in the dough on the backs of the people, you can almost hear “Let them eat cake.”

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