Corruption

Conflicts of interest. For non-facebook people

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Larry Riley

I think this is the final leftover souvenir I saved from my last year at The Star Press. Or parts thereof. The contract itself is eight pages long, so I’ve cut and pieced together the more interesting components, some of which I’ve highlighted. This is the only known to me contract between the City of Muncie and shell company Capitol Consulting & Property Management.
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The contract would seem to be standard boilerplate. You see the date of the agreement and the parties at the top. Seven houses were to be demolished, all east of old Indiana Steel and Wire, now becoming Kitselman Pure Energy Park, a private development (so why is government involved?) to be a “live-work-play” project, which mostly would also appear to be another phantom operation. The “work” part includes, ostensibly, assembling mobile electric generators.
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I will say that the $74,950 price-tag for seven structures is only double the usual cost of demolishing a house, not quadruple the cost, which is what the city Building Commissioner’s other private business charged the city earlier that year to take down four houses using rigged quotes. I’m not sure this contract ever went out for bid. To recap, after the FBI got the Building Commissioner indicted, later convicted, on those four house demolitions, which never existed in the first place, agents started talking to the woman who had incorporated Capitol Consulting. She ran a tax preparation business on Muncie’s south side.
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She admitted in a transcribed interview with federal agents that she agreed in 2015 to incorporate and sign off as representative for Capitol Consulting to hide company ownership by the Building Commissioner, who told her he was getting too much heat in the newspaper over his other firm, Advanced Walls & Ceilings, which raked in a small fortune in city money—including for the phantom demolitions. He wanted more privacy, she said. She said she “did not think he would do anything illegal, in part because of his position as a public official.” I don’t know how FBI agents or even she, kept a straight face when she said that.
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So the city was dealing with a firm allegedly operated by a tax preparer who incorporated the business using her home’s residential address, who owned no heavy equipment, had no physical office location (mail went to a PO box), no employees, wasn’t licensed to do asbestos inspections nor employed anyone who did. And nobody realized it? Because they looked the other way.
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In the image below, I underlined places that specify the role of the Building Commissioner. Then the entirety of the “conflict of interest” section, where the parties explicitly specify that they would not do exactly what the company did. I also underlined the sentence about the company doing at least 51 percent of the work and not subcontracting the work out—which again is exactly opposite what the firm did.
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At the bottom you can see the signatures. Signing for the city was John Quirk, an attorney and Delaware County public defender who should know something about crime.
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Here’s what’s worth keeping in mind now, connecting the recent past to the present: the fingerprints of Community Development Director Terry Whitt Bailey are all over this contract, literally and figuratively. Literally, because I got this contract from her. I got told she had the only copy of any contract between Capitol Consulting and the city. Her office handled demolitions for the city. I asked her for a copy of this public record and she provided it.
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The figurative fingerprints come from her place right in the midst of what the city was preparing to do with $4 million in federal funds given to Muncie to demolish houses. The Building Commissioner set up Capitol Consulting before the city completed preparations for spending the $4 million. Bailey then fired the key Community Development employee most involved with demolitions, removing a woman who would not have looked the other way if Capitol Consulting got hundreds of demolitions contracts. In 2015, Capitol got $144,800 from city and MSD for demolition work. In 2016, the firm got $150,325 from them, including $40,000 in two checks directly from Community Development accounts. One has to conclude Bailey herself approved the payments.
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The mayor of Muncie, a Democrat, has said nothing to the citizens of his city about the theft by his Building Commissioner, who’s currently in federal prison. Nor has he said anything about the FBI’s investigation into rigged bids and kickbacks at his Muncie Sanitary District, in which two high-ranking public officials and three contractors have been indicted. But Mayor Dennis Tyler made a decision not to run for re-election. Instead, Bailey now runs on Democratic Headquarters ticket to become mayor of Muncie. In six weeks, voters decide if she will.

Three strikes, you’re out…

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Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

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.

Strike one!

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.

Strike Two!

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.  

Strike Three!

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.

PLAY BALL!

 

Insiders & Outsiders – Race for Mayor

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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.

April 9, 2019, Democrat 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.