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dan ridenour

Muncie State of the City Address

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“Mayor Dan said what?  We’re interested, tell us more!”

agriculture cows curious pasture
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

If you missed the City of Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour’s state of the city address, you can watch it on Facebook.  It’s very interesting.

Muncie State of the City

Larry Riley, MSD meeting, etc.

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I admit I’m now addicted to watching the meetings of the Muncie Sanitary District online as they are live-streamed. I used to go to the meetings in person for years, then when the city newspaper decided to jettison me, I stopped. Since the FBI investigation of the district continues to find defendants, and since a new city administration has been elected and appears willing to fight the aberrant MSD, I’m more interested.
* * * * *
Everyone knows the basics, I mean the *calamitous* basics: the current MSD board has seen two of its top executives federally indicted for fraud, bid-rigging, and kickbacks, along with three top contractors indicted on the same charges, and yet the board has done nothing to investigate or take any action to assure taxpayers and ratepayers are protected. Oh, and the former Muncie mayor who appointed these guys has been indicted, too, for collecting a payoff from an MSD contractor. Every cent the FBI says was used in kickbacks was approved by these three MSD members.
* * * * *
Yet these guys cling to power. Years ago, the indicted former mayor demanded his city engineer appointment get placed on the MSD board, which happened. This month, his successor, Dan Ridenour, asked for his own city engineer to join the board, but no, the current board said the old engineer would not resign, not would any MSD member. So the city sued MSD to force the change. Taxpayers and ratepayers will pay the attorneys to sort it all out. Yet any MSD board member with any sense of honor at all would simply resign, as they all should. As should their attorney, the former county prosecutor who lost his law license for several months over drug forfeitures that lined his pocket and cost him his re-election. (Oh,
and his own campaign manager, former Drug Task Force police officer, got raided by the FBI. He had some property dealings with MSD.)
* * * * *
So, come back to this week’s MSD meeting: it lasted 8 minutes. Claims of $1 million plus were paid, all existing officers (Bill Smith president, Mike Cline, vice, Joe Evans, secretary) were re-elected (their having done such outstanding work), a change order approved. Then Smith announced that they’ve been sued by the city and their attorney advised them not to answer any more question, or even continue the meeting, which was abruptly ended without a vote to adjourn.
* * * * *
The entire board is now an official embarrassment. Unequivocally. Irretrievably. Implacably. Lots of citizens on hand got left in the lurch, including some, like Anitra Davis, City Council member who wanted to address an unrelated topic about Whitely. Four other City Council members witnessed the spectacle. They’re scheduled to vote final passage of an ordinance expanding MSD’s board next week, but the lawsuit may interfere.
* * * * *
What else do we not know? One of the meeting agenda items got inexplicably removed, a contract with Blackhawk Security Services, LLC, reportedly to provide security at MSD’s new downtown headquarters-to-be seven blocks from City Hall. The Muncie firm got incorporated last May and lists Joe Winkle as a principal. Joe Winkle was the last police chief under the Tyler administration. Don’t know why the board didn’t address the agenda item.
* * * * *
Nor am I sure what’s going on with the proposed new $16 million pole barn on MLK Boulevard north of Centennial. (WOW, put that in all caps, a pole barn in which to park sanitation trucks for $16 million: what would a kickback on that look like?) A lot of work was done on site and now the equipment seems gone and the site is idle. I’ve heard people question whether MSD had necessary Army Corps of Engineers and Ind. Dept. of Natural Resources permits to build so close to or even in a flood plain. The land straddles Muncie Creek.
* * * * *
I’ve heard even more, but I’m still checking. Meanwhile, the beat goes on. The beating goes on

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,

 

 

 

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.

 

Candidate Sightings – everywhere!

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spaceship copy

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.

Kennedy Library.

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 BaileyDemocrat, 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)

FYI: Muncie City Council changes meeting dates

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On December 8th, 2017 received information  Muncie City Council changed the date of the January 2018 meeting.   Originally scheduled for January 8th it will be held on January 1st New Year’s Day.

Muncie City Council has never held meetings on holidays.  Councilperson Doug Marshall said he was informed by the city attorney (not sure which one) having the meeting on January 8 was in violation of  City Code 32.33.

Sec. 32.33. Time and place for regular meetings.
The first regular meeting of the council shall be
held on the first Monday in January after the
general election of the members-elect of the council,
at 7:30 p.m. as provided by IC 18-1-3-2. All
regular meetings shall be held on the first Monday
evening of each month at 7:30 p.m. and may
be adjourned at the pleasure of the council. Adjourned
meetings shall have all the force and
effect of regular meetings. Meetings shall be held
in the council chamber, unless otherwise determined
by the president and designated on the
agenda.
(Code 1968, § 31.14; Ord. No. 620-80, 10-10-80)
It appears this code is decades old.  Checked Indiana Code IC 18-1-3-2 and came up with zero information.  Basically, City Council has been in violation for probably as long as the City Code has been on the books.  Take for example in 2017 three times, 2016 two times, 2015 one time, 2014 two times.   When a holiday falls on the first Monday of the month, Council moved the meeting.  Sometimes the holiday fell on a Sunday as the with the  July 2010 meeting being held on July 12, although the first Monday of the month was July 5th.
The City of Muncie is so desperate to pass the EMS ordinance quickly, they dug around until they could find something to justify the date change.  E.G.: 40-year-old city code which hasn’t been followed.   Well, until now.
Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 4.36.56 PMYou’ll recall in 2015 Mayor Tyler and City Council introduced and passed a 43% income tax in 14 days.  It was needed to keep 16 firefighters on the payroll.

As proposed by Tyler, the city would enact a public safety LOIT of 0.25 percent — generating more than $1.5 million a year — and an 0.2 EDIT increase, which would generate more than $1.5 million.

The revenue would go into the city’s general fund, where a portion of it would go to offset another funding loss: The federal SAFER grant, which has in recent years covered the cost of 32 Muncie firefighters, will be cut in half beginning next year, Tyler said. Source: Mayor seeks local income tax increase  Star Press 9-1-15

The city was “just notified” that it will receive $2.1 million in SAFER grant funding for two years that begin in February 2016, Tyler said. That’s only enough to pay for 16 of 32 firefighters, he said.

“We have to cover the cost of 16 firefighters,” Tyler said. The department has 110 firefighters. Source: Muncie Star Press 8-31-15

Fast forward to December 2017 council meeting and the city revealed it had the money for the 16 firefighters without the LOIT revenue.  The LOIT revenue will be used for start-up costs for the city-run EMS.  Amazing.
  There is no rush for this service as we have Delaware County Emergency Services (DCEMS) and it has been serving faithfully for 40 years.
If you would like to contact Muncie City Council members you will find their addresses  and contact information here:

Muncie City Council and EMS

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Muncie City Seal copy
City of Muncie Government Seal

City Council had their regular meeting.

Can you believe the council (all but three) voted for an ordinance with no information and no line item in the budget?

So many people spoke and I have to say, every one of them had some worthy piece of information to bring to the table.  Proud of those people who did their homework.  Citizens are paying attention.

One man said he email all of the members and only three responded.  I don’t think Peters has an email, or she didn’t have one last time I contacted my representative.  He did get back to me, though.

This is exactly like how city council used to be.  They didn’t listen then and they are not listening now.  “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie…..

I hope people remember this and the fight to have our voices heard at election time.

Bad streets, FBI investigation, arrest, lack of transparency, the high cost of attorney fees (if would could get that information), city parks and spending $6.5 million for a start-up idea.  Can it get any worse?  And the audits…anything left out?  Probably.

Saturday ramblings…

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Update:  2017 not yet over.  Muncie changing EMS ordinance to clear the way to use the revenue for more than EMS.  Read the article!

 

Removing spending limits – EMS ordinance

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Muncie local government is so out of control.  With the debt rising, investigations, lawsuits, public hearings, arrest one just can’t seem to catch their breath.

Bracken vs. City of Muncie public hearing was held on 11-29-17 in Noblesville, Indiana.  Mayor Tyler taking the stand and under oath not recalling details of events.  Yes, it is all about Madjax.

Todd Donati was called to testify and now people are looking at the State’s audit reports of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission (MRC) for 2014 and 2015.  It will curl your hair when you read it.  The scary part is Muncie’s debt including principal, interest is nearly $74 million.

Michael Hicks testified and put into question the City’s economic development efforts.  City Councilman Dan Ridenour testified the information he received in the lawsuit differed from the information he received at the time the bond was approved.

Moving on.  A few months ago Mayor Tyler wanted the city to have it’s own EMS.  Currently, we have a county EMS.  Then he changed his mind no EMS.   Now he is actively working on a city-run EMS.  This will be a disaster.  And it’s self-serving not for the good of the community.  City or County.  Muncie was fortunate to receive federal funding for the Muncie Fire Department.  When Tyler took office in 2012 there was $8 million from the previous mayor to fund the MFD.  But, when the grant was not renewed, Mayor Tyler had no money so he passed a 43% income tax in 14 days.  Well, that didn’t draw enough money, so he wants to have a city-run EMS to keep the 16 firemen employed.

Let’s just briefly (if that’s possible) review 2017.

  • Building Commissioner Craig Nichols arrested and charged with 34 felonies.
  • Damaging financial audits of the city.
  • FBI investigation.
  • Chief of Police resigns and files a lawsuit against the city.
  • Prairie Creek reservoir substantially over budget.
  • Muncie Fire Department facing layoff
  • City acquires private property claims it was to keep the neighbourhood from deteriorating.  Mayor and two council members live in this neighbourhood.
  • The city takes over the financial records of Muncie Redevelopment after the audits.   City controller resigns.
  • Mayor Tyler and Todd Donati claim they weren’t on the board of Sustainable Muncie when the city decided to financial support with tax dollars.  (Bracken’s lawsuit said they were.)
  • Councilperson Nora Powell resigns from Sustainable Muncie’s board when Councilperson Linda Gregory said it may be a conflict of interest.  The city attorney concurred.
  • Tom Bracken sues the City of Muncie, Muncie Redevelopment and Muncie City Council.  Courts will rule in January.
  • The city of Muncie attempts to require Tom Bracken to put up a $4.5 million bond citing his lawsuit could hinder Sustainable Muncie (a/k/a MadJax) ability to get leases.
  • City refuses to release attorney fees related to the FBI investigation.   Issued public statement by city spokesperson Sarah Beach.
  • Mayor Tyler said the city has always been transparent and Beach’s statement was not accurate.  (Note: the fees still haven’t been made public.)
  • Founding members of Sustainable Muncie (a/k/a MadJax) resign citing the direction has changed.
  • Rumored the FBI is taking some interest in Sustainable Muncie.  Has not been confirmed. (Update:  Michael Hicks testimony 11-29-17 hearing.)
  • EMS
  • Delaware County has given the city over 200 properties and none have been put back on the tax rolls.  Delaware County stopped the practice.

There was a whole lot of shaking going on prior to good old 2017.  That’s for another time.  Look for a rundown on the SBOA audits and more…

 

 

 

Jobs, Living Wage Jobs and other tales

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Muncie City Seal copy
City of Muncie Government upside-down

 

Madjax gets city money

Mayor Dennis Tyler is finally realizing his decade of campaign promises:  “Jobs, Living Wage Jobs.  Begining in 2006 and every campaign thereafter, Dennis Tyler promised jobs.  Not just jobs but Living Wage Jobs.

With a mere $4.5 million dollars of tax dollars (most of what came from his tax increase of 2015) Tyler is going to do what Muncie Community School and Ivy Tech can’t do.  He is going to provide job training.

Yes, folks, that’s correct.  Job training.

The best part and you can’t miss the financial genius behind it, the $4.5 money will pay off the $1 million debt owed from the revolving loan the city set up for Madjax..  So, it’s not a total boondoggle.    We get our $1 million back and they get out of debt with more money to spend.

I know we can all be happy, knowing our tax dollars are going into a training program.  Ivy Tech should just close their doors.

While the six Democrat council members, Mayor Tyler and Todd Donati put their collective minds together to find a selling point on this bond…they came up with JOB TRAINING.    Funny, we never so much as heard of job training….

You know Powell thinks we’re stupid because she made an effort to let the press know how she “struggled” with the decision.

The EDIT revenue carried over from 2015  was $189,470.54.  The first year of tax revenue from the 2015 tax increase Muncie received $4,165,848.25.  The city of Muncie dispersed $4,216,934.69  and ended with a balance of $138,384.10 for 2016.     The city of Muncie spent more EDIT monies than they took in and tapped into the 2015 balance.   In other words, if Muncie continues with this type of EDIT spending, and there is every indication they will, they will need to go to their second and third sources.

I would suggest the council members who voted yes keep an eye not only on EDIT spending but the financials of Madjax in the event we have to pay the bond payments.  And further, monitor the job training program and provide updates.


Citizens: Don’t hesitate to contact your representative for information.  They own it as the fiscal body of the City of Money.  Please stay involved.

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