FBI investigation City of Muncie
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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The community should be profoundly appreciative of both Les and Steve’s tireless work.
[Share with anyone interested.]
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.
Muncie is always in the news. If it’s not the Muncie Community Schools, it’s the City of Muncie. Necks are hurting from all the shaking of the heads or SMH for short.
Muncie is in a perpetual state of April Fool’s Day and the joke is on those living within the boundaries. We at Muncie Politics thought it would be fun and challenging to bring to remembrance some of the more funnier jokes.
- 2012 Muncie’s tax levy was increased. The city controller blamed it on the previous administration for not considering insurance increases. Seems they forgot Muncie City Council did not approve the ’12 budget. On a side note: the tax levy has increased every year since ….go figure.
- Consider a private pool located in Mayor Tyler’s neighborhood and his family frequents receiving $10,000 city tax dollars for repairs while the city pool operates at a $96,000 deficit.
- The previous mayor, McShurley, promised enough money was available to fund public safety and she left the city with over $8 million in funds to support her claim. Mayor Tyler assured us that he also had enough money for public safety. But, in 2015 he passed LOIT and an income tax increase in a mere 14 days. (43% increase)
- Mayor Tyler promised living wage jobs but it appears the only person seeing an income increase was his building commissioner. I mean, how many people get paid for work never performed? It’s a good gig if you’re inclined to pick the pockets of taxpayers.
- In 2016 the Mayor encouraged his street superintendent to run for county commissioner. Meanwhile, they were attempting to get paving funds yanked from the county. The State of Indiana said no, it was a minor error which the State did not catch in the approval process. The State would not punish the county. Funny how Mayor Tyler can sniff out a county issue while his administration is hosting FBI agents investigating city corruption.
- The State of Indiana awarded the City of Muncie $4 million for demolitions of blighted property. It took the city a few years to get started and Mayor blamed the late start on the State. Never mind other communities were ahead of the game. If they were making headway with the funds, why is Muncie so far behind?
- The City of Muncie approved to forgive $10,000 in delinquent property taxes for a community garden. I don’t know if the State said yes because there has been no follow-up and no community garden, either. Considering the land housed an old factory…was polluted anyway.
- Of course, who could forget the Muncie Redevelopment Director, Todd Donati, asking for a tax reduction on his personal condo claiming it was economic development. City Council voted no, but Donati vowed to return with his request when people were more “open” to the idea.
- Muncie has also ventured into the real estate business. Putting out a request to bid on a privately owned downtown building throwing in a city-owned parking lot. The requirements were stringent and no bidders came forth. So, the city is planning on “loaning” over $7 million to the owners.
- After Mayor Tyler won, he said both the county and the city was controlled by one party and there would be no excuses. However, there are excuses. If it’s not the State of Indiana it’s the previous mayor’s fault…oh well.
It’s been a perpetual April Fools Day since January 1st, 2012, and the joke is on us.
By now everyone in Delaware County and outwards has heard the news, Muncie Building Commissioner has been arrested and charged with 33 felonies. He is on unpaid leave.
You may remember when Nichols’ company billed and was paid to demolish four buildings. There were no buildings on these four properties. Several people commented on social media the buildings had been demolished during Mayor McShurley’s administration. She lost to Tyler in 2011.
In an attempt to cover up the fraudulent invoices, Nichols claimed it was a mistake and submitted new invoices. Journalist Larry Riley penned a column citing there were no demolition permits attached to the paperwork. Mayor Tyler took no action.
Reviewing the Board of Public Works none of the 2015 minutes are available as of 2-18-17. According to the indictment, many of the violations occurred in 2015.
Muncie City Board of Public Works approves payment of submitted invoices. The president of BOW is John Quirk and his law firm represents the City of Muncie as well. January 13, 2016, minutes reflects approval of a change order presented on behalf of the City of Muncie for Nichols company Capitol Consulting and Property Management in the amount of $14,000 bringing the total of services billed to $88,950.00. bow-jan-13-2016-minutes-1 Read the rest of this entry »