LOIT

People before Politics Part Two

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quirk flyer 2

She goes on to cite how they worked in a bi-partisan manner with the previous mayor…for the best interest of our city.  I thought about this paragraph for some time and I find it to be disingenuous.

Unfortunately, Alison Quirk doesn’t give any examples.  I am hard pressed to find any articles that shows (outside the normal tax abatements and what not) a truly “bi-partisan manner”.

There is nothing about city council working with the previous mayor in any articles I could find.  Nothing about city council partnering with Dan Canan on Roberts Hotel.  How about working with the mayor to get a jump on blighted properties.  Surely, they knew the position was open.   Nothing about blighted properties, except for Mary Jo Barton complaining to Mayor Canan she wasn’t advised the position was vacant.  (She sat on the Unsafe Building Board, I believe.) 

City Council then as now, shows a lack of involvement in the affairs of the city and her residents.     Ex-Councilman Shroyer complained about the intersections, lights, street painting and signs.  Yet, there was no push from City Council to work in a non-partisan way to resolve these issues.

So, how much support did the mayor receive?  Did the council actively work with Canan to “move our city forward?”  .

In a June ’07 meeting the controller asked how the city was going to meet the promised pay raises for ’08 Alison Quirk was quoted as saying “We haven’t figured that out yet”. 

Five months later at the 2007 candidate forum the question was asked what actions would she take if there was a need to cut the budget 20%.  She answered “Go back to the department heads, the police and fire.”.

President Alison Quirk did not go back to the department heads or public safety.  Instead she introduced an additional tax.

Alison Quirk continues, as she is eager to get back to what is best for Muncie.  (Again, see the above.)  In 2007  Prairie Creek was $140,000 over budget.  The city was facing the closure of Borg Warner and New Venture gear losing nearly $2 million in revenue and it was barely addressed, if at all.  The city was consistently borrowing, SBA violations were ignored.

In 2007, as in previous years, the city council was warned again and again, 2008 would see a revenue shortage.  Not many proactive steps were taken.

Muncie was tasked to pay $1.2 million in ’08 due to unsupported financial expenditures from the Community Development office.  Certainly not all of this falls on the shoulders of city council, but since the citizens have been reminded often “We are the fiscal body” one wonders why all this wasn’t addressed.  The information was available.   

Is anybody eager to return to Alison Quirk’s definition of “what is best for Muncie”?

Page two goes on to say “For Alison, it’s never mattered if an idea is from a Democrat or Republican.  What matters is if Muncie Residents will benefit.”

This can’t be farther from the truth.  Alison Quirk, an eight year veteran, must have been aware of the problems facing Prairie Creek Reservoir.  The articles detailing PCR’s severe financial problems and the perfunctory budget cut she approved in 2007 saw PCR only inches away from closure.   Bonham stated he would only have money to maintain, not improve the park.

At the start of 2008 Republican Mayor McShurley addressed the council with the idea to make Prairie Creek self-sufficient and was met with hostility.  Had the city council worked with the mayor’s idea, a savings may have been realized sooner.

At the April ’09 Common Council meeting, Alison Quirk said “they” (meaning city council members) would like to hold public meetings to ask the public about things “they” (the public) would like to see addressed by City Council.  She listed three items.

  1. Education (educating the citizens on local government)
  2. Empowerment (empowering the citizens)
  3. Action

This idea was hatched after Mayor Sharon McShurley decided to take the “update on city business” out of the city council arena and take it to the people in an informal setting.   Alison Quirk’s attempt to engage city council members with citizens never materialized, just like her promise at the candidate forum in 2007.  If they city council wasn’t on board, she had the opportunity to go it alone.  She didn’t.  Still, no one really believed she wanted the people educated on local government.

In 2009, Muncie was nearly $4 million short.  The Mayor found $2.5 million to cut.  Instead of Alison Quirk feeling relieved the people of Muncie wouldn’t need a tax increase, she and the other party Democrats whined to the paper.  If you will recall, Gregory, Conatser and Polk weren’t even invited to the “”press” conference.  Yet, she claim she works across party lines?

Alison Quirk’s slogan “People Before Politics” rings hollow after eight years as an elected official.

How the candidates answered questions at the 2007 forum, and their actions after elected don’t match up.  Which is why you need to look at the records of the elected officials before you fall for their campaign rhetoric.

Larry Riley: Hints of mince thrive in campaign words (click here to read the column)

Plastic Wrap or Aluminum Foil

April 09 Council meeting

Had enough?

Vote informed.

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People Before Poltics ~ Part One

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Current incumbent, Alison Quirk’s new mailer. quirk flyer 2.

In her mailer it states she learned Muncie moves forward when we all work together.  She is correct.   With a city council filled to the brim with  Democrat party loyalists we haven’t seen much moving forward. (Not including Linda Gregory, as she is the only Democrat which has shown any willingness to work for the people.)

So without much ado,  here is a short list of how they moved the city forward:

  1. It took three years for modernization (2008 to 2011)
  2. A span of 18 months passed with only two budget meetings (2008-2009)
  3. Introduced LOIT (Local Option Income Tax) without addressing the budget (2009)
  4. Never met with department heads (in three years 2008-2011)
  5. Fought against Prairie Creek Reservoir becoming self-sustaining (2008)
  6. Foolishly and haphazardly cut the budget – reducing the animal control to nearly closing and leaving the city in the dark (2009)
  7. Created an illegal rainy day fund (2009)
  8. Over four years to revive the Land & Traffic committee – which hasn’t accomplished much (2011)
  9. Had the opportunity to discuss railroad crossing with Norfolk Southern, and came to the meeting unprepared to ask pertinent questions (2011)
  10. Refused to entertain the possibility of Muncie receiving $4 million dollars (2011)
  11. No incentive to update the ordinances to increase revenue (2008-2011)
  12. Crafted the 2010 budget cuts without the full finance committee’s knowledge – excluding the only Republican finance committee member in the final budget (2009)
  13. Nine months to appoint a finance committee (2011)
  14. Promised a more transparent government/empower the people – never realized (2009)
  15. Supporting an animal control plan which was fiscally unsound (2010)
  16. Paid $35,000 for a late-hour fiscal study on modernization – the plan was completed for nearly a year (2011)
  17. Voted for 67% threshold vote on modernization (2011)
  18. Only two city council members attended Muncie Action Plan meetings (2010)
  19. Asked security to remove a citizen from a public meeting (2008)
  20. Used their position to publicly slander local businesses at city council meeting (2008)
  21. Officials were invited to become involved in the Reorganization by implementing an advisory board and meeting monthly with the Reorganization Committee – City Council didn’t get involved (2008)
  22. Accused the controller of having “hidden” accounts-although the same transfer of funds was done in  prior years (2009)
  23. Quirk said city council will consider an ordinance to allow quarterly accounting of probation fees – no introduction of this ordinance nothing has been done (2009)
  24. Ordinance to amend Residential zoning. Council persons Barton and Murphy had conflicting reports (should have done their homework prior to the meeting) ordinance 54-09 (2009)
  25. Council received update on Muncie Action Plan and invited city council to attend (2010-January) Only two attended.  Later Barton said she couldn’t vote on Muncie Action Plan since  she didn’t know anything about it. (2010)
  26. Council received notification a presentation would be made Feb 9, 2010 to elected official on Muncie Action Plan’s status.  (See #25-Barton didn’t attend)
  27. Council received Notice Muncie Action Plan would be holding meetings on March 16th 2010.  (See #25, #26) Ditto at the June meeting
  28. July 2010 Muncie Action Plan comes before the council in a resolution.  Barton says she can’t vote on something she knows nothing about.  Marshall said he just got the information.  Please note from January to June 2010 meeting dates and time were announced at City Council meetings.  Neither attended. (July 2010)
  29. Barton complains she has listened to taxpayer groups for years complaining – regarding the $300,000 revenue received through Comcast franchise fees of which a Public Access TV Station should be funded (2010)
  30. Franchise fees were placed into the general fund under Canan administration circa 2006.  Marshall asked where the franchise fees go?  Controller says, again ,General Fund.  He should know this as the finance chairperson and 20 years as a city council official (2010)

Alison Quirk’s next paragraph addresses how frustrated we have been.  (See all above for the source of OUR frustration.) 

Let’s examine quickly three proposals/plans.  One would be the animal control proposal.  The second would be the modernization/consolidation plan and the third is Muncie Action Plan (MAP).

In December 2008 Jerry Dishman chides a citizen for commissioning a study on county-wide animal control    Calling it a waste of money and accusing the citizen of not “knowing what she is doing”.  Jerry Dishman voted to commission a fiscal study on consolidation.  Does he or city council know what they are doing?

I don’t believe it was proper for Vice President Alison Quirk to chide the mayor, council members or the citizens because we didn’t “review” their proposal to partner with Delaware County on animal control.   We did review it, and the proposal was bad news for the citizen and taxpayers of Muncie, Indiana.  Apparently the City Council wasn’t aware of the county’s lack of revenue or looming financial crisis.  We were and this is one of the many reasons citizens did not support their plan.  We felt it was reckless to enter into a parnership, relinquish our assets, and pay a fee and taxes to an entitiy whch was broke and lacked any successful animal control.

The Modernization Plan was in the works for three years.  City council never attended meetings, and there were plenty.  The finished consolidation plan sat for nearly a year and the cover wasn’t even cracked by the council.  City council commissioned a study for $35,000 at the final hour.  City council should have been looking at the plan and making decisions.   Vandenburgh County and Evansville took just five months and 51% threshold vote, compared to Delaware County’s three years and 67% vote threshold. 

Linda Gregory was involved from the start, Polk and Conatser voted yes.

Muncie Action Plan – A citizen based, community oriented plan for our city.  One full year of articles and meetings held all over the city at various dates and times.  From January to June 2010 notice of meetings and invitations for the city council to get involved at every council meeting.  Yet, as we saw, Mary Jo Barton could not vote for the resolution in July 2010 because she didn’t know anything about it.  Marshall, like wise knew nothing and said he wanted to meet with his constituents. One wonders what the results of his follow-up showed.  He never shared it at any subsequent city council meetings.

That’s it for the evening, friends.  I hope you will consider this information and vote informed.  Muncie can not continue with this type of governing.  Not anymore.

  • Mary Jo Barton – 16 years
  • Jerry Dishman – 4 years
  • Alison Quirk – 8 years

Had enough?

Vote Informed.

Muncie Animal Control

Why Muncie Need New Chief Financial Officers

Frustration and Politics Before People

An Example of Working Together

Saturday Ramblings and an Election Year

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Hello, October!

I love the fall season, except for the fact we have to say good-bye to summer and it’s a constant reminder winter is at our doorstep!  I feel melancholy and in the mood to just ramble.  It’s perfect morning for it.

Sipping a hot cup of Trader Joe’s java and bidding you all a top of the morn.

As you all know, this is an election year for municipalities and Muncie is nearing her peak of the season.  I take elections very seriously.  This is one opportunity as American citizens to have our voice be heard.  I encourage everyone to get out and vote.  Just as important is knowing your candidates, understanding government and the issues facing our city.

Often times, the public on-line forums will give us some insight into voter’s minds, other times you wonder if you have returned to the beloved high school student council elections…In other words, its more personality than issue based.  It seems easier to discuss the superficial while the weightier things are left untouched. 

Yesterday a letter to the editor in support of Mayor McShurley was published in the local newspaper.  One poster commented the letter was staged, and then proceeded to list the following: 

The mayor’s quest to shut down Muncie. 

Hired friends from Anderson for leadership positions.

Endangered residents by cutting public safety.

Lied about her residency.

Lied about her taxes.

 It’s obvious this was more rumor than fact.  In other words, it packed a punch, or at least the person hopes it does.  So, let’s take a look at these five allegations.

The first would be the quest to shut down Muncie.  I am not sure what exactly the quest may be, nevertheless, if any will recall the 2010 budget cuts crafted by some members of the city council you may wonder how the person arrived at his or her conclusion.  Excluded in the final budget cut meeting was one member of the finance committee. .  Go figure. (He probably wouldn’t be welcomed at Democrat Headquarters where the budget cutting was done, anyway).

 The city council cut street lights, fuel for MPD, animal control, water hydrants, personnel and then created a “Rainy Day” fund which was illegal.  This is a brief listing, I’m sure you get the picture.

My favorite one is the hiring of friends for leadership positions.  As opposed to what?  Family members or political supporters regardless of their abilities or lack thereof? 

 Doug Zook as the Park Superintendent took a failing parks system and turned it around.  He came to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience.  He couldn’t vote for the mayor.   He provided excellent leadership and “gasp” he didn’t live here. 

Pete Heuer the current superintendent of Streets and Public Works, is an Anderson resident, too.  Like Zook, he has come to the table with qualifications, knowledge and experience.  With the influx of tax dollars for maintaining our streets, Mr. Heuer has done wonders with the paving and snow removal.  He tackled the big job of addressing the city council’s street light budget cut in the professional way.  It was really a waste of our tax dollars as he was forced on a quest to correct the council’s inability to understand the budget.

Two professionals which don’t live in Muncie working diligently to help her succeed.   Go figure.

 Let’s move on.

Public safety has been addressed ad nauseam.  One full year with a decreased force, and certainly if public safety was such an issue, one might wonder why the city council voted down the purchase of trucks in April ’09.  Perhaps, it was the “quiet” deal between President Alison Quirk and President Todd Donati to use funds from the Morrison TIF.  Another “Go figure”.

 Lied about her residency.  Now, this one really has me puzzled.  I think the commentator is confused between where the Mayor worked and where she lives.  Personally, I find this one hilarious.

She lied about her taxes.  I am sure he or she is referencing the double homestead.  No, the mayor didn’t lie and neither did the other 59 people.  Included in the group were two city council members.  Alison Quirk and Monte Murphy.  The mayor sold the house in 2006, filed a quit-claim or  quick-claim deed as it is sometimes referred,  and moved on.

 I suppose if one has lived in Muncie all their life and been a die-hard Democrat local party loyalist, they would feel comfortable voting in candidates which have benefited from tax dollars.   Like current candidate Nora Powell, which was allowed to live in a home designated for low-income families, courtesy of the director which was also her mother.  Or Dennis Tyler which voted himself a raise, then received $86,000 as a retirement benefit, and voting for a state budget overloaded with spending, all at a time when the homeowners were battling an overwhelming increase in property taxes. 

Or why it is a cardinal sin for one to have a double homestead (before taking elected office) and perfectly acceptable for others (in an elected office).

All this aside, here is what really needs to be understood before we cast our votes. 

First, we should look at the voting records and  what the candidate has or will bring to the table.  We must understand the people we elect will be spending and allocating nearly $30 million dollars in tax money.  They will make decisions which will affect our city for the next four years and beyond.  The elected officials will have the ability to increase your taxes, or use revenue wisely or unwisely.

The elected officials will be appointing department heads and board members. 

I personally feel, returning to the past, which some candidates and elected officials feel “was the good days” would be a step back into the stone age.  I suppose if one feels federal investigations, tax increases, constant borrowing to make ends meet, poor roads and city filled with blighted properties is the “good days” puts into question their ability to think progressively, be pro-active and place people before politics. 

Had Enough?

Vote Informed.

Common Thoughts = Double Trouble

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Sometimes it’s good to have common thoughts.  Other times common thoughts can be trouble.

A perfect example, would be two Muncie city council at-large candidates sharing the same common thought, doubling your taxes.  As previous president of Muncie City Common Council, Alison Quirk introduced LOIT (Local Option Income Tax) at its highest percentage.  Standing at the podium urging the council to act upon this tax was Nora Powell, currently running for at-large seat.

Nora Powell, which hoped to take Monte Murphy’s seat “should he go down” began to diligently seek the favor of the local Democrat Party in early 2008.  The most effective way, apparently, was to agree with everything city council did. 

Common thoughts.

So, if you are unhappy with how city council has been run for the past four to eight years, would you vote in the same model of governance?  Probably not.   If a candidate has supported nearly every decision made by council, it stands to reason this is the type of governing most pleasing to the candidate.

Nora Powell’s campaign slogan is “Giving Volume to Your Voice” which makes it nothing more than a catchy phrase.  Consider how city council has reacted to their constituents’ voice and Nora Powell sharing their core values leads one to believe it will not be YOUR voice being heard.

Common thoughts.

I  would imagine the LOIT will be introduced as early as possible in 2012.  This will give County Commissioner President Todd Donati the opportunity to raise the county option income tax (COIT).   President Donati embraced the additional taxes and promised to couple the tax with budget cuts back in 2009. (We have seen no cuts, just additional spending and waste.)

What is the denominators that unite Alison Quirk, Todd Donati and Nora Powell?  Common thoughts and taxation.  Recipe for disaster.

Muncie City Council needs new faces with fresh ideas.  Not a candidate which shares the same ideals of what we have today.

Had enough?

Vote informed. 

Delaware County Budget And City Elections=Why the County influences the city and is it good or bad?

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The county is beginning its budget meetings.   Delaware County is looking at $8 million shortage, lay-off of 100 employees or at the very least three-hour reduction of work week or 8% cut in pay.  According to Larry Riley’s column today, the county council submitted a budget which is higher than the 2011 budget. 

 As many of you know the county was unable to meet this year’s budget and 25 people were laid off from their jobs.  I am trying to comprehend how the county council could submit a 2012 budget higher than 2011.  Is it a shuffling of money?  In other words, is the 2012 budget higher in order to cut and thereby giving the appearance the county has done due diligence to meet the $8 million dollar shortfall? 

We all know it is common practice to submit a budget higher than needed, that way cuts can be made, the county  can function like normal and everybody is happy.  Times are different.

During the spring budget meetings this year, the county borrowed from the rainy day fund.  Most understood the fund would never be paid back.  It would be impossible considering the current financial climate.  Today’s articles confirmed it.  We do need cuts, and there are plenty of things that should have never been done.  Additional hiring, $7 million dollar bond, forgiving a loan and receiving land as payment, changing lawyers and losing nearly a million dollars in taxes because of it, a county broke in 2009 and so on and so forth.

Every warning signs were ignored, poo-pooed as just citizens making a stink about elected officials.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.   The simple fact is, who we have in office is a detriment and it can’t be any clearer in light of the financial mess.

When I think about how our city council is a mirror image of the county officials, I can’t help but feel a tinge of uneasiness with the November election.  The very thought we would vote in the same people again and place Dennis Tyler as head of the city is extremely unnerving.    And it should be.

When members of our city council tried diligently to shuffle animal control to a county that was flat broke and lacked any real experience.  Giving away every asset paid for by city tax dollars, you and me, and give up any control the city would have in running the shelter, is amazing.  The city council paid no attention to the county’s finances or even considered how the county could afford the additional cost of animal control.  And they didn’t care.

This is nothing but dereliction of duties on the part of city council.  When a woman from Albany, Indiana stood before the council imploring them to take the county deal, and many of the city council members listened to her, while the people who vote, live and pay for this service were ignored and treated as if their involvement and concern for their city was nothing more than excrement to be scraped from the shoe.  We knew we have no representation on city council.

Now, the simple fact is this, city council never looked any further than the immediate.  It’s a good thing the Mayor of Muncie, Sharon McShurley vetoed this proposal or we would see our selves without any form of animal control at all.  Gregory, Polk and Conatser , city council members, saw the future and changed their votes.

I can’t stress this enough.  We can’t just look at the immediate without considering the future.

I implore all city voters to consider our future and vote with this in mind. 

I don’t support Alison Quirk, Mary Jo Barton, Jerry Dishman, or Nora Powell. Mark my words, having these people along with Dennis Tyler as mayor will see us in the same boat as the county.  If this is what you want, then this is what you will get.

But, if you have a strong desire to see our city move forward, then you will replace every single person that has hampered our progress and created nothing but drama for our city.  It’s your choice, vote informed.

Delaware County County council begins 2012 budget hearings

County fiscal crisis moves on briskly

Our heads in the clouds? A short history on Muncie City Council’s fiscal management and why we need new CFOs.

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In 2006, the city council approved 4% raises and 11% property tax hike. Of course, many property owners received a hefty increase in their property taxes for the 2007 pay 2006 property tax bill. For those of you that may not know, the tax bills you receive are for the previous year.

The 2007 pay 2006 tax bills can be considered the straw which broke the camel’s back and generated a movement in Delaware County which helped usher in the passage of property tax caps. That same year, Dennis Tyler, May 18th, was quoted “The property tax formula we put in place will have a huge impact for homeowners” As you may remember, his solution was a rebate on property taxes. It took several months for the checks to arrive and barely covered the current increase, let alone future tax bills.

On July 11th of that same year, Dennis Tyler opposed a special session addressing the tax hike citing there was no game plan. A few days later, City Council (which is ironic since they were partially responsible) and other fiscal and administrative bodies wrote the governor requesting a special session.

How can you have a game plan without meeting to formulate one?

Despite the increase in taxes, 2007 saw the city barely able to make ends meet. By the middle of 2007 the controller was warning the council the increase in spending could not continue with a decline in revenue. Addressing the city council (fiscal body) City Controller Mary Ann Kratovhvil, warned the city council

“We cannot continue to increase expenses while our revenue declines.”

 She admonished the city council to understand 2008 would see less revenue, too.

Alison Quirk, on behalf of the city council, had this to say about how the city would meet the pay raises

“We have not figured that out yet.”

 Wasn’t this something which should have been ”figured out” in 2006?

During the summer of 2007, concerned citizens formed a group called Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal now known as Citizens of Delaware County for Good Government. They, too, addressed city council, imploring the council to begin budget cuts. No one listened.

Prairie Creek added an addition $150,000 to the spending that year. It went over budget. In 2007 we saw the federal investigation into the Community Development office. In 2008, Muncie was required to spend $1,.2 million dollars of non-federal money as a form of payback to HUD.

It’s not as if any of this should have been much of a surprise to Muncie City Council. Another federal investigation into a non-profit organization was completed in 2006. The violations cited included employing family members, renting a home to the daughter, not following by-laws, voting without a quorum, poor accounting of financial records, investing money into the Ryan House valued at $200,000, withholding financial information from board members.

 In fact, when a board member requested the financials, she received a letter from an attorney stating it “was none of your business”. The letter went on to say if the board member wanted copies it would come at a cost and the fee could only be paid with cash or money order. No checks allowed.  The attorney and the director didn;t understand the by-laws of the organization.  There was no fee for copies.

The organization saw quite a bit of internal fighting and resignations of board members.  It wasn’t pretty.

The house belonging to the director’s mother listed the director as part owner. HUD gave the director 10 days to file a quick-claim to have the director’s name removed.

2008, the Muncie Newspaper did a follow-up. The article states, JP Morgan Chase Bank obtained a $686,515 judgment against ECRC for defaulting on mortgage payments on 13 houses. The article goes on to explain what led up to the defaults.

HUD suspended funding in 2005 after investigating complaints. Targeted was the Community Development director, his wife her brother and her sister. The salaries were paid by HUD, for several years, but did not qualify under federal law. The position paid for included a contractor and a property manager.

Innercity sinking like a ship. Star Press October 5th, 2008

Of course, the cost of all this was passed on to the banks, the city of Muncie and Delaware County.

Muncie had what can only be called a blueprint for good fiscal management in the pages of the State Board of Accounts (SBA) audit. Within the pages you will find violations from late deposits, missing equipment, money not spent properly and various other violations from different taxing units. At least one city council member sat in on the exit interview, and yet despite everything, four of the council members were re-elected in 2007: Alison Quirk, Sam Marshall, Mary Jo Barton and Monte Murphy who was later indicted and removed from office.

2008 came and went, and still facing a budget shortfall, the finance committee had only met twice in 18 months. All attempts to bring the city under control were met with resistance. Something as simple as bringing Prairie Creek out from under the tax rolls to become self-sufficient became a political football.

2009 is when the house of cards came crashing down. Facing a $4 million dollar deficit, Mayor Sharon McShurely managed to find $2.5 in cuts. The city council, instead of feeling a sense of relief, held a press conference complaining about the mayor receiving credit. The LOIT tax introduced by then President Alison Quirk at the highest percentage was beginning to die a slow death.

Not to be undone, council sharpened their pencils and with much ado, Sam Marshall, almost gleefully listed each cut in November ’09 city council meeting. The cuts which were some of the most ridicules in nature, found us without street lights, animal shelter, less fuel for the MPD and an illegal rainy day fund.

These seasoned council members had no idea how the budget was structured and their position was to cut the budget not add as we saw with the rainy day fund. There was simply no rhyme or reason to the cuts and not one of the council members could answer any questions on how the cuts were derived. In fact, several of the council members had no idea about the cuts.

The cutting of the animal shelter full time employee was a political ploy to shut the shelter down. This would open a dialog for county-wide animal control. Unfortunately, the city council failed to notice Delaware County was broke, had no successful animal control experience. Yet, some of the council members were willing to give away all the assets and pay a fee to a county which would barely see an increase in their cost.

The sad part about the animal control was the city council failed to realize the amount of savings was inflated as the 2009 budget was used. Guess they forgot about the cut made just a month ago.

2011, here we are, into September and not one budget meeting has been held.

Last year a business asked for their abatement to be extended. Murphy said he didn’t believe the company had met it obligations, confirmed it with the clerks assistant, Joe Hunter hadn’t been following up and despite all of this, the city council still voted to continue the abatement

With all the tax abatements city grants to businesses, you would think there would be a tax abatement committee. Think again.

Folks, we have a Land & Traffic committee, though. Every person on the committee is asking for your vote this year. Yep, it’s got “political” written all over it.

In the four years that I have been attending city council meetings, I am hard pressed to remember more than a handful of committee reports. We have no reports because we have no committees. The city council hasn’t done much in four years. So, for fun, I have included the ordinances on Order of Business and Tax Abatements.

Had enough?

Please vote informed.

Please take a few minutes to look at the candidates’ bio and face book.  We have some fantastic candidates on the slate and on the ballot.  Sorry, I don’t have everyone’s listed.  I hope to get it Gavin Greene’s soon.

If it walks like a duck

Sec. 32.37. Order of business.

The order of business at every meeting of the

council shall be as follows:

(A) Calling the roll.

(B) Reading the journal of the preceding meeting.

(C) Hearing of petitions, memorials and remonstrances.

(D) Reports of standing committees.

(E) Reports of select committees.

(F) Reports of city officers.

(G) Ordinances on a second or third reading.

(H) Introduction of ordinances.

(I) Introduction of resolutions.

(J) Unfinished and miscellaneous business.

(Code 1968, § 31.18)

The ordinance for tax abatement is printed below. It looks as if the president of city council is the person to appoint committee members. The abatement committee is designed to monitor the abatement, which as everyone knows, is tax dollars averted from the city coffers.

Sec. 161.01. Tax abatement committee established.

The common council, City of Muncie, hereby

creates the Tax Abatement Committee (committee).

The committee shall be comprised of members

appointed by the presiding officer of the

council pursuant to section 32.35 of the Muncie

Code for the purpose of reviewing tax abatement

applications and monitoring property owner compliance.

The committee shall also make recommendations

to the common council concerning

property owner compliance, upon which the final

decision rests with the common council. The committee

may also make recommendations concerning

ordinance, resolution, application, and monitoring

revisions which can effect the tax abatement

program. Final decisions concerning the tax abatement

program rests with the common council.

(Ord. No. 32-97, § 1, 8-4-97)

*Editor’s note—Ord. No. 3297, §§ 1—4, adopted Aug. 4,

1997, amended Subchapter, Real Property Tax Abatement, of

Ch. 161 to read as herein set out. Formerly, said subchapter,

§§ 161.01, 161.02, pertained to similar subject matter and

derived from Ord. No. 85-89, adopted Feb. 5, 1990, and Ord.

No. 48-95, §§ 1—4, adopted Aug. 31, 1996.

Property owners receiving tax abatement

are required to file annual reports with

the tax abatement committee for review.

Also, property owners receiving a tax abatement,

after July 1, 1991, are required to

file an annual copy of compliance with the

statement of benefits form (CF-1) with

the Muncie city clerk’s office and the tax

abatement committee no later than June

15th of each year during which the abatement

is received. The committee will review

the CF-1 for compliance and forward

a recommendation to the common council

for review. If the property owner does not

file a CF-1, the committee may immediately

forward a recommendation of noncompliance

to the common council.

The tax abatement committee has the

authorization to develop a memorandum

of agreement as part of the application

process. The agreement will outline the

property owner’s commitment to the project

and outline the criteria for the possible

rescission of the tax abatement and

payback if the property owner is found to

be in noncompliance.

Who’s got your vote, who’s got your back?

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 Let’s begin with the Democrats.  As always there seems to be a full slate on the ballot.

Muncie Mayor:

Kenneth Davenport:  Mr. Davenport is known as the perennial candidate.  In other words he runs for every open office including several as mayor and even the sheriff.  He doesn’t spend much money on his campaigns.  He has received a decent amount of votes at times.

Ralph Smith: Ralph “Jigger” Smith has run for office before, so he isn’t a newbie.  Ralph brings to the table integrity and honesty.  He has run a clean campaign despite the usual shenanigans.  I could get behind Jigger if he wasn’t running for the top spot.  What I like about Ralph is his openness.  He understands my political preference, and still shows a kind and warm attitude to me.  A true gentleman.

Dennis Tyler:  Dennis Tyler has been our State Representative since 2006.  He inherited the spot after Tiny Adams passed away.  He has yet to fill those big shoes, in my opinion.  Every election, including his first stab at the mayor’s seat he has touted jobs.  Same as every election thereafter.  His stint as our representative has been lackluster with no progressive legislation which moved our county into a county of opportunity.   Dennis Tyler’s campaign slogan:  “Imagine the possibilities when we work together.”  Right off the bat, Tyler is presenting a persona of something he is not able to do.  When the going got tough at the State House, he didn’t imagine the possibilities of working together, he took off to Urbana to work with the other 37 or so fleebaggers. .

Muncie City Clerk:

John C. Dobelbower: John Dobelbower is a professor at Ball State University.  I have only heard Mr. Doebelbower speak a couple of times.  He didn’t talk much on the clerk’s office, yet, his organizational skills and willingness to work with people is a plus.  I would vote for him over Phyllis Reagon.

Phyllis Reagon: Phyllis Reagon has been the city clerk since 2004.  She is running because she likes her job, her experience and the support of her staff.  The clerk’s office consists of five employees.  Despite the size of her staff, we went for several months without the city council meetings being published on the website.  At a city council meeting a citizen brought this to the council’s attention.    I would prefer someone who can publish the minutes in a timely manner, and make the agenda available before the meetings.  ( I Checked and the May 2nd agenda is on the website.)

Muncie City Court Judge:

Sam Beasley: Sam Beasley received his Juris doctorate in 2010 and has worked as a public defender.  He is a partner in the Beasley law firm.  Sam seems like a nice person, but he lacks the experience we need in a city judge.

Dianna Bennington:  Dianna Bennington has a long history of education and community involvement.  Her education includes a Nursing Degree from Ball State in ’96, Masters in Sociology and Counseling Psychology in ’98, Juris Doctorate from Thomas M. Cooley Law School ’03.  She has experience in private practice, public defender for the YOC (Youth Opportunity Center).  Her experience includes, but is not limited to, Compliance Officer Mutual Bank; Ivy Tech Adjunct Instructor Paralegal Program; Care-A-Lot Homecare General Counsel/Vice President; Registered Nurse Oncology & pediatrics.  She was the President of the Board for Action, Inc. where she uncovered and reported the financial  mismanagement.  Community involvement includes Vice President Board of Directors for ARF, Pro Bono legal aid, member of St. Mary’s Church, Mental Health Board of Directors President and United Way at Work Committee.  I hope you will agree, Dianna Bennington is the best candidate to become Muncie City Judge.

City Council District 1:

Marilyn Bennington-Smith:  22 years as a realtor, 10 years as a member of Southside Neighborhood Organization (check the name, this is from memory).    Marilyn was instrumental in working with Wal-Mart South on the placement of their signage,  She also can be credited with the improvement on Madison Street.  She cares about the South Side of Muncie, and like most of us, knows this area can be a jewel for Muncie.  She has a degree in accounting, so you know she can look at a budget.

Doug Marshall:  Son of outgoing City Council member Sam Marshall, his involvement with the community is limited.  He worked with the Southside Band and union activities.  Current;y,  his platform consists of opening the Mock Fire Station for the safety of the children, whatever that means.  My fear is that Doug Marshall is as far removed from what the citizens need for our community as his father.  Prior to his latest platform, when asked what his platform was he commented “Come to one of my events and find out.”  I give a double thumbs down for Doug Marshall.

City Council District 3:

Mary Jo Barton: Not much needs to be said about Mary Jo Barton.  She has been a sitting member on the council since 1995.  She is not involved in her district at all.  Was not impressed when Thomas Park received a sizeable donation for renovations, wanted to spend $30,000 for fireworks to make $2,000.   Consistently ridicules the citizens, the mayor, the community director, the chief of police and local business owners.  She once commented that some don’t like her style of leadership.  My opinion is she has no leadership ability as when she spent the good part of 2008 trying to make Prairie Creek fail.  Let’s make Mary Jo a historical figure and vote her out of office.

Todd Smekens:  I have known Todd for nearly two years, maybe more.  I believe he is a better candidate than Mary Jo Barton.   Before Todd ran for office, he was not impressed with the Ross Center and believed it should be funded by the community.  He has since come to find Ross Center as an asset to the neighborhood.  Partnering with outside sources for funding, Todd posted on his Facebook page he hoped he would get elected so he could continue his work with Ross Center.  Even if not elected, he can still be involved and I hope his passion will continue regardless if he is a city council member.

City Council District 5:

Jerry Dishman: I am slightly confused about his campaign signs “Fighting for your property rights”.  I like Jerry as a person but believe he has voted down party lines more often than than supporting the citizens.  He did not support LOIT and for that I am grateful.  However, he voted to not stop the annexation of Halteman Village and with a nudge from Barton, he asked to change his vote.  Which he did.   That vote washed away $100,00 in legal fees and future tax dollars.  Mr. Dishman. like most of the council members didn’t understand the annexation, although the veteran council members voted for it in 2007,  had not been involved in MAP or understood the modernization effort. 

City Council District 6:

Julias Anderson: Previously elected on Muncie Community School Board. Community activist.  Appointed to Muncie City Council following the resignation of Monte Murphy.

Richard Ivy: “I understand the concerns of my district and community, bringing conflict resolution experience, with the ability to maximize limited resources, for a more cooperative board,” he said (Muncie Star Press)

Harold Mason: Mr. Mason retired from 911 and has been involved in the community.  I personally like Harold as he seems like a genuine person and cares for his community.  So, if I lived in District 6 and was inclined to vote Democrat, he would be my pick.

Council At-Large:

Linda Gregory: Linda’s campaign slogan “Go Gregory” is simple yet describes Linda to a “T”.  You will find Linda going all over the city.  She attends many meetings, and is one of the most informed council members we have currently.   In 2010 Linda  was chosen by the Committee for Integrity Enhancement to receive the Delaware County Personal Integrity Award, actively involved in the Buley Center and the Whitely Community, nominated and runner-up for Star Press Person of the Year.   Donates hand-made items and her actions above her words shows the committment she has to our city.  Go Gregory!

Ty Morton: Local businessman, bartender and sometimes substitute teacher.  Morton began his campaign running with the Team Democrats and later with the Democrat Headquarters.  In an article published by the Start Press “It’s time to stop talking about unity, and do something about it,” Morton wrote in a letter on the issue.  Morton is articulate which aids in lending credibility to his comments.  Careful examination of his views will find they are far from facts.  With his assessment of the 2010 budget issues,  his double taxation myth, the raiding of the primaries and the confusion he presented on who can vote in the primary totally ignored the law.  All designed to provoke unrest within the community.  Ty  does not take well to being challenged.  I believe Ty Morton will be bad for our city.  He like Marshall gets  “two thumbs down”.

Nora Evans Powell:  I don’t believe Nora will have the ability to place her personal feelings below the concerns of the citizens of Muncie.   She was on the Community Action Committee (CAC) which disbanded shortly after it began.  The description said it was a non-partisan group of citizens, but the make-up of the members and those that were cited for their input told another story.  Nora was outraged the current mayor would place the fireman in danger should they be housed at the Center Township fire station.  However, the rage diminished considerable when Kay Walker became her campaign manager.  Kay Walker is the Center Township Trustee which was in charge of the Center Twp. Fire Department.  Another thing which is upsetting is the use of her middle name “Evans” on the ballot.  This moves her to the number one spot.  The clerk said he reviewed the marriage licenses and birth records of the candidates.  Sure, it’s not illegal, but it’s not ethical, either.  Powell has sided with just about every decision the city council has made except for the Halteman/Brewington annexation.  She, like so many of us knew, this would insure additional tax revenue  and her hope was keeping the MFD fully staffed.

Alison Quirk:  Alison Quirk is asking you for a third term as your representative.  Let’s look at the history.  At the 2007 forum she said she would look at public safety and work with the mayor.  She has done neither.  In April ’09 at a city council meeting she promised a more transparent government and a program to educate the citizens.   She broke it down as Education, Empowerment and Action.  Like her comments at the 2007 forum, this never materialized either.  The April ’09 was a defining moment as the purchase of firetrucks were on the agenda.  Instead of telling the citizens, the council and the mayor she was working with Commissioner Donati to secure funds from the Morrison Road TIF, she allowed the department heads and Mayor to present their case.  How many hours were invested in locating the truck and getting the finance all because none knew of her plans.  The same with the animal control proposal of combining services with the county.  When it came to hammering out the budget, Alison Quirk, Mike King and Mike Whited of the Muncie Fire Department and county resident met privately. Alison Quirk intoduced LOIT at it’s highest percentage before she met with the department heads. 

On the Republican ticket, only two races are contested. 

District 4 is between Brad Polk and Scott O’Dell.  This should be a non-issue as incumbent Polk is by far the best candidate.  O’Dell hasn’t done much campaigning.

District 5 has two newcomers, Big Jim Arnold and Tom Reeve.  Jim has the knowledge and expertise to make a fine city council member.  You may have seen Jim at the City Council and other government meetings or had the opportunity to read his letters to the editor.  You will find more information on both candidates in the blog under Candidates Websites.

All-in-all the Republican party has really out done themselves this election with some pretty awesome candidates.

Sources:

Muncie Star Press

April 6, 2009 City Council Minutes 

Blog entries related to April 6, 2009:

April 6 2009 from a citizen’s view (1)

April 6 2009 from a citizen’s view (2)

What was so interesting about April 6 2009?

Plastic Wrap or Aluminum Foil?

My disclaimer:These political views are solely my own.  They are not representative of any for-profit, non-profit, political, non-political organizations, or any organized or unorganized group in Delaware County or Indiana or the other 49 States