Mayor Dennis Tyler
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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good morning to all of you fine people. Much to be grateful today as the Polar Vortex train has left the station. Good riddance, say we!
On to more pressing news. Mayor Dennis Tyler announced he would not run for mayor of Muncie again. However, it has not stopped him from keeping his beloved dream of a city-run EMS program alive. It appears Dennis Tyler will do as much damage to this city and county as he can before we say “Adios Amigo” come December 31, 2019.
But, you never know if the FBI will come knocking on his door. After all, he was privy to the meetings where the elite of City Government schemed to cover Craig Nichols’ crimes. Tyler was an eye-witness, a willing participant in protecting Nichols’ rear.
Exactly how is Dennis Tyler going to pay for his dream? Why it’s simple. Rumor has it he will be tapping into the $400,000 Center Township pays the city for Muncie fire protection. What, say ye? Center Township is one of the many taxings entities the City of Muncie supports with property taxes. (Check your bill.) So, we’re assisting Center Township with city property taxes to provide fire service.
Kay Walker, Center Township Trustee on board with Mayor Tyler? Is she earmarking the $400,000 for the city-run EMS when a perfectly good DCEMS is already paid with Delaware County taxes? How will the MFD budget make up the $400,000 decrease in funds? Talk about double taxation. We will be paying for not one but two emergency medical services.
Does this stink to high heavens, or what? Is it not a typical shell game of shuffling funds from here to there? You bet it is. Don’t think for one moment Tyler’s last-ditch effort is anything less than a political move and one which causes serious harm to the City and County.
The funding Center Township receives to pay for Muncie fire protection is from Muncie property taxes. We shift money to Center Township and then Center Township pays the City of Muncie. Tyler claims concern for the city in reference to being double dipped (the concern is feigned, of course). Center Township is owned by Democrats for years. Delaware County is controlled by Republicans and this explains Tyler’s motive in a nutshell. Politics before People. Always has been with this crowd.
(On a side note: this makes for a good argument to abolish township governments. It really is just another layer of bureaucracy.)
Let’s just walk down memory lane.
In 2010 Muncie was facing a financial crisis. Firemen were to be laid-off and other cuts were needed just to keep the city afloat. The previous mayor Sharon McShurley and Kay Walker came to an agreement. This is it in a nutshell:
- The move to apply for the grant was tied to Center Township turning its firefighting force over to the city, and in turn, paying Muncie $250,000 a year through 2011 and then $400,000 a year after that for fire protection. Earlier news articles said the city would save $750,000 over the next two years and then $700,000 thereafter because of the Center Township agreement and concessions from the fire union.
Star Press 5-5-10
Dennis Tyler took office on January 1st, 2012. With this office came an inheritance from the previous administration…a goodly sum of $8 million earmarked by McShurley to cover MFD when the SAFER grant expired. For three years Mayor Tyler claimed enough money to support public services and would not pass LOIT.
That all changed in August 2015 when he and city council proposed the LOIT tax at the highest rate. No one seemed to remember how or when the $8 million was spent. The officials didn’t just pass one tax, they increased the EDIT tax, too. A 43% increase in income taxes was passed in a mere 14 days.
Today we have Mayor Tyler working to resurrect the city-run EMS. We’re hoping the FBI picks him up before he can create additional damage to the city and the county. The legacy of Mayor Tyler will continue long after he is gone. Don’t think for a moment the city will go unscathed. It’s going to be painful to fix this topsy turvy ship.
We decided to provide a small pictorial timeline of Dennis Tyler. We’ll begin with State Representative Tyler hightailing it to Urbana, IL. A failed attempt to shut down Indiana government. Then as now, he avoided the people. Every time Tyler is placed on the hot seat he disappears. And Urbana was no exception. This is where the phrase “Tyler is vacationing in Urbana” began. You may hear it said when Tyler refuses to speak or be interviewed by the press.
Next, we see candidate Tyler asking for your vote. He won by approximately 7,000 votes. 1,000 more votes than McShurley received in 2011 and in 2007.
Picture three is Mayor Dennis Tyler with a caption addressing one of his campaign promises “For the People” and the cost of his administration a 43% income tax. Well, the EDIT tax needed to be increased to fund Nichols’ property demolition companies.
Moving on is a meme created when Mayor Tyler first introduced his EMS project. It is meant as humorous satire. Although, there is nothing funny about his proposal.
City Council Meeting
Monday, February 4th, 2019
7:30 PM Muncie City Hall
Bad company corrupts good morals.
One who runs from corrupt people is wise indeed.
Birds of a feather, flock together.
Be sure, your sins will be found out.
Here we are nearly three weeks into 2019 and finally, the sentencing memorandum of Muncie’s ex-building commission has been made available. So, let’s begin with the persons named in the memorandum.
(Full text of the memo is located at the end of the post.)
The names have not been changed to protect the innocent. Some of the people were doing their jobs – their consciences could not be seared. Those would be the ones who resigned or perhaps fired.
One name, Aaron Kidder, was a rising star in the city’s administration. He was the right-hand man to Mayor Tyler. Intelligent, well spoken and to his detriment (at least in this administration) honest.
“Nichols asked Kidder if he would be willing to say that he acquired quotes from Gibbs even though he had not. Kidder refused.”
And then there is Audrey Jones, the city controller. She complied with an FOIA.
Jones gave Marsh copies of the original invoices, and then approached Nichols to inform him that she had turned them over during the FOIA request.
What exactly did Dennis Tyler know and was he aware of the bid-rigging, demolitions? The answer would be yes. Although when issues came up, he blew them off with a “nah” and a smile. How could average citizens, people not privy to the inner workings of his administration, have information and the mayor didn’t know?
Note Ross Bater’s comment:
- Brater states that had they been competitively bid instead of awarded to Nichols through fraud, it would have cost the Muncie taxpayers between $8,800 and $9,200 on average to demolish each property. Nichols (according to his own calculation) billed on average $19,500 per property. Source: Muncie Star Press 1-18-19
Local columnist and what he knew
Three years ago Larry Riley wrote about the cost of demolitions done by Nichols’ company. We might presume Gibbs Construction would be the one and the same. Just a wild guess. Amazingly, Riley had all the facts, figures and names and the column published in the local paper yet Mayor Tyler did nothing. Larry was on top of it and the FBI confirms it.
Certainly having him give quotes to compare with Advanced Walls helped the latter immensely, as each Gibbs Construction quote was even higher, usually a few hundred bucks, than the unduly high Advanced Walls quote. Thus a cost conscious administration went with the lower quote.
The four demolitions averaged $20,375 each, or more specifically:
— 527 W. Wilson, an 850 square-foot house with no basement, razed for $22,000 by Advanced Walls.
— 424 S. Proud St., 1,700 square feet, two stories, plus 400 square-foot detached garage, for $19,500.
— 320 S. Beacon, 1,216 square feet, no basement, for $19,500.
— 909 S. Wolfe St., 964 square feet, half basement, for $21,500
Source: Muncie Star Press March 6, 2016
Check-out the full column below.
No one would notice or no one would care
Given his powerful allies, Nichols figured that either no one would notice or no one would care, and he quietly submitted $81,500 in invoices to the City between August 7, 2015, and October 5, 2015 for work he didn’t perform. Nichols used his company, Advanced Walls and Ceilings, for this.
Did no one notice or did no one care? The administration did notice and no one cared. It’s amazing all the channels put in place and Nichols slipped by? The public didn’t seem to care and so it continued. But yes, considering all the information we have received in the past 24 hours and past articles, State Board of Accounts audits, and the continuous presence of the FBI should have been a wake-up call and instead, it was business as usual.
To read the full report click the link below (pdf).
Click for the full report: Muncie SBOA 12-18 yr 2017 The audit report covers the city’s SAFER Grant as well as the Muncie Economic Redevelopment.
As you all know, Mayor Tyler is speeding towards a city-owned EMS. Yes, if you haven’t yet heard, he is doing everything in his power to destroy a well-oiled County EMS service. Why? Of course, we know why. Politics before people.
You may be thinking, “No way would Mayor Tyler even consider putting the citizens in danger. He loves this great city per all of his public speeches.” Would he destroy DCEMS because of politics? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Immediately after Tyler lost his mayoral bid in 2003, he and his pal, Phil Nichols, were right back to the political games. In a 2004 editorial “Lack of proper plan for fires scandalous” the editorial board was referencing a letter two Democrat County Commissioners authored, The editorial states:
On Dec. 31, Stonebraker and St. Myer signed a letter to the city-county 911 dispatch center, ordering that Center Township trucks not be dispatched on emergency runs within the Muncie city limits. “(Some old-timers will remember) .
Stonebreaker, according to the editorial, said it wasn’t political at all. Never mind they did everything in their power to make Republican Dick Shirey’s life miserable. Definitely not political. (ROLLING EYES)
The editorial continued:
To deny political implications of the letter is to ignore the fact that chief architects of local Democratic policy are current party chairman Dennis Tyler and immediate past chairman Phil Nichols , both Muncie Fire Department officers. Their fingerprints are all over the letter, and they appear to have done little to discourage the animosity that exists between Muncie and Center Township fire departments.
Further evidence of political or government leaders being irresponsible is the report of five instances last fall when the Center Township department was not notified of 911 calls within its own territory.
Take note, MP Readers:
Shirey, Crouch and other local officials have said they believed the best dispatching procedure would be to send the emergency response order to the department that is closest to the emergency as well as to the department with official jurisdiction.
That would best guard the safety of citizens and their property. Anything short of that devalues human life and is a dereliction of duty.
Dual-response is recognized policy in well-organized fire districts across the country. Firefighting experts, consulted last year by The Star Press, agreed that dual-response is a must for Muncie and Delaware County.
‘It’s not rocket science,” said one of the experts.
Everywhere, that is, except Muncie.
Source: Lack of proper plan for fires scandalous Star Press, The (Muncie, IN) – Sunday, January 25, 2004 Author/Byline: StaffSection: EditorialPage: 2D
So, if you think for one moment Mayor Tyler is all about keeping you safe and that his EMS service will be top-notch, dear friends, think again. Tyler campaigned in ’03 and one of the big issues people had with him, among many, was Phil Nichols. Tyler hasn’t changed since then. The difference between then and now it was much easier to hide his involvement prior to being mayor. Not so much today.
To be continued…