mike quirk

Saturday morning ramblings: MSD & new business is really old business

Posted on

toiletMuncie Sanitary District and you.  Seems the MSD appointed attorney, Mike Quirk, has a new business venture,  Small Office Solutions.  Apparently it is a collection center and the one of his first, if not his first client is the Muncie Sanitary District.

Yes, folks, you heard right.  His business SOS which was just created on August 21, 2013 was the business to grab that contract.  Sure, he signed a disclosure agreement, which isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

MSD is $1 million behind on delinquent sewer bills.  An amnesty program failed to collect much money.  The MSD attorney creates a new business, and the MSD gives the MSD attorney the contract.  Did I mention he signed a conflict of interest disclosure form?

MSD hires collection call center

Read the rest of this entry »

Tyler and the Case of the Two Lawsuits

Posted on Updated on

Balancing precariously at 300 N. High St. stands the Scales of Justice. From the third floor of Muncie City Hall, the mayor looks over his subjects and cries… “Let justice prevail!”

Currently, Mayor Dennis Tyler, is embattled in two lawsuits. Perhaps, embattled is much too harsh. Nevertheless, Mr. Tyler is being looked at by the justice system and scrutinized by some of the citizens.

Lawsuit No. 1:

The first lawsuit has been initiated by Beverly Bilbrey which claims as State Representative, Dennis Tyler, promised to help secure her social security benefits and failed. Bilbrey said she contacted Dennis while he was representing Indiana District 34 and Mr. Tyler claims he never spoke with her. It’s a case of he said, she said.

Is it really? Read the rest of this entry »

Civic Manners, 2012 Election, Consolidation, Good Old Boys Club and 911

Posted on

A guest column by German Cruz titled “Vulgarity in our civil affairs”gets to the heart of what ails Delaware County.  As always, Mr. Cruz is elegant in his presentation of local events.  His words, no matter how majestic, no matter how true, will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears and blinded eyes.  

After the 2010 primary votes were tallied, the  local Democrat party ended the evening in a loss.   A clean sweep  by Team Democrat candidates found the Democrat Headquarters’ supported candidates not making it out of the gate. 

With the physical ejection of the media,  and the public forums lit up with the disdain for the winning candidates, one wonders…does it really matter if it is a victory or a defeat?  Vulgarity is displayed regardless if it is a win or lose election.

Then as now, there was no apology given to the press or the citizens for their behavior…there is no need, the actions are justified and even supported.

Now, before you say this is something new and civility and ethics have reigned supreme long before Lee Hamilton spoke at Minnetrista, I would like to take you back a decade when newly elected Republican Joe Russel introduced a code of ethics to the county council.

New council President Joe Russell proposed the code of ethics, which included pledges to represent the interests of taxpayers and ‘not use my service on county council for my own personal advantage or for the advantage of my friends or supporters.’

 Veteran council Democrat Todd Donati was more critical in his assessment.

‘I think it was uncalled for,’ Donati said. ‘All of us know what our job is; we don’t need it restated by some Republican thinking.’

SP 1-4-2001

As much as I would love to claim ethics and civility as Republican thinking, it would be in vain.   Ethics and civility is more an individual characteristic, and those which practice it in their personal lives normally carry it into the political arena.   They align themselves with others of like mind.  In the past four  years, having been introduced to several Democrat and Republican  political figures, it’s encouraging to find  ethics and civility isn’t just talk.  We need to support this these types of candidates and elected officials.  All parties.

Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.  ]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.  James A. Garfield

Moving on to another opinion piece,  Larry Riley’s regular column begins to address the 2012 election.  Specifically, the county race in Circuit Court 2.  Running with the Team Democrat is Kim Dowling which has been campaigning since the 2011 primary.  She will be one to watch.  Don Dunnuck, currently the county commissioner and a long-standing Democrat insider, has announced his intentions to run.  Mike Quirk, Democrat Party chair, announced his sister will seek the same office as Dowling and Dunnuck.    It’s still early, but Kim Dowling is the best of the three.

If you are interested in modernization and consolidation, Riley’s column is spot on.  A good read.

Moving on to the lead story, Tyler: No ‘good old boys club”, Mayor-elect Dennis Tyler promises Muncie will not be lead by the “good old boys”. 

 O.K. 

 But, what is far more interesting is his comments on the 911 lawsuit.  This lawsuit alleges the city has been over charged for 911 services by the county for at least a decade.  The suit cites an interlocal agreement from 1987 which spells out the costs the city is obligated to pay. 

Outgoing mayor, Sharon McShurley, believed the city should not bear the majority of expenses, and the county said we should. 

Mayor-elect Dennis Tyler and Democrats seemed a little more than perturbed the public was eyeing the 911 lawsuit with suspicion.  And why not? 

Immediately after Tyler’s win, the paper reported Delaware County council members talking about how they would spend the money.  The attorney for the county, Mike Quirk, which is also the Democrat party chair, and rumored to become the city’s attorney, said he wanted to spare the city the cost of a lawsuit.  Commissioner Todd Donati wants it gone, too.

These are all people very closely aligned to Tyler.  With all of this, it would be hard not to view it with suspicion.

And the county which is millions of dollars in debt, needs the money. 

It will barely make a dent.

Vulgarity in our civic affairs Star Press 11-27-11

Next year’s politics offer even more Star Press 11-27-11

Tyler: No ‘good old boys club” Star Press 11-27-11

911 dispute delayed again Star Press 11-29-11

Muncie Animal Control – What’s It All About Anyway?

Posted on Updated on

So much talk about how this new ordinance is the best plan for animal control.  Consolidating of both city and county, streamlining government and saving taxpayer’s money.  And it’s for the animals.

Is it really the best plan ever? 

 Well, my curiosity was aroused after perusing an online story chat about the pitfalls of Animal Control and how the county MUST be in control.  So, I asked, why is this plan better than the others?  I was met with some hostility by the supporters but all the supporters agreed this was the best plan for us.

How can a county which has had many failed attempts at animal control be so positive this one will succeed?  Just where will the money come from to fund this “absolutely the best plan ever”?  After explaining my concerns about the county’s finances and lack of any animal control experience, I was told “Ya don’t know nuttin”.  

They were right.  So, I did a little research. 

My first stop was the Delaware County Humane Society Proposal.  41 pages covering everything from cost savings, plans for a campus environment conducive for animal adoptions, funding, hiring, ordinances and plans for future expansion.  I was impressed.  It was like a dream come true.  Could Delaware County finally solve the 25-year-old problem of animal control?  Alas, this ordinance was struck down after an organized effort to destroy the plan.  Sometimes we can be our own worse enemy.

Next stop was the elusive plan everyone talked about, nobody ever saw.  This was the plan which sat on the Mayor’s desk for months.  It has been dubbed the Dunnuck-Beach Proposal.  Although, the proposal has some merit, it lacks long-term planning.  How the revenue monies were figured is anybody’s guess. 

The Bookout Plan which has now become the animal control ordinance soon followed.  Echoing many of the same ideas as the Dunnuck-Beach proposal, it also lacked a comprehensive long-term plan. 

Both the Dunnuck-Beach and Bookout plans are relying on other cities and towns to enter in for a nominal fee.  So far, none are willing to bite.  Other additional revenues consist of fines, fees, donations and grants.  Neither proposal has put any dollar amount, estimated or true to the fines or fees, so there will be no guarantee this will be substantial income.

In fact, the council passed the Bookout plan as the ordinance without any dollars set for fees or fines.  The salaries were included, though.  Salaries are always considered separate ordinances, so why were they included?  Kind of messed up if you ask me.

Also not included were any animal control ordinances and no board in place.  Like the cart before the horse.

We come to the Mayor’s Animal Control Proposal.  Included in the proposal was the agreement between the city and the county, budget and updated ordinances to include county-wide animal control.

The proposals are listed at the end of this blog.

The county is proposing the city turn over all its assets, all control of any say in the operation of the shelter and pay an additional fee on top of it.  I believe if the county wants the assets and control, it should do so by completely funding it from the general fund like all county services (exception Communication Center).  The county is in poor financial shape and needs animal control.  They can not possibly fund it, so they will do what is basically a take over.  With City Council’s blessings, of course.

I have been told the county has made concessions.  Then I asked, “How can the county make concessions when they have nothing to concede?”  No shelter, no equipment, one employee and no history of experienced animal control.  They have nothing really to offer.

Neither Commissioner Dunnuck or County Attorney Mike Quirk could come to any agreement on how to handle the ponies which were killed.  One advised the owner to seek an attorney, the other believe it should be turned into the County insurance.  This is another example of the inexperience the county has to offer the city.

The Muncie Star Press ran an article on June 20, 2010, about two Labs picked up by a citizen,  She called the city and was told it was the responsibility of the county.  City does not offer this service to county areas.  The county said unless the animals were hurt or sick they would not pick up the dogs.  After a little government shuffling, the county picked the animals up and transported to Henry County Animal Shelter.  So, again, something as simple as a dog pick up was botched.

Please take a few minutes to read the proposals.  If you believe the Bookout proposal is the best, do nothing,  If you think Muncie should retain control, please contact any member of Muncie City Council, Delaware County Commissioners or the Mayor.

DCHS proposal  (Note: This is a large PDF document, please be patient while it loads)

Dunnuck-Beach proposal

Bookout Animal Control

Muncie_Animal_Shelter_Draft_ Agreement

Muncie_Animal_Shelter_Draft_Budget

Muncie_Animal_Shelter_Draft_Budget

More information can be found at Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal

Muncie City Council:

Alison Quirk: 765-288-5319
Mike King: 765-282-3709
Linda Gregory: 765-286-2925
Sam Marshall: 765-288-0478
Brad Polk: 765-288-0571
Mark Conatser: 765-744-8862
Jerry Dishman: 765-215-9747
Mary Jo Barton: 765-289-9494
Monte Murphy: 765-286-4154 or 765-288-0516

Delaware County Commissioners

Larry Bledsoe  765-747-7730

Todd Donati  7-65-747-7730

Don Dunnuck  765-747-7730

City of Muncie

Mayor Sharon McShurley  765-747-4845

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue – Animal Control in the 21st Century

Posted on Updated on

A new animal control proposal is fresh off the press. With not having the proposal in front of me, I can only go by the Star Press article published today. I have a sneaking suspicion it is very similar to the proposal from last summer. Hence the title, something old, new, borrowed and blue.

Mike Quirk, counsel for the commissioners, came before city council at the December meeting with an animal control plan in his head. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very knowledgeable and one wondered why he had even asked to speak. 

 Glad he did, the citizens and the city council learned something new that night.   It appeared the county was in the planning stages with the city, but the only person included for the talks was President Alison Quirk. Later we found that President Quirk had met with the county council to “discuss” the new animal control. Well, the Mayor wasn’t invited and neither were the city council members. I find that odd.  In fact, by the look on our elected official’s faces, this was the first they heard of it.

How could President Quirk and Brad Bookout take a decades old problem called animal control and devise a proposal so quickly? In my opinion it is simple. Just borrow from the old proposal introduced last summer and call it new. Kind of like the marketing tools used to sell products. New and Improved.

Below is a summary from the article and my two cents.

Someone feel free to correct my math. Muncie’s budget is $316,000. Brad Bookout proposes city costs would be $225,000. This doesn’t add up to $200,000 savings for the city as Mr. Bookout said. More like $91,000.

The county has budgeted $75,000 and $25,000 respectively for 2010. Or a ball park figure of $100,000. Bookout proposes county’s share would be $149,000.

The total cost for city/county would be $373,000.

In addition it would be co-funded (is that a word) with the same outside sources, which brings us right back to the problem of people arguing against the “dog tax”.

It looks to me like we just re-invented the wheel. This is not some outstanding new revelation of animal control; it is just the recycled proposal from last summer. This should have been adopted, since it was the best plan.

Mr. Bookout layed out how the appointments would be distributed.   Two city council, two county council , one from the mayor, one from the commissioners and one from the sheriff.  We know how that will be. Polk, Conaster or Gregory nominates someone and three yeas and six nays from the city council.  Then of course we have the hiring of the executive director who is only allowed a 5 year term.  You know, “to prevent the job from becoming a political reward”.  (They talk a good game, huh?)  I fear cynicism will soon overtake my soul, mind and body.  The concern on political rewards is an outstanding gesture on their part.

One wonders about the effectiveness or purpose of the board. With a proposed budget of less than $400,000, 7 board members to oversee such a small budget/operations amazed me. The communications board was just disbanded and it was responsible for a $2 million+ budget and a large operation. The sheriff adds $29,000 for animal control and he can make an appointment.  The city contributes over a million dollars to 911 and not even allowed to have a say.  No political rewards allowed.

If the city updated the ordinances to reflect current costs and fees, and if the union continued to work with the city and if we had all the people who offered to volunteer keep their promises, what type of animal control would we see?

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for more humane, effective and efficient animal control, this proposal really needs to be looked over with a fine tooth comb.

One more thing to ponder: The County just barely skimmed through a financial crisis. Their bond rating dropped from AAA to A.  If the county continues on the same spending spree as in 2009, what do you think will happen come 2010?

If we have the same people in office controlling the purse strings, and once again the county ends in the red and has no place to borrow, it will be the citizens picking up the slack in increased fees and taxes.

And even if this sounds like a marvelous idea, and Muncie animal control is less than desirable, we can’t just enter into to any agreement which will put us in the financial “dog house”.

Now is the time to start practicing fiscal responsibility. We have spent so many years working from the moment and not looking at the consequences a year or two down the road. We have paid dearly. Just look at what happened when the animal shelter became a political appointment decades ago.

Read the full article. Available for seven days on-line. (12-27-09)