Muncie City Council
This is going to be a rant. A full-fledged rant. Most of it centers around the state of the city and how we feel about a city-run EMS and even an elected official or two. It may be all over the map, who knows? Let’s begin.
In 2015 Mayor Tyler decided to repair Fire Station 1 on Jackson & Madison. Two bids were submitted. S.A. Boyce for $98,700 and Mayor Tyler and Muncie Board of Public Works favorite company Walls and Ceilings came in at $99,000. The bid went to Boyce. The cost was $100,000 and the city taxpayers and grant money paid the bill.
In 2017, Mayor Tyler decided to reopen the station for use. Everyone applauded his decision. The neighborhood and downtown could now be fully protected. Mayor Sharon McShurley had closed the station due to budget constraints, fireman lay-offs and the building wasn’t structurally sound. Closing the station created quite a firestorm and Nora Powell led the charge. We were all going to die.
So for $180,000, Tyler was able to open the station for business once again. In the November 2, 2017 article “Fire Trucks to move downtown again”, Chief Eddie Bell was quoted as saying this will cut down response time and would be good for downtown and the Courtyard hotel.
Not so fast, Jack.
At the August 5, 2019 city council meeting during Chief Bell and Councilperson Moore’s not so friendly dialog, Chief Bell spilled the beans. Firestation 1 has not been a working station. It never opened as a fully staffed, fully functioning firefighting station. The reason per Bell was the city didn’t have the money to staff it. WHAT? This station is just sitting there just as it did in 2009?
Chief Bell, Mayor Tyler and likely the chair of the Finance Committee, Councilperson Nora Powell had to know the station was just sitting there looking pretty.
The non-staffed station didn’t appear to upset Powell as it did in 2009. She is fond of the current mayor. But it did matter to her when it closed. You would find her at city meetings badgering the previous mayor on such things as LOIT and the SAFER Grant. Powell would show up, with several laid-off firemen disrupting Chat with the Mayor meetings. The June ’09 meeting became so contentious it ended 90 minutes early. You see, Powell accused McShurley of not being transparent about raising income taxes. However, McShurley had authored a guest column that same month stating she was not inclined to raise income taxes. I’m sure that Powell read the column. (Larry Riley and Nick Werner both penned articles on the meeting.)
At the May 2019 council meeting, a citizen, Audie Barber, asked a simple question. “Where are the finance committee meeting minutes?” Cool as a cucumber Council person Powell stared at Barber. After the meeting, she was escorted to her car by two MPD officers. The police report stated Powell was visibly shaken after seeing Barber in the parking lot. So what upset her? Did she receive texts, emails, phone calls from Barber that led her to believe he was a danger to her? Did she file a report he was harassing her? However, her step-son, a police officer, did run an illegal check on Barber.
What goes around comes around.
Here’s the breakdown. We have a fire station where tax dollars were allocated to make it fully functional, The kicker is, there was no money to man it. A council member feeling threatened by the same actions she employed as a citizen. Drama.
- Lame-duck Mayor who is pursuing a city-based EMS. Guaranteed to provide fewer services and end some county jobs. (Based upon his history as mayor.)
- A mayor who was handed $8 million earmarked for MFD once the SAFER grant ended. Gone.
- 2015 he passed a 43% income tax to fund MFD when he had the money once.
- Prairie Creek once self-sustaining running in the negative.
- A building commissioner funneling monies to his companies with the blessing of Mayor Tyler.
- City properties are overgrown with no money to mow.
- Breaking ordinances like the Wheel Tax ordinance. Submitting paving plans months after the deadline (as written).
Here’s a forgotten fact. In 2009 the Delaware County government became majority Democrat and immediately went to war with the Republican mayor. If it wasn’t the restructuring of the 911 board, making it a political football, it was the county working to take over animal control. And on and on it went.
When the city finally got their treasured Democrat mayor, he immediately handed over 911 monies to the county. Although, Tyler claimed there was nothing he could do about 911 since McShurley signed the ordinance in December 2011 and he took office January 1, 2012. This was just not true. He should know since he was a State Representative for six years. One person does not a bill make. Both the county commissioners and the county council signed off on Tuesday, Jan 2, 2012, and City Council called a special meeting on that Friday. They signed off, too. 16 elected officials all Democrats except for three or possibly four Republicans and he couldn’t do anything?
He planned on handing over the millions held in escrow from the start. The city and county were under 214 Democrat control. The night Tyler won, the County Democrats were planning on how to spend the 911 money.
True to form when the county became Republican, Mayor Tyler repeated the same as his friend and former Commissioner Todd Donati.
Hurry FBI, we can’t take much more and we certainly can’t afford their self-serving and greedy actions any longer.
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.
Do you all remember Hank the Dog? If not, here’s a synopsis. Once upon a time, there was a dog named Hank. Hank was notorious for being picked-up by city animal control. You might go as far as to say he was targeted. The owner was summoned to city court, and although the details are a little murky, one thing we do know, the City of Muncie violated their own animal control ordinances. You see, there was nothing about the number of times an animal could be picked up and nothing about an owner having to appear in court. Later they did change the ordinance after they violated it.
Funny, how the city’s attorney could find an ordinance that was decades old. Suddenly, the elected officials are concerned because they aren’t following this ordinance. City Code 32.33.
Sec. 32.33. Time and place for regular meetings.
The first regular meeting of the council shall beheld on the first Monday in January after thegeneral election of the members-elect of the council, at 7:30 p.m. as provided by IC 18-1-3-2. Allregular meetings shall be held on the first Monday evening of each month at 7:30 p.m. and maybe adjourned at the pleasure of the council. Adjourned meetings shall have all the force andeffect of regular meetings. Meetings shall be heldin the council chamber, unless otherwise determined by the president and designated on theagenda.(Code 1968, § 31.14; Ord. No. 620-80, 10-10-80)
The city council has been in violation of this for years. So, what’s to stop them from violating a 2013 Indiana State law? Or any law, for that matter? As you can see, absolutely nothing. Ah ha. Let’s have a meeting on January 1, 2018. Surely no one would show. And, and, and we’ll be following an ordinance we have never observed.
As the City-run EMS began to heat up, the elected officials, who are supposed to represent the people were hoping to find a something that would weaken the DCEMS supporters on council turnouts. Wrong on Muncie City Proper’s part.
Demolishing empty lots? No problem. We’ll change the addresses. Who said anything about bid rigging? Did you hear anything about bid rigging?
This has to be the most poorly run administration to date. Or at least it comes close. With all of the history and many of the old-timers would remember days gone by, there was quite a bit of action. Have talked with a few and the stories they would tell. Sadly, many have passed from this earth. Oral history is most effective.
So just for fun, and possibly to jog a few memories, here is a clipping from the local newspaper dated February 21, 1993. You would think the cost of corruption would be enough to throw these characters out on their ear. Nope. They are like a bad penny…just keep showing up again and again. Most have been replaced with the younger generation. Make no mistake they learn from their elders.
As we were sifting thru the Muncie Politics files we found an editorial written after McShurley lost the election. The editorial ended with McShurley saying she is leaving the city in better shape than when she took office. The writers of the editorial concurred. This piqued our interest and decided to see if it was an accurate statement.
Mayor McShurley announced in 2011 during the Chats with the Mayor there was enough money to provide raises/or bonuses to every employee. At the end of her term, she said there would be enough money to fund the MFD if the SAFER grant was not renewed. These comments infuriated Dennis Tyler’s supporters and they lost no time calling her a liar and various other vulgar adjectives.
Was it a lie? She did leave the city with $8 million and it was confirmed by the audit Mayor Tyler’s administration commissioned. Government reports showed a minimal amount of debt. Of course, we knew the debt was Tuhey Pool.
The debt spiked in 2013 and it appears the city borrowed money and the next year paid off some debt. This is the only logical explanation minus a clerical error, which is doubtful. So, listed is the principal debt only (no interest) owed by the City of Muncie and MSD. If you want more complete detail, simply click on the link directly below each year.
Oh yea, 2013 is the year Mayor Tyler appointed Todd Donati as the MRC director.
Pulled up the Annual Financial Reports for 2011 & 2018 and searched for accounts which had a negative beginning or ending balance. The search showed 2011 with 10 negative balances and 2018 having 25 negatives. You will find the full Annual Reports for 2011 and 2018 at the end of this post.
All the data is from the Indiana Transparency Portal and based on the financial reports submitted to the State of Indiana from the City of Muncie and Muncie Sanitary. The city, knowing the revenue was declining, the debt growing and the insatiable need to use taxpayer-funded-monies for personal and party gain had no recourse but to increase taxes 43% in 2015.
If you’re reading this and a candidate for a city position, you may consider taking some time to review the documents. After all, should you win, this will be your baby to diaper.
As of 3-16-19
Debt Statement – 2011-2018
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.
The bids are in for Mayor Tyler’s city-run EMS. Waiting for the snake to bite and inject more venom into the veins of the City of Muncie. How long will the people continue to sleep their lives away while Mayor Tyler and his group drain this city dry? How long, folks?
We can’t say enough about how Tyler’s new employment agency is gearing up to fill those position with friends, relatives, and supporters. What’s to say Tyler won’t show with his worried face and inform the people that he “just didn’t like those bids” and he is going back to his original plan. No matter what he says, no one is in favor of any of Tyler’s plans. Simply put we have a far more superior and experienced system and it’s called DCEMS.
The elected and appointed officials are working overtime. So much so, the went back to a 40-year-old ordinance and suddenly a concern for the law swept over them. On the advice of their attorney, the council moved the 1st meeting of the year to New Years Day. Of course, it was their desire to follow the laws. Laws are followed if it benefits their agenda. What the council and mayor were hoping for a minimal show on a holiday. That, of course, would have been their big surprise because everyone was prepared to attend. Council changed the ordinance to reflect holidays.
Next on the agenda is the landlord ordinance. The one where you need to register the tenants of your rental properties or face a fine of up to $1,000.
Here’s the letter sent out to landlords from the property manager Cortney Walker.
Here’s the ordinance to rescind the landlord ordinance. Hopefully will go to vote at the city council meeting.
The city feels it is their business to know who is living in your house. It’s for the good they claim. Yet, a city council at-large member, Alison Quirk, sold her house in mid-June and move out prior to closing. No one knows where for sure. Some believe she was living in the county in a house owned by her father-in-law. The city attorney was asked by councilperson and got no answer. A citizen ran into the city attorney at WalMart and asked the same question. Again no answer. The city attorney is Quirk’s brother in law. Later another citizen asked the same question, this time it was thought Quirk moved into her sister-in-law’s home. With all these people asking where Quirk lived, the newspaper wrote a blip.
Nearly 70 days from the date her house closed (although they moved out prior to closing) and no one knew where she was living. County or City?
IC 36-4-6-2 Common council; election; eligibility; term of office Sec. 2. (a) A common council, which is the city legislative body, shall be elected under IC 3-10-6 by the voters of each city. (b) A person is eligible to be a member of the legislative body only if the person meets the qualifications prescribed by IC 3-8-1-27. (c) Residency in territory that is annexed by the city before the person files a declaration of candidacy or petition of nomination is considered residency for the purposes of subsection (b), even if the annexation takes effect less than one (1) year before the election. (d) A member of the legislative body must reside within: (1) the city as provided in Article 6, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana; and (2) the district from which the member was elected, if applicable. (e) A member forfeits office if the member ceases to be a resident of the district or city.
When elected officials do business or act behind closed doors you can be guaranteed it isn’t above board. She should be required to provide her change of address. And she has no excuse to be ignorant of the State of Indiana constitution or State of Indiana law. For that matter, city ordinance.
The city of Muncie is requiring you to provide information and yet City of Muncie officials don’t feel compelled to be open and honest with you. And folks, there is a whole lot wrong with that…