Muncie City Council
The City of Muncie is on the 12th day of rebuilding a new administration. Most of the high profile positions have been filled. The first city council meeting with nearly a complete turnover and a Republican majority came off better than expected. The meeting was like watching history in the making. The department heads were introduced. Mayor Dan Ridenour was on hand to answer any questions or provide information. Old habits die hard as former city council at-large, Linda Gregory, was quick to provide the parliamentary procedure as needed.
We had the opportunity to review the Board of Public Works (BOW) meeting and recommend any interested party to watch it on the City’s Fb page. Despite the newness of the board and lack of information, Linda Gregory, Jerry Wise and Ted Baker handled the business at hand professionally. Next meeting the board will be more prepared as well as the city controller. Everyone is working with limited information. (More on that later.)
Linda Gregory voted in as President. Jerry Wise, Vice President, and Secretary isTed Baker.
How does one define a living organism? Does it move? Grow? Change? All of these things and more. This is how we envision the local government to be. To move, to grow, to change, to be fluid.
Don’t be deceived, the past administration may have appeared to be moving, growing and changing but ultimately, it was only holding on to the past ways. We seemed shocked at the depth of corruption. To be sure, it is amazing. By far the City of Muncie under the direction of Dennis Tyler and a council filled with party operatives approved everything either by vote or by silence. It has been a revolving door of FBI personnel, economic development, gifts, and grafting reaching even into the private sector. It was bold and in your face corruption.
Muncie Proper surpasses the Delaware County Highway Department, Justice Center, Royerton Sewer and all the other minor issues that have cropped up over the decades.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues we are or will be facing.
First is the Muncie Sanitation District. For nearly 8 years the administration has taken a “hands-off” approach. Now among other things we’re facing the cost of $17 million dollars for a new building. A record increase in our monthly sanitation bills. You ready for that, ratepayers? The three-person board makes decisions with absolutely no oversite. The president is still expecting the District Administrator to return to her job after the FBI arrested her. US Attorney Josh Minkler says Grigsby used her authority to approve contractors to steer work to Franklin’s company, in exchange for kickbacks. And we have paid for “working lunches” as if kickbacks weren’t enough…sheesh. Madhouse. So adding three paid board members may seem to be government overreach, but in this instance, it seems warranted.
Then there is the Muncie Redevelopment Commission and you talk about millions of dollars in debt. The MRC was out of control. And Human Resources and Street Department and Parks and, and…..
So while some moan and groan over Ridenour’s picks or obsess over who gets the office with the window or the new coffeemaker or the newest iPad …have at it if these are the most important issues. Know this, change has come to Muncie, Indiana and change will continue, like it or not.
Considering every department head, the city council and the board appointments are fairly new and considering the ongoing FBI investigation, there may be changes and where we are at financially, projects administration’s records, Mayor Dan Ridenour has put together a solid team.
As of this writing, we have 52 days until the swearing-in of Muncie’s new mayor, Dan Ridenour. Dan’s win will usher in a complete change for the Muncie City administration. Yet, the big news is should Hampton be removed? Of course, he should step down of his own volition. Or the council should exercise their legal obligation and remove him. Doubt either will happen.
Why do we think Hampton is a non-starter? First, and foremost we still have Mayor Dennis Tyler in office. He’s not leaving the city in the best of shape. Sadly, he will do as much damage as possible. His true colors are showing for all to see. If he loved the city as much as he claimed, his desire would be for the city’s well-being. We have nine city council members who could vote anything in or out. Seven of those members won’t be returning in 2020. Jerry Disman and Brad Polk will be the veteran members.
Hampton is a minor distraction amongst the major issues facing this city.
Some of the items on the agenda is an independent audit of the city. Additionally, we have accounts running in the red and millions of dollars in debt. Time doesn’t permit all of the issues facing our city to be listed.
Not to mention getting major positions filled as well as the support staff for each department. Below is a list we compiled – not necessarily in order of importance.
- Muncie Parks Superintendent
- Fire Chief
- Police Chief
- Community Development Director
- Superintendent Board of Public Works
- City Controller
- Prairie Creek Superintendent
- Building commissioner
- Human Resource Director
- Redevelopment Director
- Law firm
- Animal Shelter Director
- Board of Public Works
- Channel 60 Director
- Various board appointments
- Support staff
Despite the fact, the Democrat Headquarters broke Indianan State law by appointing Hampton in the first place, this is just 214 DHQ doing what they have always done. So, let’s get him out of that position. And for sure, let’s watch how the council votes and the actions of the outgoing mayor.
You see after Hampton is gone he will soon be forgotten. Sticking with us for some time is the effects and cost of corruption. John should gracefully and with dignity remove himself. So should Tyler exhibit the same when he leaves office, However, whether it be winning or defeat, grace and dignity have never been their strengths.
And if you want to see more, simply visit Indiana Gateway info online.
We would like to make this small observation about the 2019 election. Comparatively speaking, this has been a mild campaign season. Yea, a few “bad rumors”, a few little lies nothing like we have seen in the 2010 or 2011 campaigns. I wonder if it would be acceptable to contact candidates who lost and sing “Ding, dong the witch is dead”. Sure, it’s all fun and games until it happens to you.
That’s all for today. Happy Hunting!
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.