Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mayor Richard Still Fails Open Government Test

Mike Sylvester links to this story from Indiana News Center that says the city has refused to provide the environmental test results for the Omni Source property.
But because that land for years hosted scrap metal recycling, questions arise about whether there are environmental contamination issues that need to be exposed.

Indiana's NewsCenter requested records of soil testing that's been conducted, but the City Legal Department turned down that request.

The City cited state code suggesting that economic development commissions are exempt from disclosure requirements, during negotiations with a commercial prospect.

I am sick and tired of this administration thumbing their nose at the citizenry. One thing the next mayor MUST DO is vastly improve on Mayor Richard's woeful closed government legacy - just embrace the idea of citizen oversight and open government principles. Work with the people in the community instead of building a consensus of elitists.

As for the commission being exempt from disclosure they are technically correct but only until the negotiation is complete. What advantage does the city get from hiding this information? As soon as the negotiation is done the tests will be public anyway. They are not in competition with anyone over this property because they have an option to buy it that hasn't expired yet.

I'd like to share the fundamental statute of Indiana's Access to Public Record's law for ALL of you involved in local government - learn it, live it, love it:
IC 5-14-3-1
Public policy; construction; burden of proof for nondisclosure

Sec. 1. A fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government is that government is the servant of the people and not their master. Accordingly, it is the public policy of the state that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees. Providing persons with the information is an essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of public officials and employees, whose duty it is to provide the information.


J Q Taxpayer said...

The issue being missed is these are the same people that PURCHASED PROPERTIES with regards to Harrison Square without any input from Council.

State law does allow for shielding of some documents while working out a final contract.

Also, no one has a clue who in the sam hill is doing the property study. Unless they know what they are doing the test/study report could be of little value.

So what we could end up with? A City Council getting a report that might not be that good and a contract to purchase that has already been signed.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Lets see if any of the candidates for City office take a stand on this issue!

Mike Sylvester

John B. Kalb said...

J.Q. and Mike: It appears that, for once, both of you, Jeff Pruitt, Scott Spaulding and myself AGREE TOTALLY on something.
The good news is that, unless the city can get the property for less than $10,000, it has to be approved by the Common Council. Despite some of the very questionable approvals by City Council recently(like a quarter million dollars tax deferrment for a fast-food place, et al), it's difficult to believe that they would approve this purchase without a full disclosure on the environmental condition (and it's remediation cost).
Let's just be more organized on this go-around - we have been "spanked" once - but next time we are going to do the "spanking"!! John B. Kalb

LP Mike Sylvester said...

John you are 100% correct.

We need to "jump on" things like this and get organized much faster to oppose bad projects.

I do not think ANYONE could possibly support obtaining the Omni-Source property without the environmental assessment being made public.

Mike Sylvester

Karen Goldner said...

I, also, am really disappointed that the environmental assessment has been deemed confidential. Please add me to the list of JQP, Scott S, JBK, Mike, & Pruitt in agreement on this issue.

There may be another side to this story; if so, I hope to hear it soon.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I am glad you are with us Karen!

I cannot imagine "another side to the story."

Mike Sylvester

J Q Taxpayer said...

The only side is seeing on that is ugly. I have about a one inch folder of info.

Gosh, someone grab a camera and get a photo of all smiling with arms around each other... LOL

If this continues it will all come down in late December. My guess the price will drop a bunch and Mayor agrees to it without solid numbers. Saying the clean up will be less then the total asking price.

First, unless the report is completed by a major company it could be full of bunk. Also any quote for clean up had better come from a major player.

We are playing in the big league, for big bucks.

Karen, welcome aboard on this issue. It feels nice to know regardless to how the 2nd goes that the person representing the area is not a happy camper regarding this deal.

Dave MacDonald said...

Add my name to the growing list.

I applauded Graham Richard's efforts for open government this past summer. I assumed his administration would protect taxpayer interests with appropriate testing. Looks like we put the cart before the horse. What a shame.

J Q Taxpayer said...

You want to see something so stupid, is watch NewsCenter 21 at 6. One of the Mayor's STUPID people tells how the EPA and IDEM may pay for the clean up of OmniSource....

Dahhhh, those are my taxdollars.

Dahhhh, it takes years to MAYBE even get the money

Dahhhh, why should I help pay for something that someone who just made $400 million owns.

Dahhh, to compare OmniSource to Bowser Ave. cleanup is like comparing a broken arm to someone who is suffering massive body injuries.

I can not even see striaght. How stupid does he think we are? Why in the hell should we even consider asking government to pay for something that one family made 100 of millions of dollars of profit, over the year.

I am looking for the first person who can defend the position of the Mayor....

I am also waiting to see the letter from White Lodging stating the hotel deal is dead unless they get their walkway to The Embassy/Indiana Hotel.

I am also waiting to see that the Mayor has complied with the state's demand of providing completed "conflicts of interest" forms, from selected people, from two years ago. Let alone just a year ago.

One just has to wonder what a new Mayor is going to walk into January 1, 2008. It could make their run for office seem like a cake walk....

John B. Kalb said...

J.Q. - You better be careful about using "Kake Walk" (oh, I meant Cake Walk) in talking about this years campaign! Pass it off on the State, Federal or County to pay - or to a superfund specifically created to get the reponsible people off the hook! Why not? - Remember the Savings and Loan ripoff, Enron ripoff, Burlington Air Freight, MicroStandard, Downtown Hilton, Kitty Hawk, Harrison Square, McDonalds 10 year tax abatement, et al - after all it's not our money being used to prop up the screw-up's of the GOB's - and it's all free money (which is the proverbal screw-up's lie).
This stuff has got to stop. Please vote on Tuesday - that's the only method we have left - LET'S USE IT - or we will lose it!
John B. Kalb