In his worst defeat since becoming Mayor nearly eight years years ago, the Indianapolis City-County Council scuttled one of Mayor Greg Ballard’s top priorities, the Justice Center and placed in serious jeopardy Mayor Ballard’s legacy project, his conversion of the city’s vehicles to electric cars. The Council voted 16 to 13 NOT to consider revisions or the original proposal to build an Marion County Justice Center built by a private consortium, WMB Heartland Justice Partners. All fifteen Council Democrats and one Republican voted to not to go forward with the project at this time. Thirteen Council Republicans voted to do so.
But the more stunning vote came when the Council, voted 23 to 6 to sue the Mayor over what the Council majority feels is an illegal contract the City entered into with a California company Vision Fleet to purchase and manage a fleet of electric and hybrid electric vehicles for the city. The contract is the centerpiece of Mayor Ballard’s Freedom Fleet initiative to make Indianapolis a leader in going all electric and fighting alleged foreign oil domination of America. All fifteen Democrats and a majority (eight) of the Council’s Fourteen Republicans voted to initiate legal proceeds to terminate the Vision Fleet contract. Stoking the bipartisan Council anger was revelations by the County Auditor that some $300,000 in dollars from a restricted Stormwater Management Fund account, an account funded by specific, dedicated tax dollars, had been diverted to pay Vision Fleet. An action the City acknowledged as a “mistake”, but which the Council regards as illegal under state and local laws. Afternoons with Amos covered these two major issues since they began. Check Out the Interviews and On Air Discussions of both the Justice Center and Vision Fleet from all sides.
December 15, 2014 – In a Contentious Interview, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Adam Collins was hard pressed to answer basic questions about the Justice Center proposal. Including financing, potential savings to taxpayers and the use of minority workers and minority owned businesses. The uncertainty and lack of specificity of Deputy Mayor Collins raised serious questions as to how thought through was this project Dec 15 2014 AFTERNOONS WITH AMOS
December 23, 2014 – City County Council Majority leader Monroe Gray, Councilman Joe Simpson and Council Fiscal Analyst Bart Brown blasted Deputy Mayor Collins assertions on a previous program about the Justice Center. In that interview it became apparent that the City didn’t have all their facts and figures straight on the project and that there were many unanswered questions. Dec 23 2014 AFTERNOONS WITH AMOS
January 15, 2015 – For the first time the developers of the Justice Center project, WMB Heartland Justice Partners appeared in their first interview with the African-American community to explain who they were, why they were the successful bidder and how would this Justice Center project be constructed, paid for and maintained. Jane Garvey, former FAA Administrator under Presidents Clinton and Bush, and who is North American Chairwoman for Meridiam, the lead company in the Justice Center consortium, appeared to give the Center’s side of the story. JANUARY 15 2015 AFTERNOONS WITH AMOS
May 19, 2015 – Corporation Counsel for Indianapolis/Marion County Andy Seiwert and Scott Manning of the city’s Department of Public Works appeared to try and explain the City’s deal with Vision Fleet which involved a contract, first thought to be a lease, but then told to be a management services agreement where Vision Fleet, a start-up company, would purchase and manage a fleet of electric vehicles for the City. But as with the Justice Center, city officials couldn’t answer simple questions about the required minority business participation of the Vision Fleet deal or even who owned the business. The interview raised far more questions than answers. May 19 2015 AFTERNOONS WITH AMOS
May 20 2015 – The following day Councilman Joe Simpson and Council Fiscal Analyst Bart Brown appeared on the program to give their side of the growing Vision Fleet controversy. They were joined by Jerry Stewart, President of the union representing workers in the City’s Fleet Services Division who told the community that the City hadn’t followed proper procedures or thought through ass all the aspects of utilizing hundreds of electric cars. May 20 2015 AFTERNOONS WITH AMOS
May 28, 2015 – The CEO and Founder or Vision Fleet, Michael Brylawski, appeared on Afternoons with Amos to explain what his company was and how they entered into a deal with the city. In the extensive interview, Brylawski said the City officials never told him of an executive order Mayor Ballard had issued in December of 2012 that mandated that electric cars had to be purchased and the deal managed by the City’s Procurement Department. Also, in the interview Brylawski flatly denied reports that Mark Miles, head of the company that owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was one of the “owners” of Vision Fleet. Brylawski also admitted that Vision Fleet hadn’t yet met any of the requirements to utilize minority-owned businesses but was committed to do so. May 28 2015 AFTERNOONS WITH AMOS
June 5 2015 – In a somewhat wistful interview, akin to an “exit interview”, a top official of WMB Heartland Justice Partners, trying a last ditch attempt to win public support, appeared on Afternoons with Amos to talk about revisions to the Justice Center project. Joe Aiello, Director of North American Business Development for Meridiam, the lead company in the project, explained the revisions and urged support. And in a sense didn’t close the door on Indianapolis if a deal couldn’t be reached in June. June 5 2015 AFTERNOONS WITH AMOS