Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More on the ACS Parking Deal or Why Committee Meetings are a Waste of Time

Last night, I attended the City-County Council's Rules and Public Policy committee meeting. The big-ticket item on last night's agenda was the ACS Parking deal and further discussion. But the most productive time I spent was the several minutes before the meeting, where I chatted with Aaron M. Renn, author of the Urbanophile blog, and Deputy Mayor Michael Huber.

After the other items were dealt with, Renn spoke to the committee first. Knowing that most of the council members have read his blog entries pertaining to the parking deal, he went through a summary of the most important points. He noted that parking meters' purpose isn't to make money, but to utilize curb side real estate in an efficient manner. He believes this contract hampers the city unnecessarily if they want to change from parking meters to an alternate function in the future, or remove them altogether, either on an individual neighborhood basis or city-wide. He believes it would be a great challenge if public transportation would become a viable option in central Indiana, or if electric car chargers would ever be needed. Or even, on a smaller scale, if a restaurant wants to expand to the curb, or if an economically depressed area wants to encourage visitors by removing meters entirely.

Some of the councilors asked that there is a high need for infrastructure funding, and what would Renn's plan be. Renn noted that he is only speaking out against this deal, and he isn't against the actual goal, just the way it's getting there. He doesn't work in city government, but noted that revenue bonds have been mentioned as possibilities, which allow the city to retain ownership, modernize parking itself, and keep profits.

I think it's important to note that while all profits from parking meters go to infrastructure in the surrounding areas where meters are placed, they are there as a supplemental revenue stream, and not a primary source of revenue for street maintenance and repair. As Renn noted himself, the $35 million received upfront is a mere fraction of what was received in the water utility privatization deal.

Afterward, Michael Huber, a deputy mayor in the Ballard administration and the architect of this deal, spoke. I'll just let you read Pat Andrews' analysis of that portion, since I couldn't stay for the whole thing.

Which brings me to my final point. These committee meetings are a huge waste of time for those of us who work during the day or in the evening. They're structured so that by the time 8pm or so roles around, everyone is ready to go get a bite to eat and doesn't want to stay that long. This usually means a very limited amount of time for public comment, which is always saved as dead last on any agenda item. It certainly doesn't help that 95% of the testimony I've seen during committee meetings is information that has been previously presented either via the city's website or in public forums. For city employees and lawyers that attend these things and get paid (and I'm guessing that the four Ice Miller attorneys at this committee meeting each billed the city for several hours, even though only one of them did about two minutes worth of talking), these things are a goldmine.

I'll still do my civic duty and keep in touch with my council representatives via e-mail and other methods of communication, but I am done attending these meetings.

The most productive time I spent during this horrid meeting were the minutes before the meeting where I talked with Deputy Mayor Michael Huber. I asked him about the rumors that the city is quietly renegotiating the deal. He told me that while he wouldn't say they're renegotiating, he said the city is very "flexible" on the deal. It's worth reminding readers that the council has full oversight of this, and can re-write the contract as they see fit. I also asked him about the lack of public meetings that have been held since the deal was announced, which is in stark contrast to the several dozen public forums held during the water/sewage utility privatization deal. He said that they aren't scheduling forums, but the city is attending events at individual organization's requests.


  1. I've read many articles regarding the downtown Indianapolis parking meter ordeal. I've read many articles concerning Affiliated Computer Services since the day they signed a contract with our FSSA welfare system in Indiana. I've worked for the State of IN for over 12 years. I've watched this ACS mentally torture their employee's, their managers use intimidation tactics, place and increase workloads on their employees that left it impossible to maintain. The stress factors that ACS has allowed their employees to endure is reprehensible. Plus a salary freeze for the lower end employee's.
    Companies that are successful have a solid foundation of ethics that do not stray. They keep their employees involved in decisions and progress; A part of the solution. Solid developing companies also affirm the worth of their work force and create moral boosters. Employees also love it when top officials visit their location on a regular basis. It sends a powerful signal when the leader comes to your workplace. It demonstrates that what you do matters.
    In the passed four years, I've not seen one top official visit. How pathetic is that?

    Companies that we want in our city and state, are companies with high ethical standards. Companies that value their employee's and thrive from diversity. Companies that have proven track records that have proven success rates.
    When good companies move into a city, they begin to set standards for other companies. Indianapolis should be looking at the cities of Seattle, Raleigh, Boston and mimicking.

    Don't allow this ACS company to create any more damage to our city and state and to the people of Indianapolis. Speak up ! Write letters ! Be heard !

  2. ENFORCEMENT PROCEEDINGS - SEC Charges Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. With Stock Options Backdating and False Disclosures: "The SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., alleges that from 1995 to 2006, ACS engaged in a fraudulent and deceptive scheme to provide executives and other employees with undisclosed compensation."

    Above is a part of a recent investigation into ACS.

    Seriously folks let's get real.
    Public officials are supposed to be trustees of the commonweal, not political
    buccaneers seeking their own private gain. But sometimes, in what economists call a
    principal-agent problem, those trustees forsake that obligation and misuse the power
    delegated to them in ways that advance their personal interests rather than those of the
    Corruption distorts the allocation of resources toward projects that
    can generate illicit payoffs. Besides the undesirable efficiency consequences arising
    from this distortion, the effect is likely to aggravate social inequalities, because the poor and powerless suffer, by definition, a comparative disadvantage in securing special favors.
    If the $500,000 has to be paid if the City-County Council will not vote for the ACS deal. Pay ACS's political blackmail scheme and get them out of town. Like all the other commentaries together with articles I've been reading have showed, ACS is not the kind of corporation we want in our town. Political blackmail, special interests, conflict of interests, WHERES THE FBI? WHERES THE FEDS?
    Has anyone ever read ACS Ethical Standards they try to impose on their employees at the welfare office. Their employees aren't allowed to accept even a Christmas card. Yet the CEO's and Directors of this company have done just that.
    ACS is a shameful, unethical, disgraceful hypocrite, not to mention the so called "leaders" of Indianapolis for creating this mess.
    What an embarrassment to our city.


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