Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Litebox Still Thorn in Side of Ballard, Daniels

I guess you should know who you call a visionary.

This weekend, the Indianapolis Star published the results of a continued investigation into Litebox, a company claiming to be bringing 1,100 new jobs to Indianapolis.

As you may remember, the deal was announced at what seems to have been a hastily-called news conference just a couple of weeks before the General Election. Mayor Greg Ballard and Governor Mitch Daniels stood beside Litebox CEO Bob Yanagihara and heaped nothing but praise on the man. The Star's report tells quite a different story. It's worth the read.

The city trotted out a "new board chairman and spokesperson" of Yanagihara's company to be interviewed by the press, but that interview seemed to just create more questions. The Star's report on that wild interview is here.

Granted, the city has very little to lose in this deal. They didn't promise Yanagihara anything in return if nothing gets built, but the hastily-called news conference and the heaping praise laid on the company's founder seem little more than a reelection ploy now. It also underscores how desperate this Mayor was to get positive job news in the media prior to doing his due diligence.

Questioned about these things before, Ballard always falls back on the, "This is how it's always been done," excuse. Well, if this is the paradigm he inherited, then it's time for a change. I also get the feeling that Mitch Daniels' face just keeps getting redder and redder over this clear embarrassment.

1 comment:

Paul K. Ogden said...

"Granted, the city has very little to lose in this deal. They didn't promise Yanagihara anything in return if nothing gets built..."

I don't know why people, including people in the media, simply assume this is true because government officials say that. The fact is incentives for these type of deals are generally paid over time and contain clawback provisions if they don't fulfill their promises. So it isn't like they meet every promise and only then get the money.

The fact is the City has never been particularly aggressive about monitoring job promises. And they aren't particularly aggressive about using the clawback provision to recoup funds.

To give an example, what is to prevent the Litebox owner from hiring hundreds of residents, getting millions from the City, and then turning around and laying those people off?