Added September 19, 2008: This looks like it will be resolved Monday, 9/22/2008, when the release of the requested information has been promised to occur. Â Read this updated post for more information – and thank you for your interest!
Today, I received the letter of denial from the City of Fort Wayne concerning my request for a document given to the Redevelopment Commission on Monday at their regular meeting. Â If you haven’t been following, Jim Irwin of Barry Real Estate gave a presentation to the Commissioners concerning where the project stands in relation to expenditures and projections, what Hardball Capital has contributed toward their $5 million requirement and some possible additions to the ballpark if it continues to remain on track financially.
The letter I received today from Carol Taylor, City Attorney states:
[…] We are declining to provide the information given by Jim Irwin based on Indiana Code 5-14-3-4(b)(6) as these documents are intra-agency advisory or deliberative material that are expressions of opinion or of a speculative nature that are communicated for the purposes of decision making.
I agree that the portion of the spreadsheet Mr. Irwin gave to the Commissioners relating to possible expenditures if the project remains on-track, could be considered to be of a “speculative nature communicated for the purposes of decision making.” Â The first part of the code, concerning “advisory or deliberative”, well, I guess that’s up to interpretation. Â As far as the document being an intra-agency advisory or material, well, last I knew, Mr. Irwin did not work for the City, he works for Barry Real Estate. Â From what I understood in the meeting, the document originated from BRE, not the City. Â I would respectfully submit that the City has no say in whether or not this document should be released – BRE has the say since it’s their document.
I am still disappointed at this turn of events. Â The tax-payers of this community DESERVE an update of the finances of the project and in particular, the contributions of Hardball Capital towards the ballpark. Â Yes, BRE/HC are scheduled to be in front of City Council on November 18, 2008. Â But, that is too long to wait. Â What makes an update even more needed at this point is the fact that BRE has missed the window it set for itself to start construction of The Harrison by September 1st. Â Their reason they’ve missed the window is economy related. Â It’s even more important that the community have assurances in the form of a list of the contributions already made, that Hardball Capital is still in this game and truly doing what they can to make this project a reality.
This is what I am going to do. Â Tomorrow, I will be completing the necessary paperwork to file a formal complaint with the Office of the Public Access Counselor. Â This process, however, is not a quick fix answer. Â In fact, the process could take weeks or even a month or two to be completed. Â So, I will be submitting another request to the City to release the current numbers for the Harrison Square project and itemized amount of the contributions by Hardball Capital towards the ballpark. Â This request will not mention the Jim Irwin document. Â Even if this last request is successful, I will still pursue the complaint with IPAC because I think it important to have a decision on this matter.
I was going to wait until tomorrow to announce this, and I will probably make a formal announcement then, but I am opening up comments so that you do not need to sign in or sign up for anything. Â This is a test which I will evaluate in three weeks to see whether or not it will be kept open. Â I really want to hear from you regarding the release of the Harrison Square budget information. Â There is also a poll question on this issue. Â Please take a moment and let me know where you stand on this.