A City-County Council Investigative Committee failed to pass a vote Thursday afternoon with the sole purpose of voting to serve subpoenas on the City of Indianapolis and the landowner of the Regional Operations Center.
The vote fell along party lines, 5-5, with Republicans voting against the subpoenas and five Democrats on the committee voting in favor.
13 Investigates has learned the committee had revamped its efforts to issue subpoenas after a failed vote last week when council members Ben Hunter and Aaron Freeman argued the requests were too vague.
Fred Biesecker, the attorney for the Council, reported a lack of cooperation from the Office of Corporation Council and 401 Public Safety, the entity that owns the old Eastgate Mall where the Operations Center is located.
According to Biesecker, requests for documents pertaining to the 25-year lease were requested on November 14, 2013. To date, Biesecker says 401 Public Safety has failed to turn over any documentation. The Office of Corporation Council has turned over some of its records, but Biesecker says it has yet to receive most of the critical records the committee needs to complete its investigation.
In a statement sent to Eyewitness News Thursday afternoon, the public relations firm for 401 Public Safety and its managing partner, Alex Carroll, said its attorney asked to appear before the committee tonight, but was denied. The statement goes on to say:
"401 Public Safety has not said that it refuses to produce documents. We consider the Committee's request for document to be overly broad and burdensome."
The Committee formed last fall, on the heels of several 13 Investigates reports on a troubling lease deal with the city and months of "fire watch" due to fire code violations.
Indianapolis Public Safety Director, Troy Riggs evacuated IMPD East District and the Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security from the premises after learning fire walls had not been properly installed among other fire safety concerns.
401 Public Safety reached a settlement agreement with the city in December to make the necessary repairs. The company says it cannot begin work until city permits are issued.
The city had planned to return IMPD East District and Homeland Security officers back to the building by the end of March.
The Special Investigative Committee was given subpoena powers with a vote by the City County Council. It is trying to determine whether information provided by the Department of Public Safety to the Council committee in April, 2011 was complete and accurate. It is also searching to find if any formal or informal commitments relating to the Regional Operations Center were not publicly disclosed, and whetehr the city entered other leases with similar unfavorable terms.
See the subpoenas here.
Full statement from 401 Public Safety:
401 Public Safety's attorney asked to be able to appear before tonight's Indianapolis City-County Council ROC committee meeting, so we can state our position. His request to be placed on the agenda was denied. We welcome an opportunity to tell our side of the story to the committee; no subpoena is required.
401 Public Safety has not said that it refuses to produce documents. We consider the Committee's request for documents to be overly broad and burdensome for the following reasons:
- Some of the requested documents are public records and documents. The City should have them, and it should not be 401 Public Safety's responsibility to produce them.
- Some of the documents are already in the possession and control of the City-County Council. It should not be 401 Public Safety's responsibility to produce them.
Our attorney has requested meetings with Fred Biesecker, an attorney for the City, to discuss the Committee's request for documents and narrow it down to just those documents that are 401 Public Safety's responsibility. We met on January 10, and scheduled two follow-up meetings for January 16 and February 18. Mr. Biesecker cancelled both follow-up meetings.
401 Public Safety was pleased to reach an agreement with the City of Indianapolis December 10 regarding the Regional Operations Center (ROC). The agreement included a mutually-agreed final punch list of items to be completed. We agreed to start work as soon as the City secured permits, which was their responsibility (item 3, page 2 of the agreement). The State issued permits February 4, but the City has not yet issued code enforcement permits. We cannot begin work until the City permits are issued.
We are eager to start work and to have IMPD personnel return to the ROC after the interior items are completed.
As outlined in the agreement, we will complete the majority of work within 60 days of the permits being issued and the remainder of the outdoor items by May.