Monday, March 19, 2007

Vieste Researched on 2006 Blog Notes

The following is a research of the Blog for information and background on the Vieste projects
Researched and submitted by Sandy Whitehead
Jackson Township

8/21/06 Council
5. Comparato and Branaman of Vieste gave a presentation concerning their part of a partnership financial and planning package for various projects including the I-74 corridor and St. Leon area. Their presentation was vague with respect to exactly what services they will be providing for their $65,000. Phase 1 would be completed in 90 days. They also stated they will be matching the $65,000 with $65,000 of their own work. This work is apparently the part that DCEDI has already purchased from them. [NOTE: Messmore, County Adm. Followed this up the next day stating it would be $30,000 for 2006 and $30,000 for 2007. He has a contract agreement that Ewbank has gone over. So maybe it’s $60,000.]

Cary Pickens noted that at a dinner in Nov 2005 these people were planning on doing all this for free and would make their money on the investments they bring in. They had just bought out Cogden Engineering (sp?) and Dick Robertson (of the North Dearborn Road projects) was also there. He said he hadn’t heard anything more since Joe Pesch (sp?) up north called with a plan to dedicate COIT money to this project. [NOTE: This is not bringing in financing- this is just moving our own tax dollars around.]

Camparato stated that they were here not just because of Honda but also because of what is here. He went on to tell about the US 31 Corridor in Carmel - having an $80 mil arts center and a world leader in roundabouts. They created an overlay zoning set up 600 ft on either side of the ROW of US 31 for a 5 ½ mile stretch from 465 to 146th street. He talked about service roads and 5-acre minimums with 15,000 sq ft minimum businesses. He said they didn’t want the big boxes [NOTE: It was unclear how they kept that out of the plan.]

For those of you wondering who these people are, some info is below:
According to the Vieste, LLC company’s website there are two principals. Their website profiles are:Michael A. Comparato, Sr., President and CEO has extensive experience in corporate mergers, acquisitions and asset management and has planned, financed, developed and managed over $500 million of real estate nationally. He has successfully engineered financial transactions in both for-profit and non-profit communities, utilizing a variety of debt/equity vehicles including closed-end investment funds, real estate investment trusts, equity syndications, tax-exempt bond issues, pension funds and institutional lending sources. Mr. Comparato has served public and private sector clients as owner's representative/program manager on several major projects. The aggregate value of these capital projects exceeds $300 million.
As Senior Vice President, Mark H. Branaman heads up the Technical Services Group for VIESTE, LLC. His responsibilities include working with the Managing Principals of each of the Technical Services Group operating companies to ensure operations occur to meet the needs of VIESTE'S clients, the Management Services Group of VIESTE, the Portfolio Holdings Group of VIESTE, and the investors of VIESTE. Mr. Branaman is responsible for helping VIESTE grow through both organic growth and mergers and acquisitions. Endangered Species Chocolate Co and The Indianapolis Museum of Art are the company’s 2 projects since formed a little over a year ago. (Branaman’s information was removed from the Vieste site later)

London Witte’s website states: London Witte Group, LLC (LWG) is a certified public accounting firm that employs professional and support personnel in Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm provides an array of accounting and consulting services to a wide variety of public, private, and governmental clients.

Jim Higgins has been a contact here. His profile states:Jim Higgins, a firm partner, joined London Witte Group in June 1997. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Ball State University and has over twenty (20) years of experience in working with Indiana communities on financial issues. He currently is overseeing the governmental services segment of the practice. This segment provides financial advisory services to political subdivisions throughout the State of Indiana including school corporations, libraries, cities, towns, municipal and not-for-profit utilities, and other special taxing authorities. These services include, but are not limited to, bond and note financings, cash flow and escrow verifications, budget preparation and analysis, revenue requirement studies, property tax impact analysis, bond proceeds investment management, continuing disclosure services and representation before legislative, regulatory and other governing bodies.Jim's governmental experience is extensive and includes previous employment with both the Indiana Bond Bank and the Indiana State Board of Accounts. He has worked with over 400 political subdivisions and taxing authorities in addressing their financing, budgetary and accounting needs including assisting with the issuance of over $3 billion of bonds and notes. He has prepared and made presentations to local officials and their organizations, community groups, financing professionals, investors, legislators and rating agencies regarding programs offered by the Bond Bank and municipal finance in general.Jim is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Indiana CPA Society. Additionally, Jim is affiliated with the following organizations:Indiana Association of County Commissioners Association of Indiana Counties Indiana Association of Cities and Towns Indiana League of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers Indiana School Board Association Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents Indiana Association of School Business Officials Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada Indiana Government Finance Officers AssociationIt should be noted that Council might fund this with the stipulation that they can stop it if they don’t like what they see- though there is apparently a 90-day notice, which pretty much means they’ve paid for all of Phase 1 at least. [NOTE: It should also be noted that there is duplication of some of the services these people are providing. Woolpert’s sewer study and the Comp Plan for example already have some of this info. If they fail to coordinate this with Planning and Zoning and if they continue to operate behind closed doors the chances of PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT are slim. This entire process needs to open up more.]

9/5/2006 Commissioner’s meeting

Architura- represented by George Brunner and Patricia Romiti presented their introductory materials and asked to be considered for future projects in the county. They are from INDY and seem to specialize in fixing problems in buildings – at least from their oral presentation. (NOTE TO SELF: IS THIS ANYONE?)

Messmore presented the Vieste and London Witte contracts for approval after “much debate.” [NOTE: There was NO PUBLIC DEBATE at any commissioners meeting on this subject.] Messmore noted that there was a representative of Vieste- Level 5 Engineering there tonight. (Dick Robertson). [NOTE: Robertson was previously with another engineering company CEA (Congdon Engineering Associates) who worked on the North Dearborn Road realignment and was pursuing federal funds for that project.]
Messmore said Council approved $30,000 for 2006 and $30,000 for 2007 of this contract and Ewbank noted that there was no funding allotted should it go to the third year. [NOTE: Is there something that was discussed or in the contract about a 3rd year?]Messmore noted that there is an exit clause they can use if they don’t like what Vieste proposes. Commissioners signed the professional services agreement with Vieste, LLC and then the professional services agreement with London Witte.
[NOTE: Why does this remind me of the house of cards that Enron was built on? WHY didn’t commissioners publicly set goals for this and let these discussions be out in the open? Do they really know what they are signing or are they taking someone’s word for this as being a good idea? Who is that someone?]

Messmore said the Plan Commission has reenergized the land use plan and that this Vieste work will be an asset to that work also. [NOTE: The land use maps are to be finished in March of 2007. Vieste has a 2-year contract. It seems like we are out of synch here.]

10/4/2006 Commissioner’s meeting

Contract for $25,000 for Chamber/Redevelopment signed as usual.

11/28/2006 Council Meeting

Mike Rozow, of the Chamber of Commerce, was grilled by Mitter regarding how much of the $25,000 goes to DCEDI funding. (About $20,000) Mitter said his support for EDI has dried up and he is unwilling to spend another dime of taxpayer money on EDI as they are supporting a developer (Mariah) who is in violation of county zoning ordinances. Rozow said the money goes from the county to the chamber to Redevelopment Commission to EDI. In addition $50,000 from Tourism Bureau (CVTB) goes to Redevelopment Commission, which works with EDI. Rozow said part of his salary comes out of this too.Mitter said he’d worked hard on the TIFs with EDI and felt their latest actions were a slap in the face.The money was approved at this point with discussion later on these issues.[NOTE: Mitter must have seen the circuitous route this money was taking. It seems that the county needs to clean up their funding mechanism on these private entities.]

12/5/2006 Commissioner’s meeting

Vieste Update- Dick Robertson said he had no report [NOTE: Commissioners claims indicate $22,500 paid to Vieste. Yet they have nothing to report.]

DCEDI asked Commissioners to ratify their board of directors:Bill Ritzmann- President, Pete Resnick, VP, John Maxwell, Treasurer, and Jim West, Sec’y. Approved.


jaysandy said...

I want to be sure everyone knows that those "notes" in bold, except for one that says "note to self", were made by Chris Mueller. She noticed something strange in the beginning, but there was no way of knowing where this was all going. I found this information VERY interesting.

Sandy Whitehead

Anonymous said...

"This is not bringing in financing- this is just moving our own tax dollars around."

It is moving our tax dollars around into Vieste's bank account! And with very little to show for it.