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Redevelopment boss fired in Carmel, mayor calls foul

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CARMEL – In a sign of growing frustration between the mayor and council members, the Carmel City Council has voted to effectively fire the man in charge of the financing of many of the city’s high-profile projects.

By a 4-3 vote, the council decided not to extend the contract of Les Olds, executive director of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission.

The CRC is the financing arm of projects such as the Palladium, the Center for the Performing Arts and the Carmel City Center.

Council members expressed concerns about irregularities found in several contracts administered by Olds. Those concerns were echoed by a former councilman who last fall requested a federal investigation.

“It was very difficult to obtain documents and information from the redevelopment commission,” said John Acceturo, who told Fox 59 that he’s spoken with the FBI about deals approved by the CRC.

“Documents are missing. Pages are missing. Contracts are missing,” Acceturo said. “The only way we’re going to tell is if the FBI gets in here and really digs deep into the activities of the redevelopment commission.”

U.S Attorney Joe Hogsett had no comment on Acceturo’s call for a federal investigation.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said he hasn’t talked to the FBI but would not comment on reports that persons connected to the commission have.

“There are a few documents and missing exhibits and signatures that were missing, but this is a few out of thousands of pages,” said Brainard.

“It’s irresponsible to have a city department responsible for several ongoing city projects…right now you can go across the street and see dirt being moved for a city parking garage and as of today we have no one to manage the project,” he said. “There’s still a lot of redevelopment that needs to take place to build up the tax base in this underutilized area.

“The obligations are several millions of dollars less than the revenue each year. We know where the city of Carmel is. We end the year tens of millions of dollars in the bank,” Brainard said.

Brainard said he would sit down with members of the city council and develop a plan to appropriate budgeted money to put the redevelopment commission back to work.