ROC committee to seek court order, force document request

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INDIANAPOLIS – Democrats on the City-County Council’s Regional Operations Center Investigating Committee say they’ve been frustrated since last fall with foot-dragging by the Ballard administration when it comes to providing documents about the city’s move into the ROC.

Now they’re prepared to seek a court order from a judge instructing the city to comply with their request for documents.

“What we got today is unacceptable and most of it was on the documents request since November,” said Councilman Joe Simpson. “You heard the same story from the word, ‘Go!’ ‘We don’t have them. We don’t know where they are. It’s not my job.’ My job is for you to tell me if you don’t have them, then, why? Where are they?”

Hours after the committee’s deadline, passed over Republican objections, went by, Simpson said partial documents began trickling into the council’s attorney from the city’s lawyers.

“There were about ten documents that had no documents attached to it. Some we’re not able to find and four of them, there were no documents period.”

Simpson and the committee hope the documents will provide background and facts for the city’s decision in April 2011 to sign a 25-year, $18 million contract with developer Alex Carroll to move into a regional operations center at the former Eastgate Consumer Mall on North Shadeland Avenue.

The administration claimed that the committee’s request for documents was incomplete or, on occasion, a duplication of reports that should already be in the council’s own files.

The ROC was opened in time for Super Bowl XLVI in February 2012. At the time Mayor Greg Ballard and then-Public Safety Director Frank Straub pronounced it as state of the art.

Since its ribbon cutting the ROC has been plagued with problems.

During Super Bowl week the video monitoring system went down due to a lack of ventilation for the video screens. Later that summer the Marion County Public Health Department was called to investigate complaints about air quality. Fire inspectors determined in October 2012 that the fire suppression system was inadequate or didn’t exist, forcing the city to pay firefighters to walk the halls of the ROC as a firewatch brigade. The city did not develop a punchlist of 100 essential improvements until December. Last September Public Safety Director Troy Riggs, who inherited the ROC from his predecessor, ordered the site evacuated because of a lack of firewalls and construction and workmanship issues. More than 100 police officers and public safety employees were relocated even though the city continues to pay nearly $60,000 per month in rent.

Riggs would like the ROC reopened in time for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in late May.

The ROC deal was approved at a time when the city was under pressure by the NFL to have a new ROC by kick off of the Super Bowl while the Ballard administration was facing general and public safety budget deficits. In the summer of 2012 the lease agreement for IMPD’s East District Headquarters was expiring, forcing the city to find a new home for the officers. Lease agreements obtained by FOX59 News indicate that Straub signed the deal with Carroll without the approval of the city’s controller, corporation counsel or his own finance director.

A source has told FOX59 News that several documents, many possibly pertaining to the ROC deal, were shredded in Straub’s office during the three months between his announced resignation and eventual departure in August 2012.

Simpson wants to determine not only if documents are missing but why.

“If they’re not there, then you got to give a good reason why they are not there,” he said. “I think at some point we will be calling people like Straub and other people before us.”