There is a lot to comment on about the Carmel Redevelopment Commission’s financial mess; however, as a former CRC commissioner who resigned, I think it is best Carmel residents know why it is such a mess.
The commissioners are accomplished people, so it amazes me how differently they approach things once inside the political world of the commission. Most of the decisions the commission made while I was a member were made in executive sessions and reflected in totality what the mayor wanted to do. There were other meetings that certain commissioners attended with the mayor, the executive director, consultants, lawyers and others, but as a commissioner I was never apprised of what happened. There were no votes taken behind closed doors. But after presentations from consultants and their lawyers in executive sessions, it was well known how you were supposed to vote in the public sessions. Look at all the 5-0 votes of the Commission over the last 12 years – you could never get that much consensus from business decision makers.
I was once asked by another commissioner if I knew how certain city council finance committee members were going to vote on a bond request. At that point, I wanted to crawl under the table and leave. I went home and told my wife I was going to resign because of my ethical conflict with having to serve two masters, and with the way the CRC operates.
I could not believe the multimillion dollar decisions that were being made by CRC commissioners with little or no business process analysis being completed. They relied totally on what they were told by consultants, their loyalty to the mayor and an attorney who continually reassured them everything was legal. This is what has gotten them into the financial mess they have come with to the city council to try to resolve. They borrowed money in secondary- and third-level markets at high rates because they could not justify bonding the debt, because the revenue wasn’t there. But, they still continued to spend.
Do I think things will change? Absolutely not! Just last week, the CRC dropped a bomb on the city council finance committee by notifying it for the first time that the city supposedly owes the CRC $5.5 million for piping to hook city buildings up to the energy center. What kind of sound financial management is this? The CRC needs to be shut down because Carmel taxpayers just can’t afford it!