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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "IEDC undermines message with lack of transparency"

Lesley Weidenbener's Sunday column today in the Louisville Courier Journal begins:

INDIANAPOLIS — The state’s economic development agency has come under fire in recent years for failing to disclose information about job creation that would make it easier to determine how well it’s achieving.

State lawmakers and Gov. Mike Pence have tried to rectify the situation with a new law and promises that the Indiana Economic Development Corp. will be more transparent.

But now agency officials say they’re not ready to disclose how much state money it’s using for a new deal to advertise on the Pacers court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The deal is the first in the National Basketball Association to close — well, apparently not actually close — since the league voted to allow sponsorships on the edge of the courts.

When asked how much the deal is worth or how much the state is paying, an IEDC spokeswoman said this in an email:

“Since this is a mutually beneficial partnership, the Pacers offered a custom, comprehensive package to the IEDC well below market value. Releasing the exact amount of the package could hinder the ongoing advertising negotiations of both the Pacers and NBA (as these assets sell for a range of prices at different stadiums across the country).”

In other words, it’s not good for the Pacers to reveal how much — or how little — the state paid for the sponsorship, which includes the words “A State that Works” along the court’s out-of-bounds lines.

But because the IEDC spends state money, it can’t withhold the information based on concerns about the impact on the Pacers or the NBA. It needs a legal reason — one outlined in the Indiana Public Records Act — for keeping the numbers confidential.

When asked for a legal reason, the IEDC spokeswoman said that the state “does not actually have a final executed contract with the Pacers yet, just an agreement in principle.”

“Thus, our negotiations are still active with the Pacers,” she said. “Negotiations, including ours, are protected under statute.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 20, 2013 12:45 PM
Posted to Indiana Government