Muncie: What is the Next Muncie?

The Oligarchy Runs Muncie Through Nonprofits

In my recent article about the federally mandated local organization Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), I discussed how the local oligarchy had situated itself as a partner in the planning process. More specifically, the descendant of the Ball family, Jud Fisher, who runs the Ball Family Foundation, has formed a new organization called Next Muncie. According to our regional planner, Marta Moody, Next Muncie has partnered with the old Muncie Action Plan (MAP). MAP was funded by the Ball Family, with roots dating back to 2010.

They call together public meetings at the Horizon Convention Center or Minnetrista Cultural Center (both run by the oligarchy) to decide how Muncie taxpayers should invest their money. While they’re doing this, I ask why our mayor isn’t leading this process?

Next Muncie Partners with MAP

According to their website, Next Muncie promises:

A new vision is being cast that lays a core foundation for our community’s next era of prosperity. We are celebrating our current successes and structuring our next opportunities. Most importantly, we are working together for the good of the place we call home. The Next Muncie aims to build lively places, foster healthy living, and create new opportunities for learning and working.

https://www.nextmuncie.com/

Doesn’t “Next Muncie” sound like owners of Muncie? The last I checked, the citizens/taxpayers/voters are the owners of Muncie.

Anyway, Muncie/DC ranks 84th in wellness out of 92 counties in Indiana. Finally, maybe, we will see a local healthcare system that promotes prevention from diseases over profiting from illness.

Since we also rank low academically, maybe our local university will offer free college for Muncie students.

No, we will not get any of that with Next Muncie. They mentioned “opportunities,” and we have a new Opportunity Zone downtown. Did we create a local opportunity to enhance the wealth of the impoverished in our community? Is the Opportunity Zone a place where the oligarchs make reparations to the families they screwed by preventing them from building equity in homeownership like white Muncie residents due to systemic racism?

No, the opportunity zones are actually for millionaires to place capital gains to avoid paying taxes.

Next Muncie is just another nonprofit created by Jud Fisher to control the Muncie community with his family’s old money made off cheap natural resources and the hard labor of Muncie working class.

How is Next Muncie Controlled

Jud has selected two key figures for this nonprofit. I’ve asked both for an interview, but they have declined.

Jeff Bird is the President of IU Health/Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, a nonprofit that pays no property taxes to Muncie. A large percentage of the doctors don’t live in Muncie either. They either live in the county or commute from Hamilton County near Indianapolis. They call themselves a health care system, but they reside over a community consistently ranked in the bottom tenth percentile in overall wellness.

Geoffrey Mearns is President of Ball State University. Ball State is another nonprofit – it pays no taxes to the City of Muncie even though they own a considerable percentage of property within the City proper. Their footprint gets larger and larger as they gobble up properties on their borders via LLC’s so they expand even further. This further reduces tax dollars for the community to operate itself. So, guess what happens to those taxpayers remaining?

As with Ball Hospital, a large portion of Ball State’s professors commute from outside the city to work. The board of trustees is appointed by the governor of Indiana. Do you think they have the best interests of local taxpayers at heart?

As I wrote about last week, these ‘Friends of Oligarchs’ have nestled themselves among the planners and implementers of federal infrastructure dollars heading our way. I’ve been exchanging emails with Marta Moody, the chief planner in Delaware County, to ask why Next Muncie is interfering with government processes.

I’LL UPDATE THIS ARTICLE once I get some real answers from Marta and czb (the planners).

Quick Touch on Delaware Advancement Corporation (DAC)

Since we’ve been talking about “Tools of the Oligarchy,” we wanted to mention DAC. The Delaware Advancement Corporation controls the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and the Horizon Convention Center. DAC was instrumental in pulling together all the land for the Washington Street Loft Apartments and selling the property to a Bloomington millionaire to shield his capital gains. We still haven’t received the name from the property managers, chamber, or mayor’s office, but believe the millionaire is involved in the CarDon nursing home business throughout the state.

We’ve reviewed last year’s financial statements, and most of the tax returns contain what you’d expect. However, DAC has over $14 million in investments with the same debt. We’ve sent an email to their controller to get a detailed breakdown since there has been much activity between the Muncie Sanitation District, Muncie Redevelopment Commission, and DAC.

We also found this on the City’s website, which caused me to pause. This is from the October 2021 minutes of a Muncie Redevelopment Commission meeting regarding the Loft Apartments and the controversial bike trail along Riverside Avenue leading into Ball State University:

Yes, you read those two sentences correctly, “Nonprofits are often able to get grants that cities can’t get. So the state put together the statute to support and encourage these transactions.”

Why would a nonprofit have a better chance of getting funding for a bike path within city limits? Instead, the City takes the property and then hands it over to DAC. Seems unethical.

Summary

Based on my assessment, the lines between the local government and oligarchy have gone beyond blurry. The oligarchy is running the show and passing along information to the mayor. The mayor then communicates to his administration and the media who prints it without any questions. Very obedient of everyone, but that’s not how our government functions nor is it how the press should be functioning.

We’ll explain why the press is so obedient as we evaluate the financial statements of all the nonprofits in Muncie who get their funding from the oligarchy. A good chunk of these nonprofits pay ads directly to the media companies in Muncie. Those dollars would go away if the press started holding them accountable.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.
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