The article, "Reversal shakes Humane Society: Shelter’s strategy threatened by attorney general objection to structure of recovery plan" (http://www.ibj.com/html/top_story.html) was disappointing because it continues to paint the A.G.(Attorney General) and the animal welfare groups as obstacles in the Humane Society's path, rather than fair-minded persons seeking to protect not just a public charitable trust, but also the procedural constructs that prevent whopping conflicts of interest and self-dealing in the future administration of the Mary Powell Crume trust.
It is worth noting, that a current H.S.I. board member is employed by the IBJ in a managerial position. Further, H.S.I. enlisted the IBJ's sister magazine, Indianapolis Woman, for a 5-page public image promotional piece just last month.
The IBJ's version of the A.G.'s office suddenly and without notice "reversing" its position about collateralization of the Crume Trust and the most recent accounting is incomplete, . . . again. It seems Ms Davis simply took the word of H.S.I. and did not verify it.
MtA's counsel had recommended to the Attorney General that HSI collateralize its own real estate for the loan it is seeking. The A.G. modified that proposal such that the Crume Trust could be collateralized and a bank loan made to the beneficiary (the Humane Society) -- SO LONG AS H.S.I. (as beneficiary) would pledge its own real estate back to the trust. The A.G. was led to believe that H.S.I. owned about $3.3 million in real estate, as shown on the Humane Society's financial statements. Thus, a 3-way loan transaction seemed feasible to the A.G.
This 3-way loan transaction was proposed by the A.G. to H.S.I. on Friday afternoon, June 25, 2004. Four days later, the A.G. met with mtA and other animal advocacy representatives and pitched the same proposal to us. We immediately went back to our research files and on the early morning of Wed., June 30 we informed the A.G. that Karen Patitz (co-founder of mtA) previously had researched the Marion County assessor's office records on that property to show that it was owned by "H.S.I., as Trustee." The Trust Docket was also re-reviewed. WE UNCOVERED that the Crume Trust owns that Michigan Road real estate on which H.S.I.is located, not H.S.I.
The CRUCIAL PIECE OF EVIDENCE uncovered by those challenging H.S.I. blew a huge hole in the A.G.'s proposal because now the Crume Trust was receiving no security for the pledging of its principal. The A.G. then contacted H.S.I. with the CORRECT information that the 7929 Michigan Rd parcel was already owned by the Trust and, thus, could not be mortgaged back to the Trust under the 3-way loan proposal. H.S.I. denied this but failed to respond to the AG with any proof to the contrary or any item of information that would even suggest otherwise.
When H.S.I. failed to prove otherwise, the A.G. had to file its change in the position on the 22nd Accounting (since a significant asset was not accounted for), and its Objection to the Request to Borrow because the deal could not go through as long as the Crume Trust could not be protected against the loss. The Humane Society misinformed the A.G., putting the A.G. in the bind of "reversing" its decision.
FURTHERMORE, the IBJ's report makes it sound as if there is still a question as to whether H.S.I. or the Trust owns the 7929 parcel. However, had IBJ's reporter done her own research and not taken the H.S.I.'s word as truth - - clearly, the A.G. also had to learn that same lesson -- she would find that:
A. The 1967 court entry, shows that the Trust purchased the property from Mr. Otto Ray (not H.S.I.); which entry also includes the 20-year lease agreement showing that H.S.I. leases that property from the Trust.
B. In 1987 the court order stated that the 1967 lease agreement was renewed for a new 20-year term, indicating that H.S.I. still DID NOT own that parcel in 1987; rather, H.S.I. leased that parcel of land. This was an opportunity for at least one of the co-trustees or the Attorney General to uncover the omission, but all three failed.
C. Nothing in the Trust court docket, since 1967, shows that the Trust sold or gave the Michigan Road land outright to the Humane Society. There would have to have been some judicial action approving such a sale of real estate back to itself without court approval (see I.C. 30-4-3--7(a)(3) and 30-4-3-5).
Once again, this IBJ article is completely slanted to suit H.S.I. and its story. We implore Ms Davis and the IBJ to do more complete research of the facts and to report the news more completely and fairly. This is a public benevolent trust and the docket has been on file and available to the public for more than 80 years. Marion County assessor records are public. For gosh sakes, if laypersons can do this research, then a trained reporter ought to be able to at least replicate what "laypersons" have done.