Gary Public Safety Building

The Gary Public Safety Building at 555 Polk St. housed the city's police department.

At year's end, voters will be free of a Gary mayor who backed and helped broker a deal to sell a city building and then put taxpayers on the hook for principle and interest payments, which will total about twice the sale price over the next 20 years.

But why wait for the fleecing to play out?

This Independence Day, Gary voters should demand that their city council revisit and pull the plug on the controversial sale and leaseback of the city's public safety building.

The need to stand against this deal became even greater this past week when the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission filed charges alleging wrongdoing by a financial adviser to the city in an unrelated case out of Harvey, Illinois.

The latest warning signs associated with the sale-leaseback deal couldn't be more pronounced.

The SEC alleged that financial adviser Comer Capital Group and its principal, Brandon Comer, of Gary, lead the Illinois-based Harvey Library District astray in a 2014 bond deal.

Comer also has served as a financial adviser in the unrelated sale-leaseback deal, which seeks to lead Gary's finances astray into 20 years of high-interest payments.

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It's past time to draw a line in the sand on this deal.

We all can be hopeful the strong stance new Gary mayor-elect Jerome Prince has taken against the sale-leaseback plan.

Prince has publicly called out the plan for what it is: a short-sighted play for an estimated $35 million in revenue that would barely put a Band Aid on the gushing wound that is Gary local government finance. In return, taxpayers could be on the hook for paying about $80 million over the next 20 years to satisfy terms of the deal.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who mustered a meager 37% of the vote in the May primary election, pushed the sale-leaseback deal. A majority of the sitting Gary Common Council voted to allow it.

Where there's smoke, there's fire, and Gary has been burned enough over the years.

The warning signs associated with this deal are flashing brighter than the grand finale of a Region fireworks display.

There's still time to douse the fuse on the sale-leaseback deal before yet another financial explosion rocks the Steel City.



Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.