Tuesday, November 07, 2017
Right-To-Work Billionaire Wins IPS’ Coca-Cola Property Deal
PART 1 OF A BIGGER STORY
By Doug Martin
“I’m in a male-dominated industry. They like to see deer running by with big antlers.”
Diane Hendricks, in reference to keeping a herd of deer on her 200-acre estate
“In a video shot on Jan. 18, 2011, days after Walker was sworn in as governor and shortly before he introduced his Act 10 bill ending collective bargaining rights for public sector workers,” billionaire Diane Hendricks, from Beloit, Wisconsin, asks the governor if there is “Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions....And become a right-to-work [state]?” She then adds, "What can we do to help you?"
Scott Walker replies “The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer... That opens the door once we do that.”
The owner of ABC Supply, “the largest wholesale distributor of roofing, windows, siding and gutter materials” with “715 stores across the United States”, including four locations in Indianapolis, and many more in Terre Haute, Bloomington, Muncie, and other Indiana cities, Diane Hendricks, with a net worth of $4.9 billion, has given Scott Walker’s campaign at least $519,100, due to a fluke in Wisconsin law, which is more money than even the Koch Brothers have given Walker and more than any donor to a candidate in Wisconsin history. The majority of this funding came after Hendricks' meeting with Walker captured on video.
Hendricks prides herself on breaking unions.
In 2014, she gave $1 million to Wisconsin Republicans to help move the right-to-work agenda forward. With help from a Koch Brothers-affiliated group whose “website was registered by Kurt Luidhart of the Indiana-based ‘Prosper Group,’ a GOP digital media firm that Walker's campaign hired in 2014 to run his online fundraising”, it worked.
Walker followed in Mitch Daniels’ footsteps, eliminating public workers’ rights (which led to protestors taking over the state capitol for weeks) and eventually signing a right-to-work bill for private sector workers into law in 2015, the same year Hendricks, recently a member of the Trump campaign’s economic advisory team, handed $1 million to the Koch Brothers-backed Freedom Partners Action Fund in September 2015, “enough to make her one of its top eight donors”.
Hendricks also sits on the board of the Bradley Foundation, a school voucher-supporting and racist group I examine in Hoosier School Heist, and helped fund an anti-socialism/free market conference in Kohler, Wisconsin, where “the Bradley Foundation staff did the legwork” and Diane and Bradley’s Michael Grebe signed the invitation.
Diane Hendricks owns Hendricks Commercial Properties, the company buying the Indianapolis Public Schools’ Coca-Cola property, where the 1930’s Art Deco Coca-Cola bottling plant, once the largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in the world, sits and has been used recently for IPS bus upkeep.
Hendricks Commercial Properties competed with Strategic Capital Partners (highlighted in Hoosier School Heist), a charter school and gentrification organization with many political ties in Indianapolis. Going under the name Mass Ave Partners, in partnership with Schmidt Associates, Gene Zink's Strategic Capital Partners offered IPS $17.5 million for the property.
In May 2016, however, the IPS board voted to sell the property, located on an 11-acre site in the Mass Ave. district, to Hendricks’ group for $12 million.
Hendrick's company’s $260 million development proposal is for a hotel, dinner movie theater, retail, apartments, and office space, among other things. Many opposed the plan, and the Chatham Arch Neighborhood Association’s president said it was “the worst of the proposals” for local residents.
In 2017, the City of Indianapolis said it was “prepared to commit up to $4.6 million to the downtown Bottleworks project,” the name given to the development by Hendricks Commercial Properties. Diane Hendricks’ company also “is seeking $2.4 million in site work from the state”. Hendricks Commercial Properties’ proposal has “68,000 square feet dedicated to day care and ‘other schooling options.’”
Will these "other schooling options" include charter schools? Maybe even ones which partner with IPS?
The Hendricks Education Center, in Beloit, in the past has housed two charter schools which have partnered with the school district. At a ceremony for the re-opening of the center in 2010 after renovation, Diane Hendricks was honored. “From the district perspective, we appreciate everything Diane and the Hendricks group has done in developing this marvelous facility,” uttered Milt Thompson, the School District of Beloit Superintendent. “Today’s a chance for the public to see what charter schools are all about. This is the first charter school in Beloit and that’s due to the efforts of the Hendricks family for their contributions.”