Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Message to City-County Council: Don't Help!

It's pretty clear that Brendan O'Shaughnessy of the Indianapolis Star doesn't think much of the City-County Council's new ethics code.

Who can blame him?

The proposal gives all employees of the city-county carte blanche to vote on budgets, regardless of financial interest. Why this provision was included is obvious. Both Republicans and Democrats have several members who work for the city-county.

In fairness, I should point out that all legislative bodies can give themselves a pay raise for legislative work, which is certainly a "direct financial interest." We don't make that unethical. But maybe that's because we think the voters will take care of such staggeringly self-interested actions.

What about the more subtle ones? What about a police officer who votes for a massively-increased budget, knowing full well that increased salaries for all will follow? Or what about an employee who votes against across-the-board agency cuts for fear his job might be lost? How likely is the average citizen to know what has happened and respond accordingly?

Moreover, who can look at Monroe Gray's troubles and re-election and tell me citizens always police questionable conduct? Seriously, the bar for our ethics should be defined by which councilor's constituents are the most apathetic, "suckered," or "morally flexible?" Without a code, couldn't a guy consistently vote for his self-interest, make his constituents the beneficiary of questionable largesse, and never worry?

Sorry, but I will always believe that any thought about how I might benefit or suffer should not be part of the city-county councilor's deliberative process, and this code does nothing to stem those considerations. In fact, it explicitly authorizes them.

You see, the code also allows a councilor to vote on a matter if he or she stands to make $5,000 or less. It's unclear from the story whether this is an aggregate for the year, or per vote. Lord knows, I'm praying it's the former. Otherwise, we're going to lose our soul one chunk at a time.

You don't like the substance? Even the symbolic politics of this proposal was botched.

According to the Star, Bob Elrod, the council attorney, said the new code was not meant to suggest that a small benefit does not constitute a conflict of interest.

It suggests precisely that, Bob. Did anybody really think it wouldn't?

But here's my favorite part of the story:

Republican co-chairwoman Ginny Cain said the provision includes council members' spouses and dependent children. She said the intent, for instance, was to allow a council member's son to mow lawns in the neighborhood without having to investigate whether any neighbors have city contracts.
Whose son is getting FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS to cut grass? Uh...yeah, that would definitely be somebody trying to buy a city-county councilor through a family member because that "neighbor" certainly isn't paying the market rate!

Trying to inspire confidence, once again the city-county council just took away what we had left.



Anonymous said...

Does the new ethics code apply to the girlfriend of a certain Chairman who is intimidating elected and appointed officals to "work with her" to start her consulting business? My question is what is Christina Trexler's qualifications besides her engagement to a County Chairman? And what is the penalty if someone refuses her influence peddling? The GOP is full of hypocrites and this is another example.

Chris Worden said...

Do tell. What type of company is it?

Anonymous said...

Re-entry related. Word on the street is she's trying to tap into Second Chance Act funds that the Ballard adminstration will obtain from a grant proposal. Sadly she's tossing Tom John's name around like rose pedals. Poor Judge Altice has no idea what he's getting into.

Anonymous said...

This could get interesting. So Tom John's mistress, turned girlfriend, turned fiance is now preparing to get a sweetheart deal for no other reason than her "relationship" with the party boss. My question to Tom is why can't she find something in the private section or better yet why can't she get a job with your drinking buddy Carl Brizzi or perhaps your law firm Ice Miller? Why must she get taxpayer dollars for a service in which she isn't qualified to provide and thus must force people to work with her? And more importantly Tom how far are you willing to go to convince elected and appointed individuals to sign on her dotted line? Will you pull a knife-in-the-back scheme like you did with Judge Miller or will it be more sleezy like what you did with Ballard during the election? Personally I wish you nothing but success because you are the best gift the marion County Democratic Party has had in quite a while.

flipthishouse said...

So how's does a degree in interior design qualify someone to be an expert in ex-offender re-entry?

deepthroat said...

Flip, you're not getting the big picture. This is not about qualification this about romantic quid pro quo. Christina also has a background in private investigations which comes in handy if you are an aspiring GOP Chairman (ask Mike Murphy how it feels) or need your PC and elected officials to toe-the line(Barb Malone,
Ed Coleman, Kent Smith.) Just put a tail on your little wayward child and collect the data. And of course you try to target bloggers who give you trouble. That's why she feels so comfortable touting her business Manifestix LLC to anyone who spends five minutes with her. Anyone who touches this woman becomes a pawn of Tom John. She's on the Community Corrections board because of him not her resume. Follow the money gentlemen, follow the money.

Chris Worden said...

Lord knows I'm reluctant to intervene when Republicans are devouring one of their own, but I worked opposite Ms. Trexler when she was a paralegal for the Indiana Department of Child Services, and she was often sharper than a lot of the attorneys. I believe she left that job to work as a mitigation specialist, which is someone who works with offenders to help get them as much rehabilitation as our punitive criminal justice system will afford. In other words, I don't know enough to say whether she's an expert in Re-Entry, but she certainly has work with an offender population, and at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the result. Sorry, but I don't think re-entry is about policy as much as it is about having connections with employers who will give inmates a chance.

If somebody connected with the Republican Party wants to help people from going back to prison, I'm ready to say thank you for a welcome change. The Republican Party has historically stood for not intervening in a troubled kids life until they do something criminal, then ensuring they do as much time as possible (and they'll pay an unlimited amount to keep building prisons), and then doing nothing to ensure they don't go back.

If Ms. Trexler has spied for The Chairman, that's a bit gutter. But I can't shake the thought that does somebody without nothing would laugh at someone following him/her. I mean, if you spend your time at home, at work, at church, and at Little League, wouldn't that get boring for the person doing surveillance? Makes me wonder what kind of dirt the Republicans are getting into that they're nervous.

In other words, I'm wondering if some of the anonymouses responding on this are people who got edged for this same government money.

Also, were Ms. Trexler incompetent as you say, then Bob Altice committed the greatest transgression of anybody mentioned in any of these posts. And I bet all the anonymouses voted for him, didn't you?

Chris Worden said...

I shouldn't post after long days at work. Sorry for all the typos, folks.