Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tully Asks Why Peterson Is MIA On Coroner Fiasco

Star political columnist wonders today why Mayor Peterson was off in Reno this past week taking on a new job as President of the National League of Cities instead of tending to matters at home, such as the growing mess surrounding the Marion Co. Coroner's office. Tully writes, in part:

It seems the job of being mayor would be plenty. Apparently it is not.

I bring this up because as Peterson spent six days in Reno, the drama in the Marion County coroner's office worsened. As the mayor attended what I'm sure were great seminars -- perhaps even the one titled "Leading Great Meetings with Effective Parliamentary Procedures" -- his county looked for a leader to take on Kenneth Ackles, the disastrously inept coroner . . .

It must sometimes stink to be mayor. Ackles is an elected Democrat, as is Peterson. Calling him out would likely cause the mayor headaches in certain circles just as he prepares to launch a re-election campaign.

It's a tough spot.

But Indianapolis has given Peterson a nice job and a nice title. In return, he needs to stop avoiding this mess. More than anyone, he has the power to make it clear Ackles must go.

The Star can say it. The public can say it. Indianapolis needs its mayor to say it.

When he gets home from Reno, that is.

35 comments:

ruth holladay said...

Gary, I don't think Tully pushed it far enough, altho it was a good column.
I would seriously like to know why Peterson is so silent on the following: 300 East, pea shakes and now the corrupt coroner's office. The common denominator is race. Is Peterson afraid to stand up and do the right thing if he's going to piss off black Democrats? Is that base in Marion County so important to the party? Isn't it condescending to look the other way rather than demand high standards of the party faithful, no matter what their race is? Seriously, I know Republicans have all kinds of years of sleazy history and baggage re: liquor licenses etc. but does that excuse this continual flaunting of all that is ethical from these chosen few?
I would genuinely like to hear some discussion on this from those in the know. Because I, and many others, are mystfied. (And I voted for Bart Peterson).
Thanks.

Advance Indiana said...

Ruth, I'm just glad he made the point. I also think he raises a good point about Peterson taking on the leadership of the National League of Cities. You are right in the broader sense: Mayor Peterson won't do anything to step on the toes of the Indy's African-American establishment. They know this and they take full advantage of it to the detriment of all of us who believe in an honest, open and accountable government. The brazen corruption by these folks is completely out of hand, and there doesn't seem to be anyone willing to stand up to them. The Republicans are just as guilty on this score. Have you heard Phil Borst or any other other local Republican leaders stand up against these people?

Anonymous said...

Peterson is too busy selling his IndyWorks plan, which by the way, won't save nearly what he says, to care about the coroner. That is, until one of his family members end up at MCCO. Also, his crony is about to get a $55 million dollar windfall from the city to build a new hotel on the site of the former Pan Am Plaza. AAAAhhhh, looks more and more like Chicago or Gary around here everyday with this corrupt Democratic power machine running full steam ahead, taxpayers be damned.

Citizen Kane said...

I'll just repeat my response to Tully: repeat after me -"Peterson is not a leader, never was and never will be."

He is being led; he can not and will not lead.

What do you expect from him or any other govenment official? They mostly spend their time polishing up their press releases and winning awards for meaningless projects, without solving any real problems, while simultaneously creating additional ones.

ruth holladay said...

About the only guy I can think of who opened his mouth re: corruption was Jim Bradford, and right away he was labeled a racist. Even tho the pea shake issue was legit for his district and (some) Butler-Tarkington neighbors were complaining.
Interesting TalkBack in the Star, urging the paper to stay on the coroner story but prophesying it won't. "The Star is good at reporting an important story and then doing a disappearing act until the next crisis. The job of a good newspaper is to be the community's watchdog, not just a blog site. Get to work."
For whatever reasons, the Star seems in thrall of the mayor. (and the governor for that matter, on occasion -- all the power brokers). But especially the mayor gets the gloves-on treatment. The police merger is another example. The tough reporting on that came just recently, too little, too late.
Bunch of weenies.
Thanks for the explanations. But WHY don't the R's holler? Is it fear of the race-baiting tag? What do they have to lose?

Erin said...

OK guys, let me just throw a couple of things out here.

First, a disclaimer, this is specific to the Coroner's office, not the pea shake houses or 300 East. Second, I am not for Ackles resigning. But, since you are, please consider:

1. America, Indiana, Indianapolis, Marion County all share the same political system- democracy. Please consider if you really want a coordinate branch of government to publicly be able to force out an elected official through non-democratic means. This is a horrible precedent to be advocating. It may seem like a good thing for this specific situation, but consider future ramifications.

2. Accountability. The truth here is that Marion County voters put Ackles in office. He will be coming up for re-election. I think it is important from a civic viewpoint to expect voters to correct a misjudgment (if that is how they see it). In essence, voters should be held accountable for past votes, and should not expect a benevolant dictator to step in b/c we voters just can't figure out how to exercise or civic responsibilities. To quote Ben Franklin when asked what had been created at the Philly Convention: "A Republic- for as long as you can keep it". The "you" is the people, the voters. I'm up for Ben's challenge- are you?

3. Strategy. What do you want the end result to be? The fact that the Mayor is not telling the Star or Matt Tully about what he may or may not be saying to Ackles doesn't mean he is not engaged. I find it odd that no one sees how unproductive the Mayor demanding Ackles resign might be. The Mayor can't force him to resign and a statement like that could backfire on him. Let me be very clear, I have absolutely no insight into what if anything anyone is saying to or about Ackles. But, seriously, if you want the guy to resign, which would you prefer- I'm stepping down b/c I respect the will of the people OR- I'm stepping down b/c the Mayor told me to? If Ackles wants an out, which do you think he would prefer? Nobody likes being bullied, and when your back is to the wall, well, most people become pretty stubborn.

ruth holladay said...

Erin, those are all valid points. Hard to argue with democracy and elected officials, etc. Or the other issue -- obviously we don't know for sure that the mayor isn't on Ackles' case privately.
BUT since the mayor is the poohbah and Ackles is one of "his" guys, both being D's, and since it seems like some real problems could result from his ineptitude in a very important office, I think questioning the process is important. Some of us are also disturbed at Ackles latest hire -- questionable to say the least.
One of the criticisms I've heard about Indy is that people don't complain or demand enough. "If this was Chicago, people would be on the phones to their alderman." It just seems obvious that we have a problem with that office (and the other two areas I mentioned) and I wonder if there is a pattern -- the mayor doesn't like confrontation.(Obviously he did not like dealing with the cops over salary -- maybe it is a personality issue?)
But surely the great Democrat party has power, if it wants to throw its weight around. Otherwise, what good is it holding that big office?

Erin said...

Ruth,

I do recognize all the concerns you have mentioned. I would caution though, that they are concerns, not facts already proven. Just keep in mind, predictions are, at their foundation, guesses, not settled reality.

I think in a democracy we should not go to the most drastic of measures that contradict the voters will (which until the next election is Ackles election to office) without exercising some restraint on immediate impulses.
So, question, critique, challenge away (see point 2 of previous post), that is all citizens' responsibility. I think resignation is much too premature, though.
Not to mention, there are some real concerns about what exactly would happen if Ackles were not in office. Who picks the replacement? What happens at the office while that process is happening? Could that process even be done before we were essentially at the point of the regular Coroner election? How much would a special election cost or would it be a Dem. appointment for the rest of the term? Things to consider...

Wilson46201 said...

If the County Prosecutor were to resign, the precinctcommitteepeople of his party would be assembled within 30 days in a special election to choose his successor. This is the procedure for replacement of any Indiana elected official who has died or resigned: the commiteepeople of his (or her) party in the district affected chooses the successor.

Only a replacement US Senator can be appointed by the Governor - a replacement US Representative must be chosen only a special election of all voters of that District.

Wilson46201 said...

It should be noted that this Marion County Coroner's Office situation also affects 20 Hoosier counties or so that farm out their autopsy work to Indianapolis. Where are the choruses of concerned citizens worriedly demanding Their Man Mitch speak up or do something about this central Indiana problem? Those 20 counties all have elected Coroners -- what are those 20 elected Coroners going to do about their duties? Should those 20 Coroners resign immediately? Where is the Star about the predicted dereliction of duty in those 20 counties?

Wilson46201 said...

As far as "peashakes" go, veteran's wives perhaps can explain to us all the video poker machines and other such illegal gambling devices in Legion and VFW Halls scattered around Indianapolis and likely in Putnam County too!?

Erin said...

On an unrelated point to my earlier posts, can I just say I find all cheering over Matt Tully to be rather bizarre. If you all are so concerned about this, why do you not demand that the Star stop writing silly fluff stories about "where's Bart"? How about actually calling the pathologist in question, people who have worked with her in other states? Putting the lawsuits in some context for readers (are these unusual lawsuits for a pathologist of her tenure? In comparison to other pathologists employed in the state or around the country?- After all, the R's are the party of "stop the frivilous lawsuits" and "tort reform" drumbeat- why the lack in critical analysis here?). Tully should dig a little bit and actually see what he can discover about what is going on rather than writing totally superficial pieces that don't help anybody evaluate what is actually happening. Oh wait... that sounds like a lot of work. Maybe you should just call IBJ.

arnie said...

erin, you are so right on many of your points in particular in regards to Tully. He is just not very good or insightful.
The star only does and will do only fluff.

Erin said...

Arnie,

I mean, really, what did the guy write exactly? From what I read it looks like he didn't add a single bit of info except to reword the Star editorial, which had already called on the Mayor to speak out, and some snarky commentary re: The Mayor being at a National League Of cities conference which is NOT hard to find out- all that requires is looking at the Mayor's schedule. Well, he did apparently find out the name of one of the meetings at the conference. Journalism at it's finest.

I could have written the same article just from cutting and pasting other stories from the Star.

Anonymous said...

BUT since the mayor is the poohbah and Ackles is one of "his" guys, both being D's,

Ruth, Ken Ackles is NOT one of Bart's guys. He's one of Julia's people.

Is Peterson afraid to stand up and do the right thing if he's going to piss off black Democrats?

I think he is. It appears among blacks, corruption is "normal". Look at any African nation outside the Arab nations in the northern part of the continent. Nearly every one has some sort of corruption going on like Nigeria or Rhodesia - or no functioning government such as Somalia.

About the only guy I can think of who opened his mouth re: corruption was Jim Bradford, and right away he was labeled a racist

Yep. Unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Wilson's logic is flawed. The counties that use MCCO for autopsies generally have a very small case load and certainly can look elsewhere for pathology services if they are told by MCCO that there will be a delay in autopsy. The cost is pretty much the same regardless of where the autopsy is done. Transportation costs may be higher, but that is usually passed along in the form of higher funeral expeneses. And does Wilson seriously think some retired cop, truck driver, etc who is the coroner for a doughnut county is going to be taken seriously if they complain to the Mayor or prosecutor. They won't even listen to the people closest to the situation who describe in detail all the crap going on there everyday........Wilson and his uneducated posts....As sure as death and taxes.

Erin said...

Umm, or look at Botswana, Togo, Morroco, S. Africa? The greatest government corruption on the African continent has a name- Colonialism- as in qualifications, ability etc. don't matter- just the color of your skin. And that was NOT black people sir.

How would your logic work when applied to Russia? (Hint: they are white!)

Erin said...

Sir, spill the dirt! What do you have on Condoleeza and Colin Powell?

Wilson46201 said...

We know Hailstone calls some women "bitches", he writes of the stench of this being a gay website, he knows all about Black corruption - I bet he has some problems with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion too ... and I aint talking TCP/IP here !

Anonymous said...

How would your logic work when applied to Russia?

Or Italy - the world standard for racketeering and corruption. Where are you going with this?

My previous answer was in a direct answer to Ruth Holladay's question of why Mayor Bart would not step in to resolve the MCCO situation. Mayor Bart does not want to upset or offend the black power structure in Marion County.

Advance Indiana said...

Sir Hailstone said, "It appears among blacks, corruption is "normal". Look at any African nation outside the Arab nations in the northern part of the continent. Nearly every one has some sort of corruption going on like Nigeria or Rhodesia - or no functioning government such as Somalia."

It is unfair to paint with such a broad brush the situation with a few African-American officeholders to encompass an entire race. You really should be ashamed to make such a statement, Sir Hailstone.

Wilson46201 said...

We shouldn't be too hard on poor Hailstone - he isn't his usual sweet self today - he's highly distraught over General Augusto Pinochet's death ...

Erin said...

Sir,

AI said it well. My point is that corruption knows no race (or all). Race is totally irrelevant and shouldn't be used in an argument about corruption.
Enough said as I'm becoming redundant after AI's post.

Anonymous said...

Wilson maybe you can understand this:

Может быть, ваш герой Фидель Кастро скоро умрет, и вам придется за свой молоди героя.

Written in the mother tongue of your role model nation - the Soviet Union.

Anonymous said...

It is unfair to paint with such a broad brush the situation with a few African-American officeholders to encompass an entire race

That was not my intention. I will not contend there are no corrupt white politicians both GOP and 'Rat. Prime example being Tom Schneider for the GOP and the Lawrence Utilities deal. I just attempted to make the observation that at the present the polticians with the image problems here in Marion County just happen to be A-A, not that "all" A-A politicians are corrupt.

There's a brouhaha brewing in Hammond as we speak about some money Cabela's paid to Tom McDermott Snr. for what appears to be little or no work. Tom McDermott Jnr is the mayor and an occasional host of fundraisers for Mayor Bart. The contention by some is that money went from Cabela's to Dad to Mayor Son - in essence a bribe to a public official.

Seems corruption more runs along the lines of being 'Rat in Indiana these days.

Wilson46201 said...

for that pseudo-monarchist: "Май синяя птица мухы счастья вверх по вашему носу!"

Anonymous said...

I think Wilson, Erin, and Sir Hailstone should all get together and whine about everything. God help their spouses if they're married........Can anyone actually talk about the issues at hand anymore or do we go off in political tangents about 3rd world dictatorships? BOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNGGGGG

Anonymous said...

Ah, Dear sweet young innocent Erin...your argument about waiting for voters to take care of their 2004 mistake is fraught with peril. And painfully youthful...I don't even know your age, but I'm guessing that idealistic mind can't have seen its 25th year yet.

Few officials have the critical statutory duties as the coroner. We live and, regreatably, we all die. Some of us too soon, or by unnusual means. Enter the Coroner's office.

As Judge Judy says, the coroner "puts a period at the end of it." His office is probably second only to the prosecutor in terms of the justice system working correctly, in homicide cases.

"Dr." Ackles is a complete and total nincompoop. He is an embarrassment to the voters of this county. Waiting for two more years could mean thousands of death certificates are signed too early, too late or, not at all. ANd to take care of this problem, he fired the people who were competent, albeit disagreeable with him. How freaking arrogant and disrespectful of taxpayers' trust.

If he won't go on his own, the mayor should use his bully pulpit to force him out. The mayor and Congresswoman Carson are the titular heads of their party.

The mayor uses his bully pulpit for charter schools, violent video games and police and fire mergers.

He could and should do the same for those who have passed on.

Anything less is shameful.

We can and must do better.
If Ken Ackles has no shame, and it's pretty apparent he doesn't, that bully puplit needs warmed up. Fast.

Erin said...

Actually anonymous, this cute little mind spends its time studying the real law and the real Constitution and not Judge Judy.
You might want to check what the IN Constitution has to say about the position of Coroner before you start advocating for the Mayor to behave in an unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic manner.
If it is naive to believe that we should operate in a manner consistent with the Constitution, then I'm there for life, dear little anon.

And, for the record, your off on my age, but, that is alright, can you role it back to, oh, I don't know, 22? That was a good year!

Erin said...

"With all the obvious flaws of delay, untidiness, and potential for abuse, we have not yet found a better way to preserve freedom than be making the exercise of power subject to the carefully crafted restraints spelled out in the Constitution"
-Supreme Court Chief Justice Burger

"The Framers of the Constitution viewed the principle of seperation of powers as the absolutely central guarantee of a just government"
-Justice Scalia

Those young, cute, little, naive men- you tell 'em anonymous! Tell 'em what Judge Judy said! That'll teach 'em...

Anonymous said...

Peterson is likely just following in the footsteps of former mayor Steve Goldsmith (R) who said nothing for more than a year after corruption was birthed in the Marion Co. Coroner's Office.

No one complained to or about Goldsmith's quisling-attitude so why are people expecting the mayor to jump in early on this issue.

Until you Hoosier Hayseeds change your laws to have a medical examiner, you should expect these types of problems.

All of us at the Cook Co. ME's Office are watching, and waiting and some are snickering at your incompetence. If you believe the coroner is incompetent, look at who put him in office!

Anonymous said...

The Office of the Medical Examiner of Cook County is an example of how to run things correctly. As an Investigaor, I have researched many "alternatives" to our office and have been impressed with the framework the office has developed. Indianapolis doesn't have a clue--Cook Co does 6000 cases/yr, about 4500 forensic autopsies. They employ approx 14 Forensic Pathologists and 26 Investigators. The operation is gigantic. And yet, with all those cases and all that staff, they manage to do things right. 26 Investigators and no one is stealing anything. 14 Forensic Pathologists and no one has a history of disciplinary action. Our office manages to become a Cirque du Soleil with just 12 Investigators, and ONE pathologist who will report to work today. I figured the rest of the country would be following our story and having a good laugh from it--I know I would. I am formulating my exit plan to be carried out by the end of the year. Of course, they will conveniently blame as much as they can on those of us who have done nothing wrong but who manage to get out. My entire world consists of affadavits and attorneys to protect my flawless record. These people are a bunch of criminals--they are scary. I haven't worked a case this week, but I can only imagine what the families of Marion County are thinking. Torture. Statement from Da Coroner: "No comment." Brilliant. Well, he doesn't have to speak--as long as he can read the words "D Felony", he'll at least know what is happening to him along with the rest of his disciples.

Anonymous said...

Erin, my dear, regardless of your age (I always assume a lady is younger until proven otherwise) (just good manners), the Constitution means little in this argument.

I am fully aware of the Consitutional duties of coroner. I think Wilson may need a brush-up on appointment of persons to vacant offices, though...I'm pretty sure the governor appoints all judicial offices, including prosecutor, until a special election can be called. Could be wrong. With marion County judges, he has an obligaitojn to appoint persons of the same politicla party, to keep balance. (A lot of good that's done us)

Whatever the Constitution says, the Mayor and Congresswoman have a distinct moral obligation, as leaders of their party, to use that bully pulpit and get rid of this clown by whatever legal means they have at their disposal.

I am an ardent opponent of charter schools. For many reasons, which I'll go into on another post.

But this mayor has used his pulpit on that issue ad naseum. Locally, regionally and nationally.

I'm betting that many folks would consider proper death investigations, to be more important than charter schools. Frankly, how dare the Mayor use his pulpit for anything untikl he uses it on this issue. I can't think of anything more important to our safety than proper death certificates in a murder trial.

We only die once, thankfully.

In Marion County, under this coroner, if it's under unusual circumstances, heaven help our survivors.

And heaven help us all if we're supposed to believe this new pathologist can solve anything. Criminal defense attorneys will have a field day with anything she signs onff on.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the Constitution says, the Mayor and Congresswoman have a distinct moral obligation, as leaders of their party, to use that bully pulpit and get rid of this clown by whatever legal means they have at their disposal

And eat massive amounts of crow for slating said clown in the first place?

Nah. They'll just try to distract the plebs with shiny objects and wait until 2008.

Erin said...

Anonymous darling,

You said:
"Whatever the Constitution says, the Mayor and Congresswoman have a distinct moral obligation, as leaders of their party, to use that bully pulpit and get rid of this clown by whatever legal means they have at their disposal."

That is the point, they do not have any legal means at their disposal. That is how the Constitution is relevant.

If you are arguing the moral issue, then I'll repost what I put initially:

"Strategy. What do you want the end result to be? The fact that the Mayor is not telling the Star or Matt Tully about what he may or may not be saying to Ackles doesn't mean he is not engaged. I find it odd that no one sees how unproductive the Mayor demanding Ackles resign might be. The Mayor can't force him to resign and a statement like that could backfire on him. Let me be very clear, I have absolutely no insight into what if anything anyone is saying to or about Ackles. But, seriously, if you want the guy to resign, which would you prefer- I'm stepping down b/c I respect the will of the people OR- I'm stepping down b/c the Mayor told me to? If Ackles wants an out, which do you think he would prefer? Nobody likes being bullied, and when your back is to the wall, well, most people become pretty stubborn."

You may not agree with that, but, I think you are chasing a red herring by focusing on the Mayor. It will not happen that way, it SHOULD not happen that way, sweet anonymous.