As president of the Indianapolis City-County Council, it's incumbent upon Monroe Gray to set the highest ethical standards for himself and other elected leaders in the city.
But Gray's failure to disclose his business connections with a city contractor shows the reverse -- a lack of ethics that reflects on the entire council and every member of his party, including the mayor. He deserves the council's censure.
Gray, a Democrat, signed an ethics form last year stating that he had not received compensation from any company that did business with the city. In fact, a construction company that Gray founded in 2004, Mid Region Concrete LLC, did
extensive work with Trotter Construction, which had sewer contracts with the city.
The Star also hasn't forgotten about Gray's ties to the 300 East bar in the Julia Carson Government Center. It adds:
It's not the first time Gray has been less than forthcoming when mixing personal and public business. Last fall, Gray failed to disclose his wife's investment in a controversial bar/restaurant proposed for the Julia Carson Government Center.
That deal reeked of political coziness. Not only was Gray's wife involved, but one of his campaign contributors, Lacy Johnson, was a lead investor. In addition, the zoning examiner who initially approved the restaurant is married to Lonnell Conley, Gray's chief deputy on the council.
And the paper isn't altogether happy with Mayor Bart Peterson's lack of leadership on the matter. Their advice to the Mayor:
Mayor Bart Peterson, as his political party's top leader in the city, was disappointingly quiet as the Carson Center deal played its way out last fall. Now, with the revelation of Gray's close ties to a city contractor, the mayor has a second chance to set a high tone concerning ethical standards.
Peterson needs to make it clear that full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is critical. Even the appearance of using public office for personal gain must be avoided.
When the council president fails to reveal his close ties to a city contractor, it's a serious matter. Monroe Gray must understand that. Bart Peterson can help make sure that he does.
Actually, the Star could have just as easily written this editorial against Peterson. Let's not forget that his administration enabled the 300 East deal to happen every step of the way. It was his administration which turned a blind eye to the code violations, facilitated the removal of the playground equipment from the neighborhood park, gave an okay to the zoning variance and tacitly supported the investors' alcohol permit. And it should have come as a surprise to no one in the Peterson administration that Gray's concrete company was performing work on city projects. Peterson's own chief legal advisor, Kobi Wright, has provided cover for Gray's ethics violations. As the saying goes, the fish rots from the head first.