. . . Gray earns two paychecks from the city of Indianapolis: $83,000 a year for being a fire official, a position from which he will retire this year, and another $16,000 for serving on the council, with an additional $2,000 for serving as president.
An Indianapolis Star probe found that the Fire Department could not produce a single document to illustrate the work Gray does.
No letters. No e-mail sent. Few office phone calls, according to records obtained by The Indianapolis Star. Not a single report his job description requires that he produce.
Gray says the lack of documents simply shows that he is "old school" and does most of his work in person and on his personal cell phone. He said the role has changed dramatically since the job description was written, but the job description was never updated.
Gray and his boss, Fire Department Chief James Greeson, acknowledge Gray's two jobs are hard to separate. Greeson said Gray's liaison job is shaped around his strengths.
"What you have to understand is that this job and the council job, a lot of it intermingles. . . . It intertwines," Gray said. "Some of the same things I do for the Fire Department, I also do for the council, so it makes a perfect match."
Greeson said Gray has evolved into more of a political liaison than a community representative. Gray provides "invaluable" assistance to the chief with his knowledge of purchasing, training, hiring and budgets, Greeson said.
"I think it's good to have someone who can be an advocate," Greeson said, "and an additional tool that the chief can use to make sure that the proper dollars are there to fund our budget, to talk to councilors about issues about our Fire Department that I may not have time for."
There's also a lot of talk in the article about the potential conflict between holding a government job and serving on the elected council. The story mentions that Indiana statutory law permits police and firefighters to run for and serve on the council, but it doesn't mention a provision of the Indiana Constitution which prohibits members of one branch of government from serving in another branch of government simultaneously. The issue has been discussed at length on this blog in the past. For some reason folks in this state have a proclivity not to read their state constitution, or when they do, to simply ignore the plain meaning of its words.
Acknowledgement should be given to IndyUndercover on this story. The blog has frequently commented about the fact that neither Gray nor Councilor Vernon Brown do anything for the fire department despite holding down two of the highest paid positions in the department. Oddly, O'Shaughnessy's article lets Brown skate. The only mention of Brown is a part of the story where Gray tries unsuccessfully to convince O'Shaughnessy he actually does any work for the fire department and there's a reference to the fact Gray used to report to Brown. O'Shaughnessy writes:
In 2000, then-Chief Louis Dezelan appointed Gray as community liaison. Gray said he used to run more community projects when he reported to Vernon Brown, aTo any objective person it is quite apparent Gray is being rewarded with a highly-paid, make- work job by the administration in exchange for his cooperation as CCC President. In other words, Mayor Peterson is buying his influence with your tax dollars. The newspaper's bias in covering up Mayor Peterson's own wrongdoing really shines through. No tough questions are put to the Mayor. The only reference to Peterson in the article is a mention of him praising Gray and other police and firefighters who serve the city. "Mayor Bart Peterson said he thinks firefighters and police officers bring their knowledge of city government and services to their council work," O'Shaughnessy writes. "There's no better evidence of that than the shining example sitting next to me," Peterson said of Monroe Gray in August, when the mayor was asked if Gray's and others' voting on the income tax proposal was a conflict of interest.
Fire Department deputy chief and a City-County Council member.
For example, Gray said he arranged an agreement in 2001 to share parking spots belonging to a fire station with a nearby library branch.
Now, Gray supervises no one and reports directly to the chief, assisting with whatever needs arise, he said. He said he goes to Fire Department headquarters on New Jersey Street every day but spends a lot of time outside the office attending meetings.
"Recently, some council members have abstained from voting, citing potential conflict. Peterson called their choices for when they abstained 'puzzling.'"
Make no mistake about it. Mayor Bart Peterson is entirely responsible for these sweetheart arrangements with Gray and Vernon Brown. If a story like this appeared in the Chicago Tribune or the Chicago Sun-Times, the U.S. Attorney's office would be springing into action immediately with a criminal investigation, but this is Indianapolis. Our U.S. Attorney's office will do nothing, and we know our county prosecutor's office won't do anything. Is it any wonder our elected officials go about flagrantly violating our laws and the public trust so often when they know nobody will touch them?