Monday, October 01, 2007

Will Peterson Reward Nytes With Library Post?

The three finalists for the vacant CEO position at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Board were announced today, and wouldn't you know it, up pops the name of Councilor Jackie Nytes (D). Nytes has been carrying a lot of water for the Peterson administration on the council lately, particularly with the passage of Peterson's 65%, $90 million increase in the local option income tax. Nytes previously worked as the CFO for the library board, even though she possessed no formal education in finance/management. Nytes left as CFO about the time the central library construction project blew up.

Nytes is currently seeking re-election to a third term on the council. She is running unopposed. Some may ask if Peterson is not planning to reward Nytes with the high-paying position in consideration for the political work she has been doing for him on the council. Printing Partners, a firm owned by Nytes' husband, has already been rewarded handsomely by the Peterson administration with printing contracts with the city and county. If she becomes the library's new CEO, will she resign as a city councilor? She found no conflict of interest in serving as the library's CFO and a member of the council so we can't assume she will resign. If she were to resign, it will mean yet another unelected person will be allowed to serve out a full term on the council.

The library also presents a conflict of interest for Republican Councilor Ryan Vaughn. He works for the law firm of Tabbert Hahn, which has come under heavy fire for its handling of the library board's legal matters, particularly the costly litigation surrounding the construction of the central library. The library has shelled out more than $5 million in legal fees on the litigation to date according to a story by Jon Murray in today's Star. Vaughn's firm has its own conflict problems. It was criticized after an earlier Star investigation uncovered the fact that the firm had contracted for the services of one of the Board's members, Gary Meyer, in an unrelated matter. The firm has now been admonished by a judge in the ongoing litigation for representing one of the contractors with whom the library once had a legal dispute in the proceeding adverse to other contractors. Murray writes of the conflict:

Charlier Clark & Linard, an inspector on the project, argued in filings that Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle also was acting as the attorney for Woollen Molzan, a conflict of interest.

The Indianapolis architects reached a $580,000 settlement agreement with the library last year.

The law firm said it was pursuing interests assigned by Woollen Molzan's settlement -- including disputes with the architect's consultants -- but wasn't representing the company itself.

In an order Thursday, [Special Judge Matthew] Kincaid denied the inspector's motion. But he admonished the library's lawyers for going too far when they represented Woollen Molzan officials during a deposition. The judge urged the architects to hire their own lawyer.

It looks to me like the self-dealing and general incompetence that has persisted with the management of the library will continue unabated for some time unless there is a change in the mayor's office this year. The library needs a completely new management team, a new board and new law firm to turn this mess around.

12 comments:

Wilson46201 said...

Just checked: YUP! from her bio: She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a Masters in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin. Not too shabby for a hardworking and competent public servant.

Gay friendly too! She also received the Frank and Judy O'Bannon Equality Award from the Stonewall Democrats in 2005 and the Chris Gonzales Award from the ACLU in 2006, as well as the Lambda Legal Leadership Award.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wilson46201 said...

And there are rumors that pigs are flying above the Republican headquarters and dropping porkchops on the sidewalks. Just as likely! Especially considering the source of the above comment...

Anonymous said...

It figures. Nytes screwed up big-time as the library's CFO so now they're going to bring her back as CEO. You know the old saying in government, fuck up and move up.

Wilson46201 said...

The Library's perilous finances were caused by poor choices of contractors and by contractors - all controlled by the Library Board. Go back and read that lengthy Star in-depth story about the Library Board screwups. Only desperate hostile partisans blame the CFO...

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the person on the library who was indicted a republican party activist.....anyone who knows Ms. Nytes knows that there is not a dishonest bone in her body

Anonymous said...

Real good choice. Resign? Most likly. Like it. Sounds good to me . Sorry about you.

Anonymous said...

Awwww, Gary. I honestly expected better of you. First of all, Peterson holds no sway over the Library board. Three of the members remain the picks of the republicans from before the Democrats captured any county offices. And the word on the street is that Nytes is not Mahern's pick.

Yes, Printing Partners has some contracts with the city but the company does good work and in the legal community, among those who do appellate work, it is particularly well-regarded.

You complain that yet another unelected person would get the job if Nytes were to resign. So what? There is no republican, libertarian or any other individual running against her so it is not like the voters had a choice to make in the first place.

Like Nytes said in the paper, the library needs to be building a consensus. It needs to adapt its mission to the 21st century. For those of us who believe in the library, let's hope she gets the job.

Ryan Vaughn - CCC Dist. 3 said...

AI, you're correct to note that I have an ongoing conflict of interest when it comes to the Library's operating budget. I disclosed that conflict on my ethical disclosure filing and I abstained from voting on the operating budget.

The firm I am employed by (i.e. not MY firm) has represented the Library far longer than I have been a member of the Council. The two are unrelated.

To the extent you believe that my judgment as a Councilor is clouded with "self-dealing" due to my employment with a historically Democrat lead law firm, I would encourage you to evaluate my voting record on the Mayor's recent tax initiatives and the budget.

Advance Indiana said...

Ryan, I noted in a previous post you disclosed on your statement of economic interest the relationship between the law firm where you work with the library board. I have also previously noted your opposition to the Mayor's tax increase and your support for the human rights ordinance. And you did the right thing in abtaining from voting on matters pertaining to the library. I don't recall Jackie Nytes abstaining on votes pertaining to budgets which funded her husband's printing contracts. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on that point. The whole point of this discussion is the fact that we have so many members of the council who are faced with conflicts of interest on so many issues which come before the council. I used to work at a major law firm where they wouldn't allow attorneys working for the firm to serve on the city council. They also forced an attorney to drop his candidacy for the Perry Township School Board and asked another attorney to give up his seat on the Zionsville school board because they didn't want to deal with the potential conflicts.

Advance Indiana said...

anon 9:42, Matt Tully ably reported on the attitude of the library board's chairman, Louis Mahern, about how it was his job to get jobs and contracts for Democrats. Don't need any lectures from you suggesting there are no politics behind the management of the library.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry if it sounded like I was lecturing you. I do agree there are politics involved in the library; however, I am just saying you may be mistaken as to who is pulling the strings. Otherwise, keep up the good work!