Friday, December 28, 2007

More On Ballard Appointments

The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy reports that Mayor-elect Greg Ballard will name Paul Okeson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Todd Rokita, as his administration's chief of staff. Marcus Barlow, currently spokesman for the state's Family & Social Services Administration, will become his communications director. Radio talk show host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz also reports this morning that Chris Cotterill, who is currently in charge of the Indiana Office of Technology, will become the city's corporation counsel. Cotterill has been admitted to practice law for five years according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys. Also, John Cochran, an attorney at the law firm of Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John and Ballard's second campaign manager, will serve as a special assistant to the mayor. And small business owner Greg Wilson will direct the city's minority business development efforts, while Carolyn Smith will direct Latino affairs.

In an interview with Shabazz this morning, Rev. Olgen Williams, Ballard's choice to serve as Deputy Mayor in charge of neighborhoods, defended himself from news first broken on the Accidental Mayor site that Marion Co. Treasurer's Office records show Williams and his wife pay no property taxes on their home. If I understood Williams' explanation, he took advantage of a tax exemption available to disabled veterans for the first time and, when added to his other exemption, it reduced his tax bill to zero. Williams, who currently serves as executive director of Christamore House, earlier in life served one year in jail for a theft which he committed while he was working as a postal worker. Williams said he stole the money to help feed a drug habit he developed in his early 20s. Williams described himself as a "hater" and a "revolutionary" during that period of his life during his interview with Shabazz this morning. In recognition of his many years of community service and staying out of trouble. President George W. Bush pardoned Williams in 2002, which allowed him to run for the IPS school board. In today's Star, Williams said he would like to continue serving on the IPS board while working as Deputy Mayor, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be kosher.

Yesterday, I noted that Mayor-elect Paul Ricketts' swearing-in ceremony would feature as its master of ceremonies Abdul Hakim-Shabazz. The part-time stand-up comedian, who resides in Springfield, Illinois, said on air this morning he will also serve as master of ceremonies at Mayor-elect Greg Ballard's swearing-in event next Tuesday. Shabazz recently sparked controversy when he announced Indianapolis police had attempted to execute a search warrant at his home to obtain his home computer and laptop. As it later turned out, a probable cause affidavit prepared by police indicated that police were investigating the leaking of the identity of a confidential police informant in last summer's arson investigation on the city's southside, and that, according to Internet service provider documents, Shabazz acted as the moderator for the IndyUndercover blog, which outed the informant's identity. According to the affidavit, the 8-month-pregnant informant was compelled to relocate because she feared for her personal safety.

The blog, before being deleted from the Internet just weeks ago, often featured very colorful but pointed criticism of Marion County Democrats. Democrats were often referred to as "Democraps." Sheriff Frank Anderson was dubbed "Bling Bling", and CCC President Monroe Gray was called "Sweet Pea." A photo the site showed depicting Mayor Peterson, Anderson and Gray in monkey suits drew a rebuke from then-mayoral candidate Greg Ballard. Shabazz maintains he didn't run the blog, but admits he suggested the idea to a group of disenchanted police officers. [Correction: Abdul e-mailed me to note that the controversial monkey suit photo originated on the Bart Lies site and not IndyUndercover.]

UPDATE: Rev. Olgen Williams has announced he will resign his seat on the IPS board next week. He is required to resign it by law when he assumes his new job as Deputy Mayor. Also, a note on Chief of Staff appointee Paul Okeson. His most recent job is with Bernardin, Lochmueller and Associates, an Evansville-based engineering firm. The firm has strong ties to the Peterson administration, holding several contracts with the Department of Public Works. A recent newsletter put out by the firm featured a photo of Mayor Bart Peterson appearing at an open house for its new offices in Indianapolis. If that isn't enough to infuriate you, how about the fact that Okeson lives in Fishers. That's right, the administration's chief of staff is not even a resident of the City of Indianapolis.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Greg has no clue who he appointed. These people are going to screw him like a whore at a promise-keepers convention.

You think Indy was in bad shape under Petersons reign.
Ballard has now given the criminals the keys to the sae. The taxpayers safe.

Anonymous said...

8:40, Unfortunately I believe you are absolutely right.
If Ballard's appointments are any indication of his "vision" for this city then we are in deep deep trouble.
Crime will reach levels never seen before in this city and government corruption will increase tenfold.
The tax protesters didn't win. They simply put a Goldsmith clone back in office.

Anonymous said...

Ballard won and Peterson lost so I expect there to be a lot of "haters" out there. If all this is going to turn in to is trash talking I don't need to read this anymore.

When Ballard won I felt that there is hope for this city. I still feel this way. I suspect that Ballard will cut anyone who crosses him, there are lots of people waiting in the wings.

Anonymous said...

"In today's Star, Williams said he would like to continue serving on the IPS board while working as Deputy Mayor, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be kosher."

Not only isn't it kosher, it's illegal...

IC 20-25-3-3
Sec. 3. (b) A board member may not:
(1) serve in an elective or appointive office under the board or under the government of the civil city while serving on the board

Anonymous said...

9:47...Ballard is still looking into that. And the hits just keep on coming.

Anonymous said...

What about Williams' support of a huge property tax increase when he voted for the $500 million IPS bond issue? Ballard looking into that as well?

Anonymous said...

9:58, It's easy to vote for a bond issue when you don't pay any property taxes.
Haven't heard from the Tea Baggers on this.
Where's Melyssa been lately.

Anonymous said...

Barlow, in his young adult life
so far, is a career bureaucrat,
at best. He worked for Chocola's
office in South Bend (Chocola
started in Jan. 03). Barlow
announced that he was running for
State Rep against Ryan Dvorak.
Barlow backed out on that because as soon as Daniels was elected, he got on the State gravy train with his FSSA job.

And since I have equal opportunity
venom today, Ryan Dvorak attends
law school in Indy but represents
a wide chunk of St. Joseph County.
Ryan should be called the
"occasional weekend State Rep"
because he's only in St. Joe County when law school isn't in session, if his wife isn't working at her Indpls job.

Anonymous said...

Is the Ballard administration going to be a work fare program for misfits, tax cheats and liars..this is good to be a fun 4 years but very very sad for the city.......

Anonymous said...

Has Chris Cotterill really ever practiced law. Corporation counsel is one of the most important jobs in city government and Cotterill's legal experience is very scant to say the least. He has to lead a large team of lawyers, most of whom would have much more experience than him. Oh, I guess we'll have the same situation we had with Kobi Wright, Mayor Peterson's challenged corporation counsel.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wright was one of the most inept corporation counsels we've ever had.

I have to interface with that office regularly, and have for 25years. Wright's work was usually sloppy, had to be corrected often, and often was based on faulty legal logic. I can tell you, he cost this city untold outside legal fees because he was inept.

I once asked someone close to Bart why Wright kept the job. I was impolitely told to mind my own business.

So I did. And my lawyer made a total fool of Wright, within two weeks, on a really simple legal point.

Which, due to his ineptness, was finally cleaned up by outside city counsel, at a cost of over five grand.

True story, and sadly, not even close to unique.

That job is not for the faint of heart. And it is not a training round. If you have no experience, the city's legal community will eat you for lunch.

We shouldn't make it so easy--if you do that job well, you're set for life. Ask Sue Beasley. She cleane dup more Goldsmith messes than you can imagine. She had the personality of a cactus, but she was sharp as a tack. And now she's sitting pretty in her firm.

Anonymous said...

Something tells me Cotterill, if he is lacking significant state and federal court litigation experience, will be basically in charge of farming out litigation to law firms, like, oh, I don't know, maybe Tom John's law firm. Or law firms like, Sue's firm, Grand's firm, Melissa's firm... that sort of thing? I'm assuming "special counsel" is a contract arrangement? I'd think John ought to have the form in his office to create that contract for outsourcing government litigation.

Anonymous said...

Could you imagine the vile comments on Abdul's now defunct Indy Undercover if these same people appointed by Ballard were appointed by Peterson?

Anonymous said...

Thankfully Ike's mug is not in this line up.

Anonymous said...

Could Ike be the new Fire Chief?

Anonymous said...

I always had a feeling of a racist undercurrent on this blog. Now I am sure of it. Why don't we give this a chance before you haters all judge a man. If he fails, then I will be the first to call for his head and Ballard's. I have had the opportunity of working with Mr. Williams. He has the community in his best interest, and believes in neighborhoods and communities. All of you need to look inside yourselves before judging a man based only on his race. And don't give me the typical BS that "that hasn't been brought up here"...its obvious in your tone, your "musings" that race IS intended here. Oh, and yes, I am a white Republican.

Anonymous said...

2:08, Your point is well taken. However, many who post on Gary's site know politics on both sides of the fence and can sniff out race based appointments pretty fast.
Ballard's appointment was based on race. I'm not sure if that's good or bad but that's the political reality of it.
The are many many neighborhoods and associations in Marion County and for only certain neighborhoods to get special treatment and tax dollars is wrong. Unfortunately, Mr.Willimas does not understand all the neighborhood groups in this city and their problems that will need to be addressed.
There is a well grounded perception that Mr.Williams will only work in the black neighborhoods of the city at the expense of others. If that's the case then race IS an issue.
I'll give the man a chance but Ballard is playing the same race game Goldsmith did.
If they bring back this faith based Front Porch Alliance funded with tax dollars then I'm afraid that issue will go to the courts the day it starts.

Anonymous said...

God help us all if Ike is appointed fire chief. He doesn't watch anybody's back but his own. Just ask those he works (sic) with.

Anonymous said...

I've followed the discussion on this blog for a long time but never posted; however, I can't read this venomous anti-IKE stuff anymore without commenting. I've worked with him for several years on D1-related matters and found him to be first rate in every regard. I don't even recognize the person you describe when you go on these diatribes against IKE. It's ridiculous! Obviously he crossed your agenda at some point and now you have it out for him. I, personally, think he'd be a great addition to Ballard's administration.

Anonymous said...

3:32, run this factoid by Ike:

In his 2003 council campaign, he sought and accepted a $5,000 donation from Kite Development. Now, that's perfectly legal, he reported it, and all should be right with the world.

But on two separate rezoning issues which benefitted, Kite, he did not recuse. He voted in Kite's favor.

Which was and is completely wrong, and potentially illegal. Plus, those who know him in Pike will tell you, if he'd run for re-election, they were ready with many other facts to barbecue him.

I couldn't care less about those "facts" and his personal life. I watch the man's public life, and it's disgusting. His rezoning votes were unethical at best.

Plus, in case you didn't know it--five large for a council race is a hell of a lot of money. In fact, in 2003, I believe it was the single-largest one-time donation to ANY council campaign on either side of the aisle.

He's a sleezeball. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous to suggest that a CC has to recuse himself on every issue related to a donor; otherwise, there would be no donors. And I do live in Pike, by the way, and know a heck of a lot of people in D1. IKE is very highly regarded in D1 and would have easily been reelected. I know the man. As far as I'm concerned, you're a smearmonggering liar.

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous to suggest that a CC has to recuse himself on every issue related to a donor; otherwise, there would be no donors. And I do live in Pike, by the way, and know a heck of a lot of people in D1. IKE is very highly regarded in D1 and would have easily been reelected. I know the man. As far as I'm concerned, you're a smearmonggering liar.

Um, Isaac, have you noticed that there typically aren't many donors to CC campaigns? Anyway, no one is suggesting that a councilor needs to recuse himself from "every issue related to a donor". Were that the case, then nothing could ever be completed. A councilor absolutely must, however, recuse himself from voting on something that directly benefits a donor.

Anonymous said...

If it's related to the donor, then it either harms or benefits the donor. So the issue isn't whether he should have recused himself. The issue should be whether the $5,000 caused him to vote other than he would have, or in a way that wasn't in his constituents' interest. The answer to that is no. And if you don't believe, ask some PTRA members. Further, the Haverstick Road case involved Paul Kite, not Kite Dev., and those are completely seperate companies. Regardless, you are clearly using this as an excuse to smear IKE because he crossed you on something else. No serious person who knows the situtation believes IKE sold out to Kite Dev.

Anonymous said...

What Ike did or didn't do isn't half as bad as what Scott Keller did. He raised a bunch of money for his re-election and then transferred almost half of it to his personal account, claiming an outstanding loan to his campaign. Funny how people deal with their personal financial issues.

Anonymous said...

If it's related to the donor, then it either harms or benefits the donor.

There's a difference between being related to something and directly harming or benefiting something. A lodging tax increase, for example, is related to everyone in the city but doesn't necessarily harm or benefit any one individual. Even folks who would have to pay the lodging tax wouldn't really be harmed, as the tax is a negligible expenditure.

The issue should be whether the $5,000 caused him to vote other than he would have, or in a way that wasn't in his constituents' interest.

In matters of conflicts of interest, avoiding the appearance of impropriety is just as important, if not more so, than avoiding any actual conflict.

Why did Isaac publicly state that it was a conflict of interest for him to vote on the public safety income tax increase because he was a member of the fire department? Please, reconcile your logic with that situation.

Anonymous said...

Cotteril told Channel 13's Mary Milz he was asked by the transition team to apply for the corporation counsel's job. If this is the best they could come up, God help us. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

And then of course, is that small matter Ike was involved in where he tried to hijack the Ten Points Coalition name.

Anonymous said...

There is something very wrong with the way that Ballard allowed people who did not support him, come in "after" the election to remove people who did support Ballard at great risk to their jobs and futures? It takes a very strange and selfish person to do what Greg Ballard did! Where was Olgen Williams when Ballard was trying to raise money and support? Where was the group of new comers, now on his staff, when the work was being done by those who now have been cast away by Ballard?
Politicans....they are all the same. What a joke!

Anonymous said...

Looks a lot like Bart Peterson's crew! Is there really a difference?

Anonymous said...

Paul Okeson lives in Carmel. Not enough good talent in Indianapolis to fill the administration.

Anonymous said...

Okeson lives in Fishers. He will be moving his family to Marion County within the six months required to do so for city employees. This has been a common situation for many in past administrations. He has already enlisted a realtor and their current house will be listed shortly.

rf said...

I have to say that I don't see in this group leaders on issues that I think are important to those who voted Ballard in.

For all the talk of efficiency and tax issues... I don't see it. If Cochran is to lead the charge on property tax reform, I'm not sure I see it getting that far in the legislature. I'm also curious if he's staying on at his firm or becoming a city employee with the ethical restrictions that (should) bring, or a contract lobbyist with a title.

Ballard supporters mocked the "number of deputy mayors" and staff in the mayors office; the Star article today suggests that Ballard is enhancing the roles of those who were lower on the totem pole under Peterson (MBE, Latino affairs...) but doesn't that expand the "mayor's office" crew? And shouldn't controller have been priority #1?

For the hard hit by property taxes (Meridian Kessler & Broad Ripple residents, for a couple examples) what is there about these appointments to give us any hope things will be better?

I'd be curious for Melissa's perspective (and other MK tax protesters) on this.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Anon 3:32, you are not aware of difficulties in his personal ethics and his personal life.

Anonymous said...

Ballard promised property tax reform. I want the same reform that Olgen Williams has....NO property taxes....I wonder how he managed that and if it is legal...someone should do some digging...maybe Olgen could be the first indictee in the Ballard administration.

I am so glad that Hamilton County is so close and we can get City administrators from there since everyone in Indianapolis is too stupid to do that job.

Anonymous said...

At least one of these nominees
is a carpetbagger. The first job
offer for $250 K from someone
to be a local lobbyist or to go to Capitol Hill, then it will be auf wiederzehn for them because "they
want to spend more time with their family or can't handle 55 hour work weeks any longer" regardless of whether they have a family or ever even averaged 40 hours.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, Anon 10:00 AM, you know nothing other than Ike crossed you at some point so you engage in these cowardly attacks on the character of a good man. Perpetrating the lies that you continually repeat behind the cloak of anonymity makes YOU, the definition of a "sleazeball." Just replying to you makes my skin crawl.

Anonymous said...

11:39, and others who also speak anonymously:

When a candidate for City-County Council accepts a $5,000 donation, and then fails to recuse on a matter directly involving all the same principles of the contributor, I have a problem with it. So do most folks.

Paul and Kite Development were not on the Haversitck road petition. It was a completely separate entity, an LLC controlled by the Kites. The issue involved the developer's need for variances, which, by law, require him to prove a hardship. He did not.

The case involved an aggregious attack on the comprehensive plan. Really, the worst in memory. Kite won only because Judy Conley was the hearing officer, and she doesn't yet understand the statutory requirements for variances. And because King Ro threatened his fellow caucus members if they voted against his wife's position.

There was the real rub with Ike--neighborhood groups all over the county were aghast at the MDC's decision on the Haverstick case. When it was appealed to the full council, Ike had every reason in the world to stand with neighborhoods. He did not.

If the petitioner had not donated to his campaign in such large chunks, it would still have been the wrong vote, but it would've stopped there. The contribution and the vote, viewed together, are not kosher, by any stretch of the imagination.

I am an Ike constituent. He did me no service during his entire four years. I'd call him a mediocre councilman at best.

If Ballard wants him, in the midst of a new dawn in city government, when he owes no one (how refreshing!), it speaks volumes.

Ike is not worthy of such a job, it's just that simple.

Anonymous said...

Greg Ballard "the snake" has struck again! Beware! We have elected another politican!

Anonymous said...

UUUMMMMMMMMMM! Seems funny, never saw any of these people before Ballard, with the help of the grass roots people, won the election. Now the grass roots people are locked out of the party and Greg Ballard is jumping around with a smile on his face! 40 pieces of silver?

Anonymous said...

1:52 PM anon, Unlike you, I have not attacked the character of a public servant behind the cloak of anonymity. Further, it's clear that anyone who defends Ike here needs to remain anonymous, otherwise they too are likely to become the target of character assassination. If you actually live in D1, then you benefitted much more from Ike's representation than you apparently know. My support for Ike is based solely on the good work he did on behalf of the neighborhoods in D1. Ask the leadership of McANA and PTRA what they think of Ike. He is highly regarded by both. That tells me a lot, and that either you're clueless or intentionally distorting his record. I suspect that latter. Yes, the one time Ike didn't stand with the neighborhoods (Nora CC) was Haverstick Road, but that had nothing to do with the Kite donation. Kite made that donation to Ike because they were developing the Trader Point Shopping Center in D1 when Ike ran. Ike didn't stand with the Nora CC on Haverstick Road because of Jim Bradford. That was his district and he refused to call down the MDC's decision. It's tradition on the CCC that the home councilor can expect the support of party members when he/she calls down a MDC decision. Similarly, if the home councilor refuses to call it down, he/she expects their party to abide by their decision. Another councilor (can't remember who right now?) agreed to call this decision down in order to embarass Bradford. Ike didn't want to cross Bradford because he hoped for Bradford's support on other matters more relevant to D1. Unfortunately for the Nora CC, they were represented by Bradford. He's to blame here, not Ike. Bradford's support for Kite also let Bart off the hook since he would have taken the heat for his MDC's ridiculous decision.