Lincoln Plowman, the new assistant commander for investigations, also serves as Republican majority leader on the City-County Council, which, among its duties affecting crime fighting, reviews and approves the police department's budget.
Such conflicts aren't new for the council. Democrat Monroe Gray came under deserved criticism last year for inadequately accounting for time split between serving as council president and working for the Indianapolis Fire Department. Police, firefighters and other city employees fill several seats on the council, routinely casting votes that directly affect their departments and indirectly their own livelihoods.
Plowman's promotion is troublesome on two counts. He's now in key leadership positions on both the council and IMPD. How will he separate his dual responsibilities when making public policy decisions? How often will he recuse himself from council votes that affect the police department?
Also, Ballard, while running for mayor last year, promised to set high ethical standards for his administration. Yet, he's put himself in the dubious position of promoting a key ally to a job that should have nothing to do with politics.
In the mayor's office only two months, Ballard already has made two questionable assignments. He previously appointed Robert T. Grand, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg, to lead the Capital Improvement Board. The law firm has represented the Indiana Pacers, the chief tenant of the CIB-managed Conseco Fieldhouse. Grand also has represented Simon Property Group; the Simons own the Pacers.
Ballard says he supports a policy that eventually would disqualify city employees from serving on the council. That would be a welcome step forward.
In the interim, however, the mayor needs to stop making appointments that create obvious conflicts. Lincoln Plowman may serve the city well as a member of IMPD's command team. He also may be a fine majority leader on the council. He should not, however, attempt to do both jobs at the same time.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Star Raises Questions About Plowman's Promotion
The Indianapolis Star editorial writers are concerned about Mayor Greg Ballard's decision to appoint a Republican leader on the City-County Council, Lincoln Plowman, to a management position in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department upon assuming control of the police agency from Sheriff Frank Anderson. The editorial reads, in part: