Sunday, January 04, 2009

Council Republicans Forgot Who Elected Them

The performance of the Republican-controlled City-County Council during its first year in the majority since last year's upset defeat of Mayor Bart Peterson has been less than stellar. First and foremost among concerns is an equally dismissive attitude towards ethics as shared by their Democratic counterparts, notwithstanding the passage of a weak ethics reform bill with which its author doesn't even feel obliged to comply. In case the Republican majority hasn't noticed, its majority is relatively thin. When the independent, reform-minded people who put you in control of the council reads the following in the Indianapolis Star, they're going to be less inclined to support you in the future:

Republicans on the Indianapolis City-County Council will shuffle their lineup soon, rewarding those who play nice and punishing others who are out of step with the party line.

Councilman Ryan Vaughn is expected to take over the vice president spot currently held by Kent Smith. Vaughn, a Barnes & Thornburg attorney, will remain chairman of the important Public Safety Committee.

Smith will swap his seat as chairman of the Community Affairs Committee with Lincoln Plowman, who currently chairs the Metropolitan Development Committee.

Michael McQuillen will move into Vaughn's current leadership position as the new GOP whip. Ed Coleman, who recently questioned the role of powerful lobbyists in Mayor Greg Ballard's administration, was sent a clear message. He was removed from all three committees he was on this year and given two different committee assignments.

Message received: Coleman didn't want to comment on the record about his status as party outcast.

Here's a message for the council Republicans. You had better figure out a way to get back in touch with the people who elected you. If you think a handful of leaders for the Republican Party, the minority party in Marion County regardless of what you hear otherwise, have the ability to keep you in power, you had better think again. Those of us who made the difference in your narrow victory last year have been taken for granted and tossed aside like yesterday's garbage by these people. Continue to carry on in this fashion and just see how well you do in 2011.

On a final note, there is a bit of irony in the council Republicans singling out Ed Coleman for retribution. In last year's election, the powers-that-be in the party were telling us to only support Kent Smith in the at-large council races. Indeed, the lawn at the county party headquarters displayed only a campaign sign for Smith among the four at-large Republican candidates. Coleman and Barb Malone won their council seats in spite of the party, not because of it. Michael Hegg narrowly lost his at-large seat because of a lack of party support. Joanne Sanders can thank those Republican leaders for her re-election.


Patriot Paul said...

Sad that Kent Smith is being replaced by a Barnes & Thornburg attorney, as if there wasn't enough controversy about B&T and other law firms controlling this city's contracts with conflicts of interests from those in seats of influence. This political bingo sends the wrong message.

SW Lane said...

I've said it before and it bears repeating: if the local GOP party re-elects Tom John as the county chair, then they deserve the continuing lack of leadership and direction, as well as any chance for future success.

I remember the 2007 election season very well. I also heard all 4 (then) at-large candidates speak in publicized debates against Sanders, etc. Malone was unimpressive, Smith charismatic but not forceful in addressing the issues. Coleman and Hegg appeared not only to have a grasp on the issues confronting the city, but the forceful personality necessary to challenge an entrenched incumbent. The only knock on Hegg was that he was a police officer if I remember right, that or DOC.

The point is, echoing you, A/I is that Coleman and Hegg did not have the support of the party. Hopefully there is a cabal of challengers to knock John off the seat he clearly hasnt used as the leadership post is should be. Preferably not a lawyer who vacillates between who's firm is running the city at the moment.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Brilliant post, Gary. You said it in a much more consise fashion than I have. The people engaging in these heavy-handed tactics need to be exposed. One thing I have learned is that when you shine the light of publicity on self-dealing and conflicts of interest, the problem starts going away. It's when they are allowed to operate in the dark, without scrutiny, they get away with stuff.

Keep up the good work.

Jon E. Easter said...

Let's be honest. The reason Malone and Coleman are on the council was "King Ro" Conley (and Monroe Gray). I believe many people didn't vote for Rozelle Boyd thinking he was "King Ro" Conley. The Republicans had signs in nearly every precinct in the surrounding townships talking about how "King Ro" voted for tax increases.

It was a flat out distortion. Many of those tax increases were fee increases supported on a bi-partisan basis. I know it's politics, but I believe that the campaigning for Smith against "King Ro" also took down Rozelle Boyd because of the similarity in names. It was at least a contributing factor.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks, Paul, and likewise the same to you.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Malone had not been slated by the party. She bumped off one of the slated candidates. Incidentally, Hegg and Coleman, from what I've been told, paid the slating fee. The party waived it for Smith since his business was struggling in the midst of the subprime mortgage meltdown. In other words, Hegg's and Coleman's money was taken to support Smith's campaign.

Roberto said...

I think that almost all politicians, no matter what aprty, tend to forget who elected them in short order. In America we have a political class which mirrors European aristocracy. Our founding fathers envisioned our lawmakers as people who would give up their professions for a few years to serve the public, then return to the private sector. We have allowed a permanent class to be created and protected.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Don't forget that Smith also showed up at the Democrat's staged press conference to defend Monroe Gray against a so-called racial attack by a fellow African-American, Star editorial writer RiShawn Biddle, and urging his firing by the newspaper. Smith showed up at a Log Cabin meeting, unaware who the members were, and asked that nobody mention he attended the meeting because he feared a backlash from people who hate gays.

Jon E. Easter said...

Roberto, City-County Councillors make pennies on the dollar for all they do. It hardly is a stand-alone career especially if you do it well and do it right.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Jon, I believe council members collect between $15,000-$20,000 a year depending on how many committees they are on and how many meetings they attend. Not bad for a part-time job, particularly when it lands you a high-paying job you would have never gotten but for your spot on the council, or the special treatment you get as a government employee because you are on the council.

M Theory said...

Abdul is citing missed meetings as the reason Ed Coleman was pulled from committees. From what I understand, Ed's daughter faced some serious medical issues and quite frankly, that's a valid excuse for missing a committee meeting.

We all know why they are screwing with Ed Coleman. It's because he's very outspoken and takes doing the people's business seriously.

Unknown said...

The Public Safety Committee meets once between every Council Meeting. If the attendance allegations (that he missed nearly half the meetings) are true, than Coleman's absences could not be soley attributed to when his daughter fell ill only a few months ago.

Coleman is not the only Councillor who "takes doing the people's business seriously." Susie Day and Bob Cockrum fought the Peterson Administration for years on their wasteful spending. Marilyn Pfisterer is a tireless westside advocate who has done yeoman's work fighting the Democrats' attempts to bloat the budget and prevent taxes from being lowered. Mike Speedy is one of the few councillors who speaks on behalf of conservative principles on the floor. Ryan Vaughn sponsored several proposals to help property taxpayers when the reconciliation bills hit, which were blocked b y Joanna Sanders and Mike Rodman. Vaughn also sponsored an amendment to reduce the assessors salaries to the lowest amount under statute. Coleman opposed the Vaughn ammendment, resulting in several Township Assessors receiving higher salaries funded by our tax dollars, despite them doing no work.

Ed Coleman may have done something to be put on different committees, but it wasn't because he "takes doing the people's business seriously."

M Theory said...

Brenda...thanks for sharing your profile with us so we know exactly who you are. It's so easy to comment anonymously while hiding your identity, isn't it?