Sunday, January 25, 2009

More On Bill To Bar Government Employees From Holding Elected Local Office

Advance Indiana told you earlier about a bill Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) is sponsoring to bar local government employees from holding elected public offices. The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy has more on the legislation today. "The cost in public confidence is too great to have this continue," Delaney told O'Shaughnessy. "I think we will get better candidates if people don't think government is an insider's club," he added. He tells O'Shaughnessy that heard lots of complaints from voters about a political system "rife with potential conflicts of interests."

The Indianapolis City-Council is exhibit A for this problem. "A police officer, a firefighter, an employee in the county assessor's office and a city human resources worker currently hold seats on the Indianapolis City-County Council," O'Shaughnessy writes. That list includes police officer Lincoln Plowman (R), firefighter Vernon Brown (D), county assessor employee Mary Moriarty Adams (D) and city human resources worker Dane Mahern (D). Two of the council members defended themselves:

  • "I think people bring some knowledge from their full-time employment," said Republican Lincoln Plowman, a major in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. "I field lots of questions from other council members and constituents about police work, and I'm usually able to answer them."
  • "We are supposed to be a citizen legislature," said Mary Moriarty Adams, a Democratic council member and employee of the county assessor's office. "It's hard to curtail some potential conflicts and allow others."

So what other conflicts of interest are there, Mary? A city-county council attorney who chairs a committee which has jurisdiction over many issues in which his law firm has a direct interest? Members should self-police themselves and call out other members on these matters, but they don't because so many like her are conflicted themselves. Moriarty's bio on the council website makes no mention of her employment with the county assessor's office. She formerly worked for a nonprofit that receives federal funds and before that worked for the Indiana Housing Authority. Both jobs potentially created Little Hatch Act violations.

9 comments:

artfuggins said...

Moriarity Adams is a walking conflict and should not be on the council......not only is she a county employee on the council, k she is on the public safety committee and her husband is a police officer...she needs to go.

Downtown Indy said...

I would think having a cross-section of the city departments with REAL input to the elected council (about issues that need to be considered or to enlighten the council on matters already being considered) is something that needs to be worked towards.

I do NOT think having them directly in control of their pay, benefits or position is wise. Two words which prove that: 'Monroe Gray.'

Paul K. Ogden said...

As I've said before, the Ryan Vaughn situation is a far bigger problem. At least with the other conflicts addressed by the bill, the conflict is on the table. Everyone knows about it. But a law firm and which clients that firms represents is not always apparent, not is the firm, in this case, Barnes & Thornburg, always up front about who their clients are. In Ryan's defense, I think many times his firm keeps him in the dark on who they represent and the extent of that representation.

Advance Indiana said...

Paul, I used to work at a large firm where the attorneys were not allowed to run for elected office. Brian Bosma had to leave that firm so he could run for state rep. prior to my working there. Another attorney who was on the Zionsville school board was forced to give up his seat and another attorney who ran for the Perry Township school board was forced to drop out of his race. The firm said it didn't want to lose business because of conflicts created by the attorney's elected office. What I find really amusing is that the primary advocate for that policy is now a partner at Barnes & Thornburg. The firm deliberately invited conflicts by hiring Vaughn to work for it after the Republicans took control of the council. It works out quite well. Grand and Loftus sit in on senior staff meetings with the mayor. Vaughn provides them an insider's look at what is taking place on the council. They have all their bases covered.

guido said...

gray was a dolt and even the Dems that were not public employees did nothing to stifle him. S, whats the difference? Its all conflict of interest. The difference is that these are regular people and this will only make room for political hack like Delaney and his buds

Paul K. Ogden said...

AI,

That's interesting. It appears like B&T's policy is exactly the opposite of your previous employer. I guess the partnrs at B&T calculate that promiting the fact they have elected and appointed people on the "inside" helps them get clients. I don't think they're particularly concerned about any conflicts of interest.

Advance Indiana said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe any of the other large law firms in town permit their attorneys to run for elected public office while in their employ. Recall all the trouble the Ice Miller lawyer acknowledged that he got into for seeking the 7th District slating in the special election last year without first consulting with his partners.

Jason said...

Looking at the # of city/county councilmembers who are city employees just looks bad. How can you possibly have an objective mind about anything when you know your job depends on it? If you include the # that have city contracts, it gets even worse.

AI, if this goes through it might be a great way to completely clean house and get a fresh slate...

artfuggins said...

I am not sure that I understand the attack on Delaney by Guido..Aferall, Delaney is sponsoring the legislation that would make it illegal to serve on the council while have a government job...he is the good guy......Monroe Gray, Morairty Adams and Ryan Vaughn are the double dippers with conflicts of interest.