Coleman, who was elected to his first term as an at-large council member in November 2007, said he was disillusioned by what he called the GOP's abuse of power.
"During the council's previous period of Democrat control, the majority's powers were used to silence Republicans," Coleman said. "Now, under Republican control, the council majority abuses their power to weaken Democrat influence."
Coleman said he faced criticism from fellow Republicans when he opposed the "secretive and expensive affairs of the Capital Improvement Board."
"The two old parties want obedient followers, not leaders," he said.
The same party which refused to support Coleman in the general election demanded total allegiance from him as a councilor. Although Grand and Loftus had no part of the grassroots effort that turned out council Democrats and Mayor Bart Peterson, the two immediately seized control of Ballard's administration before he was sworn into office. Ryan Vaughn, who is the political equivalent of a prostitute, then sold his seat to the law firm for a job as a lobbyist working for Grand and Loftus, assuring the two of a direct line into the council. Vaughn has dutifully carried their water over the past year, even when it involved a direct conflict of interest.
Cockrum boasts to Ryckaert that he still has a majority, but it isn't one he can take to the bank. At-Large Councilor Barbara Malone won her seat on the council by beating a slated candidate in the primary and then received no support from the party for her election in the fall. She has strayed from the party on a number of votes this past year. She owes absolutely nothing to the GOP and could become a serious threat to the party's working majority until the next elections in 2011. More importantly, Republicans will need either her vote or Coleman's to pass a redistricting plan for council districts, which could determine control of the council during the next decade.
Majority Leader Lincoln Plowman defended the party's conduct to Coleman's criticisms. "Majority Leader Lincoln Plowman said debate is not curtailed and everybody has a say. GOP caucus meetings get heated at times, Plowman said, but 'we try to go out as a unified party after that,'" Ryckaert reports. Plowman is actually part of the problem. He is a city police officer who was handed a plum job in a reorganized IMPD ala Monroe Gray by Public Safety Director Scott Newman, a former Barnes & Thornburg partner, effectively putting him in the pocket of Grand and Loftus. The firm's control of the council and the Ballard administration is complete, and anyone who has a problem with that reality will be punished and pushed sway.
Personally, I'm very disappointed that Coleman chose to leave the party rather than stay and fight. I believe he could have been a more effective voice on the issues had he remained in the Republican Party. I think people need to understand that it is our own party, however, which has abandoned the principles upon which it was elected in 2007 that has led to Coleman's disillusion. As long as we have an administration and council that can't fart without getting Bob Grand's and Joe Loftus' permission, you are going to see continued and growing dissatisfaction with the party's short-term lease on controlling city government.