Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Council Of The Government, By The Government And For The Government

If you analyze how most of our Indianapolis City-County Councilors earn a living, it's no small wonder why the council has such antipathy for ordinary taxpayers and such empathy for people living off the public dole. A look at the most recent ethics disclosure statements filed by our councilors reveals that 16 of the 29 members who make up the council depend on the government for their livelihood as employees of government-funded institutions or government contractors. In some cases, both the councilor and his or her spouse are government employees.

Four councilors' households are entirely dependent on the government for their livelihood. Vernon Brown (D) is an Indianapolis firefighter, while his wife is employed by IPS. Susie Day (R) works for the Indiana Department of Worforce Development, and her husband is employed by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Maggie Lewis (D) works for the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, while her husband works for the Marion County Assessor. Mary Moriarty Adams is also employed by the Marion County Assessor, while her husband is employed by the Marion County Sheriff's Department. Monroe Gray (D) is a retired firefighter, while Marilyn Pfisterer is married to a retired firefighter.

Two other councilors, Barb Malone (R) and Brian Mahern (D), list the state of Indiana as their employers. Brian's brother, Dane Mahern (D), is employed by the City's Department of Administration. Doris Minton-McNeil (D) is employed by IPS as is Libertarian Ed Coleman's spouse. Coleman works for a nursing home that is owned by the Health & Hospital Corporation and operated by ASC. Republican Mike McQuillen's wife works for the Lawrence Township school district. Republican Virginia Caine's husband works for Wishard Hospital.

Several other councilors depend on funding from government contracts for their livelihood. Jackie Nytes (D) is executive director of the Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corporation, which is funded entirely by government grant money. Her husband's business, Printing Partners, is also a contractor with city-county government agencies. Jeff Cardwell (R) owns Do-It-Best in Indianapolis, which does business with city-county government agencies. Bob Lutz (R) represents in his law practice Zore's, Inc, a business that contracts with the City. Angel Rivera (R) is employed by the Consultants Consortium, another government contractor which lists Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John as its lobbyist. And last but not least, Council President Ryan Vaughn (R) works for Barnes & Thornburg, which has been paid millions of dollars in recent years to do legal work for city-county agencies and which also lobbies for a variety of outside interests, including ACS, the controversial private contractor to which the administration of Mayor Greg Ballard just awarded a 50-year parking meter lease.

If we really want to return control of our government back to the people, we have got to implement major reforms to prevent persons with a vested financial interest in the government from serving in executive and legislative roles. The rise of the professional political class in this country has brought us to financial ruin. We need to begin by barring government employees from serving on our city-county council--at least those who work for the very government over which they are charged with overseeing.

13 comments:

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

Gary, it's too late for reform. It will never happen. Our politicians have for too long put their own self-interests and greed ahead of the people they are sworn to serve.

Worse, they have no interest in changing. Even the outsider we worked day and night to elect, foolishly allows the interests of Barnes and Thornburg to come ahead of our interests.

The whole thing is collapsing. The universe will take care of it. The world as we knew it is ending. And I think that is a good thing.

The economy in America will collapse...and it is likely going to happen this year.

Pretty soon none of this will matter.

varangianguard said...

who would have the time to put in if they had a real job outside of the purview of the bureaucratic-contract complex?

OK to go to meetings if your boss has an interest in the outcome. Not OK if your boss doesn't.

Sean Shepard said...

A part of the issue here is that government (at all levels) is too big and has its fingers in too much.

When local, state and federal spending combined constitutes over 63% of national income that's A LOT of government, a lot of money being thrown around and a lot of government bureaucracy to support it all.

Government is an industry just like any other and there are industry insiders, veterans, experts, long-time employees, partners, etc... that are more likely than others to stay connected in some way to this industry.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Thanks for posting these details about our elected officials and their spouses, who receive income from the government, AI. I very much agree with your last paragraph.

Jon said...

You are exactly right. For too many years state representatives Bauer and Crawford have seen no conflict as employees of Ivy Tech and then voting on their Ivy Tech's behalf.

Advance Indiana said...

Will Ryan Vaughn participate in the vote on the 50-year parking lease with ACS? Inquiring minds want to know.

artfuggins said...

The multiple conflicts of interest involving Councilor Jackie Nytes are among the worst.

guy77money said...

The big problem with big city and state governments is they are starting to act just like the Federal government and spend money they don't have. Sure building stadiums, hospitals and other useless structures we really don't need put people to work and make a incredible amount of money for the lawyers, accountants and other questionable support people that run their fees thru the roof. The politicians (hey it's not my money) don't care or are to busy loading up their friends and their (campaign money)pockets to really care about the cost. They seem to not truly care if people have to pay more in fees and taxes by usually stating it's only a couple of bucks. If they only realised all the people out there in the world that a couple of bucks is a really big deal. I don't see the economy collasping but I see a jobless recovery for Indiana that will have tremendous effect on the services local governments will be provide. Housing always leads the economy out of a recession and the numbers indicate that maybe sometime in 2013 we may see a upswing. But don't hold your breath!

Had Enough Indy? said...

Thanks for pulling all of this information together in one place. I hadn't realized the extent before.

dcrutch said...

Great piece, Gary. It's amazing the uniform wall of opposition there is to reform as well- from opposition to term limits, to parties only nominating "players", to the descending standard of "conflict of interest". It's all the more bitter when a potential outsider like our mayor seems no different than the lot.

Jay said...

The only solution is a full time council. Unless the politicians can make a living off of being a politician, there will always be overt conflicts and no legistimate way to stop them. Pay them $60,000/year and encode it that they can't have outside employment. You'll get a higher grade of councillor and get rid of many of the problematic conflicts.

Carlos F. Lam said...

@Jay: You're right! After all, the US Congress has shown that having legislators be full-time is the recipe for eliminating double-dipping, ethics trespasses, and influence-peddling. /sarcasm

Advance Indiana said...

Both parties are ruled by professional politicians who are not driven by ideology in the least bit. The Marion Co. Dems have lobbyist Ed Treacy as their chairman, while the GOP has lobbyist Tom John as its chairman. Neither could give a damn about party principles. They are in the system to personally enrich themselves and their clients. Any one who stands on their own two feet and speaks with an independent voice is shunned like the plague by these types. They will do everything they can to drive you out of the party. They only want a bunch of hapless mopes who do what their told on command.