Monday, November 15, 2010

Star Finally Faces Vaughn's Conflict Of Interest In Parking Meter Lease Deal

Perhaps shamed into do so by the blogs, the Indianapolis Star for the first time in an actual news story acknowledges there may be a conflict of interest in City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn pushing for the passage of a 50-year lease deal with ACS, his law firm's client, for the City's parking meter assets. A story appears in today's Star, the same day the full City-County Council takes up a vote on the controversial day. Jon Murray writes:

ACS is a powerful player in government contracting and already plays a role in Indiana's welfare-services modernization. And the mayor's office and ACS have shared a lobbyist at Indianapolis law firm Barnes & Thornburg. Council President Ryan Vaughn works at the firm as an associate but does not perform any work for ACS, he says.

Such connections make some critics uncomfortable, even if ACS, the law firm and the mayor's staff insist that the lobbyist, Joe Loftus, didn't participate in parking-meter negotiations.

Vaughn, who has faced pressure to recuse himself, plans to vote in favor because he views the deal as important for his Broad Ripple district.

He acknowledges an appearance of a conflict of interest.

"But it's one that I've gone to great lengths to explain," he said.

He doesn't view his firm's association with ACS as violating the council's ethics rules. Those require recusal if a council member or a business in which he or she has an interest would directly benefit by more than $1,000.
The story omits reference to the item the Star stuck in its "Behind Closed Doors" column yesterday recounting Vaughn's removal of Republican Councilor Christine Scales from the Public Safety Committee last week after she sent an e-mail to her fellow Republican councilors urging the tabling of the controversial parking meter deal. Scales told me and Murray she believed Vaughn's actions were taken, in part, due to her opposition to the parking meter lease deal.

1 comment:

dcrutch said...

Keep pushin', Gary. Thanks for what you're doing for the community. Sooner or later, what goes around comes around.