Monday, February 11, 2013

Council President Removed Her Self-Dealing Proposal From Agenda For Introduction At Tonight's Council Meeting

City-County Council President Maggie Lewis was set to introduce at tonight's meeting Proposal No. 48, which would have changed the nonprofit group responsible for reviewing and recommending grant awards for Indianapolis' Crime Prevention Grant program from the Indy Parks Foundation to the Central Indiana Community Foundation over which the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg and others who lobby the City-County Council exercise considerable control. I noted in a post this weekend that eyebrows were raised by Councilor Lewis' authorship of the proposal given that her employer, Dove Recovery House, is the City's largest recipient of crime prevention grants. Fellow blogger Pat Andrews weighed in with additional commentary on Lewis' conflict of interest in a blog post you can read here. A last minute revision to tonight's agenda pulled Proposal No. 48 from the agenda for introduction in reaction to this weekend's blog reports.

Lewis left her job as a grant administrator with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, a federally-funded state agency, to become the nonprofit's executive director after her appointment to the City-County Council to avoid violating the Little Hatch Act. No sooner had Lewis assumed her new job than the Dove Recovery House made a public plea for help, claiming it was out of funds to operate. The City came to its rescue by awarding it a crime prevention grant, which has grown from $75,000 the first year to $160,000 this year, representing its largest source of funding. There is concern that Lewis has caved into many demands by Mayor Greg Ballard and his fellow Republican councilors because she has been bought off with large grants to her organization that pay her salary at the Dove Recovery House. The move in grant funding from the Indy Parks Foundation to an even more politically-controlled entity raises serious questions about Lewis' motive in offering Proposal No. 48.

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