Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hogsett Pledges Same Ethics Reforms Ballard Promised But Failed To Deliver Upon

Indianapolis mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett (D) announced a series of ethics reforms he would implement if he becomes mayor. They make for good talking points, but if the past is prologue, little change will occur if he is elected mayor. Why? We've heard the same promises before and not delivered upon. Our local news media isn't real big on making ethics an issue so the politicians can talk a good game without delivering and never worry about suffering any negative consequences.

Hogsett wants to put restrictions on lobbying, provide greater transparency by making information easier to access on the city's website and curtail the use of no-bid, professional services contracts. If it sounds a bit familiar, it's because Greg Ballard made the exact same promises when he first ran for mayor in 2007. Yeah, he made a few changes here and there, but in the final analysis, those changes provided no real benefit and city government only became less transparent, not more transparent as promised.

Ballard set up an online lobby registration and reporting system that exempts many lobbying activities and the law's enforcement mechanisms are so weak that few, if any, persons lobbying the legislature bother to comply with the registering and reporting requirements. Yeah, Ballard set up an online database of all contracts, but the searching capability of the database for users is so byzantine that it's almost like looking for a needle in a haystack to find a contract contained in the database. Hogsett says he's going to create a "Disclose Indy" website where the public can more easily access contracts, ethics statements, campaign finance reports, crime stats, budgets and other public records. It sounds a lot like what Ballard promised and never delivered upon.

Hogsett picks up on the weak reporting under the city's current lobbying law, noting that only two gifts have been reported and no enforcement actions taken in the five years since it was first enacted. One of the problems is that there are a large quantity of free tickets being handed out for events at Lucas Oil Stadium, Banker's Life Fieldhouse and Victory Field that are funneled through the mayor's office, the CIB or Visit Indy, which current law seems to exempt. The mayor, members of his administration and council members are receiving thousands of dollars a year each in free tickets that are never reported because they aren't covered by the law. The statements of economic interest forms themselves are not designed to provide the public any useful information to detect many conflicts of interest that might arise while officials are carrying out their public duties.

Hogsett also says he will turn down free memberships at exclusive country clubs like Mayor Ballard and previous mayors have accepted. He also says he will avoid taking taxpayer-paid trips. That's not ethics reform in my mind. Ballard claims that the dozen or so junkets he and his wife have taken during his time in office were paid for by private donors of Develop Indy, not taxpayer dollars. It just so happens that those private donors are the very same people who are making off like bandits with those no-bid contracts and public subsidies Ballard has doled out to his campaign contributors. I don't see Hogsett proposing any curtailment on campaign donations from city contractors, which comprise most of the more than $2 million in campaign contributions Hogsett has received to date.

Hogsett talks about enacting a one-year cooling off period for city employees who helped oversee companies to which city contracts were awarded. If it's anything like the state's cooling off period, it's not going to be worth the paper on which it's written. He also wants to resurrect the city's two-term limit for mayors, which was repealed to allow former Mayor William Hudnut to serve longer than two terms in office. He served four terms altogether. That's an easy promise for Hogsett to make. I seriously doubt he wants to stay in the office for more than one or two terms. He doesn't seem to be the type who is content working at one place for a long period of time.

Finally, Hogsett is proposing a "top to bottom" audit of city finances. Ballard promised the same thing. Remember all of that "fluff" he promised to eliminate from the city budget, in particular all of those professional service agreements? It didn't take Ballard long to figure out those contracts were the bread and butter for his campaign fundraisers. That campaign promise, like most of  his campaign promises, fell to wayside before his first day in office.


Anonymous said...

Give this Marion County over-taxed voter a break. Hogsett is an attorney so he knows how to "legally lie" or make promises that can be fulfilled in a way that the crony status quo can be maintained. Forgive my jaundiced eye to holders of Juris Doctorates and especially Phony Joe when it comes to protecting the pubic... lie after lie, scam after scam, laws broken by Ballard and his manipulator attorneys to ram through questionable pay-to-play deals.. and Phony Joe Hogsett when US DA does....NOTHING.

To Phony Joe Hogsett- give us all a break with your staged, non-serious pledges. Phony Joe reminds me of the cream of the national liberal Democrats, dear Nancy Pelosi, who vowed to clear the swamp and give America the most ethical House ever.

We see just how well that worked out, too.

Anonymous said...

He did not go after Brizzi. No guts or corrupt - you take your pick. He'll be as transparent as a brick.

Anonymous said...

Boycott ESPN, ABC and Disney.

Anonymous said...

Hogsett will be just like the rest of the lyin thieves, campaign telling the public what they want to hear, then govern the way corrupt cesspool maggots always do!
Sorry about the crude way I worded this but I'm so sick and tired of the corruption! local, statewide, and Nationally!

Anonymous said...

Hell I thought I was reading an article about Hammond's Tom McDermott Jr.

Their all Lying rat bastards!

Anonymous said...

Here's a wild step:

Get Hogsett to formally request that DOJ's Public Integrity Section review the actions of Ballard, especially with regard to the Regional Operations Center, Vision Fleet, Criminal Justice center bidding/proposals, Bond Bank, and other areas where it appears that unlawful actions were taken.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Hogsett was specifically asked about whether he thought the matters should be investigated by federal or state prosecutors. He completely danced around the subject and said he didn't know enough about it and didn't want to speculate.

Anonymous said...

Here is another wild step:

How about Hogsett ask the same section to look into his office's handling of Federal Investigations in the Indianapolis area that he squashed while in office.