Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mayor Henry Troubled By Whistle Blower's Allegations

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette has a front-page story discussing allegations made by a former city clerk employee first reported by the News-Sentinel that the city's long-time clerk, Sandy Kennedy, engaged in campaign activities in her city office and threatened employees with firing if they did not contribute and support her chief deputy's campaign this year to replace her after 32 years. Mayor Tom Henry, a Democrat who is seeking re-election to a third term in a race against Mitch Harper, tells the newspaper through a spokesman he is troubled by the allegations. “If the allegations are accurate, we’re very troubled by the reports. The mayor’s office and the City Clerk’s office are separately-elected offices that are independent of each other. The mayor’s office does not have jurisdiction over the City Clerk’s office,” he said.

The Journal-Gazette notes Colin Keeney, the former parking enforcement supervisor who secretly-recorded the illegal campaign activities taking place in the clerk's office in the months prior to his resignation last month, mentioned his concern about legal wrongdoing in the office in a September 8 resignation letter, which he addressed to Mayor Tom Henry. “During my tenure with the City Clerk’s office, I’ve witnessed countless examples of an elected official who routinely engages in employee intimidation, petty partisan harassment, and a City Clerk that frequently ignores the law and the city’s official rules in favor of her own demands," Keeney wrote. "As a supervisor, I’ve endured for years without the leadership of a coherent department head,” Keeney

Although the undercover video Keeney took shows the illegal campaign activities taking place involved not just Kennedy but her chief deputy, Angela Davis, who is seeking to replace her, and Davis' treasurer, Patty Stahlhut, Davis told the Journal-Gazette she was not aware the activity was taking place with regard to her campaign. Kennedy's attorney, Mark GiaQuinta, tried his best to put his client's comments in a more favorable context. "When she says they better work on this campaign because their jobs are in the balance, she’s expressing the political reality that without collective bargaining and unions, a new clerk can privatize, can bring in a whole new office and probably would," GiaQuinta said. And Sandy Kennedy has seen that before there was collective bargaining, she’s been an employee at the city of Fort Wayne for decades and she saw what collective bargaining brought to employees, and she sees what it will be like now that it’s gone."

Perhaps the more troubling part of the Journal-Gazette's story is the characterization of what took place on the undercover video taken by Keeney by a former Republican election board chairman as a mere violation of the city's ethics code, as opposed to a violation of the law," Zachary Klutz said. "I would say this falls more closely with an ethical violation or a situation that just shouldn’t happen," he said. "If you’re an employee with the city of Fort Wayne, you should be able to go into work each day and not be intimidated to vote for a particular candidate." Klutz sounds too much like our clueless Marion County prosecutor, Terry Curry, when it comes to public corruption. At least the Journal-Gazette story mentions there is a state law that makes it illegal for government employees to engage in political activities while on the job. Well, this is why you have to turn this over to a federal prosecutor to handle. Klutz obviously is unfamiliar with what happened to former Lake Co. Surveyor George Van Til.


Anonymous said...

"Mark GiaQuinta with video evidence he secretly-recorded of the illegal campaign activities of Kennedy and other employees of the office, GiaQuinta advised her not to speak. Other than dismiss the allegations as "lies," Good to know of Mark that he toes the Planned Parenthood line on video evidence. Do officers of the court still have any obligation to the truth?

Flogger said...

Klutz, perhaps a fitting name. I suspect knowing the way government operates in Indians, Governor Dense and the Republicans in the General Assembly will reach across the aisle to the Democrats to pass a law with draconian punishments for recordings like this one. We would not want the proles to know what goes on behind closed doors.

LamLawIndy said...

Now, wait a minute. I don't know Mark GiaQuinta, but the statement you quote appears to be a reaction from BEFORE the video's existence was known. He's doing the right thing: minimizing the allegations & instructing a client to remain silent. Likewise, his statement post-video revelation is "spin," which is appropriate for an attorney to do.

I will note that in PRIVATE, Mr. GiaQuinta was probably advising Ms. Kennedy to fully cooperate with authorities given how bad the video makes her look.