Newly-elected City-County Councilors don't take office until January, but they've already learned the greatest perk of being a council member--free tickets to Colts and Pacers games whenever you want them. Suite tickets, no less, for the newly-elected Council members Colleen Fanning (R) and Blake Johnson (D) at this bipartisan affair. It's old hat for Councilor Jeff Miller (R), who is completing his first term after being re-elected to another four-year term for a job he complained paid too little before he just voted himself a 43% pay raise. Does Faegre Baker Daniels provide free babysitting services too? Don't forget to omit the free tickets from your ethics statements, boys and girls.Great @Colts game w/Joe Smith @Jeff4Indy @JohnsonforIndy THX @FaegreBD - such a tough loss! #IndyCouncil pic.twitter.com/p6OUETe8yM— Colleen Fanning (@Fanning4Council) December 21, 2015
UPDATE: An observant reader catches this story in the Florida Times-Union about ethics concerns surrounding free tickets given to Jacksonville City Council members by the Jaguars' owner:
Several members of the Jacksonville Ethics Commission, who were briefed on the policy at their Wednesday meeting at Jacksonville’s City Hall, spoke in favor of the new system, which they say is more transparent and accountable.
The commission also approved proposed legislation, which the City Council would ultimately have to pass, that would allow the commission to fine city officers and employees for public records violations — such as not making records available, destroying them, or making a false statement about whether they exist. Ethics Director Carla Miller pushed for the change after some City Council members, who communicated during a September council meeting through a union boss using text messages, originally were unable to produce their text messages in response to a request from the Times-Union.
Miller and General Counsel Jason Gabriel wrote a memo to Council President Greg Anderson on Dec. 10 outlining the policy for Jaguars football tickets.
Miller was concerned the value of the suite passes and tickets exceeded the $100 gift limit allowed under states ethics laws from lobbyists or entities doing business with the city.
The lobbyist for the Jaguars would arrange for City Council members to attend a game and they would receive a black envelope with two $125 tickets, two passes to the owner’s suite, a premium parking pass and a note with instructions for game day. Several council members took gift boxes containing a pair of Tiffany champagne flutes.
Miller advised council members to stay in the owner’s suite for only 30 minutes to an hour, not the entire game as some have, using their judgment.
Instead of going through the lobbyist, the memo states the city’s share of the tickets should all go through the offices of the council president and the mayor, which will distribute them. The city owns Everbank Field, receives tickets and has its own suite. Once the city receives and distributes those tickets, the city will post them on the city’s online gift registration, which Miller said provides transparency and accountability.
City officers and employees must also report the tickets, still considered a gift, to the Florida Commission on Ethics.
Commission member Richard Brown, an attorney, said the Jaguars team is an integral part of the Jacksonville community, but is also a business and each year will likely come before the City Council asking for action on its behalf.
“We have to keep a very, very close eye on attempts to glad-hand and influence our officials,” Brown said. “It is no accident it was a lobbyist distributing the tickets.”
The council voted unanimously this month to give the Jaguars $45 million in public money for a project including an amphitheater and indoor practice facility.You'll never read a story in the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star expressing any ethical concerns that the owners of the Colts or Pacers are bribing our local elected officials with free tickets to games. The newspaper is a co-conspirator with the professional sports team owners in ensuring that hundreds of millions of our tax dollars are constantly flowing to the teams to subsidize their billionaire owners. If that means bribing the mayor, city-county council members and state officials, then more power to them as far as The Star or any of the other media in this town is concerned. If we barred all of our elected officials from accepting free tickets to any sporting event or concerts, regardless of the source, and or any other gifts or free meals regardless of the amount, I suspect support from these same officials of subsidies to billionaire sports team owners might fade a wee bit.