Sunday, July 22, 2007

More On Councilors' Personal Stake In Tax Increase Vote

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz joins the chorus questioning whether members of the City-County Council who have a personal stake in the outcome of Mayor Peterson's proposed 65% income tax increase should be casting a vote at tomorrow night's meeting. He identified eight council members with a conflict of interest:

There are several members of the Council who would get a direct benefit from the tax increase. Democrats Monroe Gray, Vernon Brown, Sherron Franklin, Mary Moriarty Adams and Republicans Ike Randolph, Lance Langsford, Lincoln Plowman and Marilyn Pfisterer. All eight members of the Council should abstain from voting because they all have a conflict of interest.

Randolph, Plowman, Langsford and Franklin are either police officers or firefighters and they would get a 12-percent raise (over the next four years) if the tax were implemented because it is the funding source for their contract's salary increases. Moriarty Adams is married to a police officer so she would get a direct benefit. Pfisterer is married to a retired firefighter who gets a direct benefit in the form of a stable pension. And Gray and Brown are department chiefs, and although their salaries are not determined by the contract, they are in policy making positions in the department and should abstain from voting.

Abdul omits Dane Mahern (D), who will benefit indirectly as well as an employee of the City's Department of Administration. Abdul questioned Mayor Peterson this weekend about the members' conflict of interest. "I asked Mayor Bart Peterson yesterday whether public safety officials on the Council should abstain from voting, his reply was that since the ordinance doesn't specifically require revenue be spent on raises, there is no conflict," he writes. "With all due respect, that's a load of "you-know-what" because we all know what the money will be used for, otherwise there's no point in raising the tax." Actually, Mayor Peterson was just being honest. How many times has the council raised taxes in the past to benefit public safety and still come back time and time again asking taxpayers to fork over more to fund what was promised from the earlier tax increases?

On the subject of the tax increase slated for a vote tomorrow night, City-County Councilor Scott Keller continues to raise the ire of his fellow Republicans. He showed up at the Mayor's press conference Saturday to support the budget cuts Peterson belatedly has requested. The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy writes today, "Democrats control the council 15-14, but some could waver on increasing taxes in an election year." "Scott Keller, a Republican council member, said he will support the measure." Keller is supporting the re-election of Peterson over the GOP's candidate, Greg Ballard, and he claims to have the support of Peterson for his own re-election. Democrats and Republicans alike have scoffed at Keller's claim of Peterson's support. Moreover, both Democrats and Republican wonder how Peterson could possibly aid Keller's re-election this year. If you study the Star's analysis of the areas hit hardest by this year's property tax reassessments, it includes a significant portion of Keller's district.

I was also reminded by a prominent Democrat that Keller ran four years ago with the support of an anti-tax group over his opponent, then-incumbent Karen Horseman, who he defeated by a handful of votes. To that group's disappointment, Keller has voted for every major tax increase proposal which has come before the council. Some of Keller's closest GOP supporters are distraught over the path he has chosen this election year, and they complain he has not been working the district like he did four years ago. He faces Democrat Brian Mahern, whose well-known name alone is worth at least 45% of the vote in this Democratic-leaning district without lifting a finger. Democrats are delighted Keller is voting for the Mayor's latest tax increase. It means at least one marginal Democrat will get a pass on the tax increase vote.


Wilson46201 said...

It sure looks like the local Republicans are turning against their erstwhile allies in the public safety workforce ...

Anonymous said...

They are arrogant. They have no morals. They do not care how the tax increase will hurt the working poor of the city.

Frank claims to love the children, 'the flowers', but he with this tax he will be taking food out of their mouth and putting it in his pocket.

The CCC who will benefit from the increase should abstain.

Wilson46201 said...

Now that the GOP loses majority control in the Council, they try to disenfranchise Indianapolis voters by demanding some Democratic councilors not vote thus giving Republicans majority power again. What a devious bunch of sore losers...

Republicans should seriously try to win elections instead of trying to take off the elected representatives of the voters!

Anonymous said...

Beth "Incompetent" White did a good job of disenfranchising voters in the Primary! Don't need any GOP on that!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Wilson, there are 4 Republican councilors on that list. Your point as always is partisan-charged and irrational.

Wilson46201 said...

And there are 6 Democratic councilors on the list so that with a slender 15-14 Democratic majority, your disenfranchising plan would now "flip" the Council to a 10 to 9 Republican majority.

Slick! And extremely partisan too... a very rational piece of parliamentary ledgerdemain from the minority GOP.

Anonymous said...

The original point of the post, which, as usual, wandered sideways with the last posting, was the inherent conflict for some council members.

I'd remove Mary BMA from the list, although it's a close call. She is an excellent councilwoman, but more importantly: she's married to a public safety wage-earner. She's not one herself.

I know, I know--it's splitting hairs. But it's difficult to hold a spouse's job against the officeholder.

The direct conflict exists with the others, especially Mr. President. It's shameful that they're even there, let alone vote on these issues.

Then there's the Majority Leader, who isn't a city employee himself, but who demanded a job for his wife. The previously-mentioned spousal exemption shouldn't apply in that case.