Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ethics Reform We Must Enact In The City Of Indianapolis

This advice will probably fall on deaf ears since Mayor-elect Greg Ballard and the Marion Co. GOP don't want any advice from people like myself, but a set of ethics reforms could help clean up city hall if anyone is interested in doing that now that the election is over. Here's my suggestions:

Anyone who is compensated to communicate or advocate on any matter to a city or county employee or official, employees and members of any boards or commissions and city-county councilors shall be required to register as a lobbyist and report semi-annually all lobbying-related expenditures, including grassroots lobbying. Attorneys and accountants and their employers shall be barred from performing services for the city-county government and its agencies if they are registered lobbyists for third parties.

All city-county officials, employees and councilors shall be barred from accepting gifts of any value. That means no free football, basketball and concert tickets, free lunches or dinners and free trips.

All government employees and persons and businesses doing business with city-county government shall be barred from making political contributions to the mayor or any other elected official. If you look at the campaign finance reports of our elected officials, you will soon discover that their campaigns are being largely-financed by contractors and government employees.

All city and county employees shall be barred from running for and serving on the city-county council. Our state constitution already provides for a similar prohibition, but our state legislature changed the law in the 1980s so city firefighters and police officers could serve on the council. Also, anyone who does business with the City of Indianapolis shall be barred from serving on any board or commission. This will end the common conflict of interest which exists when the chairman of the Capital Improvement Board or the Indianapolis Airport Authority is a partner in a law firm which also provides legal services to the City of Indianapolis. Similarly, a person should not be sitting on the Metropolitan Development Commission who works for a firm doing business with city-county government.

The statements of economic interest currently filed by officials and employees provide little in the way of disclosure. The public deserves full disclosure. The statements should be overhauled to require disclosure of meaningful information about a person's potential economic conflicts with their government work.

The current Ethics Board, which administers ethics compliance by government officials and employees, includes board members who aren't disinterested. The make-up of the Ethics Board needs to be expanded to include more members of the general public.

Some of these changes can be made locally. Other changes will require state legislation. All of these changes will lead to a cleaner, more open and honest government. Let's hope there is someone willing to take up the cause for these changes.


Anonymous said...

Dream on, Welsh! "Ballard and Reform" in the same sentence?
Like "Monroe and Ethics"

Stick to defending DUI cases. You're much better at that!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Sorry, anon 7:19, but I don't defend DUI cases or any criminal cases for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of sour grapes for not getting picked fot the transition team to me. The way you talk you would think all our councillors and govt employees are crooks.

Wilson46201 said...

...about as ethical as used tractor salesmen!

Anonymous said...

The way you talk you would think all our councillors and govt employees are crooks.

It's 99% per cent that make the rest look that way.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it. Ballard knows nothing about running a city and the decisions will be made in back rooms by nameless faces.

Edward Fox said...

Explain to me how the legislature can change the law, when the law is the constitution.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The legislature is not supposed to be able to change what the constitution says, but apparently some courts are willing to provide our legislators deference in interpreting our constitution, even when it violates the clear language of the constitution.

M Theory said...

Gary? Mind if we reprint these suggestions on Hoosiers For Fair Taxation?

They are constructive.