Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Marion County Voters Need Dr. John Pless As Coroner

After dealing with the most incompetent, unqualified coroner in the history of Marion County for the past four years, Marion County voters have an opportunity to select one of the most qualified and competent candidates in the country to hold that position. Republicans have nominated Dr. John Pless. Pless is a board-certified forensic pathologist with more than 35 years experience in the field. Not only did he head up the forensic pathology division at Indiana University School of Medicine for many years where he was in charge of performing autopsies for the Marion County Coroner's Office, he has also been an elected coroner in the past in Lawrence and Monroe Counties.

Now contrast Pless with the Democratic candidate. "[Dr. Frank] Lloyd is a general surgeon whose parents were involved in politics and who agreed to run for the office after friends approached him when the incumbent dropped out of the race," the Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy writes. Note that he "agreed to run". The truth is that Lloyd was only asked to run for the office because the color of his skin is black. You see, the Marion County Democrats have implemented an affirmative action program which dictates that only blacks may hold certain offices in Marion County. The coroner's office is one of those offices. That's why Democrats shoved aside the imminently more qualified, long-time deputy coroner John Linehan four years ago in favor of a chiropractor, Dr. Kenneth Ackles. Before the end of his first year in office, Ackles fired Linehan because of his race and hired a less-qualified black deputy coroner, Alfarena Ballew, for the job. Linehan brought an EEOC charge against Ackles and won a favorable determination from a EEOC administrative law judge, who awarded him $400,000. Linehan is also suing Ackles and his chief deputy for defamation for falsely accusing him of ghost employment.

The story gets better. Linehan announced he would challenge Ackles at the Democrat's slating this year. In order to be a candidate at slating, you are required to tender to the party a slating fee equal to 10% of your salary. Linehan tendered the fee, but the party rejected it as insufficient, thereby allowing Ackles to be re-slated without opposition. One week later, Ackles dropped out of the race and party leaders met behind closed doors and chose Lloyd over Linehan.

For his part, Ackles couldn't even pass a state-mandated training class for county coroners and their deputies. As a consequence, the City-County Council has withheld his pay for months in accordance with state law. Ackles refused to even show up and answer questions about his failure to pass the state exam. Ackles is now suing the county for his pay.

Make the right decision, Marion County voters. We need Dr. John Pless now more than ever to restore professionalism and competence to the Marion County Coroner's Office.


varangianguard said...

Dr. Ackles has trouble comprehending special event parking placards as well.


But, this is a "County" vehicle. Surely, that exempts ME from any pedestrian restrictions that the public is subject to?

Maybe Dr. Ackles will be working for Ray Houchins come January (whether Constable Houchins "knows" it or not)?

M Theory said...

I met Dr. Pless at the polls. He's a class act! I totally agree!

I asked Darla WIlliams who was part of the coroner's transition team why everything was such a mess in the coroners office. She admitted that the coroner did not enact her recommendations. Darla would not take any of the responsibility for the mess. She said it was all his fault.

Kevin in Brownsburg said...

In my previous position I had to deal with the staff at the Coroner's office fairly regularly. I can honestly say that I have never encountered a bigger group of incompetetant, arrogant, condescending people in my life. Why does it take this crew months to get a report when other counties have them in a week? I will never forget how I was treated by those people. Good luck in your representation of the former staff. Give 'em hell!

artfuggins said...

As a good party Democrat, I find it offensive that you inaccurately claim that some sort of affirmative action or quota system exists within my party as to the selection of candidates. No office is a "black" office or a "white" office. We always try to find the best qualified person to run for an office. It is true that we like for our slate of candidates and officeholders to look reflect the diversity of our community and our party. No office has a label on it that requires the candidate to be of a certain race. Since you brought it up, it is amazing how little diversity is reflected in GOP officeholders.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I get slammed regularly for being a shill of some sort, but I will agree with you here, Gary. The Marion County Democrats seem to be hell-bent on self destruction. Between the corruption of Gray and more on the Council-- which is one of the main reasons why Ballard won -- to the Ackles/ Coroner's Office debacle-- they are likely to put themselves behind for a generation.

If Marion County/ Indy were not so overwhelmingly Dem-based, the Republicans would have won years ago. In fact, if the Republicans could shed some of the rightwingers, they'd be poised to win a lot more here. Of course, you've been saying that for years, Gary.

M Theory said...

There you have it from Art's mouth! Ackles, an incompetent who created untold liability for the coroner's office and the taxpayer, is the best the democrats could attract.

Jason said...

I've always thought the best-qualified candidate who had the greatest potential for serving the constituency well should get the nod, regardless of race, but hey I'm old-fashioned!

Jon E. Easter said...

Could we have found a better candidate to run for Coroner in 2004? Absolutely. The way Dr. Ackles has run the office has been a big disappointment to me.

It's, however, unfair to carry what he has done to Dr. Lloyd. I've met Dr. Lloyd, and I think he is a competent and caring individual. The Coroner's Office in Indianapolis is, after all, about management.

Dr. Pless would make a good coroner, too. He's, after all, done the job before. I don't think you can go wrong either way. Why we are forced to vote for Coroner is beyond me. It should be a non-partisan office through the crime lab...I think.