Sunday, March 01, 2009

Township Trustees: It's A Family Affair

Nothing shocking in the discovery that township trustees in Indiana take care of family first and the poor somewhere further down the list. A Star analysis of townships says at least two out of three trustees employ an immediate family member. Here's a snippet of what the Star learned was going on in Marion County:

When David King Baird, the trustee of urban Wayne Township in Marion County, needed a chief of staff, he went outside the township. But he kept it in the family. He chose his brother, Hershell, for the position that pays $78,744 a year -- not including the new Ford Crown Victoria. . .

Urban or rural, large or small -- whether the job pays a pittance or a pretty penny -- nepotism is a tie that binds Indiana's disparate 1,008 townships.

A continuing examination of township government by The Indianapolis Star shows that, based on a sample of 617 townships, two-thirds of trustees had a relative on the payroll . . .

In Wayne Township, where the trustee's brother is chief of staff, there also is a deputy trustee. Lynn McWhirter makes $58,493 a year and is the daughter of a former trustee and the wife of a current battalion chief on the township fire department. But why, Baird was asked, does he need both a chief of staff and a deputy?

Baird, who makes $81,120 a year, said the job was too big for one person and that his brother could not serve as deputy trustee because he does not live in the township. When asked why the deputy could not serve as his chief of staff, Baird explained: "It was my call."

The township also assigned the Baird brothers township cars, Ford Crown Victorias, because, David Baird said, "We're on call, 24 hours a day."

Center Township Trustee William Douglas' brother, Robert Douglas, works at the township's healthplex for $16.86 an hour, and his great-nephew, also named Robert Douglas, makes $13.50 an hour to do maintenance for the township in the Julia Carson Government Center.

Both men started their jobs before William Douglas became trustee this year but were hired while he was chief executive of operations for the township.

Decatur Township Trustee Steve Rink's sister, Jeanne Bain, serves as township clerk, he said. She makes $35,037 per year, according to a report filed with the state . . .

In Warren Township, Connie Klepper, the wife of board member William
Klepper, worked as a full-time small claims court clerk in 2007 and early 2008, Trustee Jeff Bennett said. She earned a salary of $28,685 per year, according to
township records.


Unknown said...

The township did NOT assign King Baird and his "chief of staff" two new Crown Vic Fords complete with emergency flashing lights, sirens, and radios.

King Baird assigned them to himself, in clear violation of state law that REQUIRES they be approved by the township board.

He also has never signed forms setting a value for federal income tax purposes.

Jon said...

If he hasn't listed them as income then he is in violation of IRS regulations. Wonder if the IRS still pays 10% reward to turn in tax cheats?

IndyPaul said...

I understand that the new legislation did forbid nepotism.