Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More On Our Disappointing Republican Council: Retherford Deserved Better Treatment

Kent Smith confirmed once again to me that he is a man without integrity. Smith, who chairs the Metropolitan Development Committee, sponsored a resolution reappointing Alan Retherford to the Board of Zoning Appeals, an unpaid position he has held for approximately 16 years. Smith contacted Retherford and asked him to accept the appointment. A council staff person called Retherford and asked him to appear before this week's committee meeting for a hearing on his reappointment. Inexplicably and without prior warning to Retherford, Smith joined Democrats Brian Mahern and Jose Evans in voting down his reappointment. Republicans Jeff Cardwell and Janice McHenry supported Retherford's reappointment.

To explain the background, MCANA has expressed concern that the Board of Zoning Appeals has been granting too many variance petitions, thereby undermining the comprehensive plans for neighborhooods. [See more on Had Enough Indy here.] A study by MCANA focused in particular on the Board of Zoning Appeals III panel on which Retherford serves. MCANA believes that Retherford often leads other board members into taking action based upon his alleged lenient views on granting variances. I don't necessarily agree with MCANA's view of Retherford actions; however, the organization at least had the integrity to confront their concerns with Retherford out in the open at a public meeting. I find it despicable, though, that Smith, who knew well in advance of the meeting the concerns MCANA had with Retherford, did not have the courtesy of discussing those concerns with him before asking him to serve again and agreeing to sponsor him for reappointment, let alone advising him that he was going to vote against him despite asking him to serve. Understandably, Retherford left the meeting embarrassed and humiliated. Smith took a voice vote and didn't even announce the vote outcome until questioned on it by Retherford.

Smith's actions are no surprise. Just a few weeks ago he reneged on a promise to pass an ordinance, which he co-sponsored, requiring council approval for tax abatements, a pledge he made to support during his campaign. Smith and other Republicans voted against the ordinance after the Ballard administration lobbied the committee Republicans to vote it down. Ballard, like Smith, had pledged to support such an ordinance during his 2007 campaign. Ballard and Smith are two peas in a pod. They have both broken every fundamental campaign pledge they made to the grassroots activists who put them in office. I can't say why Brian Mahern voted against Retherford, but Jose Evans, who is running for mayor, made it clear that he was paying back Retherford for refusing to vote his way on a case for one of his constituents.

Smith's Metropolitan Development Committee also considered the appointment of a young Ice Miller attorney to the Metropolitan Development Commission who has only lived in the City of Indianapolis for five years over the objections of MCANA. Republicans moved to oust Randy Snyder from the Commission after he dared to exercise an independent vote in voting against the $20 million give-away to political insider Tad Miller, a big contributor to Mayor Ballard and the Republicans. Ice Miller regularly represents clients before the Commission, and one of the firm's partner's spouse has been serving on the Commission for several years. Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John, also a partner at Ice Miller, is the person who arranged the young associate from his law firm's appointment to the Commission. You can bet the young associate would vote as ordered to vote by John if he wants a future at Ice Miller. Fortunately, the Committee heeded the concerns of MCANA as to the short time the young lawyer had lived in the City and the obvious conflicts he would face on a regular basis and voted his appointment down after taking a long recess to consider his appointment.

I'm not going into the other appointments approved during this week's meeting. As a Republican, I would note that our Republican council approved the reappointment of several Democrats who have contributed generously to Democrats, some of them who like to remind me they voted for Bart Peterson and contributed to his campaign but are still getting appointments from the Republicans. Here's my question to the Marion Co. Republicans: Why should I work as a Republican precinct committeeperson to elect you if you're only going to support the appointment of Democrats, lobbyists and political insiders who carry out the corrupt motives of people like Tom John to use their political clout to subvert public processes? Some of us are at the breaking point. The reformers and tax activist grassroots folks are the ones who made the Republican victory possible in 2007. None of us have been asked to serve in any capacity in this city administration. We've been told by Tom John and Greg Ballard to fuck off. I've lived, worked and paid taxes in this community for 20 years. I've never been asked to serve in any capacity, and I know that I never will because I am a man of integrity who does the right thing. I cannot be controlled. People like me who are capable of exercising independent judgment are disqualified from public service in Marion County. Until we throw Ballard and the bums running the Republican Party in this county out, we will continue to get corrupt, unresponsive government. What goes around comes around. I can just as easily work to defeat the Republicans who used me and my blog to help them get elected in 2007 and then turned around and knifed me and the rest of the grassroots reform movement supporters in the back.


guy77money said...

Knowing Alan I guarantee he was more pissed then embarrassed! Smith must be a real ass.

Jon E. Easter said...

Jose Evans is not officially running for Mayor as of yet.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Republicans! The Best Money Can Buy!
Is it any wonder that conservatives are abandoning support for them? They are just as bad, if not WORSE, than democrats.
It's as though they FORGOT our Republican ideals.
Now, it's just "anything to keep ME in office."

Marycatherine Barton said...

In April, 2009, the federal Department of Homeland Security, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, issued an "analysis" that demonized libertarians, among other Americans, as "right-wing extremists". I have discovered how unfair, to put it mildly, most of our major media sources in Indianapolis are to Libertarians and independents, and, more and more, how both the Democratic and Republican machine politicians are 'pilng on' Libertarians.

This attempt to publicly humiliate Retherford is of no surprise to me. He is in good company.

right is right said...

I am appalled that 16 years of excellent volunteer public service would be rewarded in this fashion. After watching the hearing again, I was still upset enough that I looked for some online discussion of the events Monday night to see if I was missing something. After enjoying your persective, I clicked on the link to the "Had Enough Indiana" blog you referenced. I was surprised to find a response to that blog that was a pretty strong indictment of the entire MCANA organization. Take a look. It made me question whether the MCANA people were really worth the embarassing performance these "politicians" put on that night. More importantly, what did MCANA promise or threaten Smith with that justified his actions at that hearing; and why did he apparently think any of them could help or hurt him based on how he handled that re-appointment?

artfuggins said...

Whether the allegations against Retherford are accurate or not is immaterial. The shameless abuse he suffered at the hands of Kent Smith is inexcusable. The young attorney did not deserve the treatment he received either. Have we enacted a rule that you must have been born in Indianapolis to serve on a volunteer board? What is going on?