Saturday, January 15, 2011

Okeson Departs CIB; Lathrop Defends Potesta

As this blog first reported, Ballard-appointee to the CIB, Jay Potesta, has taken a job in Washington, D.C. as a lobbyist for the Sheet Metal Workers International Union and has been absent from at least half of the board meetings since he took his new job in Washington, but CIB President Ann Lathrop defended his continued service on the board. This weekend's "Behind Closed Doors" column in the Star reports:

Lathrop defended the continued service of another board member, Jay K. Potesta, who has had spotty attendance at recent CIB meetings. Potesta is assistant director of government affairs for the Sheet Metal Workers International Association--based in Washington, D.C.

He travels to Washington on a consistent basis for work, Lathrop said. But she noted that Potesta still maintains a home and pays taxes in Indianapolis. He also serves on the Ports of Indiana Commission.
Our Republicans friends at the State House and the City-County Building have cut a deal with Potesta's union to give them seats on key boards you see to get unlikely union endorsements for Republican candidates like Ballard and Gov. Daniels. To hell with what is in the public's interest or whether their union supports anything remotely similar to the beliefs held by traditional Republicans. As long as we ensure full employment for their card-carrying union members on publicly-financed projects and continue to pay unfairly high wages for those projects, the union will even endorse a Republican. What do you want to bet both Ballard and Daniels will publicly oppose right to work legislation being pushed at the State House by some Republican lawmakers? And let's not forget that candidate Ballard four years ago promised not to appoint lobbyists to city boards--another one of his many broken promises.

The column also notes the departure of Paul Okeson from the board, who traded his job as chief of staff to a minority contractor that has been making off like a bandit under the Ballard administration, Keystone Construction. "Okeson, the board's treasurer, says the timing was right to leave because the CIB has mostly resolved serious financial difficulties and several other issues--including reaching a financial assistance deal with the Indiana Pacers--that he had begun to address while working for the mayor," the column reports. Translated, Keystone Construction is about to be rewarded again by Okeson's actions while serving on the CIB just like it was while he served as Ballard's chief of staff and he needed to put a little distance between the CIB and his employer given the continued presence of FBI agents who have been probing public corruption in Indianapolis. We wouldn't want his ties to a city contractor becoming an issue in this year's mayoral election, would we?

UPDATE: I neglected to mention Ballard plans to appoint former BMV and Workforce Development Commissioner Ron Stiver to take Okeson's place on the board. Stiver is an executive with Clarian. Ballard was no doubt ordered by Bob Grand to appoint Stiver so he would have another stooge on the board to continue to control it as if he were still running the board himself.


Bradley said...

Ahh, Ron Stiver, the man who began the pile of rubble that is now Mitch Daniels' DWD. The man who gave all unemployment claims adjudicators one week in July 2005 to quit or move to Indianapolis from every corner of the state -- the loss of hundreds (probably well over a thousand) of combined years' experience and institutional knowledge which has and never will be replaced.

The man who signed a contract with politically-connected Haverstick Consulting of Carmel, check that, Indianapolis (thanks to IEDC tax breaks!) for its "Unemployment Modernization" contract.

The contract which was to have the now continually-embarrassing unemployment computer system done in April 2008 for $23.9 million, but is now been extended over a dozen times and is three years over and costing at least $35.8 million now (and probably about to increase again).

The man who kept saying to the press how badly Kernan's or O'Bannon's DWD had been doing (even if statistically and in most realities that was a lie) and then set DWD in a course to be one of the worst states in the country in making quality and timely determinations for unemployment while simultaneously giving away over a billion dollars to claimants who didn't deserve it during a four-year period.

Ah, that man is good...let's put him on every board!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Don't forget the big IT contract Stiver allowed the IT manager he hired to turn around and give a big contract to the company the IT manager formerly owned and from which he was receiving buyout payments. Another one of those many conflict of interests that have gone unnoticed by the state's inspector general.

Bradley said...

Yeah, Roy Templeton had that conflict. The General Counsel of DWD at that time, Teresa Voors, was the head lawyer who should have advised of the financial conflict (but according to the governor when he fired David Lott Hardy, he takes care of issues when they happen). What did the governor later do? He made Teresa Voors the Commissioner.

The Inspector General's office did get around to this conflict, but only after the U.S. Department of Labor's Inspector General told them about it. Our I.G. then did an investigation which found numerous other problems, but nothing was really done. They did tell DWD to appoint a "Chief Ethics Officer" and "Complaince" person to monitor these issues, so DWD created YET ANOTHER deputy commissioner position as "Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer" (there are now 8 positions -- 7 filled -- for deputy commissioners there, not including the commissioner himself. There were only 4 deputy commissioners plus the commissioner as late as 2008.)

I will just say the person appointed as the latest "Ethics Officer" is an interesting choice as ethics go.