Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What's Ryan Vaughn Hiding?

Ryan Vaughn
As a Republican councilor in the minority four years ago, Ryan Vaughn led the charge against the ethically-challenged Monroe Gray, the City-County Council President under the Democratic-led council. Who knew then that Vaughn would auction his seat off on the council for a job at a law firm that exercises total control over the administration of Greg Ballard, become the council's president and then run the most unethical council since the enactment of UniGov?

At Monday night's council meeting, Vaughn announced that the council will no longer permit public comment on council appointees because he claimed people who voluntarily served on city boards and commissions were becoming difficult to find because of scrutiny they were receiving from some community activists. Vaughn seems to have forgotten the promise Republicans made four years ago to end the practice of appointing lobbyists and city contractors to boards and commissions because of their conflict of interest. Over the last four years, Mayor Ballard and council Republicans have refused to appoint anyone to any board or commission that might exercise independent judgment; hence, appointees are largely lobbyists and city contractors. Should he wonder why some members of the public might want to offer public comment on appointees? After all, they are hardly people sacrificing for the public good when their volunteer work leads to personal financial reward to them, their employers and their clients. Of course, no one understands this better than Vaughn since no person in the history of the City-County Council has profited as much as he has from his service on the council.

Early on in his council career, Vaughn watered down the City's ethics ordinance to the point of legalizing all of the self-dealing transactions in which he has engaged in as a member and leader of the council so he can insist with a straight face that his actions don't violate any laws, even if his actions are grossly unethical. He watered down the city's lobbying law so much that most people lobbying city hall don't even bother to  register because they know there are no serious penalties for violating it and, even if there were penalties, there is nobody empowered with any authority to enforce the law. Barely a few dozen people have registered to lobby since the enactment of the ordinance Vaughn authored. No reporting by lobbyists' activities is available online.

Vaughn is also withholding the latest ethics forms all city councilors were required to file annually by February 1. The council's website still shows statements filed for the calendar year 2009. Yes, it appears Vaughn has a lot to hide. As for those who would violate the city's ethics law, the board is populated with insiders chosen to protect ethics violators from any consequences for ethical transgressions. 


Downtown Indy said...

To paraphrase The Princess Bride: Transparency? I do not think the word means what they think it means.

They don't mean for us to see everything, they mean for everything to be hidden.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Particulary everything that shows how you're using your elected position as a cash register for your employer.