Zoeller said he likely would ask for an independent review of the office from colleagues in other states to look for ways to improve it. "My weakness might be that I’m so involved that I might miss things others are able to identify."The first sign of a good administrator is a willingness to be open to feedback and criticism. That requires humility and the willingness to accept that they do not know everything, traits a lot of elected officials do not have. Zoeller's comments demonstrate that he is open to new ideas and change in how the office operates. He passes the first test as Attorney General-elect with flying colors.
As readers of this blog knows, I have been critical of the inactive, non-aggressive approach the Attorney General's Office has often taken, in particular in the consumer protection arena. I saw first hand problems with its real estate regulatory arm, the Homeowner's Protection Unit. I could not overstate the frustration I and other regulators (all of which were Republicans) had with the HPU. To say the HPU simply was not an active partner in the real estate regulatory effort pursued by the Title Insurance Division, the Secretary of State and the Department of Financial Institutions is a kind characterization.
In conducting his review, Zoeller would be wise to talk to past and present regulators and those who advocate real estate reform. He should look for people who are free to offer honest advice untainted by political concerns. That generally means people not in elected or appointed office in Indiana. (He won't get straight answers talking to people afraid of offering honest criticism like I have done in this blog.) He would be wise to study the operations in other states for information on how he can improve the AG's office. We in fact did exactly that at the Title Insurance Division when we set out to build a regulatory apparatus for title insurance regulation in the State of Indiana. Hopefully Zoeller will do the same in running his office and making improvements in the operation of the HPU. There will be a lot of people cheering him on if he undertakes that effort.