Friday, March 13, 2009

John Clark's Misdeeds Fly Below Indianapolis' Radar

Indianapolis appears on the verge of hiring a person who may have abused the public trust in his job as head of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority to run the Indianapolis International Airport.

Jen Wagner over at Envisionindy first picked up on the story and provided a link to the a story published by Folioweekly, Jacksonville, Florida's alternative newspaper about the prospective hire, John D. Clark, III. Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana picked up on the story and published several damning paragraphs from the Folioweekly story. Rather than re-publish those paragraphs, I'll point to other parts of the Folioweekly story that makes this particular hire someone to be concerned about:

"Clark's very job reeks of privilege. Since January, 2007, Clark has jetted to Shanghai, Brussels, Frankfort, Paris, Sao Paulo, London and Buenos Aires, staying in first-class accommodations at every destinatin. Despite a 2002 audit that criticized his travel costs as excessive, Clark still flies costly business class, rarely coach, and stays in posh hotel rooms, including a $435-a-night hotel in Brussels, a $726-a-night in Buenos Aires, and a $582-a-night Parisian hotel.

Clark's trip to the London Air Show this year cost JAA $10,491. It spent another $11,304 for him to attend an Airport International meeting in Shanhai. ...

Later the article discusses a retirement party Clerk threw for executive assistant Pat Lowder:

Held at the resort community of Amelia Island Plantation, the party cost a whopping $16,939---as much as a modest wedding. Expenses included $796 for centerpieces, $3,869 for booze and $7,500 for 100 people to enjoy a buffet dinner.
How did Clark curry favor with the local Jacksonville City Council? He hired council member Denise Lee as a "mystery shopper" for $24,000. That should sound familiar to those who know Indiana politics.

When another Jacksonville council member wanted to find out what was going with Clark and JAA, was told that fulfiling the councilman's open records request would cost $14,000.

The Indianapolis Business Journal, picking up on the blog chatter, published an article today discussing the choice of Clark. In the article, the IBJ reports:

Indianapolis Airport Authority President Randall Tobias said he’s well aware of published reports on Clark and of blog chatter, but that the Jacksonville airport executive has been thoroughly vetted.

“There’s kind of an old saying: If you haven’t irritated someone, you probably haven’t stretched to do your job. John has very high marks,” said Tobias, noting his recognition by peers.


“He (Clark) has stepped on some toes … but I am completely satisfied we hired an all-star,” Tobias added.
We're not just talking about "stepping on toes." We're talking about someone who, if the allegations in the Folioweekly article are remotely true, repeatedly violated the public trust while in Jacksonville and tried to keep his actions concealed from scrutiny. Tobias offers no claim that those allegations are not true...rather he just offers the simplistic non-response that Clark "has been thoroughly vetted" and his references checked out. Oh, well, that should be enough.

Unfortunately, Clark will find the environment here even more supportive of his apparent jet-setting lifestyle at the public expense than Jacksonville. In Jacksonville there were at least some elected officials willing to speak out about the abuse of the public trust and question what he was doing. In the cesspool of conflicts of interest and insider-dealing that is Indianapolis politics, he is unlikely to encounter that same public criticism here.

See Advance Indiana's take on the IBJ article quoting Tobias.


Concerned Taxpayer said...

Obviously, Paul, you don't know what you're talking about.

The Indy Red Star Rag says John Clark is a fine fellow, indeed.

Downtown Indy said...

Curious that 'all stars' are never regular people who work hard, make a decent living and do good work. They have to be exorbitantly paid, exhibit questionable decision-making skills, leave a trail of angry people in their wake and demonstrate no apparent hint of knowing the meaning of 'frugality.'

Guess that explains why pro sports annually have 'all star' games.

JAXSPORT said...

Clark tried to fire my consulting company once because I supported his boss on an initiative he was opposed to. Next, he tried to get us to hire his mistress after she was fired for leaking information from the Port Authority to his office.

He likes to hire hispanic ladies, romance them and promote them. He asked all on staff at JIA to swear loyalty to his administration and has the management style of a mafioso.

Many of us kept our distance during the "vetting" process as we needed to get John out of Duval County.

Marie said...

Funny how things came back to bite Indy in butt, eh?