Saturday, May 9, 2009

Message to President Obama and Attorney General Holder: Give Us An Aggressive, Non-Partisan U.S. Attorney for Indianapolis

The one thing this city and this state desperately needs from the President Barack Obama's administration is not a pile of stimulus money. Rather it is an aggressive U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, someone who will aggressively pursue white collar crime and public corruption regardless of party.

Beginning approximately 30 years ago, Indianapolis went down the road of developing the city using public-private partnerships. The decades that followed also brought a privatization trend which many elected officials have pursued with gusto, some would say recklessness. The idea of privatization is to bring private sector competition to the provision of government services. Unfortunately in recent years that has meant handing out long-term, monopoly contracts, quite often to campaign contributors...not exactly the competitive marketplace envisioned by those who came up with the idea of privatization. For example, see Advance Indiana's take on the new Pitney-Bowes contract.

Public-private partnerships and its cousin, privatization, both involve taxpayer money being channelled to the private sector ostensibly for the good of the public. While on paper they seem to be a positive development, both open the door wide to the possibility of public dollars being directed to friends and political supporters of politicians rather than to contractors who can best serve the public.

My mother told me that there are two things that keeps a person honest, two things which keep a person from running that red light at 2 a.m. when there is no traffic.. First, the person's internal moral compass says that running the traffic light is morally wrong. The second is that the person running the light realizes that he or she might be caught and face consequences.

I hate to admit it, but that "moral compass" thing is just not an obstacle to most politicians, or ordinary folks for that matter. That then leaves the possibility of getting caught and facing consequences.

For the past 30 years in Indianapolis, indeed in Indiana, politicians and their corporate benefactors, have not had to worry about their misdeeds being investigated or pursued by a prosecutor, either a county prosecutor or U.S. Attorney. Public corruption, or any white collar crime for that matter, simply has not been prosecuted.

The public-private partnership and privatization efforts have flung the door wide open to pay to play politics in Indiana. Don't think for a second that Indiana does not have the same problems Illinois has. The fact that not one Republican or Democratic elected official in Indianapolis will stand up against the corporate welfare represented in the CIB bailout discussions, or even demand an investigation to find out how we got where we are or will demand reforms so it won't happen again, is troublesome. Elected officials from both major parties are willing to take on the overwhelming public opinion in order to keep the corporate giveaways going and to prevent any investigation or change in the status quo.

The big difference between Illinois and Indiana is that Illinois has had a U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, who has aggressively targeted public corruption regardless of party. Indiana needs a Hoosier version of Patrick Fitzgerald here.


I know said...

Whom ever that person might be will be very, very busy for a long time. The Federal Courthouse is not big enough for all of the people that will be part of indictments.

The words non partisan and aggressive need to be the mantra as the soul that is appointed will be attacked, smeared and accused of bully pulpit tactics by the very same people that Governor Daniels told the Butler Graduates have been self indulgent, arrogant and out of touch with reality for a long time.

Surely if the Governor uses a public forum for these comments he and others like Carl Brizzi know full well what has happened in the State of Indiana. It to a large extent has been laid at their feet more than once!

The news media knows it too and some of them have been told to keep quiet or they will lose their jobs.

President Obama and Attorney General Holder we concur with the plea for help with this message.

Unigov said...

A "public-private partnership: is a means to siphon off the public's money into private hands. Show me ONE that has worked.

Daniels has a lot of nerve - how about some clawback on those tax breaks Lilly got that were tied to employment levels ? Lilly headcount has plummeted.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Not only the Lilly headcount, what about the Simon headcount?

In the midst of all this, the one unreported story is the lack of followup of government officials in ensuring that the private part of the public-private partnerships lives up to the promises they made when entering the partnership.

Anonymous said...

public-private partnership = profits are private-losses are public. It's a scam.