Thursday, July 23, 2009

Southport Mayor Rob Thoman Hires Republican Insider Legal Counsel in Attempt to Buy Political Influence

Yesterday I talked to a fellow Republican about the tenure of former Marion County Chairman GOP John Sweezy. Sweezy and I, a relative political rookie at the time, were often at odds. Looking back though , I respect Sweezy a lot more today than I did at the time. Sweezy was the Republicans last full-time, paid Marion County Chairman. The joke was that if you were a Republican running for office, you had to go in and kiss his ring. After his departure, a Republican elected official told me that although Sweezy had his problems, he kept many of the bad forces of the party at bay by staying as county chairman for so long.

Since then we Republicans have had as county chairman mostly lawyers and lobbyists, and sometimes both. Our current county GOP chairman, Tom John, is a practicing lawyer. How might an elected official, with legal business to hand out, possibly curry favor with the current county chairman? How about hiring him to do legal work? John gets a nice paycheck from the taxpayers and the elected official gets political support and possibly campaign contributions in return..which of course originated as taxpayer money. It happens all the time in Indianapolis politics, why can't it also happen in a small city?

Enter Southport Mayor Rob Thoman. When I spoke to Mayor Thoman in early 2008 at the Rex Early book signing, he seemed to have been elected with no insider political connections, which I thought was refreshing. As I reported a few days ago on this blog, Mayor Thoman then went out and hired the most politically-connected law firm and certainly one of the most expensive, Barnes & Thornburg, to do legal work for the Perry Township city of just 1,700. As a result, Southport has been faced with paying several large legal bills Barnes & Thornburg has submitted, including a $35,000 invoice on a strange lawsuit to silence a local resident who was disrupting council meetings.

Turns out that Mayor Thoman didn't stop there. Apparently Thoman last year also hired Republican GOP Chairman Tom John to do legal work for the city.

Reportedly, Mayor Thoman kept some of the Barnes & Thornburg's legal work quiet until springing the bill on the council. Obviously a city of just 1,700 does not have the financial resources to pay the inflated legal bills of over-priced lawyers. Right now it appears Mayor Thoman had to choose between paying politically-connected lawyers and a police force, and he chose the lawyers.

Make no mistake about it, Mayor Thoman is hiring legal counsel not based on what is in the best interests of Southport, but on what is in his political interest. He is using taxpayer's money in an attempt to buy political influence with the GOP party establishment. If that is not an impeachable offense, it should be.

1 comment:

varangianguard said...

Amazingly (for a town of around 2000 residents) they pay a CIO, a Director of Finance, Sr. Proj. Mgrs of PR and IS/IT, a Chief Counsel, a Planner, and more.

Now, I suppose they are likely consultants/contractors and are paid by the hour (counsel -OMG!), or some fixed annual fee, since they mainly seem to have daytime jobs elsewhere.

Let's look.

CIO - Katz, Sapp & Miller (a NE-side CPA firm)

Plus, there is an IS/IT consultant - at Katz, Sapp & Miller (a NE-side CPA firm)

Dir. Finance - Reedy & Peters (a Greenwood CPA firm)

Sr. Proj. Mgr. IS/IT - Katz, Sapp & Miller (a NE-side CPA firm). This firm has three people working for Southport. Nice gig-a-roo there.

Sr. Proj. Mgr. PR - Bose Public Affairs Group (see Bose-McKinney, the law firm)

Chief Counsel - Barnes-Thornburg

Planner - can't quite track this one down. Might be self-employed consultant? Might be some kid working from his Mom's basement?

Dir. Maintenance - can be reached at his Robb Zombie personal e-mail acct. Cutesy Rob, and so professional.

Trainer!!! - can be reached at Interesting. Who is paying for this?

The Mayor has an assistant. Reach her at MrFrenchsworkshop. This is beginning to crack me up.

Finally, there is a Building Commissioner. He works days at some downtown engineering firm.

Goodness me. Who knew so many companies wouldn't mind their employees moonlighting as civil servants on the southside, during daytime working hours?

The lawyers I get. They get paid either by retainer, or by work performed. But some of the rest.