Friday, November 27, 2009

Mayor Ballard Announces Samantha Karn as New Corporation Counsel, Replaces Inexperienced Former Barnes and Thornburg Associate With Yet Another One

On Tuesday, I wrote about the problems at City Legal and how many of those problems was caused by inexperience at the helm of the agency. Chris Cotterill had only five years of legal exerperience under his belt when he was appointed head of this very important agency by Mayor Greg Ballard. Cotterill's lack of legal and administrative inexperience has repeatedly shown through as City Legal has been the source of repeated complaints during his tenure.

In government that spells a promotion though. Cotterill was recently bumped up to Chief of Staff for the Mayor.

Barnes & Thornburg Partner Joe Loftus, who is on the public payroll as counsel to the Mayor and lobbyist for the city, had been responsible for staffing City Legal. Instead of looking for seasoned attorneys, Loftus opted for inexperience and, preferably, Barnes & Thornburg ties. In addition to his mere five years experience, Cotterill had been a Barnes & Thornburg associate. Jonathan Mayes who heads the Litigation Division had only an unbelievable two years experience before his appointment to be head of the litigation division, an area more than any which cries out for an experienced attorney to assist other litigators.

Why would have Loftus have chosen inexperienced attorneys rather than seasoned professionals to head City Legal? The answer is that "seasoned" attorneys are not likely to be rubber stamps for whatever Loftus or insiders want done. They would have asked questions and placed their clients - the Mayor and the City - ahead of the agenda of insiders like Loftus.

Cotterill's promotion created a big opportunity to place as head of City Legal an experienced attorney who would offer the Mayor independent legal advice. As with the new appointments to the Capital Improvement Board, it was an opportunity that the Mayor blew bit time. It was announced this week that the new head of City Legal would be Samantha Karn. Ms. Karn was not sworn in as an attorney until October of 2004, giving her just five years legal experience. What law firm did she work? You guessed it Barnes & Thornburg.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Downtown Indy said...

I think it goes even deeper, Paul. Those $30-40K jobs you mentioned make such an appointment as this a real opportunity to bypass the typical low pay by being a cooperative and easily-led 'newby' in City Legal.

If you can 'go with the program' for a couple of years, you can leap ahead of the curve and start making the big bucks.

I can visualize an Edward G Robinson type putting an arm around the shoulder and saying, 'Stick with me kid and you'll go places.'

Paul K. Ogden said...

DI, bingo. These newby attorneys most likely would not be making those bucks anyplace else. Outside of a few of the big law firms, associates with their exeprience are routinely earning in the $30K to $40K range.

Baloo said...

Karn is the Cities representative for the Contract Negotiations with the Fraternal Order Of Police Labor Council, Public Safety Officers, represented by Leo Blackwell.

Karn stated at the last meeting to secure a contract between the City and the PSO's that the next meeting would take place after the Holidays, that was 12-18-2008. The PSO's are still waiting for Ms Karn to get back with us to schedule that meeting, maybe she ment the Holidays of 2999, I do not know.

If her roll as being the City of Indianapolis and Marion County's legal adviser can be gauged by how she has handled the PSO contract, I would think the City is in big trouble.

*NOTE* the Contract with the City and the PSO's expired on 1-1-2007. The PSO's have not even received a cost of living increase. However Former Director Newman created a "New Position" called "Public Assistance Officers" to take reports via the telephone. Those reports used to be taken by "Desk Aides". Desk Aides starting pay was about 19k a year, the new position which are mostly former desk aides start out at about 30k a year. Public Safety Officers whom recover evidence and take accident reports and deal with public face to face start at 24,908 a year.

Michael said...
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Michael said...
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Shane said...

I take exception to the comments about Samantha Karn. I will argue that Ms. Karn has more experience than any attorney in the Ballard administration. She was a clerk for a State Supreme Court, practiced law in another state, and was with a Bloomington firm before Barns and Thornburg. Also before becoming the City’s Corporation Council, she was concurrently the Chief Deputy Corporation Council, The City’s Labor Attorney, and Public Information Councilor. In previous administrations these were three different positions held by three different attorneys. Further more Samantha Karn has been doing other tasks that would normally be done by a Deputy Mayor, a Department Director, or the Corporation Council. She is the only person who does work in the entire Ballard administration, and she works very hard. Surely she has let issues drop; because when a person is surrounded by people do not do or even know their job, it is impossible for anyone to keep all of the balls in the air. Under four Mayors I have dealt with city attorneys on a regular basis. Ms. Karn is more than qualified to be the City of Indianapolis Corporation Council.

Paul I do agree with you on everything else about Barns & Thornburg, Bob, Joe, Chris, and Ballard; just not about Sam.

Shane Brinkman