Monday, December 14, 2009

Councilor Ryan Vaughn Challenges President Cockrum for Position; Will He Agree to to Not Sit on CIB if He Wins?



Over at Advance Indiana, Gary Welsh posts a summary of the several contests going on within the Republican council caucus. The one that caught my eye was Barnes & Thornburg attorney Ryan Vaughn challenging President Bob Cockrum for his position:
When the Republicans caucus to pick their leadership tomorrow night, it looks like there could be several contested races. Vice President Ryan Vaughn, a lobbyist/attorney for Barnes & Thornburg, will seek to oust veteran President Robert Cockrum. If Vaughn is successful, Barnes & Thornburg will solidify their hold over the Republican-controlled council. As CCC President, Vaughn would also get a seat on the Capital Improvement Board, which will ensure that his law firm will continue to have a say in the affairs of the CIB. Robert Grand, manager of Barnes & Thornburg's Indianapolis office, created controversy when Mayor Ballard appointed him to serve as President of the CIB because of the firm's representation of the Indiana Pacers and the team's owners, the Simon family. Grand recently stepped down from the CIB to make way for new Ballard appointees. Vaughn, you may recall, sought appointment to the senate seat vacated by Sen. Teresa Lubbers earlier this year but was defeated by Scott Schneider, a former City-County Councilor.
Vaughn, as Gary notes, is an attorney at Barnes & Thornburg, which represents the Pacers who are in the midst of trying to get the CIB to redo their contract so the taxpayers have to pick up the operating costrs on Conseco Fieldhouse, a building on which the Pacers get 100% of the revenue. As noted on this blog several times before, the conditions that would allow the Pacers to cancel their 20 year contract have not happened and the penalties under the contract would be enormous if the team did try to assert that provision.
There is nothing in the law mandating that the President be the one the Council appoints - rather it's simply been a tradition. If Vaughn truly wants this position, he needs to tell fellow council members that, in order to avoid a conflict of interest with a client of his law firm, he will forgo the typical CIB appointment for the Council President.

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