Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Indianapolis Star: What About City-County Ethics Issues?

Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana today asks a question I've been asking myself these past several weeks. With all the attention the Indianapolis Star pays to ethics reform at the State level, for unknown reasons the Star zealously avoids addressing any ethics issues with regard to Indianapolis city government.

Just last week, the Indianapolis City-County Council elected a Barnes & Thornburg lobbyist as President. The Star did not criticize the selection.

Tomorrow, Mayor Ballard's campaign finance report is due. Previous reports have shown the Mayor raising extensive sums of money from contractors doing business with the City. While the Star is all over lobbyists giving gifts totalling a $800 to $2000 to legislators, it says not one word about Keystone Construction giving the mayor $25,000 in contributions and then getting a city contract.

And speaking of Keystone Construction, the Star relentlessly (and rightfully) criticizes the legislative revolving door, but did not bother to criticize the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Paul Okeson, leaving city government to take a job with Keystone, a city contractor. How is the city revolving door not as bad as what is going on at the State level?

Then we have the Wishard referendum election. The Star offered at best very faint criticism of the language of the referendum which failed to disclose to the voters how much Health & Hospital was borrowing, that they were building a new hospital, or that the borrowing was backed by property taxes. Supporters of the referendum, showed in the final pre-election finance report that they had received only three donations from individuals (worth $125) and two contributions from non-profits corporations of over $1 million dollars. Meanwhile the same report showed only one expenditure - to a PR firm. It was obvious that on both the contribution and expenditure side, Wishard supporters were working a loophole in the campaign finance laws to hide the names of contributors and what money was spent on. The Star? It said nothing of this practice, which, by the way, political candidates are increasingly adopting.

The list of local ethics issues the Star has ignored is endless. I'm not sure I see the point in zealously pursuing ethics issues in the government building on West Market Street while completely ignoring even worse ethical issues in the government building on East Market Street. Yet that is what the Indianapolis Star does.


Had Enough Indy? said...

Interestly enough, I was poking on the Election Board's webpages and clicking on the finance reports for PACs registered with the City.

I happened to look at the latest 'friends of Wishard', or some similar named PAC, to which you are referring.

The Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is listed as a PAC donating $1000 to that cause.

But, GICC has no PAC finance report of its own listed. Guess they see themselves as a PAC for contributions, but not so much when it comes time to register with the City.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I failed to mention that there was a third non-individual contributor, the GICC who gave $1000. Thanks for pointing that out. So you had two contributions for over $1 million, one for $1,000, and three from individuals for a total of $125. Just think how popular the Wishard referendum and they only got three individual contributions? That's unbelievable.

I'm not sure GICC has to be a PAC to contribute in a state election. In a federal election, they definitely have to.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Yes, so much local government corruption, and so little coverage of it, in the local rag, the STAR, which newspaper is very good for lining bird cages. Why is that?