Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Idea for a Political Cartoon Spoofing Indianapolis Star Editors: Ethics in Government

After reading the hundredth Indianapolis Star article and editorial on the need for the General Assembly to address legislative ethics, I came up with good idea for a political cartoon. Unfortunately I can't draw, so I'll just have to describe it.

Two boats are on a lake. One boat is filled with legislators. Holes in their boat have been patched up. On the side of the boat is "State Ethics."

In the other boat are Indianapolis Star editors. Their boat says "City Ethics" on the side. The boat is clearly leaking, filling up with water fast. The Star editors though are oblivious to what's going on instead yelling across the lake to the State legislators telling them it's about time they patched the leaks in their boat.

The idea behind the cartoon is that the Indianapolis Star has been all over the legislative ethics issue, while completely ignoring the more serious governmental ethic problems in the very city in which the newspaper is based. When Paul Okeson, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's Chief of Staff, left this position and immediately went to work with Keystone Construction, a city contractor who gave the mayor $25,000 last year, the Indianapolis Star responded by saying absolutely nothing. When Mayor Ballard reported receiving hundreds of thousands of dollar in political contributions by companies and law firms receiving no-bid city contracts, the Indianapolis Star editors let out a collective yawn. When the City-Council elected Ryan Vaughn, a lobbyist from Barnes & Thornburg, a law firm that has received millions in no-bid contracts from the City, the Star wrote a puff piece on the lobbyist suggesting he would bring new ideas to leadership.

Late last year AT&T worked behind the scenes with B&T attorney, lobbyist and paid advisor to the Mayor, Joe Loftus, to get the head of the Indianapolis telecom agency fired by cutting him out of the budget, Why? Because the agency chief had argued that Loftus' client AT&T should have to pay rights of way fees (as is mandated in other cities) and the company should be required to follow telecom regulations. How did the Indianapolis Star respond to Loftus' complete abuse of his authority in favor of his client AT&T? The Star ignored it.

The ethical problems in Indianapolis City government are far worse than are at the state level. Yet the Star has not written one word about those issues. I have one message to the Star's editors: Take a look at the City's ethical boat. It is leaking. You might want to write something on the subject someday.