Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Are City's Pay-to-Play Players Trying to Position Zore's to Win Lucrative Monopoly Towing Contract?

As previously reported, Council President Ryan Vaughn has introduced a proposal to eliminate the towing zones used by the city so that the Mayor can award an exclusive towing contract to a single company.

The monopoly towing contract will be worth millions. Companies wanting the contract will be lined up outside of the Mayor's Office to cut checks to his re-election campaign in the hopes of currying favor with the administration. A clever owner of a towing company might choose to take additional steps such as hiring Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John to lobby the Mayor's Office. After all, Buchman Company hired John as a lobbyist and now the City is falling all over itself to finance a $98 million deal real estate development deal for the company that every lender viewed as too risky.

It didn't take long. The City's lobbyist database indicates that Zore's Towing has now hired Tom John of Ice Miller to lobby the Mayor's Office. Further, An ethics form filed by Councilor Bob Lutz filed last year suggests he has an ownership interest in Zore's and may also be acting as its attorney.

If Vaughn's proposal passes the Director of Code Enforcement for the City would have the absolute right to pick the winning towing company without any interference from the council. Of course, the Director is going to pick whichever company the Mayor wants ... that is if he wants to keep his job.

Yet another day in the world of Indianapolis pay-to-play politics.

Pictured: Ryan Vaughn, Bob Lutz and Tom John.


Gary R. Welsh said...

Paul, Bob Lutz explained his disclosure to me on his statement of economic interest concerning Zore's Inc. He said he does not have an ownership interest in the company. He performs legal work for the business in excess of $5,000 a year. I suggested to him the disclosure forms be revamped so the public could better understand what interest the public official is disclosing rather than grouping under one question having an ownership interest, serving as an officer or being compensated by the entity. Unless the official specifies the disclosure, it could be any of the three. The lobbyist registration for Zore's Inc. is rather new; it wasn't listed the last time I looked at the database a couple of weeks ago. Good catch.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Yes, that form is inartfully drawn up.