Friday, October 7, 2011

Council President Rewards Political Supporter With Nearly Quarter Million Dollar Contract for Lame Duck Redistricting Not Permitted by Indiana Law

On August 20, 2011, unbeknown to many other members of the Indianapolis City-County Council, Council President Ryan Vaughn signed a contract worth $225,000 with long-time political operative David Brooks to redraw certain precinct boundary lines and council district lines during the lame duck session of the council after the November election. 
Council President Ryan Vaughn

Brooks lives in Hamilton County and is husband of 5th District congressional candidate and former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks. Despite his Carmel address, Brooks serves as Center Township Chairman in Marion County.  In July of 2009, Brooks used his Marion County GOP leadership position to aggressively push for Vaughn in his bid to win a state senate caucus vacancy election.  Despite Vaughn's overwhelming insider support, Scott Schneider trounced Vaughn in a first ballot victory

The contract calls for Brooks to be paid in four monthly installments of $56,250 beginning on August 20th, the date the contract was signed.  Thus, pursuant to the contract's schedule, Brooks has already received two payments, a total of $112,500.  The last payment conveniently will take place thus on November 20, 2011, after the election, but well before the Democrats take control on January 1, 2011.  Thus the Democrats will not have a chance to cancel Brooks' contract and recoup any of the tax dollars.

The contract says that $50,000 of the $225,000 will be devoted to Brooks' review the 590 precinct and redrawing precincts which may be necessary due to congressional redistricting.  A review of House Enrolled Act 1602, the congressional redistricting bill, however, shows that only 13 census blocks were broken out in Marion County and therefore at most only 13 precinct lines (and most likely far fewer) would have to be adjusted so that all voters within a precinct vote for the same congressional candidate. Even then there is doubt whether even that limited adjustment is needed as precincts have previously operated with split ballots.

Vaughn Political Supporter David Brooks
The remaining $175,000 is to be paid to Brooks to redraw council district lines.  The contract notes that this is $7,000 a district.  During a redistricting seminar in 2010, former Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm noted that the redistricting of the council districts currently in use was completed by a Court clerk in just a few hours using computer software.  That task had gone to the Supreme Court pursuant to a legal dispute over the drawing of the map.

Regarding Brooks work for the lame duck council in 2011, Indiana law specifically prohibits the Indianapolis City-County council from redistricting before 2012.  Pursuant to IC 36-3-4-3(a) redrawing of council districts "shall be made during the second year after a year in which a federal decennial census is conducted."  (The only exception is when there has been an annexation.)  The census was conducted in 2010. Therefore, the council redistricting cannot take place under Indiana law until 2012.  That year it is very likely the Democrats will be in control of the council and Brooks' redistricting plan will be an expensive irrelevancy.
Last month Vaughn preached about former GOP Councilor Lincoln Plowman's immorality for taking $5,000 to influence a zoning issue.  Yet now we find that a month earlier Vaughn had secretly signed off on a contract giving Brooks $225,000 of our tax dollars for a redistricting project not even allowed by law.  I woud ask whose offense is worse, Plowman's $5,000 transgression or Vaughn's that cost us $225,000?

As a Republican, I am disgusted at members of my party treating taxpayer money as if it exists for no other purpose to enrich themselves and their friends.  Unfortunately that will be the legacy of Mayor Greg Ballard and Council President Ryan Vaughn.


Gary R. Welsh said...

What's really pathetic about this is that if the Republicans ram through a redictricting plan as a lameduck council and the Democrats win control of the council, the Democrats will simply undo the redistricting plan the council adopted before January and prepare one to their liking. If the Republicans keep control, then there is no rush to get the work done now since the next election won't take place until 2015.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Should the Ds win the majority of the Council in November, there will be no money left for another redistricting, unless they do it for the amount of money it really should take to redistrict.

I'll have to pull down the Council's budget review to be entirely accurate, but as I remember, this topic came up. It was stated that the money rolled over from last year and would be available for redistricting after the election. That budget review was in September.

Paul K. Ogden said...

GW, I'm not even sure legally they can pass a redistricting plan in 2011 as the law says two years after the census. The statute does say redistricting is required to be done in 2012. That might suffice for giving them the option of doing it in 2011, except for the that there is a "may" provision that allows at other times except that is only to annexation. They may attempt to block any lame duck redistricting in court and as you said in 2012, they could throw it out completely.

Question though, Gary. What if the D's control the council and they try to throw out the lame duck redistricting plan with one of their own? If Ballard wins the election and assuming the lame duck redistricting is legal, couldn't he veto the plan and require a 2/3 override? The D's would need 20 D votes to override, which they might actually come close to getting after this election.

Gary R. Welsh said...

In that unlikely event, Ballard would have to decide if that is a fight he would want to fight. If the redistricting plan approved by the lameduck council was considered highly partisan, he would run the risk of many partisan legislative fights during his second term, making it difficult for him to accomplish his objectives. I suppose that contract about equals what David's wife will have to give up so she can quit her job and run full time for Congress. That mortgage payment on that million dollar home isn't cheap.

I know said...


Why do you have disgust for Mr. Vaughn and Mr. Brooks?

You are very aware of far more than $225,000 going secretly to friends and family of the Republican party in Indiana. When the US Attorney refuses to talk to victims of white collar and illegal financial gain. The Federal Court dismisses whistle blower suits when the State Attorney General illegally enters appearances for both sides of a suit and then threatens the plaintiff.

The state of indiana passes legislation to collect taxes on Racino's that are now bankrupt to support a state contractor in French Lick to stay open and no one questions that tax.

Mr. Vaughn is a small time player in a real big illegal mess in Indiana.

The legal profession needs to band together and clean the house of unethical, ego driven and protected lawyers, politicians and criminals wearing suits. It seems that may be too late in Indiana.

Do any of you or the elite ever stop and think why the well educated young people who are not lawyers graduate from very respected colleges in Indiana and leave to never come back?

Flipper said...

What is worse? Ryan Vaughn in charge or Monroe( Sweetpea ) Gray

Paul K. Ogden said...

Flipper, I would definitely say Ryan Vaughn. The money is so much bigger.