"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Friday, June 4, 2010

Open Letter To Ryan Vaughn, City Council President

Egads! I'm back from nearly a year hiatus. I'm semi-healed from my disgust and anger at the immorality of our local political climate, but I feel guilty watching Paul Ogden and Gary Welsh carry the lions share of the non-partisan blogging work in this town. I'll never be the powerhouses that they are, but I will try to add to what I can from the perspective of a woman who loves Indiana and her people and who seeks to see justice and the rule of law applied equally to all and who will never seek to personally profit from the taxpayer coffers.

Back in the heady days of our property tax protests of 2007 led by yours truly, the activists behind the Indiana Voters League endorsed Ryan Vaughn for City Council. Vaughn was elected and then promptly hired by Barnes & Thornburg, who it is said from both sides of the aisle, today run our city with our "People's Mayor", Greg Ballard as their puppet Mayor.

Thereafter accepting a top city law firm associate position, Vaughn was anointed City Council President. It appears the consensus to appoint him city council president was because he'll carry the water for his employer who stands to reap great sums of money if certain public decisions benefit the clients of Barnes & Thornburg, especially the city water utility transfer and the Indiana Pacers billionaire bailout, both clients of his new employer.

Ryan Vaughn and I have exchanged several emails over the past few months and I give him major credit for being forthcoming in his willingness to communicate with us.

Recently, Ryan suggested a weekly coffee meeting for activists on Fridays. We have yet to set up anything solid, but like Ryan, I'm open to meeting. I am open despite the fact that I think his employment creates many conflicts of interest in terms of his ability to vote without
prejudice on any matter that involves a client or financial interest of his employer, Barnes & Thornburg law firm.

I sent the following email to Ryan today. I haven't heard back yet, but I hope it will be the start of an open dialogue about the ethical lines our city's citizen employers expect from our elected leadership. It is our responsiblity to show up if we are going to bend our city's leadership to do our will. I intend to jump back to this game for a time in effort to hold our politicians accountable and I hope you'll join me.
--Melyssa for HFFT


Greetings Ryan,

If I sat on city council and there was a vote that had to do with Angie's List, but not necessarily involving my particular job or my advertising clients, I would not be able to vote on the council matter without prejudice toward my employer. Nor would I ever want to be in a position where I had to place a vote that ran against the interests of my employer in order to do what the people I represented wanted me to do.

I'm not sure how you you rationalize your involvement on the water company transfer, but it will be used against you. Everyone I know is angry you have not recused yourself from involvement in this matter.

Also, I'm not sure how you rationalize putting utility customers in a trick bag that forces them pay 30 year bond interest on projects designed for 10 year life span, but that doesn't even make sense to a mental midget.

I appreciate you wanting to meet for coffee. I really do. And I'll meet with you. But these are philosophical positions grounded in morality and common sense. And you are violating them.

You still have time to get off this unethical path.



Indy Student said...

Melyssa, I wish you luck in your coffee meetings. And I don't strictly blame Vaughn for him not abstaining from voting on CIB matters or the utility sale. He's been elected to a council that's almost filled to the brim where few see the blatant violation of professional and political ethics. Look at how many of them are employed by the city, townships, or handle contracts from the state, city, or townships. It's at least half.

Melyssa, your opening paragraph echoes a situation my grandfather was in many years ago. He worked for 3M. He retired from 3m at some point and started collection a pension. At some point, the city was contracting 3M for something or another, and he abstained from voting on it. He was told by other council members that he didn't have to, but felt he had an obvious conflict of interest.

A lot of this current batch needs to go and fresh faces are needed, preferably outside of the government world. Unfortunately, us regular citizens working 9-5 don't have the flexible schedules that attorneys and government employees seem to have, so we're in a conundrum.

I think a good start would be to get Mitch Daniels idea of making it state law barring these conflict of interests altogether so we don't have to worry about when and when not to abstain from voting. If you're a county, city, or township employee, you're not allowed on the council. Same if your job is funded through government contracts.

Second, we need to cut loose some of these seats. The state House of Representatives is 50 members. Our council for ONE CITY is 29. I think we could make do with 15-20, and ditch the At-Large seats.

Kind of got a bit rambly there. But I think I got my point across.

Marycatherine Barton said...

You know I appreciate this letter. Welcome back to blogspot.

Dave said...

Welcome back HFFT!

Indy Student: Here's to your Grandfather, our country needs a spirited return to those ideals.