For the past couple weeks, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s ethics proposal has been circulating around city hall. It hasn’t been formally introduced as the Mayor has been soliciting input from both Democrats and Republicans on the Council. I managed to get a copy of a summary sheet and here are some of the highlights.
Unless as provided by law, city and county employees would be banned from serving on the boards that govern them. It also prohibits City-County Councilors from working for the same city/county agency that they govern, except as provided by law. Indiana law allows police and firefighters to serve on the same boards that govern them.
Lobbyists would have to register annually with the city, currently there is no requirement. The ethics guidelines would not only apply to city and county employees, but also individuals who do business with the city.
Individuals would be banned from serving on a board that they would have a relationship or interest in.
Gifts are allowed under the new ethics plan, but there are some changes from the current rules. For example, currently there is $250 annual limit on gifts, that would be lowered to $100. Honoraria for speeches would no longer be allowed.
Anyone who has heard me comment knows I have never been a fan of government employees serving on the bodies that govern them. Too much potential is there for undue influence to be put either on the employee, or the employee to put pressure on the supervisor. However until the state law is changed, as recommended by the Kernan-Shepard Reform Commission, these are the rules we have to work with.
Finally, some of you have asked why I haven’t commented on the appointment City-County Councilor Lincoln Plowman to Assistant Commander for Investigations. I haven’t commented because frankly I don’t see what the issue is. If the appointment was a “reward” for his vote to turn IMPD over from the Mayor to the Sheriff, then what about the other 20 City-County Councilor’s (Republicans and Democrats) who voted for the transfer? No one has shown me evidence that he was unqualified for the job, although he has nearly 20 years of law enforcement and military experience. And any comparisons to Monroe Gray and his antics while Council President, are like comparing Napoleon Bonaparte to Napoleon Dynamite. As long as the law allows for city employees to serve on the same boards which govern them – this is what we get. And yes, Plowman is a friend. I freely acknowledge that so you don’t have to bring it up and can attempt to argue the facts for a change.