Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Doctor Director Straub Should Thank Vernon Brown

I had a source of mine tell me several weeks back that Vernon Brown (D-18th) would be voting to re-confirm Frank Straub as Director of the Department of Public Safety. However, Brown voted against Straub during the Public Safety and Criminal Justice committee meeting. I noted, at the time, that Brown didn't ask a single tough question. Brown did a 180 last night when he voted for Straub in a 16-13 vote.

Brown is a battalion chief for the Indianapolis Fire Department, which falls under the umbrella of the Department of Public Safety. The Chief of the Fire Department, Brian Sanford, showed up at the aforementioned committee meeting and publicly voiced his support for Straub.

To me, that comes across as Brown was voting on behalf of his employer. It wasn't the deciding vote, since two other Democrats joined him. But he should've abstained, especially since the Chief of IFD took a public stance during Straub's confirmation hearing.

Ethical lapses have been vast on the Republican side, and have been the focus of critics of the City-County Council since they have the majority, but the Democrats haven't necessarily become any more ethical since 2007.

Doris Minton-McNeill (15th) was MIA for several weeks in 2009 with no explanation as to her whereabouts after a neighbor alleged that Minton-McNeill was driving erratically and almost hit her daughter. It was later announced at a council meeting that she was receiving medical treatment. During the time that she missed on the council, she sent in a note and informed everyone that she would've abstained from voting on the proposed extended smoking ban. That makes me wonder why she chose to abstain from voting (had she been there).

Jackie Nytes (9th) hasn't been able to keep her name out of the local politicosphere for quite a while, having voted several times against the majority of her own caucus, including this vote to confirm Straub's nomination. Gary Welsh recently discussed, on both his blog and in The Indianapolis Star's "Behind Closed Doors" column, how she might be violating the Little Hatch Act. The act, a federal law, prohibits employers who receive a large amount of federal funds from running for and holding partisan political office. Nytes has decided not to run for re-election, where she was expected to get challenged in the slating process.

I could go on, but I can't spend the rest of my day writing about ethical lapses of the Democrats sitting on the City-County Council.

But what can really be done about it? "Throw the bums out" only seems to give us new bums. I think municipal government here needs a complete overhaul, and I hope to detail what some of my ideas would be by year's end.

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