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Opening Arguments

Conflicting roles

The Indianapolis Star looks at the potential conflicts of interest for City-County Council President Monroe Gray, who is also an employee of the Fire Department, making him a member of both the executive and legislative branches:

A Democrat, he was the first Indianapolis firefighter elected to the council and has served since 1992. He was elected president of the council by his fellow Democratic council members last year. In that position, he holds significant power over city agency budgets, including the Fire Department's budget.

Some states ban such dual roles, including, as the story notes, Ohio and Kentucky. Indiana does not. We've had the same kind of potential conflicts here. Currently, Police Department employee Marty Bender is seeking an at-large council seat (and will probably win it). We've never endorsed Marty, specifially because of the conflict. I'm having a few second thoughts -- Marty served one term on the council without any apparent ethical lapses. But it still seems like a conflict to me to be able to vote on your own salary.

Newspapers have gotten a lot more ethics-conscious in the 30-plus years I've been in the business. I once worked on a paper (not in Fort Wayne) where the business reporter moonlighted for the Chamber of Commerce. He got paid for writing news releases for the business community, then again for converting his own releases into news stories. Oh, and the education reporter engineered a behind-the-scenes takeover of the school board by "advising" the winning slate of candidates, because he didn't like the way his children's schools were being operated.


Mon, 10/01/2007 - 10:35am

Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana has been covering this issue pretty well before the Indy Star got to it, I think.