Councilman Marty Bender (R-At-Large).  Photo from the City of Fort Wayne's website.

At last evening’s City Council reorganization meeting, Councilman Tom Smith was selected to lead the Council over Councilman Marty Bender.  You can read the details of the proceedings here.

One of the things alluded to last evening by several Councilmen including John Shoaff and Tim Pape was a possible conflict of interest for Marty.  For those who don’t know, Marty Bender is a highly-respected Fort Wayne Police Department Deputy Chief.  Right now, this conflict doesn’t exist – at least not in the minds of Fort Wayne voters.  Where it does exist is with Governor Mitch Daniels’ Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform:

24. Prohibit employees of a local government unit from serving as elected officials within the same local government unit. –Recommended

Rationale: Indiana allows employees of a unit of local government to serve as elected policymakers for that unit (i.e. a deputy or a county officer could serve on the county council). This is a clear conflict of interest, and should be prohibited.

I can see how this would provide the impetus for corruption, and frankly, it was a non-starter as far as issues go in the elections that have twice landed Bender on the City Council.  Two terms where he served faithfully and with integrity and honesty.  I think Marty would have made an outstanding Council President.  I’m sorry it didn’t happen.

That said, I think Councilman Smith will do an excellent job of sheperding the discussion and direction of the Council during meetings.  The only concern I would have is the desire to keep meetings short.  The discussion that has ocurred around the Council table, while at times tedious and apparently without direction, has at other times been most productive.

3 COMMENTS

  1. While Marty is a very capable policeman and Very likeable human being,I agree completely with John Shoaff and the Kernan report that city and county employees should not serve on the legislative bodies of these entities.I have seen numerous cases over the years when the administrations tried to use their employees to exert influence and power over the legislative bodies and especially within appointed boards and commissions. There is a horrible conflict of interest and it needs to be corrected !! Why else would 4 demo Councilmen and the Mayor be pushing one Republican candidate over another?

  2. Lockwood – I agree with you. I also believe that if Jim Howard does end up as an Allen County councilman by appointment, then he should resign from his job as P.A. for the City of Fort Wayne.

  3. Lockwood, thank you for your comments – I do appreciate them.

    I was not taking issue with this being a conflict of interest. I wholeheartedly agree that the potential for abuse and corruption is immense. But until this report was released, nothing was said about this “issue” by anyone. I don’t remember Marty’s first election, so I can’t speak to that one, but during his most recent campaign, nothing was said.

    The fact that suddenly, his own party turns against him either suggests he did something to anger them, or there is something else at work. If this were a great conflict of interest that everyone could see, then why wasn’t he discouraged not to run in the first place? I know I’ll get some angry email about this, but we’ve seen what happens when a Republican doesn’t have the blessing of his party – whatever the reason. So to jump on the bandwagon now and abandon a man who’s done nothing to bring it on himself, doesn’t set well.

    As far as 4 Democrats and the Mayor pushing one Republican candidate over another, I hadn’t heard the Mayor was pushing anyone. The only reason I can see is politics. The truth is, I don’t think we’ll know the complete story on the behind-the-scenes wrangling for some time, and there was more here than meets the eye. I would liked to have been a fly on the wall for last Saturday’s Republican Strategy Caucus.

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