I Bet You Thought This Song Was About You….

Remember that old song by Carly Simon, “You’re so vain”? I bet Ted Cruz thinks this blog is about him…but it isn’t, because really, what could I say that would be any more critical and dismissive than what you’re already thinking?

No, this is about Troy Woodruff, who was the subject of another actual news story in yesterday’s Star. (I’m getting kind of tingly…this is the second time in as many weeks that the Star  has done actual “watchdog” reporting. Could it be a trend??)

A former powerful state highway official, who was slammed last year by Indiana’s top ethics cop for repeatedly going “right up to the line,” appears to have exploited another ethics loophole.

Last July, members of the Indiana Ethics Commission told Troy Woodruff they would not grant him approval to quit his state job and became vice president of an Indianapolis engineering and architectural firm — because it would run afoul of state law.

The reason: As chief of staff for the Indiana Department of Transportation, Woodruff had recently signed several contracts that sent at least $500,000 in taxpayer money to the firm, RQAW.

Indiana’s ethics laws generally require former state employees to take a year off before working for companies with which they directly did state business.

The one-year cooling-off period is intended to prevent companies from dangling lucrative private jobs in front of state officials in exchange for regulatory favors or fat contracts.

This rule is what we might call a “no brainer.” It’s meant to keep public servants (that phrase is beginning to sound quaint) from throwing business to a firm in exchange for a cushy job. Quid pro quo.

So what did Woodruff do? Once again (he’s been caught violating ethical standards before), he followed the letter of the law while pissing on its spirit: he set himself up as an independent contractor, and entered into a contractual relationship with the firm, RQAW. In other words, he still got paid, but not as an “employee.” See–all nice and legal.

Woodruff may be the most blatant practitioner of legal brinkmanship, but he’s hardly alone. As is widely acknowledged, Indiana’s statehouse is rife with conflicts of interest and self-interested wheeling/dealing. Sanity would suggest that we are long past time for a housecleaning and an ethics bill with real teeth.

On the other hand, in a country where anyone seriously entertains the possibility of Ted Cruz as President, sanity may be too much to expect.


  1. Ted Cruz is an authoritarian jackass who serves Israel and corporations over America. His brand of fascism is out of fashion and unelectable. Don’t worry about him.

    Here’s something I would like it if you worried about:


    Is any candidate worried about domestic issues and making America a better place for the 98% of Americans who are getting a pretty raw deal?

  2. How can we demand ethics reform with “real teeth” when the legislature is allowed to create their own ethics rules?

    While the fox is allowed to guard the hen house there will never be true ethics reform. And I do not believe that voting in new members will resolve the problem. They will enjoy the available bribes themselves and things will just stay the same.

  3. The good thing about Ted Cruz is that he will dilute the Great Oligarchy Plot’s primary resources. The entertaining thing will be the easy attack points he offers other primary candidates. The bad thing is he’ll leave the race substantially wealthier, which those addicted to the Fox News Dunning Kruger Demonstration Project will hail as proof from God of his superior intellect. Perhaps then he’ll join Sarah Palin’s campaign to render the country a third world banana republic.

    We will emerge from 2016 as either a re-energized democracy or a hopeless oligarchy. All depends on which force gets out more voters.

  4. I hope that everybody watches some of Former Gopper’s video. Land of the free? Not so much.

  5. I have mentioned the pay-to-play system that both the state and local governments use to “select” engineers and consultants. This is just another iteration of the same; showing that some ill-defined limits exist but there is no really hard and fast rule, and certainly no ethics.

    Now look at our streets and highways, look at our water and waste water infrastructure; built by pay-to-play contractors. With the thousands of Purdue, Rose Hulman and Valpo engineers employed in IN, how can it be that they haven’t come up with a road design that can withstand the Indiana climate for longer than two years. One would think after a century or so that someone would have a better idea. Maybe the system doesn’t reward problem-solving; maybe it would too difficult politically to sell a new idea to the public.

  6. Perhaps we have engineered an infrastructure that has an on-going
    constant source of revenue for all who pay-to-play.

    I live in Indy and work in Fishers. Reflecting back on last years road
    repairs. Indy filled the pot holes and tramped it down. Fishers, on
    the other hand took out sections (where the hole were located) down
    3 or 4 inches and completely patched the area. Fast forward one year,
    Fishers roads are in much better condition than Indy roads.

  7. Along these same lines, Rep. Richard Hamm (R) Richmond, lobbied his fellow legislative members to kill a bill that would have potentially impacted the two casket manufacturing companies he owns by approving an alternative method to cremations and burials, called alkaloid hydrolysis. The measure was essentially killed when he took the floor of the house to denounce it.
    From IndyStar:
    “…….. House Speaker Brian Bosma said they didn’t see a problem with Hamm’s actions.
    “I did not think it was inappropriate for him to advocate against what he felt was bad public policy,” Bosma said. “He was similarly situated to everyone else in that industry.”
    (Rep. Hamm was the only one to speak against the measure.)

    There are new ethics rules pending in our legislature that {… prohibit lawmakers from voting or advocating on bills that would have a “unique, direct and substantial” impact on their business interests or income.}

    So, Rep. Hamm’s business would be substantially impacted by a new and likely less expensive service but he was only speaking against “bad public policy” that had been introduced by a fellow Republican lawmaker, thoroughly vetted in committee and likely would have passed had he not spoken against it. And how is this not an ethical violation, again?

    Just the latest in a long line of ethics issues (Mr. Bosma and Indy Eleven, anyone?) that we voters are obviously too dense to recognize as business as usual instead of gross manipulation of the system.

    And thank you, Former Gopper, for the link. I was aware some time ago that this kind of thing was rife all over the country. Les Miserables are alive and not-so-well in the good old USA.

  8. Sorry, forgot to mention …

    Fishers has a Public Works Department that performs
    all road repairs in house. Thus, they do the job right
    the first time.

    Indy, outsources.

  9. You have to wonder how often the Troy Woodruff Maneuver is done in Marion County?? The Maneuver would be to have a connected politician, a friend or family member hired as a consultant to skim off the top on one of these Crony-Capitalist Schemes. I have also noticed the “Indy Method” of road repairs, dump some brand X fill in a hole and drive away. You have a street like Marsh Road on the West Side between 79th Street and 71st Street which broken up and potholed and there a lot more.

    I have visited Western Europe in my travels and Third World Countries. Marion County resembles a Third World Country more than Western Europe – A glittering Hollywood False Front downtown for the tourists but as you move out into the City you have a Third World Look: Trash strewn about, potholed, cracked streets, broken sidewalks . The people that live outside of downtown suffer with City Councilors that have a profound indifference to their constituents. These Councilors are more concerned with lining the pockets of the Pacers, Colts, Angie’s List, and the Indy Eleven among others.

  10. As Former Gopper’s video has pointed out, it has taken a British citizen to tell us what should be obvious to us: The “Grand Experiment” so eloquently framed by this country’s founders has not fulfilled the predicted hypothesis, and things just haven’t worked out. Our representatives work too hard, passing mean-spirited and unjust legislation that uses high-sounding language to short-circuit the purposes outlined in our various constitutions and bypass the right of people not to suffer needlessly. Maybe a constitutional monarchy with a prime minister would work much better after all. Time to man-up and give the whole works back to the Brits. Maybe they can make it work.

    I’ll be among the first to say, “We were wrong. Sorry.”

  11. Red George: I think you’re on to it; the system is designed to fail to keep the revenues flowing to those designated “worthy”.

  12. Sorry, Stuart returning to colonial status is not an option.

    Think of the overload that the social services would have
    to deal with if 350 + million (LOL) deadbeats filed claims
    on the system. Not to mention the claims for unemployment

    No, no … Her Imperial Britannic Majesty has previously
    declared that option is a “No Go” situation.

  13. OK, Sarcasm time over.
    I need to go in a different direction at this point.

    Regarding Senate Bill 101 …

    By passing a bill in the state house that grants license to discriminate based upon religious belief, are our politicians creating a civil rights violation here?

    How will this blend in with the separation of church and state position.

    I have no legal expertise and would welcome an explanation.

  14. “Time to man-up and give the whole works back to the Brits.”

    Close, but I’d rather give these lands back to the French. Wouldn’t you rather be a Frenchman than a Brit?

  15. Red George – you drove on the “good” Indianapolis streets if they actually tamped down the pot hole fill. Take Central from Fall Creek and the pot holes are replaced by mounds, but the all time winner is 64th just east of College where a long time, rather large pothole was filled one afternoon. Driving by the next day I noticed a huge mound behind the now filled pot hole. Evidently they just dumped the left over material once they had filled the hole.

    I always thought that corporate “no compete” clauses were abused, like when a friend was told that he could not take a higher paying job at another firm because he was a database administrator and would be doing “similar” work. But when it comes to elected officials, I’d rather see them sign away any chance of profiting from their actions for at least five years, maybe ten.

  16. The leftover Roman Roads in England are in better condition
    than the streets of Indy. I usually take 46th street out to Binford
    Blvd. Between Central and College is like Flanders Field in 1916.

    Former Gopper; The French, what a superb idea. Cannot think
    of anybody better to command the ship when its going down,
    sinking. (We English have never like the French, we are so
    bigoted to them)

  17. Depends on the Industry in England …

    At one time I had worked for British Steel Corporation
    and I used to get 6 weeks vacation time per annum.

    During the years I work in the Shipping Industry, for
    every 2 days worked I received 1 days vacation. Thus,
    after serving on a vessel for 4 months, I had 2 months

  18. France? I like that. I could be French. And blue, white and red instead of red, white and blue. Wouldn’t have to change flag dyes, and the flag is easier to make. That’s a plus. And whatever happens, they tend to be classy about it.

Comments are closed.