File Under: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Kip Tew is a lobbyist. The ethical kind. He hadn’t been on the City-County Council very long when he discovered that the city office established to monitor lobbying activities wasn’t working.

And hadn’t been for a good while.

The Mayor’s office hadn’t put anyone in charge of the process. Emails weren’t being returned. The ordinance establishing the office had a huge loophole (if the administration or a member of the council invited someone to testify, that wouldn’t count as “lobbying.”)

So Kip proposed a stronger ordinance; one with teeth. His proposal did several things–beginning, importantly, with making the office subject to an independent commission that would not be beholden to either the Mayor’s office or the Council. The Mayor would get two appointments to this commission, one Democrat and one Republican; the Council would get three, with no more than two from the same political party.

The proposal also added reporting requirements; for example, groups that ran advertisements for or against an issue would have to report what they spent, and it lowered the dollar threshhold for reporting.

All in all, a step toward more transparent, more accountable government.

Yesterday–three days before a hotly contested Council election–the GOP sent out a mailer mischaracterizing the proposal. (No, let me be candid. Mischaracterizations can be inadvertent. This mailer flat-out lied about the proposal, saying it was an effort by a lobbyist to evade scrutiny.)

I am particularly incensed about this because the Indianapolis Star just ran an indignant screed by Matt Tully about a mailing that Tully said mischaracterized the record of Jeff Miller, an incumbent running in a different district. I don’t know anything about that mailing, but I’m willing to believe it was just as offensive and dishonest as the mailing targeting Kip Tew.

But then, Tully didn’t mention this one. And his column was clearly intended to leave the impression that the dirty tricks were all coming from one side.

Let me be clear: this shit is beneath the dignity of either party. It is not excusable no matter who does it. There are too many people who see politics as a game to be played rather than an arena for good-faith differences over policy (and too many reporters who evidently can’t distinguish between genuine disputes over public policy and petty political sniping).

If anyone reading this is voting in Council District #2, I don’t care who you support. (Well, that’s not true; Kip is a good friend of mine, and we discuss policy, which is why I knew what the ordinance in question really says.) But I do hope you will vote based upon actual performance, actual policy positions–and refuse to reward the sort of slime that is too often shrugged off as “politics as usual.”

I do hope that Kip’s intended good deed goes unpunished.


  1. Kip Tew is the only Council member ever to respond to an email from me regarding a city services issue. I have had responses from other local politicians but they were strictly canned responses thanking me for the email. Kip responded within a day and addressed my concerns point by point. I cannot tell you how refreshing that was. I have a yard sign supporting him and intend to vote for him tomorrow. I hope others do the same.
    I have not received the mailing Sheila referenced but if she says that the mailers is an outright lie, I believe her. Those in power in this city will do anything to retain it no matter how unethical.

  2. “There are too many people who see politics as a game to be played rather than an arena for good-faith differences over policy (and too many reporters who evidently can’t distinguish between genuine disputes over public policy and petty political sniping).”

    I don’t vote in Indianapolis, wouldn’t know Kip Tew from Adam’s cat, but I can agree that politics is NOT a game. Sound municipal policy is not limited to a single party and especially is not dictated by a reporter who’s looking to make a name for himself based upon the number of Online ‘hits’ his op/ed piece receives.

  3. “Thanks. I was referring to the Marion County Democratic Party — meaning the official organization run by a few people. I completely accept your notion that this is not about everyone who is a member of the party.”

    Above is the copied and pasted response I received from Mr. Tully within a very brief time period after I E-mailed him regarding his article this morning; pointing out that he was painting the entire Marion County Democratic Party with the same brush as whoever sent the lies about Jeff Miller to his constituents. I suggested he check the campaign being run by David Ray in my east side area; a clean campaign with no derogatory slams at any City-County Councilor or elected official. He referred to not spending $6 million for a cricket field, cleaning up the abandoned buildings, work to put more police on our streets, creating jobs and finding solutions to the continuing deplorable condition of the former Eastgate Mall property…all issues due to the current administration’s foot-dragging for years. I also pointed out that, if elected, Mr. Ray and Mr. Miller could work well together cleaning up both areas of this city. I consider Mr. Tully’s answer a non-answer. I am surprised by his blatantly biased article this morning; too close to the election to undo the damage done by his words.

  4. Tully’s drive by shooting column was so over the top. He made it personal. Some one criticized his friend and he wrote that column in retaliation. His purpose was not just to set the record straight, but to anger voters into voting against Democrats across the County. His anger against the Marion County Democratic Party was palpable and reeked of revenge. Both parties do these mailers that virtually no one pays attention to, but Tully choose only to take issue with a Democrat mailer. But that’s no surprise as Tully, AKA, the High Priest of Indianapolis politics has gone after Democrats time and time again.

  5. I don’t keep up with Indianapolis politics so I’m sure that I could be easily misled as to who wears the white and black hats for any issue there.

    But it’s clear that win at all costs is incompatible with democracy. Unfortunately it’s become culturally expected in almost everything that involves competition here. Sports, business, entertainment, politics, marketing, marriage, everything has become a flavor of the “Survivor” or “The Bachelor” TV shows.

    When I had my time working for the Swiss company after a whole career here there were a couple is startlingly differences. American companies required armies of lawyers for every transaction. Swiss companies could be relied on to do what they said they would do. No subtrafuge. When I entertained company guests in their city I merely handed local restaurants my business card. Their bills got paid because that’s what we promised. The Swiss could count on each other.

    The cost of not being able to count on each other is incalculable. But that’s where we are.

    It starts as an advantage for the least ethical party. It soon grows to everybody looses.

  6. Placing Kip Tew and “good deed” in the same article is some serious chutzpah.

    Tew is a radical left-wing activist who would probably be happiest in another city.

  7. I’m voting for Tew in 2. I was really pissed off by a push poll against Tew we received a month ago and we’ve gotten 3 or 4 nasty anti Tew mailings. Don’t worry; nobody reads Tully; he lost my respect a while ago.

  8. “I don’t keep up with Indianapolis politics so I’m sure that I…”

    …shouldn’t be posting in a forum that discusses Indy politics?

  9. Many years ago, I was in law school with Kip Tew. He was very involved in politics even then, but, as Sheila notes, he’s one of the good guys.

    Despite Gopper’s opinion, “left” or “right” bear no relationship with a person’s ethics.

  10. Good news, bad news for Sheila.

    Kip lost, and he deserved it for not supporting RFRA, but Indianapolis has gone solid Democrat, and it’s difficult to envision a demographic change that will ever unseat them.

    Were it not for bloated police pensions that the City lacked the guts to default on, Peterson would still be Mayor.

    For the indefinite future, Indianapolis seems to be a solid blue city.

  11. Gopper, your contention that Kip Tew lost because he didn’t support RFRA is probably the most far-fetched comment I’ve read today. My guess is that Colleen Fanning didn’t either.

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