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Indiana forms coalition to fight public corruption

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Indiana is forming a coalition that will take aim at public corruption by training and educating government officials, and drafting legislation intended to protect taxpayer money from malfeasance, the state's attorney general said Tuesday.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the new Public Integrity Coalition that's still being put together will be led primarily by groups such as the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns that represent local government officials.

Zoeller will also be a member, along with representatives of the State Board of Accounts — the state agency that audits government bodies when misappropriation of funds are suspected — and other state and federal officials.

One of the coalition's first goals will be training and educating public officials from counties, cities, towns, townships and other local government bodies on the best management practices for handling public money to reduce the amount of taxpayer money that's pilfered by corrupt public employees, Zoeller said.

"We may as well start with a bold mission, one that everyone can agree on — that we're going to try to reduce the access to funds and the misuse of it through greater training and protections," Zoeller said at a news conference at the Indiana Government Center.

Since Zoeller took office in January 2009, his office has sought to collect more than $11 million in public money that had been misappropriated.

Former state deputy auditor Doris Anne Sadler is coordinating the new coalition's outreach effort as it works to solidify its membership. She said the group expects to have its first meeting in June.

The vast majority of government officials and employees are honest, but "the few that stray" give the public an unfavorable view of government, said Matt Greller, executive director of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, which represents 569 cities and town.

Cal Bellamy, president of the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission — an all-volunteer group covering Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties in northwestern Indiana — said the group works to prevent public corruption through education and training.

"If nothing else we're removing the excuse that 'No one ever told me that it was wrong,'" Bellamy said.

Indiana State Examiner Paul Joyce said that training in the best management practices for public money is mandatory for some county assessors across the state, but not for all of Indiana's elected or appointed public officials.

Zoeller said the coalition will make recommendations on regulatory changes and legislation that could boost efforts to combat public corruption. He said those could presumably include a push to make such training mandatory, but it's premature to say what the group will decide to pursue.

He said that one of the most common forms of public corruption involves officials who in essence write themselves checks from their office's checking account — a malfeasance made easier in cases where the same person writes a check, cashes it and then accounts for those funds.

He said his office has encouraged officials to require two signatures on each check as best practice for avoiding theft of public funds.is Anne Sadler is coordinating the coalition's formation. She said the coalition expects to have its first meeting in June.

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  • Are Big Fish Swimming Away?
    Lets see, the little guy gets slammed for getting caught with his hand in the pickle jar while big fish, like Eric Turner, are found innocent while they pocket millions at taxpayers' expense. Both situations should be reported and punished but justice does seem to be blinded by power and money.
  • Bob makes a great point
    The State has put a lot of resources towards criminally charging these small town money managers for their simple incompetency (they didn't properly handle the receipt or due dates, but hey, that's the quality of people you get in these elections for that amount of pay), but at the same time they fail to investigate the agencies in the State government, or in direct contracts with it, regarding any serious and very large dollar corruption. Don't expect any charges against Murdock for every mistake he has made.
  • All I can say is
    LOL
  • Public Corruption Running Wild
    The Indiana Inspector General also has a statewide conference on ethics. Doesn't matter because no one enforces the law or gets punished for even the most obvious & worse offenses. Just look at David Lott Hardy

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    1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

    2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

    3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

    4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

    5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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