Home Uncategorized Clarity and Sanity Prevail Going Forward

Clarity and Sanity Prevail Going Forward


Dan McGinn
On October 11, 2010 the Evansville City Council voted unanimously (9 – 0) to do what Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel denied them the dignity of doing in 2008 when Tom Barnett was hired to fill the shoes of the deceased Greg LaMar as the Director of the Evansville Department of Metropolitan Development. What the Evansville City Council was denied by Mayor Weinzapfel was the ability to perform their duty of approving the salary of this important position that is a Mayoral appointment.

As a reminder, it was the City County Observer that discovered and first published the now publically disclosed fact that Mr. Barnett received two paychecks, one at the maximum salary authorized by the City of Evansville salary structure and another from the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville (GAGE) as a supplement in the amount of over $42,000. This arrangement came under fire recently from the Indiana State Board of Accounts for violating two state statutes. The general Council for Mayor Weinzapfel, David Jones is on record with a legal opinion that the State Board of Accounts has taken the statutes out of context, but that was of little consequence to the Evansville City Council who ended the double dipping practice once and for all in this unanimous vote.

At the end of the day, it was the Court of Public Opinion that forced the resolution that was introduced by City Councilman Curt John and ratified by a 9 – 0 vote of the Evansville City Council to end what is widely recognized as a compensation plan that was designed to deceive the taxpayers of the City of Evansville. No discussion was held with regard to retroactively correcting the pay arrangement that was cited as violating two laws by the Indiana State Board of Accounts.

Mr. Barnett’s salary has been removed from the 2011 budget and the commitment to cease the practice of supplementing his salary through a contract arranged for and signed by the Mayor when he was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of GAGE has been terminated. The Director of Metropolitan Development’s salary for 2011 and all years going forward is now out of the hands of the Mayor of Evansville and back into the hands of the Evansville City Council as it should have been from Barnett’s hiring back in March of 2008. GAGE, Mr. Barnett, and the City of Evansville will no longer be compromised by this arrangement.

In other business at last night’s City Council meeting, the legal expenses that the City of Evansville pays were not only clarified but a system of checks and balances was put into place to control exactly how and where from the City’s attorneys are paid. The City’s legal counsel is currently provided by the firm of Jones and Wallace that also provides office space, along with both legal and paralegal services to the City under three separate arrangements. Two of these manners of payment have been clear and well defined to astute examiners of the City of Evansville budget. The third mechanism of billing has been with respect to insurance issues for liability and worker’s compensation that are administered and paid by a third party provider in Indianapolis. There has been no formal agreement with respect to the amount of legal services can be billed with respect to these issues. The unwritten “gentleman’s agreement” has simply been to bill any and all hours expended for those tasks at a rate of $150.00 per hour. There has been no “not to exceed” limit associated with this “gentleman’s agreement”.

Fortunately for the taxpayers of the City of Evansville, that “gentleman’s agreement” is coming to an end. Going forward legal expenses will be part of the City Council approved budget on a line item basis. City Councilman Dan McGinn (R), expressed happiness and satisfaction with the outcome of both Mr. Barnett’s salary arrangement and with the clear disclosure of legal fees that the abolishment of the “gentleman’s agreement” provides. “This City Council meeting resulted in big wins for the taxpayers of Evansville, and I am pleased and proud to have been a part of it”, stated McGinn when interviewed for this article.

The sole purpose for the City County Observer to exist is to promote good public policy. In being the first to report on the convoluted way that Mayor Weinzapfel invented to pay Mr. Barnett, we sought to expose bad public policy so that good public policy would eventually prevail. Today that happened on two fronts. The outcry of the people of Evansville and the tenacity of City Councilman McGinn and others demanded an honest solution. We applaud and congratulate all nine of the members of the Evansville City Council for restoring sanity, clarity, and honesty to these parts of the budget process.


  1. There is little solace for the taxpayers in this action, coming at this late date.

    From March of 2008 to the vote on 10-11-2010, last Monday, every member of the city council knew, or should have known that the City of Evansville was in violation of State statute.

    Also, one has to wonder how, for 2 years and more, the Indiana State Board of Accounts did not have this violation on their radar, having only reported it on their latest audit.

    When one person is allowed to operate in a rogue manner, the enablers of this behavior will likewise eventually suffer the consequences.

    Each member of the City Council took an oath to uphold the laws of Indiana. I would like every member of the current City Council to reflect on what happened to that oath when it came up against misguided devotion to Mayor Weinzapfel.

  2. The council members can reflect after we vote them all out.

    But more importantly, let every citizen reflect on this…

    And realize we would have never, ever even heard about this if not for a very few having the brass to raise a stink about it.

    As Obama has shown us all crystal clear. Our Constitutional Republic can turn into unconstitutional, tyrannical, majority rule – in the blink of an eye!

    CCO would serve us well to remind us all repeatedly about the journey that for this one item, perhaps even just for today, sanity prevailed.

  3. Clarity and Sanity – check?

    The question I have is, will McGinn stop at “not illegal”?
    Or, is next up… Prudence? Transparency? Responsibility?

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