News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

September 13, 2012

EDITORIAL: Conflicts at Cobblestone

Integrity, credibility of Plan Commission at stake

TERRE HAUTE — The legal and public policy complexities surrounding the controversial new apartment building construction at Cobblestone Crossings and its impact on the adjacent Woodgate subdivision exploded into an even more urgent matter during last week’s meeting of the Area Plan Commission. That’s when it was revealed that a commission member may have a financial stake in the development and had cast votes and made motions related to it.

Plan Commission member Norm Froderman’s stunning acknowledgment that he is a shareholder in the company responsible for the development immediately diverted the ongoing dispute into a different arena. Vigo County’s conflict-of-interest rules seem clear that commission members with a financial stake in projects up for votes concerning zoning or other issues should not participate.

In recent months, the Vigo County commissioners have taken a hands-off approach on most items related to the Cobblestone-Woodgate dispute. But they have reacted swiftly and properly to this latest development by issuing a stop-work order at Cobblestone, effective today.

That allows the county time to sort out the conflict issue and make things right, although a settlement between Cobblestone and Woodgate representatives could also permit construction to continue.

In a prepared written statement to the Tribune-Star on Tuesday, Froderman, a real estate professional, claims his interest in the company was indirect and insignificant.

While it may be unclear exactly what Froderman’s stake was in the Cobblestone development, conflicts of interest, no matter how large or small, are serious matters for government officials.

The importance of this is underscored by county policy and practices concerning conflicts of interest. Officials say that commission members typically abstain from votes on which they have a potential conflict. There are even criminal statutes on the books in Indiana governing conflicts by government officials, although there is no indication Froderman’s potential conflict would rise to that level. That would be up to a prosecutor to decide.

Conflicts of interest, or even perceptions of them, have the ability to erode and damage public confidence in the integrity, credibility and performance of public entities. That’s why they matter.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Bodies of Malaysia Jet Victims Leave Ukraine Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Fighting Rages Amid Mideast Truce Push Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Obama Signs Workforce Training Law 98-Year-Old Woman Left in Parked Truck Raw: Secretary of State Kerry in Israel Raw: Typhoon Brings Heavy Wind, Rain to Taiwan Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Massive Explosion in Gaza City Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques
NDN Video
LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity