Andersons encouraged family hiring

By Peter Ciancone/Tribune-Star

February 5, 2003

A potential conflict of interest case involving the son of Mayor Judy Anderson also produced a disagreement in City Hall about how the mayor's son was hired in the first place.

Mayor Anderson said she makes recommendations to all department heads, but that the decisions are up to them. City Engineer Pat Goodwin said he gets clear instructions about his hirings, and that included the mayor's son.

Matt Anderson, whose twin brother, Luke, serves as the mayor's chief of staff, started with the city in March 2001 as an inspector with the Terre Haute Sanitary District, part of Goodwin's department. He was promoted in summer 2002 and uses a take-home city vehicle. His salary for 2003 is $27,450.

Goodwin said Matt Anderson was among 18 who applied for the job.

Mayor Anderson said she was in Russia when the position was advertised. When she returned, Goodwin had narrowed the field down to three applicants, one of whom was her son. She asked if they were all qualified. She said Goodwin told her they were, after which she made a simple request.

"'I'd appreciate it if you'd consider him.' That was it," she said Tuesday, explaining her version of the hiring process.

That isn't how Goodwin remembers it. He said he never narrowed the field because of instructions he got from the mayor's chief of staff after the applications arrived.

"Luke suggested I conduct interviews, narrow the field and pick Matt," Goodwin said. "I decided not to [conduct interviews]. I decided not to waste everybody's time."

Luke said they did nothing different with Matt than they do with other applicants.

"We say, 'hey, we'd appreciate it if you took a look at this person,'" Luke said, adding that the administration's recommendations aren't always followed.

Mayor Anderson said it was normal for members of the same family to be in government employ, citing several examples from her administration and previous ones.

"Everybody who has been hired knows somebody in government," Mayor Anderson said. "That's government. That's just the way it is."

The mayor said she considers three factors in making employment decisions.

"In the political or the private world, you have to have qualified people, loyalty and determination," she said. "[Goodwin] is young, he doesn't know any of the political ramifications," she said. "I've been trying to make him political for three years."

Peter Ciancone can be reached at (812) 231-4253 or pete.ciancone@tribstar.com.