Friday, October 14, 2005

I vote for more details about this purchase

Whether or not the
Peoria Election Commission picked the right vendor for new voting machines, the fact that they bought from a company partially owned by one of the commissioners just doesn't look good at all:

That fact was disclosed in the news release announcing that the commission, after reviewing bids from four different companies, would begin negotiations with Populex, and that Wittry abstained from voting on the decision. The release did not mention that Wittry served on the company's advisory board or owned stock in the company, but the 27-year commissioner said he doesn't see how that's problematic.

'I started an inventor on a project and invested in him,' Wittry said, noting that legal counsel informed him doing so was OK so long as he didn't vote or engage in negotiations with the company. The board's attorney, Robert Day, did not return phone calls.

In a brief interview Thursday, Jeanette Mitzelfelt, executive director of the Election Commission, said she was not aware that Wittry owned stock in the company. Mitzelfelt said she was busy and couldn't talk longer, but also did not return repeated phone calls to her office or cell phone.

I've never been a fan of the standardized "could not be reached for a comment" cop-out that many newspapers use in almost ever situation (thus avoiding an an appearance of not being objective). Molly's description told the whole story.

There's a difference between being out of the office and just not getting a message in time to return it before deadline and with a politician ducking a tough question. The State Journal-Register reported in depth on the ownership situation last week. Did Wittry fail to tell Mitzelfelt about his ownership in the company? That needs to be addressed.

I also vote that Wittry resign from the board now, since he plans to do so anyway in December, and then let the new commission vote on what do do.

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