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Posted on Sat. Jan. 05, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT

Ethics panel vacancy filled as year dawns

IPFW prof replaces judge after exit

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FORT WAYNE — A teacher of ethics has been appointed to the Allen County Ethics Commission.

The Allen County commissioners approved new appointments to 16 different boards or commissions Friday, including Abraham Schwab to the ethics commission.

Schwab, an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at IPFW, will replace Thomas Ryan on the three-member commission. Ryan walked out of a volatile commission meeting Oct. 29 and emailed his immediate resignation to the commissioners.

The ethics commission had stayed under the radar since it was created in 2005, but that changed last year with an investigation into an ethics complaint filed against two county officials.

The complaint stemmed from June 2 when Allen County sheriff’s officers pulled then-County Councilman Paul Moss over at 2:30 a.m. in a car that smelled of alcohol. Moss refused a portable breath test and then called a vacationing Sheriff Ken Fries on his cellphone. The sheriff spoke to one of his officers at the scene, and Moss was allowed to find a ride home.

No charges were filed against Moss.

Moss was accused of seeking special treatment and was scrutinized by the commission. The panel ruled that Fries was not subject to the county’s ethics ordinance because the matter fell to the Allen County Sheriff’s Internal Affairs division.

At a final hearing in November, an apology from Moss prompted a dismissal from the commission. Moss’ term ended Monday.

The ordeal raised questions about who must adhere to the policy, how long the ethics commission can take to rule on matters and what form of punishment can be handed out when an ethics violation occurs.

Schwab will join Tom Hardin, law partner of county Republican Chairman Steve Shine, and Democratic appointee and local business owner Wendy Stein on the three-member board. The county’s policy states that no more than a simple majority can be of the same party.

“Since we have one Republican and one Democrat, Mr. Schwab can be from either party as far as the ordinance is concerned,” said Chris Cloud, administrative assistant to the commissioners.

Schwab said he is a registered independent.

Ryan, Hardin and Stein were all original appointments, Cloud said.

Schwab earned a bachelor’s degree from Drake University and a master’s degree and doctorate with distinction from Loyola University in Chicago.

He has been an assistant professor of philosophy at IPFW since 2010 and was appointed as a research associate for the Center for Social Research in 2011. He has also been a member of the associate faculty for the Union Graduate College-Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 2009.

Before IPFW, Schwab was an assistant professor at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

Schwab teaches a number of ethics classes at IPFW, including medical, business and professional ethics and applied ethics practicum.

Coming to the commission as an outsider, Schwab said he hopes to talk to the other members and get more of an inside view.

“My hope is to be part of the conversation to review and discuss limits on the existing policy,” Schwab said. “Ideally, the ethics commission would be doing its work before the fact rather than after.”

Schwab believes tweaking the policy will not be a one-time fix.

“I think the policies of the ethics commission will be under continual review,” he said.

In addition to Schwab, other appointments included Mark Joseph to the Alcohol Beverage Commission; Susie Hoot to the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Plan Commission; Courtney Veith, Garnett Miller, Guy Griffith and Amy Hesting to the Child Care Facilities Department Board; Joe Brita to the Community Corrections Advisory Board; Brian Schaper to the History Center Board; John Gerni to the Allen County Library Board; Richard Beck Jr., Steven Bercot and Kurt Gutman to the Redevelopment Commission; Win Rood to the Regional Sewer District; Molly McCray to the Arts United Board;

Dr. William Pond to the Board of Health; Darren Vogt, Tera Klutz, Al Frisinger and Tim Lee to the iMap System Management Board; William Hartman, J. Phillip Burt and Terry McDonald to the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council; John Thistlethwaite, Todd Jordan and Mathew Griffin to the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals; and Ellis McFadden to the Southwest Allen County Fire District Board.

vsade@jg.net


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