RDA could get new chair, new governor's appointee

2012-12-18T12:22:00Z 2012-12-18T17:07:57Z RDA could get new chair, new governor's appointeeBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com
December 18, 2012 12:22 pm  • 

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority board of directors is waiting on Gov.-elect Mike Pence to see if he will keep or replace gubernatorial appointee Leigh Morris, who currently is board chairman.

When Morris was asked on Tuesday if he would like to continue serving on the RDA board of directors, he responded it is all in the hands of Gov. Mitch Daniels' successor.

"I will continue to serve until such time as a decision is made," Morris said. "That's a decision the new governor will have to make."

Pence spokesperson Christy Denault on Tuesday said governor-elect Pence is now focusing on appointing his cabinet and agency heads. He expects to later turn his attention to a review of gubernatorial appointees to boards and commissions across the state such as the RDA.

"We are trying to get through everything as expeditiously as possible, but at the same time conduct a thoughtful process and make sure we have the right people in the right places," Denault said.

Gov. Daniels appointed Morris, a former LaPorte mayor and hospital CEO, chairman of the RDA at the beginning of 2008. Morris succeeded Daniel's first appointee to the board, Bloomington resident and businessman John Clark. Clark was the RDA's inaugural chairman.

Morris said he has been in contact with both the Daniels administration and the transition team of governor-in-waiting Pence "to assure continuity of leadership" at the RDA.

Morris spoke about the transition after Tuesday's RDA meeting at the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana. RDA board members are volunteers who are not paid for their service.

Morris said he will be giving up his job as director of Northwest Indiana business recruitment with the Indiana Economic Development Corp. in January. He has held that post since late 2010. Before that he was a deputy commissioner with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

At Tuesday's meeting, RDA lawyer David Hollenbeck explained that under the RDA's 2005 enabling statute, the RDA board of directors will get to chose its own chairman from among themselves next year. Until this year, the governor's appointee has automatically been chairman. The board could still elect the governor's appointee chairperson if they wanted.

Under its enabling statute, the governor's appointee, even if he or she is not chairperson, still must vote in favor of any significant RDA action in order for it to win board passage, Hollenbeck told the board. That means he or she will continue to have de facto veto power over any RDA board action.

 

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