Thursday, September 01, 2005

Newspapers Have Power

A lesson in how to get things done:
Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter’s office said Monday it will investigate the activities of the Schwab Foundation. But attorney Paul Helmke, the former Fort Wayne mayor, said the investigation comes three years too late.

A former Schwab board member hired Helmke in 2002 to look into concerns about the direction of the Schwab Foundation, resulting in a four-page letter to the attorney general detailing the concerns and asking for an investigation. Two weeks later, Carter’s office replied, saying it would not investigate, mainly, “because of the extremely limited resources currently available.”

“That’s where it was disappointing,” Helmke said. “The attorney general stands in for the public – we weren’t asking them to file a lawsuit, we were asking them to ask questions because they were really the only ones in the state that could.”

According to the response Helmke received, Carter’s office hired an outside firm specializing in non-profit law to review Helmke’s request. That firm said the foundation’s change in direction is “somewhat unusual, but not unheard of,” and that some people “would probably applaud this change,” the letter said.

“(Those people) certainly wouldn’t be applauding now,” Helmke said.

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