is tough, others like Christina Trexler, wife of Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John (TOJO) would say it pays pretty good. Thanks to her husband's political wheeling and dealing Christina is only a heartbeat away from a nice position in a local not-for-profit supported in part by taxpayer dollars.
We first picked up this story from the comments section of one of our earlier posts and considered it idle chatter until three of our readers sent us a series of emails with enough insider information to warrant a post. But let's start at the beginning.
Shortly after the election Tom John tried to use his political influence to obtain a job for his then-girlfriend Christina Trexler in the Ballard administration despite the fact that it was well-known by everyone that Tom worked unsuccessfully to derail Ballard's campaign shortly after his primary victory. Left with few alternatives he negotiated with political insiders to get Christina appointed to the board of Marion County Community Corrections
As the Ballard administration began to focus on re-entry he again tried and failed to get her appointed as the Director of Re-Entry under Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams. Olgen was apparently unimpressed with her abilities and selected former IDOC staffer Khadijah Muhammad.
Meanwhile our sources report that Christina was able to use her board position to scout various not-for-profits that were in line for lucrative state and federal funding attached to prisoner re-entry. That's when they found the perfect match in PACE/OAR a well-respected community-based program that works with ex-offenders and known for being apolitical.
Once they decided this was the organization they wanted, insiders say that they, (Christina, Tom and Abdul) began to schmooze with the executive director Ms. Rhiannon Williams-Edwards even going as far as inviting her to the Republican bastion of power the Columbia Club and securing her husband a job.
They then convinced her to install Christina as a deputy director and place local attorney/talkshow host and Tom John's BBF Abdul Hakim Shabazz (INBR) (yes this is the same who thinks its ok for police to beat suspects) on her board of directors with the promise that this would bring Republican fundraising to the organization.
When Ms. Muhammad was fired by the City, Tom and Christina tried a different tactic. They urged Rhiannon to apply for the job and suggested that Christina act as interim (deputy) director until the Board could vote on a replacement. Up to this point the scheme was working, Christina was earning a paycheck with a simple majority vote separating her from a permanent high-profile directorship with a non-profit organization.
Of course title alone doesn't make a good leader and it soon became apparent to employees as well as key stakeholders that despite the assistance of her politically powerful husband and strategically placed board ally, she was in way over her head. In a matter of weeks one of the major private funders of PACE/OAR, the nationally known Annie E. Casey Foundation yanked their funding after only one meeting with Ms. Trexler and vowed to withhold all funding unless there was an immediate leadership change. Meanwhile, according to inside sources Mr. Shabazz was quietly working behind the scenes to ease the path for Christina's selection as director despite her obvious deficiencies.
The appointment of Dr. Frank Straub as Public Safety Director changed the dynamics of this situation as his management style made things so uncomfortable for Ms. Williams-Edwards she decided to return to PACE/OAR. With her the former donor reconsider withholding their support and internally things began to settle back to down normal. Of course what was good for the organization was bad for Christina as this placed her ascension to the throne on indefinite hold.
Which brings us to this point. Insiders are extremely nervous because they believe that once again Christina Trexler is in contention for the top job as Rhiannon is making plans for a maternity leave with the possibility of not returning. Christina has not been shy to board members and staff alike that her husband Tom John and Abdul Hakim Shabazz played a key role in the recent awarding of over a quarter of a million in Federal funds for the organization and therefore its only fair that she is given the permanent appointment as executive director regardless if Mrs. Williams-Edwards returns or not.
So there you have it. The sordid backroom dealing and manipulation usually found in government/business community has finally leaked into the not-for-profit sector, in this case within an organization that is known for doing yeoman's work with individuals who have no where else to go when they are released from prison.
Sadly we wonder what will the community will think when this issue comes to light. We've never heard any Republican speak with any degree of passion about this issue and so find it highly questionable that a conservative talk-show host and Republican Chairman would work so hard for ex-offenders. You would think that a partner in a law firm with that much political clout could find his wife a steady job without soiling the good name and reputation of a effective grassroots program.
Tom John has once again proven that he's a political force to be reckoned with as he successfully injected political cronyism into an effective and essential community agency. And for the record don't think for one instant that Democrats are unaware.
Ice Miller lobbyist Carl Drummer sits right next to Abdul on the board.
Finally , congrats to all but declared executive director of PACE/OAR Christina Trexler-John.
And may God help those ex-offenders who need jobs but lack the political connections or marriage license to get one.
UP: TOJO $80, INBR $160