Deron Kintner, the city of Indianapolis' former deputy mayor of economic development, has landed at local apartment developer Flaherty & Collins Properties.
Kintner left city government Sept. 5 and joined the company Monday in the newly created position of general counsel.
“For a company our size, with 500 employees, to not have a general counsel is unusual,” Flaherty & Collins CEO David Flaherty told IBJ. “Deron fit that role perfectly.”
Kintner, 38, is a 2001 graduate of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. He started work with the city in 2008 as executive director and general counsel of the bond bank before ascending to deputy mayor in 2012.
His move to Flaherty & Collins, however, is drawing skepticism from government watchdog Julia Vaughn, policy director of Common Cause/Indiana.
The city has agreed to contribute up to a $23 million subsidy for Flaherty & Collins’ $100 million, 28-story mixed-use skyscraper to be built on part of the former home of Market Square Arena. Kintner served on a five-member panel that unanimously recommended the developer’s proposal for the project to Mayor Greg Ballard.
The City-County Council in March approved a financing plan to fund the subsidy. Property taxes generated by the project would be used to repay the city's contribution.
“I think it’s way too close for comfort,” Vaughn said of Kintner’s joining the firm. “There should be a period of time before people leaving government service can jump into the private sector.”
State officials are required to wait at least a year before taking a job with a company they have regulated or whose contracts they oversaw, although a provision in state law for waivers allows some to circumvent the requirement.
At the local level, city officials have no time constraints prohibiting them from joining the private sector. But once they leave, they are restricted from representing someone in a matter involving the city or county if they personally participated in the matter while employed at the city, according to city code.
To avoid any perceptions of improprieties, Kintner said he will take the restriction a step further by removing himself from any Flaherty & Collins’ projects in Indianapolis as long as Ballard is mayor.
Flaherty doubts that will be much of a concern anyway, since many of the developer’s projects are outside of Indianapolis.
Vaughn remains unconvinced.
“I think this gives Flaherty a big leg up on other developers to have somebody out of the mayor’s office to come work for them,” she said. “It simply doesn’t look good.”
Kintner is not the first Ballard official to leave the administration to work for a local developer. Former Chief of Staff Paul Okeson left in 2009 to become vice president of Keystone Group.
Kintner and Flaherty began having conversations in June, once Kintner informed the mayor of his plans to leave city government. Kintner said he approached Flaherty, although he had casual discussions with “dozens” of potential employers.
About 10 became serious suitors, including several law firms, said Kintner.
KIntner started thinking about leaving the mayor's office after he and his wife became parents to a son. She returned to work in the spring.
“It became evident that I wouldn’t be able to devote the time anymore,” Kintner said.
Kintner earned an annual salary of $120,000. He said he is not receiving a pay raise at his new job.
Meanwhile, Flaherty said financing is in place for the Market Square project and that construction should start by the end of the year.
The original cost estimate of the project has risen from $81 million to $100 million, which will push the cheapest monthly rents from $1,300 to $1,500, Flaherty said.
The project calls for 300 luxury apartments and 43,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space, anchored by a Whole Foods grocery.