February 17, 2018

Former Indianapolis Board Member Pleads Guilty in Conflict Case

By LJ Staff

Former Indianapolis library board member David "Mark" Bowell has pleaded to the felony to a conflict of interest charges related to the problem-plagued Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library’s (IMCPL) central library expansion project. According to the Indianapolis Star, Bowell’s plea acknowledges that when the board voted unanimously in 2002 to award the no-bid contract to Turner Construction Co., he was working on a marketing project with the company.

Bowell earned almost $21,000 from his Turner contract and as part of his plea deal has agreed to allot it to the central library construction project. Given that the project, now estimated at $153.6 million, is $50 million over budget and two years behind schedule, that help is mostly symbolic. Two board members told the Star that they wouldn’t have voted for Turner had they known of Bowell’s involvement. Bowell’s plea would bring him a one-year suspended sentence and end a grand jury inquiry.

Former IMCPL director Ed Szynaka, who was fired without cause three years ago on a motion by Bowell, told LJ that Bowell’s plea referred to the "tip of the iceberg" regarding behavior that he had tried to question. Still, Szynaka said that he didn’t feel personal vindication. "There should be an outrage in the library press about the unethical behavior of trustees, and there should be renewed interest in helping library directors deal with it," said Szynaka, who was hired to a directorship in Peoria, IL, this summer.