Tuesday, August 20, 2013

20 August 2013 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes

20 August 2013 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes

Present: Shane McHenry, President, Art Little, and Kevin Lynch

Also present: Gayle Pennington, Auditor, Teresa Randall, County Administrator.

ABSENT: Andy Baudendistel, Attorney.


Washington Township Advisory Board Vacancy- Tabled- McHenry spoke to Dave Wunderlich- a couple candidates are in the works and McHenry hopes to have a name at the next meeting.

Drug Free Workplace Ordinance- Tabled as Baudendistel is unavailable for tonight’s meeting.


HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT: Todd Listerman, Highway Engineer:

North Dearborn Road Change Order #12 for $0 just to clear up items in the contract was approved by commissioners. North Dearborn Road is open now.

Award for Line Striping to Indiana Sign and Barricade for $96,758.70 approved by Commissioners. Listerman will have them get started right away. (The other bids were: Indiana Traffic Services  $99,236.93, Oglesby Construction $102,835.14, and gridlock Traffic Systems for $134,902.80

Tim Grieve, Highway Superintendent:

 Paving Contract was awarded to Dave O/Mara for $678,671. The other bid was Rohe for $820,209. They will be paving North Dearborn, McCann,  a part of Gaynor (and not Harrison Hill, which has a slip to repair.) Lynch asked for the per unit price. It was $48/ton laid by OMara and $59/ton laid for Rohe.

Subrecipient semi -annual report to SIRPC for Region 15 Child Advocacy Center was signed by McHenry. This item was not on the original agenda.

ADMINISTRATOR: Teresa Randall:

Signature for Closure of Contract- with RQAW for Hoosier Square who had done some evaluation for courthouse and administration building with some drawings for the courthouse. The work has all been paid and this is just to close the contract. This provides 7 days written notice for this to be closed by August 28th. This also lets them know we won’t be contacting them for any further work on this. Commissioners approved McHenry to sign the letter.

Appropriation Requests- for additional premium on Worker’s Comp. We owe them an additional $29,532 (Argonaut Insurance Co) due to the payroll being higher than estimated in 2011-2012. Randall was given permission to approach Council for this.

Another additional appropriation request is being made because of space problems in the Courthouse. Randall said Superior Court 2 is in a bad spot. Prosecutor has no privacy for lawyers to talk to clients. She needs $25,000 to get a construction manager to evaluate this and then get an architect. Council  has been asking Randall and the commissioners  – when will they look at this. Superior Court 1 has problems whenever there is a major felony case with seating a jury, McHenry said. Also there are bathroom issues even though probation dept. has moved out to Hoosier Square.  Commissioners voted to allow Randall to ask for $25,000 to engage a construction manager to address this. [NOTE: This seems like a refrain we have heard before. Now that the jail is moving ahead, and over budget, it is interesting that this is coming up again. Will there be bids or RFQs or proposals sought for this construction management? ]

AUDITOR: Gayle Pennington- August 6 minutes approved. Claims approved.

ATTORNEY: Andy Baudendistel- NOT PRESENT

COMMISSIONER COMMENTS- Art Little – said they met with Lt. Gov with elected officials from all over the county. They had a good discussion of what the county was and needed. She had someone write down all the topics. They then took 5 stickers each to get the top problems. Even though different entities – they are thinking more in line than they thought. McHenry thanked Pennington and Randall for setting it up. Lynch echoed those remarks. He said we are getting a lot of attention from state officials. He appreciated everyone’s efforts and it’s fantastic. Frey and McMillan were also there.  [NOTE: Were all three commissioners there or even two, which would make a quorum? Was this a publicly announced meeting? I asked these questions at the PUBLIC COMMENT section of the meeting.]

LATE ARRIVAL INFORMATION- Bill Black- on the 27th of August they will have a district meeting with all the assets of the district and equipment that was bought with the Homeland Security Grants. 3 PM at the firehouse on the hill in Madison Township.

School safety and security was a priority for the governor. So there are applications for grants for that. Black was at this program and was impressed with the new approaches for safety programs. They will get some training for the county too, he thinks. Randall will be pushing on this.

PUBLIC COMMENT- Chris Mueller- asked about the meeting today with the Lt Governor and why it was not open to the public.  I asked why the newspaper reporter was asked to leave. I asked if there was a public announcement that two or more commissioners were present. Commissioners stressed that Kevin Lynch was not there. But they still had a quorum of two present. Pennington said there was a press release from the Lt Governor’s office which announced the meeting.. McHenry said they did not know the paper had been asked to leave until after the meeting, Randall said the Lt Governor’s staff member stressed that Denise Freitag Burdette was very gracious when she was asked to leave. I asked what public officials would have to discuss that could not be heard by the newspapers. All of the public officials from the city and the county, were invited and  so it should have been a public meeting. I have a problem with this being closed to the public- especially the newspaper. Commissioners said this was a strategy meeting that allowed local officials to tell the governor’s office about different issues in the county. Auditor Gayle Pennington said the discussion leader was afraid the officials wouldn’t state all of their problems if the newspapers were present. I said this is subject to the Open Door law.“I don’t see what the problem is,” McHenry said. He said that nothing secret was discussed. I told them that Dearborn County wasn’t the first county holding this meeting with State officials where newspapers were asked to leave. These meetings are being held in each county in the State. The order to not allow reporters into the meetings came from the lieutenant governor, according to officials and McHenry said that he did not know Denise was asked to leave until after the meeting was over. Ms. Randall said that she had sent the press release t the news media and had not known that it was not open to the public. She said that after the meeting, all of the information of what took place at the meeting was provided to the newspapers and the minutes were uploaded to the governor’s Web site. I asked if we are just supposed to just trust that they reported all of the information?  [NOTE: The only reason for closed meetings would be executive session rules such as personnel issues or contracts, or pending litigation. None of these applied here. Also it seems funny that they were worried about the elected officials filtering their comments in front of the paper, and yet these officials who are sometimes on competition for economic development had no trouble mixing this morning. If they are going to represent the wishes of the people to the Lt Governor, shouldn’t the citizens or news media be allowed to attend and hear what they have to say on our behalf?]

Johnny Wright- asked about an old county roadway that is now called private property by a developer. He was also told that all of this is private property by the developer. He said that this is county right of way. His road is so small and so steep that he can’t get up to the house site. His house had burned down.  Schippers is the developer. The police are misinformed that this is a private road. He says that the developers have added feet to the ROW. There is only one way to get the mobile home to his residence that burned down. Community was very supportive to him after the house burned. He said he has the best neighbors in the world. He has a county ROW and he wants to use it to get the mobile home up and won’t get arrested for using it. Listerman said that previous commissioners to not recognize this as county ROW. Emergency access was to be built in the future further down from this. They had 15 minute discussion of the maps at the front of the room and decided that the Engineer, Surveyor, Planning and Zoning will get together and get information. They will add Johnny Wright to the agenda to discuss this further. Tabled until the Sept 3rd meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 7:50 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller

Lawrenceburg Township



Higgins said...

"Gayle Pennington said the discussion leader was afraid the officials wouldn’t state all of their problems if the newspapers were present." -- clearly missing the point that if they can't say it in front of those they represent they shouldn't be saying it at all.

Haven't you figured it out yet. These folks don't care spit for what is lawful and what is not.

“I don’t see what the problem is,” McHenry said. AND THAT RIGHT THERE IS THE PROBLEM.

And you thought lying and abusing the public trust were things that only the progressives in D.C. did...

Anonymous said...

now is this the same as having a closed door meeting just asking?

Anonymous said...

keep a eye on em Chris they are slick

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is a legal eagle who reads this blog who can give an assessment of this event and how it applies to open-meetings laws? From what has been written, this was not a meeting of any government entity/board where action may or may not be be taken, which I believe would be subject to open meetings laws? What was it about this event (other than a bunch of elected officials showing up) that makes it subject to open meetings laws? For example, when 2 or more commissioners show up at a Chamber of Commerce forum, does that mean it is automatically something that the public (and press) must be allowed to attend? Maybe someone can answer the legal question. That said, it was not very smart to exclude the press. It just doesn't look right. And the article by Ms. Burdette is correct -- other elected officials like Congressman Messer do this sort of this all the time and make a point of opening it to the public, and therefore the press.

Raylan said...

Handbook on Indiana’s Public Access Laws
Meeting” means a gathering of a majority of the governing body of a public agency for the purpose of taking official action upon business.
I.C. § 5-14-1.5-2(c).

It's clear from your tone (and the fact that the truth of the matter can easily be determined online by any person of average intelligence willing to do even a modicum of research) that yours is not an honest query, you are trying to make this seem like some innocuous event where nothing happened, but I'll shrug into that sneeringly offered mantle of "legal eagle" for a moment. Your Chamber example, crafted to sound like an analogous situation, both is not the same thing and may or may not be subject to ODL depending on whether or not the Chamber is discussing (providing information) about a matter that is or will become official business before said commissioners.

In this case the whole point was official communication. They took "official action" by conveying their views about local needs to a representative of higher government.

See Page 8 -

"A zoning board hears a presentation
from an architectural firm regarding the designation of historic preservation areas. No proposals are made nor are votes taken. Yet, the board does take official action because the board
is receiving information on public business."

If receiving information is official action giving it is as well.

The long and the short of it is, once again, they have violated the ODL.

They violate administrative law with impunity in part because people like you excuse it and because there is, it would appear, nobody with the power and integrity to punish them for doing so.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love how people are judgmental without knowing anything about the intent of the comment, or the commenter, for that matter.
What that says to me is that when you can't make an argument, you attack the messenger. And you conveniently left out the part where it was mentioned that this was not a wise thing to do. Not exactly excusing it.
Legal eagle was not meant to be a pejorative. Sorry if you took it that way.
I still want s lawyer (does that make you feel better?) to weigh in. Your example of a zoning board is just that -- a official meeting, subject to open meetings laws.
How was this event an official meeting covered under the law? I would like to know. If they violated the law, I would like to know that too.
How about helping to find the answer in a more civil manner?