Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lawrence Council Wars Heat Up

The battles between Lawrence Mayor Deborah Cantwell and the city council are beginning to look more and more like the council wars of lore between Chicago’s first African-American mayor, Harold Washington, and the Chicago City Council. Mayor Cantwell has filed a lawsuit against the council alleging separation of power violations by the council over spending according to the Indianapolis Star. Kevin Corcoran reports: “The suit alleges the council is treading on executive turf by increasing its own budget line items and hiring outside consultants and advisors without legal authority.”

Under Indiana law (I.C. 36-4-4-5), the suit must be heard en banc by all 32 of Marion County’s superior court judges because it involves a dispute concerning “the executive or legislative power or duty exercised or proposed to be exercised. . . " Marion County has not heard such an en banc case since the City-County Council redistricting dispute in 2003. Marion County presiding judge, Cale Bradford, told the Star, “It’s a logistically difficult task.”

Corcoran reported that Cantwell brought the suit to reign in the city council. “Cantwell wants the county's judges to rein in the council, which her administration says has a budget of $416,000 -- or, three times greater than councils in similarly sized cities such as Marion and Richmond require,” Corcoran wrote. All pre-trial motions are to be handled by Superior Court Judge Patrick McCarty according to Corcoran.

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