City-County Councilman Patrice Abduallah said he plans to resign his seat today after critics hounded him about whether he moved out of the district he represents.
Abduallah, 61, a Democrat elected in the 15th District in 2003, said he made an honest mistake when he listed his mother's home as his residence in council records and on his 2007 candidate forms.
His mother's house, where he is living while rehabbing his own house, is on the west side of the 1100 block of North Warman Avenue in the Haughville area. That puts the home in District 14, represented by Republican Marilyn Pfisterer.
"If it was on the other side of the street, it wouldn't be a problem,'' Abduallah said. "This technicality has cost me my council seat, and I'm upset about it. This situation is a tremendous blow to me."
Local Internet blogs have simmered recently with accusations that Abduallah moved out of his district. In an interview with The Indianapolis Star late Wednesday, he said Democratic Party officials asked him to resign.
Abduallah said it's a shame that pressure from the blogs and the media, rather than his constituents, led Democratic Party leaders to question his residency.
Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Michael O'Connor said he will hold a news conference this morning to address the situation. He said Wednesday evening that he did not know about Abduallah's decision to resign. O'Connor said he couldn't speculate on replacing Abduallah until today.
Deputy Mayor Steve Campbell said past case law indicates Abduallah's recent votes on the council will not be in jeopardy because of his residency status.
"Case law is pretty clear (that Abduallah's residency problem) won't overturn his votes," Campbell said. "It's not the first time it's happened in the history of legislatures.''
But Tom John, the county GOP chairman, said Abduallah's declaration of residency on his candidate form in January raises a host of questions. While stated residency can be difficult to challenge, John said the signed form with an address outside the district makes the case different.
"It's either sloppy or arrogant to not check if your stated address is in your district,'' Tom said. "Either way, he left the residents of District 15 without representation.''
John said council votes since January could be questioned and that Democrats may have lost their chance to name his replacement because of legal time limits.
The home Abduallah previously listed on his candidate and council forms was in the 900 block of North Sheffield Avenue, which is in the 15th District. Abduallah said he has been fighting for months with city inspection officials over the permits he needs to complete the rehab work. He said the city has stopped work 13 times.
While that work ran into city roadblocks, Abduallah said he has run into serious financial problems that kept him from paying his property taxes last year and again on Friday. Treasurer records show he owes $1,084 in taxes on his house on Sheffield.
"I'm delinquent on those taxes,'' Abduallah said. "I've really been going through some financial hardship recently."
He said the rehab work has been "a nightmare," but he recognizes that someone who decides how to spend tax money must also pay it.
"I'm going to pay my fair share because that's how we run the country," he said.
Abduallah said he didn't see any reason to fight to hold on to his seat until after the election because he doesn't want to misrepresent the district. He said Democratic officials want him to resign as soon as possible.
"I don't have an opportunity to correct my mistake," he said.
"It's bad for my family and community. But I'll live on for another day. I'll go out with grace, so maybe I can come back to the council later."
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Citizen-Inspired Protest Works: Abduallah Resigns
My City-County-Councilor Patrice Abduallah (D) told the Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy he was resigning from the council because a few citizen protestors and a few blogs like this one were willing to call out a gross injustice which left voters of my district without an elected representative on the council. Abduallah explains he was living in his mother's house outside his district while he was renovating his own house. O'Shaughnessy picks up on the unpaid taxes Abduallah owes on the house, first reported here, but makes no mention of the problems city inspectors had with tall grass, weeds, trash and an abandoned car on the property. While the story notes the issues were raised on "Internet blogs", no specific attribution is made to the investigative work of this blog. I take particular offense to Abduallah's complaint in an interview with O'Shaughnessy in which he complains that the issue was raised by blogs and not his constituents. Excuse me, Councilor Abduallah, but I am one of your constituents, but I should know better. You already told me you only represent your people and I'm clearly not one of your people. O'Shaughnessy writes: