Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Investigation Casts Doubt On Abduallah's Residency

An Advance Indiana investigation of the “residence” claimed by District 15 City-County Councilor Patrice Abduallah casts serious doubt on the question of whether he lives at this address and uncovers numerous building and zoning code violations the City of Indianapolis has issued to Abduallah in connection with the ownership of the property at 937 N. Sheffield Avenue in Wayne Township. While Mayor Bart Peterson (D) has often cited the need to enforce zoning and health regulations against derelict property owners as part of his war on crime, city inspectors have been compelled to repeatedly prod Abduallah to clean up his property according to public records accessible on the Department of Metropolitan’s website.

Various individuals, including at least one City-County Councilor, have expressed to me their concern that Abduallah does not reside in the Sheffield Avenue residence he claims as his residence as a candidate for the City-County Council and have suggested he in fact resides in another council district. Under Indiana law, a council member is required to reside within the district he represents at least two (2) years prior to taking office. If a councilor moves out of his district during his term in office, he is required to resign his seat. According to Councilor Abduallah’s biographic page on the IndyGov website, his listed address is 1144 Warman Avenue, notwithstanding a telephone book listing in bold print at the 937 N. Sheffield address and that Sheffield address being shown as his address on IndyGov website just days ago. The district finder on the council’s website indicates the Warman Ave. address is located in Councilor Marilyn Pfisterer’s 14th District.

According to the Department of Metropolitan’s online permit database, Abduallah has been attempting to undertake an addition to his 937 N. Sheffield Avenue home and a complete renovation of the home for at least the past year. The construction work on the home, however, has been plagued by problems with contractors and building code violations. DMD inspectors issued a stop work order on November 9, 2006, claiming footers for an addition to the home were poured without an inspection and electrical work was being performed without a permit. Eight days later, city inspectors cited Abduallah for using unlicensed contractors to perform work. Notes from January 1, 2007 indicate one electrical contractor walked off the job, saying he told Abduallah he “needed a permit to include the renovation of the entire house” and not just for the re-wiring work it required. On February 21, 2007, Abduallah’s case was referred to legal for review, noting that a contractor had told DMD “no wiring was done in the addition” and Abduallah had been told “he needed to amend [his] permit to include the renovation of the entire house.”

Still months later, on June 12, 2007, an electrical contractor went into DMD’s office to cancel his permit, stating “he performed no work at this site” and wanted “to legalize the work already done.” The contractor said he was unable to reach an agreement with Abduallah and wanted to cancel his permit. That same day Abduallah was cited for failing to obtain proper permits for work done at his home. Last month, another DMD inspection of Abduallah’s residence noted numerous building code issues with the work performed on the residence.

Aside from the renovations Abduallah has been performing on his home, he has tangled with city inspectors on numerous occasions for a variety of issues. As far back as 2001, the city cited Abduallah for trash on his property. DMD records suggest a tenant was residing in the property at that time. On April 19, 2006, city inspectors opened a new case against Abduallah for an abandoned vehicle in the rear of his residence in an enclosed, fenced area. Another report on June 12, 2007 cited Abduallah for an abandoned automobile described as a “blue car on blocks with flats.” City inspectors repeatedly returned to Abduallah’s property for more than a year, each time taking photographs and noting Abduallah’s failure to remove the abandoned vehicle from his property. On July 27, 2006, he was cited for “trash, high weeds and grass.” Although the matter of the abandoned car was referred for legal action last October, a note suggests it wasn’t referred for prosecution until July 24, 2007.

The neighborhood where Abduallah’s residence is located is dotted with run-down and boarded up homes. When I parked my car across the street from Abduallah’s residence to record the photo you see above, I was interrupted by an angry Abduallah, who came running from a side yard, screaming at me not to take any photographs of his home and demanding to know who I was. Startled by his sudden and angry appearance, I drove off without ever exiting my vehicle to avoid further incident. According to DMD records, his residence being photographed without his permission has been a commonplace occurrence over the past year. I apologize to Councilor Abduallah for not staying to chat with him, but it just didn’t seem like a good idea at the time.

According to the Star’s property tax database, Abduallah’s Wayne Township home had a proposed reassessment of $36,900. He claims an exemption for the property as a residence, reducing the taxable assessed value to $15,700. According to the 2006 property tax records for Abduallah’s property, he had a delinquency in the amount of $535.21 for unpaid taxes when his 2006 tax bill was mailed.

Based upon my observation of Abduallah’s residence and the obvious construction work underway on the home, as well as the voluminous records on file with the DMD, it appears there is some doubt whether Abduallah’s home is currently occupied as a residence. I would also note the DMD records do not show that a certificate of completion and compliance has been filed for the residence, a condition required prior to its occupancy or use as a residence. So if Abduallah is not residing at this location, where is his residence? Is it 1144 Warman Avenue or some other location? More importantly, does he live in the district he was elected to represent? The findings of my investigation should warrant an immediate meeting between Marion Co. Democratic Chairman Mike O’Connor and Councilor Abduallah to get to the bottom of this. If Abduallah is not living in his council district, he is legally obligated to resign from his seat. His name must also be removed from the November election ballot. The people of the district within which I reside demand answers to these questions, Mr. Abduallah and Mr. O’Connor. The people await your responses.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

AI,

Great reporting. I love this kind of citizen accountability.

However, I think the bigger issue are the code violations. He can still claim the property as his residence while it's undergoing renovation. But as a "neighborhood activist," he isn't being a good citizen. We should hold public servants to a higher standard. Obviously, they are not doing that to themselves...

Wilson46201 said...

Will Patrice Abduallah's Republican opponent bring this residency issue up during the campaign?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Advance Indiana said...

anon 8:46, I appreciate your interest in this issue, but I'm going to have to remove your comment out of concern it might be interpreted as a threat.

Anonymous said...

How can there be too tall grass
and weeds in the front yard?
I've seen postage stamps that are
bigger than that front yard.

Anonymous said...

Will Patrice Abduallah's Republican opponent bring this residency issue up during the campaign?

7:56 PM EST

I sure hope that happens. It would be great to know that the persn who represents my neighborhod actually lives in my neighborhood!

Advance Indiana said...

anon 7:56, Wilson is making fun of the fact there is no GOP candidate running for the seat.

Anonymous said...

ok, he is on the wrong side of the street as the district boundary runs down warman. he has self reported that he has moved out of the district. cut and dry. he has to go. surely the democrats will replace his with someone more capable.

Wolfrham Hart said...

The home renovation sounds like those idiots you see on Flip That House/Property Ladder et. al. who muddle their way through a rehab. Mr. Abduallah get a friggin' general contractor to run that project. You would have been finished a year ago.*

*Assuming you live there in the first place.

Given Gary's quickie investigation and observations how hard would it be for someone with an official capacity to verify who lives at an address? Perhaps these observations should be given to the MSM for them to investigate. It is a potential political scandal (and so sexy to a reporter) so they might be interested. It's amazing what happens once a camera gets involved.

Wilson Allen: once again contributing nothing useful to a discussion. Dude, you were banned. What did you do to get back?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely great work AI! The reason I love to read your blog and had the pleasure of shaking your hand at a recent CCC Meeting.

Now, if the inspectors are Bart's people, do you really think anything is going to change? Hit where it hurts, and where we are all getting it, in the pocket book.

Advance Indiana said...

anon 9:55, it looks like the DMD inspectors are trying to do their job in good faith; otherwise, I wouldn't have found all the information online about their inspections and violation citataions.

ellen m said...

You've missed your calling! You should've been an investigative reporter!

Advance Indiana said...

Ellen, I heard Bob Novak lamenting during a speech to a Young Americans Foundation group the other day on CSPN about how only liberal Democrats go into journalism.

Anonymous said...

Patrice Abdullah lives near Washington Park, Gary!

Oh, his intelligence level is "border-line Julia."

Anonymous said...

Nice reporting Gary.

Anonymous said...

He has to go. Now.

What was the point of the barb about his "opponent" ? Childish, Wilson.

Accountability knows no party membership. The same thing was done by Frank Short years ago, when he moved far north, but still represented his southside district on the council.

The Democrats had best be careful. With a one-vote margin, Gary...and if Patrice's membership on the council is legally determined ot be void, wouldn't any of his votes likewise be cancelled?

A caucus of precinct committeepersons in his district is required.

I have it on good authority Patrice's food business is failing, and his council salary is about all he has.

One of the strong cornerstones of the Muslim faith, and most others, is the honor of service to community. Honesty is in there, too.

Patrice is disgracing both those values.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:56, Wilson is making fun of the fact there is no GOP candidate running for the seat.

Maybe Tom John ought to recruit a candidate from Hamilton or Boone county? Since it apparently doesn't matter where they live, I'm sure even Wilson couldn't complain about that!

Anonymous said...

AI...it's a minor detail...but Councilman Abdullah's variance was exceeded. His permit is for 128 square feet, while his variance is only for 84 square feet.

http://tinyurl.com/yov2ko

Max said...

Remember, Abdullah's district includes the 300 East Bar/Restaurant in the Julia Carson Government Center.

This is common practice for the Democrat Party. Carl Drummer used Julia Carson's address on Park Avenue when he was elected as Center Township Trustee and was a legal resident of Lawrence Township at the time the Party held a special election in 1996. he later moved into the house on Central Avenue and the County Chair, Kip Tew was informed well in advance.

We will see if Mike O'Connor looks the other way in November.

Anonymous said...

Abduallah has listed his residence as being this address for at least a few weeks if not longer (I only have the CCC contact list from early July which lists it as Warman). When he left his own district, he no longer qualified to be a councillor and, by law, should have resigned. Are his votes on the CCC during this period valid? Can his vote for the income tax increasebe challenged? Is there any legal basis for this?

B said...

Reporting like this only makes me cringe even further at what has become of the Star. They literally have no one left in the newsroom or whatever the f. it's called now, who actually, you know, REPORTS. Really sad.

What's the over/under on days til this actually merits mention in that rag now, in a cobbled together piece with no attribution to AI? If you want news is this town, the only place you have to rely on the blogs.

As an aside: that assessment? He ought to appeal. I don't think that rathole could possibly be worth 36K...

Advance Indiana said...

B said, "As an aside: that assessment? He ought to appeal. I don't think that rathole could possibly be worth 36K..."

He probably will, B. He appealed some of the administrative fees DMD charged him and won.

Anonymous said...

Advance Indiana: I understand you are an attorney. Any basis for his votes being invalidated during the period that he listed his residence at Warman?

Advance Indiana said...

anon 7:42, It's an argument I would certainly consider making if I were bringing a lawsuit to challenge the approved county option income tax. I understand others have considered a similar argument in the context of challenging the vote based on law fire fighters participating in the vote. My hunch is, without researching the matter, is that a court would be reluctant to overturn ordinances on that basis.

Anonymous said...

I thought he really lives in Duke Oliver's district. Whatever...he is not an honest man.

Wilson46201 said...

Proof of residency is always dicey under Indiana law. Unless Abduallah actually claims to be living at and registers to vote at an address outside the district, it's damn difficult to prove otherwise. I suspect he will simply say he is living temporarily elsewhere while his primary residence is being renovated. It'd be difficult to prove otherwise.

A few year ago there was a Republican city councilor who lived in Broad Ripple but owned an art dealership elsewhere. He ran and won in that district. He registered to vote at his business, saying he slept in a cot in the back room. That story stood some determined attacks!

Anonymous said...

Residency is not difficult to prove. Skilled lawyers can depose anyone and get to the bottom of the residency question lickety split.

The art dealer example is a bad one, though...the business where he "lived" was zoned C-3. Commercial. Which specifically prohibits residential. In any form. All under Goldsmith's watch, and all ignored.

Which doesn't make it right. Patrice in no way lives in his district. He has to go. Period.

Gary, I just re-read your post. It is one of the single-best pieces of writing I've seen anywhere in the last year. Your personal account of bumping into Patrice is priceless. I'd have stood on the sidewalk or street and snapped away.

(You picked a time to photograph at random--was it normal working hours? Just asking)

Advance Indiana said...

Thanks, anon 10:05. It was during the lunch hour yesterday when I took the photo.

Anonymous said...

am i correct that he is just on the wrong side of warman? it appears that the district line runs through the middle of the street. this does not mitigate the issue, just checking facts.

i would like to add to the kudos for the initiative taken here and the thoroughness of the work. i am stunned that the main stream media did not and still has not followed up on this.

Advance Indiana said...

anon 10:10, I'm relying on the Council's district finder on the IndyGov website. I've provided a link to it. When you type in the address, it tells you the address is located in Pfisterer's district.

Jason said...

Wilson, we all know Republicans aren't saints either. Pointing to bad behavior as a means to justify bad behavior just makes it look like you're admitting that they're both wrong. Which they are sometimes, and this time it's Abduallah.

Anonymous said...

Gary,
What is your email address. I stopped
by Abdullah's residence this morning and took some more pictures. One is of the gas meter which is turned off from outside. Kinda hard to live in a house with no gas for cooking or water heater.

Anonymous said...

I also took pics of the back yard which is one of the worst looking junk yards i have seen in a long time.

Advance Indiana said...

You can e-mail me at gwelsh@indy.rr.com.

Anonymous said...

Hummm...this story may be the reason he voted against the ordinance involving inoperatable vehicles last Monday. Conflict of interest, anyone? Self-serving at least.

Anonymous said...

Your story is great reporting Gary but if I own a vacant lot, pitch a tent on it for a year I can vote in that district and hold office in that district. The fact that I own another property on the other side of town and want my correspondence, phone or otherwise to go there makes no difference. I prefer to live in the tent on my lot.

Patrice's code violations are however, a different issue, just as my tent on a vacant lot would be.

Advance Indiana said...

Okay 12:23, then let's just scrap the residency requirement altogether. And while were at it, let's just throw out the campaign finance laws. Where does it stop? Our system of government is based on the rule of law. If we get to pick and choose which ones we're going to enforce, then the entire legal system breaks down and people lose confidence in their government. Does the law require you to live in your district? Does the law require you to disclose the source of all your campaign contributions and expenses? Does the law require a government official to enter into a formal lease agreement to lease out government property? Does the law allow a bar to be operated in a government office building? May a law enforcement officer own an interest in a liquor license? I know what the law says, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. Why should I have any confidence in my government?

Anonymous said...

one of olgen williams kids was talking about running republican against patrice. I'm not sure there would be any difference in representation with that though.

The Scribe said...

Gary, this post is the reason I continue to read your blog, despite your anti-Christian bigotry and shameless attacks on our public safety personnel.

Terrific work, you are to be strongly commended for this. If we had Pulitzer's for blogging, this would qualify for one.

Wilson46201 said...

July 3rd was the last date the GOP County Chair could appoint a Republican opponent for Councilor Abduallah. He didnt. Neither did the Libertarians. Councilor Abduallah is as good as re-elected automatically.

Anonymous said...

unless he is disqualified for some reason such as not meeting residency requirements. in that case, the party gets to appoint the replacement candidate.

the seat clearly won't change from dem to rep but there could be a more competent person in the seat.

Melyssa said...

What happens if no candidates from a district run?

Wilson46201 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

An example of how hard it is to win residency disputes - from a Fort Wayne Journal Gazette article in 2002.
--
After two hours of entertaining testimony Tuesday, the State Recount Commission unanimously found that a Brookston Republican recently elected as state representative meets the state residency requirements.

The decision was made despite the fact that Rep. Don Lehe's address on state documents - such as his driver's license, tax exemption records and corporate papers - is that of a home in White County but outside the district to which he was elected. Brookston is about 15 miles north of Lafayette.State law requires that a legislative candidate reside in the district for the year prior to the election.

The contest, filed by Democrat George Baranowski, alleged that Lehe lived at 2973 E. County Road 1100 S. - a home outside the northwest Indiana House District 15 - and not 12401 S. County Road 125 W. - a home inside the district where Lehe claims to reside.

Lehe took 64 percent of the vote in the Nov. 5 election.

Baranowski's attorneys called a UPS driver, several disgruntled neighbors and a private investigator to the stand. The neighbors - dressed in flannel and jeans amid the corporate suits - were gruff and decidedly angry, their answers often drawing laughter and smiles from commission members.

The main witness, though, was Jo Del List, who lives at 12401 S. County Road 125 W. with her husband and two children. She said the house is owned by Lehe Farms, a family business of Lehe's. Her husband, Paul List, works for Lehe Farms.

Jo Del List testified that Lehe spends "some" nights sleeping in the living room of her home, which is in the district, but that he "does not live there continuously."

Lehe's wife and family live elsewhere, at the 2973 E. County Road 1100 S. address.

The mailbox at that address clearly says Cathy and Don Lehe on it, and a UPS driver testified he has delivered packages to Don Lehe at that house for years.

The recount commission, though, was not swayed, citing a 1988 Indiana Supreme Court decision that said Evan Bayh could run for governor even though he hadn't lived in Indiana for the five years prior as required.

Bayh had been secretary of state for four years, but prior to that had lived in Washington, D.C., while his father served in the Senate, then moved to Virginia while attending law school, and then moved back to D.C. while working for a law firm.

According to the decision, Bayh could claim Indiana as his residence because he always had intended to return.

"The important factor is whether (Lehe) intended to make House District 15 his permanent residence," argued Lehe's attorney, William Bock III.

Commission member Gordon Durnil - a Republican - challenged Bayh's residency in the late 1980s, saying Bayh didn't even have a place to stay the night in Indiana and the courts let him run.

"I might not agree now and I might not have agreed then," Durnil said, but Baranowski didn't prove under the Bayh ruling that Lehe violated the law.

With the contest dismissed and two recounts officially ended, the Democrats still maintain a 51-49 edge in the House.

Anonymous said...

Ugh...an Olgen Williams child? I heard one of them speak at an anti-violence rally last fall.

Let's jsut say: the acorn falls close to the tree. Mumbling gibberish that amounted to nothing.

I applaud Olgen's very admirable public service and job. But I'm over him already. He shows up anywhere there's a mike or a camera. I hahve spoken to him many times about school issues and each time it gives me a headache.

He needs to walk around with a Mumbling Gibberish-to-English translator.

Wilson46201 said...

About 15 years ago a major Black Republican preacher filed to run in the IPS "non-partisan" board election. He used his church address to qualify to live in the district although his home was elsewhere. He was challenged at the GOP-controlled Marion County Election Board who actually accepted the candidate's assertion that he intended to move his family and himself into a house in the district IF he got elected. That was good enough - he was on the ballot!

Anonymous said...

"He needs to walk around with a Mumbling Gibberish-to-English translator."

You mean similar to the one "Sweet Pea" Gray needs?

Anonymous said...

Hooked on ebonics might work!