Tuesday, October 09, 2007

GOP Wants Gray's Resignation

CCC President Monroe Gray's ethics problems raised its ugly head again at last night's meeting after Council Democrats blocked a vote on a resolution calling for an ethics investigation of Gray in violation of the council's own rules. Making matters worse was Gray's decision to participate in a procedural vote to block consideration of Proposal 182 pertaining to an investigation of his past ethical lapses. In prior votes on Proposal 182, Gray abstained from voting. Now, Republicans are calling on Gray to resign.

Here's the issue. Under council rules, whenever a pending resolution or ordinance ends with an indecisive vote, which means it failed to receive a constitutional 15-vote majority for its passage or defeat, the matter is automatically placed on the council's special order for "unfinished business" at the next council meeting. Because Gray abstained from voting on two previous votes on Proposal 182 and Democrats control the council by a slim 15-14 margin, the vote ended indecisively on both prior votes where members voted along party lines. Proposal 182 should have once again appeared on the "unfinished business" calendar for last night's meeting. The Democratic-majority, which prepares the agenda, moved it from the "unfinished business" to the "pending legislation" calendar without a vote to waive the rule requiring it to appear on the "unfinished business" calendar. Council Minority Leader Phil Borst objected to the move and asked that Proposal 182 be returned to its proper place on the calendar.

At this point in the proceeding, Council attorney Aaron Haith stepped in and made a mockery of the process. Haith cited as authority for ignoring the council rule a provision of Robert's Rules of Order, which deems dilatory a vote on a question which has been previously considered and for which there is no chance of a different outcome. Councilor Borst, who is not an attorney, reminded Haith that Robert's Rules of Order only come into play when a matter was not covered by a specific council rule and could not trump the council's own adopted rules. After conflicting motions were offered by Democrats and Republicans, Gray agreed to proceed with a vote on a Republican motion to overrule the chair on the issue of whether Proposal 182 should be restored to its proper place on the calendar. Haith then interjected it would require a statutory majority, or 15 votes, to prevail. Again, Borst pointed to the council rules, which clearly provide a majority vote of those voting on the question to appeal the ruling of the chair. Haith mistakenly relied on a statute, which requires a majority of those elected to the council to approve an ordinance or resolution. Borst reminded Haith it wasn't either. Haith continued to make a fool of himself by insisting the procedural vote was a resolution.

And so there was a vote to appeal the ruling of the chair on whether the council's order of business should include a resolution calling for an investigation of Gray, which Haith ruled improperly would require 15 votes. Adding to the controversy was Gray's decision to cast a vote on the motion, which deadlocked 13-13. If Gray has abstained because of his obvious conflict of interest and the rules had been followed, it would have meant Proposal 182 would have returned to the calendar as required by council rules. That Haith was dispensing legal advice to the counsel only added to the frivolity of it all. Haith also serves as Gray's personal lawyer and provided advice to Gray on completing his statement of economic interest which most legal observers believe was contrary to the law.

The fact that Haith can even practice law in this state is troubling to some. The Supreme Court ordered Haith suspended from practicing law in Indiana for a year in 2001 after his third conviction for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but stayed his suspension for a 2-year probationary period. Chief Justice Shepard and Justice Dickson dissented from the decision, arguing it wasn't a harsh enough penalty. Shepard wrote:

His own therapist, the Commission’s medical expert, and our hearing officer have all concluded that he is alcohol dependent. He insists he is not. He also maintains that the evidence does not reflect adversely on his fitness to serve clients. The Court says it disagrees on both points, but it sends this message so softly it seems unlikely the respondent will hear it.
Time may be running out on this Democratic majority. During a WTHR interview this evening, Councilor Dane Mahern (D) sought to distance himself from Gray. Many believe that several of the councilors, including Joanne Sanders, have lost a lot of credibility themselves by acting as an enabler in allowing the corrupt Gray and his challenged legal counsel to remain in control of the council during all of these erupting controversies. The irony is that Sanders could lose her at-large seat because of Gray's woes, while Gray could be re-elected because he is running in such an overwhelmingly Democratic district.


Anonymous said...

Could someone explain precisely how Monroe Gray was even elected President of the CCC?
Of all the Democrats on the CCC was not a one of them more qualified than Gray?

Gary R. Welsh said...

There are 16 Democrats on the council. A majority, or 9, are African-American. The majority dictates that a black must be chosen for CCC President. Look at who the 9 are: Brown (fellow IFD employee), Oliver (?), Conley (secured wife DMD hearing officer job who approved 300 East in which Gray's wife owns an interest), Boyd (been there, done that, move on), Pryor (employed by Billie Breaux in Auditor's office), Franklin (Indianapolis police officer), Bateman (employed by Carl Drummer), Gibson (under indictment), and Carson (because he's Julia's grandson). Question answered?

Anonymous said...

The Democratic caucus decided who the president would be in a private meeting and then the formal vote was taken with the whole council but the party in the majority normally elects the president. This was no different. It was tie vote and Dane Mahern cast the deciding vote to elect Monroe Gray. That would have been the time to turn your back on Gray...the damage is done and Dane Mahern cast the deciding vote...it rests on Mahern's shoulders.

Gary R. Welsh said...

To be fair to Mahern, he was one of the members of a rump group who teamed up with the GOP to put Steve Tally in as CCC president. If you look back over the past 4 years, the year Tally presided was the most productive year for the council.

Bart Lies said...

What bothers me a lot is Haith seems to think he's the 'judge' in this 'courtroom'. He goes well beyond acting as counsel, interrupting and prodding/steering Monroe along.

I think Haith ought to sit there and remain silent unless called upon and then only be permitted to respond to questions from the Council.

As it is, he's behaving almost as some sort of unlected member OF the Council.

That's wrong. So very wrong.

Anonymous said...

Well, paint my door red and call me ELizabeth Arden. I agree with Bart Lies.

Aaron Haith is a disgusting embarrassment.

Joanne is not in trouble. King Ro may be, but I doubt that, too.

I wish Monroe were in trouble.

When it's all said and done I think the council will remain 15-14 Democratic. Which is a shame. This could've been a Democratic year, pushing that number to 18-20.

A pox on Monroe's house. This is all his fault. Arrogant and selfish.

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 8:14, you may well be correct about the Republicans failing to get a majority. Going into this year, I felt the Dems would pick up at least 3 seats. After this past year's mess, I thought the GOP had a decent change of picking up at least one seat for control. Their apparent decision to let their mayoral candidate flap in the wind could prove their undoing. I don't see how they win any of those at-large GOP council races unless their mayoral candidate is running at least nearly dead even with Peterson. The GOP needed a major absentee voter drive to overcome the demographic disadvantages. I've not seen any evidence that such an effort has been undertaken. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong. I'm hearing that Susie Day and Marilyn Pfisterer may be vulnerable, as well as the Langsford and Randolph seats. And then you have Scott Keller, who has done everything humanly possible this year to seal his own defeat.

Anonymous said...

Mark my words....the only Democrat to lose at large will be Ron Gibson who is going to trial next week for being drunk and verbally and physically abusing a female cop.......he WILL lose.

Anonymous said...

Paul Bateman works for Carl Drummer? I thought he worked for some family foundation? What's the story?