Monday, January 28, 2013

Shreve Denies Residency Problem But Admits To Delinquent Property Taxes

In response to an exclusive this weekend by Advance Indiana questioning whether newly-elected City-County Councilor Jefferson Shreve satisfies the 2-year residency required of any council candidate at the time of his election at a caucus held on Saturday, Shreve tells the Indianapolis Star that he has resided at the southside residence he owns for more than two years despite voter registration records showing that he didn't change his voter registration from Bloomington to Indianapolis until October 15, 2011, less than two years ago, after registering and voting in Monroe County for many years.

Shreve relies on the fact that he has owned his 725 E. Markwood Avenue in Perry Township within District 23 since 2003. Ownership of property alone, however, doesn't establish residency. Indiana's voter registration laws require a registered voter to attest under penalties of perjury where they reside when they register to vote, and to re-confirm that residency each time they cast a vote relying upon that registered voting address. The fact is that until October 15, 2011, Shreve had declared his residence for voting purposes to be in Bloomington, Indiana. Shreve tells the Star that he last voted in Monroe County in the 2010 general election. He says he cast that ballot by absentee ballot. So when he filled out that ballot, he swore under penalties that was his "true, fixed and permanent home and permanent establishment" to which he had the "intention of returning" whenever absent.

Interestingly, Shreve tells the Star's Jon Murray "that he and his wife have used the house as their primary residence since November 2010, when they completed a renovation and expansion involving adjacent properties." Murray continues, "Prior to that, he said, they used the Indianapolis house occasionally while living most of the time in Bloomington, where Shreve’s company Storage Express is based." How convenient. He claims he moved to Indianapolis the same month that he last cast a vote from his Bloomington residence and a date that will just satisfy the residency requirement by two months.

I'm also scratching my head on references to Shreve's wife. I have in my possession an e-mail communication Shreve sent to a precinct committeeperson in District 23 earlier this month on January 9, 2013. In that e-mail, Shreve refers to Mary Kelley as his fiance, not his wife, and he claims he moved back to Indianapolis two years ago, although he acknowledges that he maintains an apartment in Bloomington.
I decided to base my life back out of Indy rather than Bloomington a couple of years ago, as my Storage Express locations are so spread around Indiana.  Indy is a more central base, since I have to jump on the Interstates to get to my locations.  I di [sic] have Storage Express facilities in Bloomington, and an office and keep an apartment there.  But Indy is my home.
My fiance Mary Kelley is from Indy.   We've been together for some time, and are going to be married at St. Roch's this year.  So I'm getting a late start in life on the marriage front.    It'll be my first (and last) marriage.   Mary was widowed several years ago.   Neither of us have children.  At our age, I'm not sure that will happen, candidly . . .
I suppose they could have raced to the courthouse to get married today, but precinct committeepersons were under the impression he was engaged to be married but not yet married at the time he stood for election--based on Shreve's words. Sources say he introduced her to precinct committeepersons on Saturday as his fiance and said they had plans to marry this summer. Maybe he just had a Manti Te'o moment while speaking to Murray. [Update: The Star has now updated Murray's original online story to correct references to "his wife" as "his fiance."] I'm also curious if Shreve was residing at the home in the spring of 2011 why he wouldn't have been concerned enough as a resident and property taxpayer to register to vote and participate in the hotly-contested school referendum property tax debate for the Perry Township schools that took place in the May 2011 primary election.

Shreve told the Star that this blog's reporting made his "blood boil. “It just boils my blood to have people writing about this,” Shreve said, while acknowledging that “Bloomington is a big part of my life.” "He had lived there after attending Indiana University, his business is based there, and he’s now chairman-elect of the IU Alumni Association," Murray added.  Well, Mr. Shreve, the underhanded dirty play of you and the Marion Co. GOP leadership to hand this seat to someone who hasn't been a part of that community makes my blood boil.
Shreve pleaded ignorance about his delinquent property tax bills when Murray questioned him about them; however, he later acknowledged them being delinquent, referring to it as "a real embarrassing" oversight":
The flurry of questions did uncover delinquent property taxes on all three of Shreve’s Indianapolis properties. After The Star confirmed with the treasurer’s office that he owed $3,954.77 in taxes and penalties -- all from the installment due last November -- Shreve said that was news to him.
But after a quick check with an accountant at his business, Shreve said he learned the bills hadn’t been paid, calling it “a real embarrassing” oversight.
About an hour later, he provided a new receipt showing he paid the taxes today.
Murray reports that Michael Kalscheur, the Perry Township Advisory Board member who lost to Shreve at Saturday's caucus election, plans to challenge Shreve's election questioning whether he satisfies the 2-year residency requirement. While I'm pleased the Star decided to cover the issue, I'm a little bit disappointed that the reporter's story fails to mention numerous Internet references cited by this blog referring to Shreve as a Bloomington resident, or ask him whether his health and hospital board appointment in Bloomington required his residency in Monroe County. Apparently, he says that his service on that board has subsequently ended. Fortunately, Murray's story ties in Shreve's new-found love for the local Republican Party immediately preceding his election to the council:
In the last year, Shreve’s political contributions have included $3,700 to the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee. He said he was aiming to become active in local political circles, but his interest in a council seat arose only in December, after Gov. Mike Pence announced Cardwell’s appointment to a post in his new administration.
I'm sure the money had nothing to do with it. The bottom line is that Shreve knew he was being publicly represented as a Bloomington resident for the past 19 years. If he considered Indianapolis his true residence, he wasn't doing a very good job at communicating that to others until he decided he wanted a seat on the Indianapolis council. And Republican council members had the audacity to attack and vote against a Board of Zoning Appeals appointee tonight supposedly because she hadn't lived in the city long and didn't own property. What hypocrites. Here's the video of that discussion:

Get Microsoft Silverlight If you search the state's campaign finance website for the contributions Shreve has made in the past, you will note that he never listed an Indianapolis address until 2012. When making his federal campaign contributions, he slipped up a few times, listing Bloomington as his address as recently as last year.

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