Below is taken directly from the minutes of Bicknell’s City Council meetings dated 10/20/14.
What we are looking at and reading is an illegal act perpetrated by the Bicknell City Council members and the Bicknell City Attorney to pass an ordinance to assure that the county will be able to institute a new tax on the people.
There are State rules for passing an ordinance first being that once passed or rejected it cannot be a revote again until the proper advertising and time requirements have been met; this is to assure that a government elected employee or group of employees cannot vote over and over at a single meeting until they can get the dissenting members to vote their way.
How the vote came down, how they voted and how they twisted the wording to pass an ordinance that had obviously failed to pass as they wanted.
“Gugliotta made a motion to vote on Ordinance 10-5-2014. The Mayor said he needs a second.
Byrer seconded the motion to vote.
There were 3 ayes and 1 nay.
The Mayor asked if it had to be unanimous.”
There is no doubt that the mayor believed that the ordinance did not pass.
“Edwards said to pass it on the first reading it has to be unanimous.
There is no doubt that the City attorney believed that the ordinance did not pass.
“Gugliotta asked if they need to have two more readings in ten days.”
There is no doubt that Councilman Gugliotta believed that the ordinance did not pass.
It is certain that the council believed that they were voting on ordinance 10-5-2014 according to their own words recorded above and it is obvious that the City Attorney also believed that the vote was to either pass or not pass ordinance 10-5-2014 according to his own words. Why an attorney would jeopardize his law license over something so obviously illegal really puzzles me. My guess is that he just got caught up in the moment.
Now, below Edwards flipped his belief of the vote once it became obvious that the ordinance had not passed and many of the council members were trying to find a way to circumvent the law to correct a vote that had not gone their way.
“Edwards said that was his misunderstanding because he thought Allen voted against and the others voted for so they haven’t actually had the vote.”
“Stremming said his motion was to vote on the ordinance. Edwards said okay then that motion passes.”
“Stremming said they have to pass this tonight because the deadline is the 24th.”
Councilman Stremming according to his statement is surely aware that the single ‘no’ vote pushed them past the coming deadline on the tax if they went for another legal reading.
“Chattin said if they received the notice on the 24th of September they have until October 24th because that is 30 days from the point that they received the notice from the County Auditor’s office.
Stremming said he thinks they need to vote on it tonight period and then it is a done deal.
Stremming asked Chattin if they had to vote on it three times.
Chattin said they did and that they had two meetings with three readings in two meetings.
Stremming said if they vote on it tonight they would have to have another reading.
Stremming then said they voted to have the draft done at the public hearing.
Byrer asked if this was the second reading then. Edwards ‘so no’ and that this is the first reading.
Byrer asked Edwards what they needed to do.
Edwards said it did not pass unanimously on the first reading so they are going to have to meet again and if the majority of the Council wants to pass it there is not a way to meet again to do that.
Chattin said they may have a few more pass the 24th assuming that they got the notice on the 24th but it could have come a few days later.
McGlone said they would also have to advertise for this again and that is ten days.”
It is obvious that they didn’t believe that they had enough time to bring the ordinance up for another vote according to State regulations so were looking for a way to get around the law.
Edwards said it did not pass unanimously on the first reading so they are going to have to meet again and if the majority of the Council wants to pass it there is not a way to meet again to do that.”
In my opinion it is clear from his statement above that the City Attorney believed that the ordinance (10-5-2014) had not received enough votes to pass on the first reading as did all of the council members and the mayor.
Now begins the law breaking commitment!
Stremming said he understood Gugliotta’s motion as a motion to vote on it.
Gugliotta said that was his intention but he guesses he should have said and Stremming spoke in and said that is what his motion sounded like.”
The State is clear that it is illegal to twist the intent of a vote to assure its outcome.
“Edwards said the first thing they need to do is vote.”
The City Attorney appears to be pushing for an illegal re-vote, a clear violation of State law. As a representative of the courts he should stay out of city and county politics and follow the laws of Indiana. I am not sure why the council wanted to pass this tax bad enough to go illegal to get it done but the council and city attorney is not above the law. I believe that even if they could not get it done this year I’m quite confident that the county will come back for the raise in taxes next year.
“Byrer said well didn’t we do that.” (Vote on ordinance 10-5-2014)
It is certain that Councilman Byrer understands that his ‘yes’ vote was for the ordinance not a vote to vote. Byrer seems to be trying to follow the law but soon gives in to pressure.
“Gugliotta said no and that his motion was to vote he didn’t say to adopt the ordinance.”
(Here is Councilman Gugliotta’s first motion (Gugliotta made a motion to vote on Ordinance 10-5-2014.))
Councilman Gugliotta clearly motioned to vote on Ordinance 10-5-2014 and did not motion to vote on ‘to vote’ for the ordinance.
Now the law breaking is completed by the city attorney.
“Edwards said let’s see if it passes unanimously or not and then said someone needs to make a motion.”
“Gugliotta made a motion to adopt”
Councilman Gugliotta now chose to disregard his first motion to vote on the ordinance because the vote failed.
“and Allen interrupted and said she is just worried about the tax payer’s here and she knows that she is not going to be here next year so it doesn’t matter to her because they won’t be mad at her.”
Councilwoman Allen still sort of wanted to please the voters has been convinced that she should vote yes because she was not going to run for office again so it didn’t matter if the voters liked it or not.
“Edwards jokily said the people at the County might.”
City Attorney Edwards apparently understood that the councilwoman had mistakenly believed that the people would not like what she did because the ordinance involved the entire county and not just the City of Bicknell.
I do not know everything about this ordinance but according to the Bicknell City Council minutes it appears that in part it will provide funds to give the city employees a pay raise; this I am not concerned with as I’m sure many city employees probably need a raise but what does concern me is that Councilman Terry Stremming is a police officer which makes him a city employee, I cannot see how the State of Indiana can allow a city employee to also be an elected official who can pressure the council to vote a raise to himself and to his department. I did bring this up when Councilman Stremming was running for office but nothing came from it and I believed that Councilman Stremming more of less guaranteed that in such matters he would abstain and not get involved thereby allowing the other council members to freely cast their votes. As is apparent from the council minutes above that he was totally involved, I do not think that State Law was broken by him for not holding his vote or involvement but his word was broken. I believe that the State must change the law so that employees cannot set at a council meeting and pass their own raises and benefits…..
I tried to get the State to pass an ordinance that would make it impossible for a city employee to run for city office but it got little traction in Indianapolis. In Bicknell we have a Bicknell Police officer on the council and Board of Works but it could be any employee. In our case he pressures the council to vote according to whatever will benefit the police department or police interest; for example the ball field conflict caused because the nonprofit organization who was running the ball parks scheduling and upkeep and paid the light bills had a policy that there was a fee for electricity for night ball games to help cover the cost of electricity, the police notified them that they wanted to have night games but baulked at paying the fee so the police decided to get rid of the nonprofit group and put it under the care of the city so they could play for nothing. The police including the police council member pressured the council until they voted to take the operation away from the nonprofit and basically turn the ball field over to the police. Now the police officer council member pushed to pass this illegal ordinance which in fact will raise his pay; on the council he is the only one that voted to affect his own pay. I can see no way that this situation can be good for the operation of our town.
Now I have looked back at several years of council motions and at no time was there ever a vote to vote prior to the actual vote. I have listed several below to show the council’s normal motion process.
McGlone asked if they motioned to recess. The Mayor said he was just getting ready to ask. Byrer made a motion to take a one hour recess. Gugliotta seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously. (They did not vote to vote prior to voting for a recess.)
Sandefer made a motion that they leave things like they are now and keep the alley way open and not change anything and leave it alone. The Mayor said the motion has been made to leave everything like it is. Byrer seconded the motion. The motion carried. . (They did not vote to vote prior to voting to leave the ting alone.)
August 11, 2014 and it is 8:00 p.m. and they are at the Bicknell City Council Chambers and the meeting was advertised and complies with Indiana Code IC 5-3-1 and the meeting was advertised in the Vincennes Sun-Commercial on July 31, 2014. (They obviously know the rules.)
Byrer made a motion that they commit up to $40,000 out of the general fund towards this dilapidated houses program. Edwards said September is when they will find out if they get it or not so this project is going to straddle two fiscal years so it would necessarily even be $40,000 out of one budget year. Stremming seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously. . (They did not vote to vote prior to voting for a commit.)
Stremming made a motion to appropriate the $11,000 from the riverboat fund for the demolishing of the Cities burned building on Main Street that will be refunded back from the insurance company. The Mayor said he needs a second. Allen seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously. . (They did not vote to vote prior to voting an appropriate.)
Byrer made a motion to adjourn. Stremming seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously. . (They did not vote to vote prior to voting for an adjournment.)
Compare the vote in question:
Gugliotta made a motion to vote on Ordinance 10-5-2014. The Mayor said he needs a second. Byrer seconded the motion to vote. There were 3 ayes and 1 nay. Allowing a lawyer to twist the intent of the council’s vote cannot be allowed; the council obviously intended to be voting on the ordinance not the vote.
John R. Stanczak
Who’s who above.
Mayor Jon Flickinger
Councilman Stremming (a police officer for the city of Bicknell)
McGlone Clerk Treasurer
City attorney Edwards
MR. Chattin I am not sure but I believe he represented the tax increase possibly from the county.