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Friday, August 16, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Phantom attorney behind Elkhart sewer ordinance may scuttle issue"

Dan Spalding of the Elkhart Truth had this interesting August 15th report - some quotes from the long story:

ELKHART — Days after Republican city council members passed their own compact sewer ordinance with the help of an outside attorney, Mayor Dick Moore is seeking information about how that ordinance was drafted.

Republican councilman David Henke’s ordinance was prepared with the help of an outside attorney after the city’s chief legal counsel refused to assist.

Henke has declined to identify the attorney, who he said did the work free of charge.

On Monday, Aug. 15, city attorney Vlado Vranjes filed a public records request on behalf of Moore.

Henke contends the administration wants to know the attorney’s name, but Vranjes is seeking all details related to work involving preparation of the ordinance.

The request was sent to Mary Jo Weyrick, the administrative assistant to the city council. She responded with a memo to Vranjes explaining that she had no records related to the ordinance and Vranjes replied saying it was directed to Henke.

Henke claims there was virtually no paperwork involved.

Moore and Vranjes contend Henke’s ordinance may not stand up in court if it become city policy.

Vranjes said in an email to The Elkhart Truth that he wants to discuss details of the ordinance with the attorney.

“I am willing ... to entertain discussion on the legal viability of the proposed ordinance with the attorney that drafted this Ordinance, but Councilman Henke is preventing any type of discussion with the attorney that drafted it,” Vranjes said.

“Councilman Henke is unable to answer questions about the legal foundation and reasoning of this Ordinance. This is important because if this Ordinance takes effect, the city taxpayers will have to pay the legal expenses for a court to ultimately decide the validity of this Ordinance.”

Vranjes added, “Until he can produce sufficient legal justification supporting (the ordinance), the administration will rely on the legal opinion that I have provided to the Mayor.

Henke, though, said he doesn’t see any reason to turn the name over and hinted that Moore wants the name for vindictive reasons.

“There’s no point to it in process, but he does want to know who to blame,” Henke said. “There’s no reason that that name matters. It’s a well-written ordinance. It was done by a professional, municipal attorney from the state of Indiana and that’s all we need to know.”

Henke said he doesn’t have permission from the attorney to reveal the name and that he had limited communications with the attorney for a reason.

“I had no direct contact,” Henke said. “We were smart enough to know Dick is a very vengeful person.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 16, 2013 10:41 AM
Posted to Indiana Government