Fired City-County Council clerk disputes Clay's allegations

February 6, 2018

Fired Indianapolis City-County Council Clerk NaTrina DeBow on Tuesday afternoon defended herself and other council staffers against allegations from President Stephen Clay that employees had acted improperly, causing him to call for an audit of the office.

Earlier in the day, Clay continued the local Democratic civil war by alleging that two council employees were improperly given large raises and that certain personnel files were missing from the council office—and shredded—after Clay fired council staff members.

Clay, who is facing removal from office at next month’s council meeting by his fellow Democrats shortly after being elevated to the top position with the help of Republicans, said he discovered one former staff member was given a 24 percent pay raise and another was given an 18 percent pay raise in 2016.

DeBow, who appeared at a press conference with her lawyer, Octavia Snulligan, said she and deputy clerk SaRita Hughes were given large pay raises in 2016 because they assumed additional duties in light of attrition of other staff members.

She said the pay raises were outlined in a memo sent to the human resources department, and that she presented information about the raises before a City-County Council committee in August 2016.

Indeed, in the 2016 council meeting, DeBow said people who took on duties from an eliminated position were given raises, but she did not specify that she was one of the people to receive raises.

Additionally, DeBow said at the press conference Tuesday that she was not aware that any files were missing from the council office but that files kept in the council office are only copies of original documents maintained by the city’s human resources department.

“Anyone can contact HR and obtain any information they are seeing,” DeBow said.

As for the shredder, she said it was “often used by everyone in the office, including council members and sometimes visitors, and only gets emptied every two to three months depending on the activity.”

DeBow said she continues to believe she was fired improperly by Clay, who faces removal from the position after exercising what his critics have deemed a “coup” against former president Maggie Lewis. DeBow also said she still has not been given a reason for being fired.

DeBow was elected to the position of clerk by the council, so she said she cannot be unilaterally filed by the council president.

Snulligan said legal action could be forthcoming against Clay in order to try to get DeBow’s position back.

Clay alleged the raises doled out by former president Maggie Lewis weren't compliant with city code, in that the council wasn't properly notified.

Monica Lockard, human resources director for the city and Marion County, said "appropriate internal approval signatures" for pay increases for DeBow and Hughes were received in 2016. She said a person who no longer works for the city was responsible for external notifications, so there was no immediate way to verify if council members were notified.

"We are now working with the Information Services Agency to pull archived emails," she said in an email to IBJ. "Confirmation of the external notifications will take some time."


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