Carmel City Council feud with clerk-treasurer continues

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The relationship between Carmel City Council and Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley appears to have hit another bump in the road.

The City Council approved two ordinances Monday night that Pauley sees as political moves against her.

One ordinance allows the president of the council to determine—outside of the public seating area—where anyone sits during the meeting and removes the clerk-treasurer’s dedicated speaking spot on the agenda.

The language was amended from the initial version, which would have allowed the council president to decide who is allowed to sit at the dias with the rest of the council. Pauley and a member of her staff regularly sit at the dais with the council now.

The other non-public areas include two tables at the front of the room—one where Mayor Jim Brainard usually sits and one for members of the media.

Council member and former council president Ron Carter requested the amendment to the ordinance late last week.

“He got wind, I’m sure, of me saying, ‘I’ll just sit next to the mayor,’” Pauley said. “But I don’t care.”

The council has maintained that the ordinance is not a political tactic, but is for streamlining meetings and cleaning up city code now that Carmel is a second-class city, which typically don't have positions such as clerk-treasurer. Pauley’s elected position will be eliminated when her term is complete at the beginning of 2020.

"Having the clerk-treasurer present on the dais is a remnant from when we were a much smaller, differently managed city," council president Sue Finkam said. 

Finkam sent an email after Monday's meeting to city attorney Doug Haney, Deputy Cleark-Treasurer Jacob Quinn and Pauley explaining her decision to only allow council members to sit at the dais. She said for the short-term, Quinn can remain where he usually sits.

The council is in the process of redesigning the dais and chambers, and Finkam said they plan to continue to have a space for Quinn in the new arrangement.

As for the other tables in the room, Finkam said she has not made any decisions yet.

"I want to see how much room we have left after we redesign the space to see how many tables we'll be able to fit," Finkam said in the email. "If you are interested in sitting at a designated spot at a table, please let me know and I'll take that under advisement."

The council also approved an ordinance creating a five-member audit committee to help oversee the city’s audits.

Pauley said she signs off on city audits in role as clerk-treasurer, so she’s unsure how substantial this committee will be.

“This is all for show,” Pauley said.

The feud between Pauley and the council started in the fall when the council considered ordinances that would have given Brainard a 40 percent salary increase, council members a 28 percent pay hike and city judge Brian Poindexter a 20 percent salary boost.

Pauley’s salary would have only increased by 2 percent, and she claimed she was being discriminated against and accused the council of harassment.

After the accusations, the council approved a 2 percent raise for Brainard, Poindexter and Pauley, but the fiscal body did give itself a 15 percent pay increase.

At Monday’s meeting, the ordinances were approved 6-0-1, with newly appointed council member Tony Green abstaining.

It was the first council meeting for Green, who is filling the seat vacated by Carol Schleif.

Schleif announced her resignation Dec. 5.

“Due to some important personal issues, my husband and I will need to move back to the West Coast to be near family, so this will be my last council meeting,” Schleif said at the council’s Dec. 5 meeting. “You know that my heart is here even though I have gone on.”

On Saturday, the Hamilton County Republican Party appointed Green, a state judge advocate for the Indiana National Guard and chief legal and compliance officer for the Indiana Public Retirement System, to replace Schleif. He has lived in Carmel since 2004.

Green will serve the remaining three years of Schleif’s term.

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