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Monday, February 12, 2018

Christine Scales Calls Out Indianapolis GOP Councilors for backing Stephen Clay


City-County Councilor Christine Scales 


Earlier today Indianapolis City-County Councilor and friend of the blog Christine Scales wrote a letter to the editor of the Indianapolis Star in which she criticized the move by Council Republicans to vote Democrat Stephen Clay in as Council President.

Here is the text of Councilor Scales Letter to the Editor:

“Politics makes strange bedfellows.”  That quote aptly describes the recent forged alliance between City-County Council Republicans and Democrat Council President Stephen Clay. The public remains puzzled by this odd coupling, even as their union appears misbegotten and doomed.

In his Jan. 12 Letter to the Editor, Republican Councillor Scott Kreider attempted to rationalize why all but one member of their caucus would vote for Clay as council president. Kreider’s reconstruction of his caucus’s mindset and events that led to Republican votes securing Clay’s presidency contradicts the reality of what transpired and why.

Clay is someone with whom Republican councillors have ideologically zero commonality. In 2012, every Republican councillor voted against Clay’s appointment to the Police Merit Board. Council meeting minutes give evidence to Republican statements about Clay’s political partisanship. Now, once numerous complaints about Clay's divisive partisanship have been replaced with Kreider’s claims of Republican’s newly found faith in Clay’s bipartisan leadership abilities.

Kreider’s laundry list of complaints against the Democrat majority included accusations of stalled or killed Republican proposals due to partisan gamesmanship. It’s a matter of public record however, that more Republican proposals move smoothly through the Council process to successful passage, than not. It was Kreider and his Republican caucus who authored Proposal #6. This controversial proposal created a new crime prevention grant funded with nearly half a million dollars. It passed 24-1. A search of other successfully passed council proposals will prove that this Indianapolis City Council enjoys greater bipartisanship than any led by the Republicans.

In his letter, Kreider also bemoaned the fractures within the Democratic caucus over Council leadership--  as if this has caused them anything other than delight. He failed to mention that behind the scenes, he and fellow Republican councillors continually fed the conflict, playing both sides, wheeling and dealing their votes in exchange for committee chairmanships. When then-Council President Maggie Lewis refused the use of council committee chairmanships as bargaining chips, the Republicans found Clay willing to do their bidding.

The slights Kreider magnifies into justification for handing Clay the council presidency pale in comparison to political shenanigans historically engaged in by the Republican Council Caucus. After the November 2011 elections, in their last months as the Republican majority and without a Council vote to approve the funds, well over $200,000 was paid to a GOP political operative to redraw the council district boundaries. In order for their 11th hour gerrymandering to work, Republican councillors and Mayor Greg Ballard also sought to eliminate the four at-large seats, all held by Democrats at that time. The Republican dominated Indiana Legislature granted their request. 

In his Letter to the Editor, Kreider apparently hoped all his reasons for finding promise in a Clay presidency might be found plausible to IndyStar readers. What he seemed to have forgotten was that I was a member of the Republican Caucus in January of 2017.  At that time, Republican Caucus Leader Mike McQuillen suggested we Republican councillors have some "fun" with the council presidency election. Instead of voting for Lewis, who enjoyed her Democrat Caucus's support at the time, McQuillen encouraged us to vote for Clay. His motivation was that Clay would be so ill equipped to serve in that role, and make so many mistakes that Clay's actions would raise the public's ire against all Democrat councillors, not just Clay. Republicans would then enjoy the public's support in votes during the next municipal election cycle to reassume the majority on Council. I, and a handful of other Republicans opposed playing partisan games with such an important matter. With the 2019 council elections looming, and without me to rain on his political parade, it appears that Minority Leader McQuillen found a caucus more receptive to carrying out his plot.

Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. The Clay coup orchestrated by McQuillen and his caucus affirms the truth of that quote. While explanations to account for the whys and wherefores of votes donated to Clay abound, Republican Caucus members only dig themselves in deeper to their deception to avoid accountability for their destructive partisan gamesmanship. We elected councillors can do better and we will -- if those among us will abandon selfish, desperate desires for greater power and work as humble servants in unity of purpose that will ensure the well being of our community. 

Christine Scales
Indianapolis City-County Councillor


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