Thursday, January 11, 2018

Council Committee Chairs Show Politics of Clay Coup

The coup continues.

It’s been three days since shock and awe struck the City-County Council as Stephen Clay upset Maggie Lewis to become President of the legislative body.

Today, the Republican Party, the Council's minority party, received chair roles in three powerful City-County Council committees. Democrats LaKeisha Jackson, Joe Simpson, and Duke Oliver all received chair roles as well. They are three of the four Democrats (plus Clay) that joined Republicans to oust Lewis.

Monroe Gray, a former Council President and the Council's current Majority Leader, was that fourth Democrat to jump ship in support of Clay over Lewis. He suddenly gained a conscience today and voted against the President Clay's plan to give Republicans unprecedented power from the political minority. He was outvoted. 

Not surprisingly, he didn't get a committee chairmanship.

The Indianapolis Star published two great articles today about the ramifications of the move by Clay to join with disgruntled Democrats and ambitious Republicans to unseat the capable Lewis. In brief, the short term gain is palpable, but the long term cost may be expensive politically. Read them here and here. Kudos to James Briggs and Abdul-Hakim Shabazz for the excellent coverage.

Citizens of Indianapolis lose in this whole mess. Instead of a tuned-in Council that’s ready to deal with the problems and issues of a city, we’re now bogged down in internal caucus politics and Republican-Democrat struggles with a Council leader who apparently has many questions surrounding his past behavior. Mayor Joe Hogsett deserves a better Council structure to deal with as the city tries to make key decisions about its future.

At least it makes good blog copy.

UPDATE AND CORRECTION:
My good friend and Council Vice President, Zach Adamson, reminded me that Gray was already a committee chair and retains his chairmanship of the Municipal Corporations Committee.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Council Shocker: Clay Elected Council President

Pastor Stephen Clay
In a shocker, Pastor Stephen Clay was elected President of the Indianapolis/Marion County City-County Council tonight by a 14-11 vote.

Clay, Monroe Gray, LaKeisha Jackson, Duke Oliver and Joe Simpson joined 11 Republicans to overthrow former President Maggie Lewis. Under-fire GOP Councillor Jeff Miller as well as Councillor Brian Mowery joined the Democrats in voting to keep Lewis as President.

My sources told me, as recently as a few days ago, that Clay stood little chance of becoming Council President. He was expected to get only a handful of votes. This, to me, is a surprise along the lines of Bart Peterson losing to Greg Ballard in the 2007 Mayoral Election.

It's also not particularly good news for Indianapolis. Lewis was a tremendous Council President who drew wide praise from both sides of the aisle. I guess she's going to spend her time picking some political knives out of her back. Eh tu GOP?

Republicans, of course, have called for the resignation of Councillor Jeff Miller. Charges were filed in November against Miller accusing him of inappropriately touching two young girls. Last week, allegations of inappropriate behavior towards a young man came back to light in a detailed Indy Politics report. Clay denies the allegations, and no charges were ever filed. The Indy Star took an even deeper look at the matter in this report by James Briggs.

It should be very interesting to see a number of things...

  • the relationship between Clay and the Republican and Democratic caucuses
  • the relationship between Clay and the Mayor Joe Hogsett
  • what political machinations went on behind the scenes to win the votes 
  • what kind of Council President Clay will be
Republicans and some Democrats united to overthrow beloved Council President Rozelle Boyd a few years back with Steve Talley as President. Talley proved to be an effective leader. Monroe Gray took over as Council President until Democrats lost the majority in the 2007 election cycle.

Clay was appointed to the Council after Talley was elected Lawrence Township Trustee in 2014. He was elected to his own term on the Council in 2015 by a margin of 84.2 percent to 15.8 percent over Terri Miller-Penquite.

In other news, Zach Adamson was reelected as Vice President of the Council.