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Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

Official asks council for clarification

Monday, June 19, 2006

By JASON MOON

Assistant Editor

What Judy Whitaker just wanted was an answer on Tuesday.

At Cloverdale's Town Council meeting, Whitaker brought up the Simon Fire lawsuit the town is currently facing.

Specifically, she wanted to know what three council members were accusing her of when they filed a response asking to be dismissed from the lawsuit.

"I want to know what you're accusing me of," Whitaker asked council members Don Sublett, Dennis Padgett and Glenn Vickroy at Tuesday's meeting.

In November 2005, Sublett, Padgett and Vickroy filed the response, asking they be dismissed from the lawsuit.

The trio's response stated that Simon Fire brought a lawsuit against the town, rather than against individual members of the town council.

The response continued stating Whitaker and fellow council member John Davis made decisions and acted independently of the town council and that the three had received a letter written by Davis to Simon Fire representative Dale Bush, stating the town of Cloverdale had accepted its bid for the demo fire truck.

The response from the three council members said they were not "comfortable" with the letter, and the letter was sent without their knowledge or approval.

At Tuesday's meeting, Whitaker asked Sublett, Padgett and Vickroy what they were accusing her of in regard to the filed response in November.

"I have done nothing," Whitaker said.

After being pressed for an answer, Sublett said he believed Whitaker had acted independently of the town council in the past, pointing to her placing an advertisement in a local newspaper.

"I'm giving you that as an example," Sublett said.

Whitaker then turned to Vickroy asking the same question, but Vickroy said he had no comment on the issue.

But Padgett said he believed the lawsuit response was clear while also pointing out a letter Whitaker had sent to Greencastle Fire Dept. Chief Bill Newgent. Padgett said he believed Whitaker acted independently of the town council when she sent that letter as well.

"Mrs. Whitaker, evidently you don't know what the word independent means," he said.

"I have a copy of 'Judy letters' this thick," Sublett added.

"We've got a 'Judy box,'" Padgett said.

But Whitaker said she sent both the advertisement and letter on her own, arguing she did not send the letter as a council member.

"You make statements that you don't back up," Whitaker said.

Davis then asked town attorney Scott Hoff if there was a problem with putting an advertisement in a newspaper with only his name on it.

"In the general sense, no," Hoff said.

The original lawsuit was originally filed in Dubuque, Iowa, on Oct. 27, 2005, in regard to breach of contract after the town council had voted to accept a bid from Simon Fire Equipment and Repair, Inc., Iowa, to purchase a 2001 demo fire truck for $229,990.63, subject to favorable financing.

The lawsuit stated that on or about April 2005, the town began a bidding process to purchase one fire truck from Simon Fire. A resolution was signed by all five council members on April 12. Four of the members voted to buy a fire truck. Sublett was absent from the meeting.

On June 8, 2005, the town council conducted a special meeting and, according to the lawsuit, accepted a bid from Simon Fire to furnish a 2001 demo fire truck. At the meeting, Whitaker motioned to accept the bid, subject to favorable financing, with Sublett giving the second. The motion passed, 3-1-1, with Whitaker, Sublett and Davis voting yes. Padgett voted no while Vickroy abstained.

The town was informed by its financial advisor, Krohn and Associates, that there was favorable financing at the time, setting up a public meeting on July 19 to vote on a bond issue for financing.

However, financing of the bond issue for the fire truck was voted down, 3-2, with Padgett, Sublett and Vickroy voting no at the special session.

In January 2006, the lawsuit was dismissed in Iowa. On Jan. 20, a court ruling noted the Iowa court agreed with Cloverdale that it did not have personal jurisdiction over the town, and the town's contacts with Iowa were minimal. The court ruled the case should be tried in Indiana, as most of the parties involved and key documents were in Indiana.

Simon Fire recently filed the lawsuit in Indiana for breach of contract.

Meanwhile, Davis expressed concern Tuesday about a letter signed by Sublett to State Revolving Fund Section Office of Water Quality Chief Mary Lou Renshaw.

Davis' main concern was the letter did not have the correct letterhead on it and that Sublett may have acted independently of the council by sending it.

Sublett, however, said the letter was written by Krohn and Associates representative James Treat, and that he only signed the letter.

"First off, I was asked to sign the letter, not write the letter," Sublett said. "I don't recall this letter. I really don't."

Whitaker then asked Sublett if he considered sending the letter as acting independently of the town council.

"No, I don't," Sublett said.

The letter was an amendment to the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) dated December 2001. It stated the town was seeking to close on a loan on June 30, 2006, for the Phase II portion of the collection system and wastewater treatment plant improvements project.

The SRF letter's letterhead indicated it was from the Town of Cloverdale and included the town hall address.

However, letterhead from the Cloverdale Town Council also includes the board members' names and name of clerk/treasurer Patti Truax as well as the town hall phone number.

Davis then asked Sublett if he believed he had spoken for the council when he signed the letter.

"Yes," Sublett said.



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