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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Council denies access to public records

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A typically calm meeting turned hostile Tuesday evening as citizens clashed with Roachdale Town Council members about accessing public information and the spending of taxpayer dollars.

At contention was salary ordinance 2008-1, a measure quietly passed without description, at the beginning of the council meeting. The ordinance gave a pay raise to certain town employees, but is not an across-the-board cost of living increase.

When Roachdale citizen Dennis Gentry asked for clarification on the raises, he met strong resistance from Town Council President William Long and council member Jack Jones, despite the fact that the salaries of public officials are a matter of public record.

"I know it's public information," Long replied, "but do I ask what you make?"

"It's my business because I'm a taxpayer," Gentry said. "If you want to give a 3 percent cost of living increase I'm OK with that. If you want to single out one or two people, then I do have a problem with that."

According to open record laws, public information must be provided to anyone who requests it. That person does not have to give their identity or answer any questions about why they are seeking that information.

Board members told Gentry that they would not release any information without consulting the town's attorney, who was not present at the meeting. When further pressed on the issue, tempers flared. Jones rose from his seat and threatened to have Gentry physically removed from Roachdale's Town Hall by the police.

Gentry caused further controversy when he requested that the board push back its public meeting time by one hour, which is currently set for 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.

The request, which has been made at other Roachdale meetings, is geared at bolstering public turn-out for meetings and ensuring that the third member of the town council, Barbara Scott, could attend meetings as she commutes a long distance to work. Scott was not present at the meeting.

However, board members reminded those in attendance Tuesday that passing any measure only requires two board members to vote in favor.

In rebuttal, Gentry suggested that Long and Jones could effectively run a two-man operation in Scott's absence.

The absence of town attorney, Tom Casey, also prevented the board from answering any questions regarding former Roachdale Clerk-Treasurer Jennifer (Archer) Crum.

A recent state audit showed that Crumb cost the town $49,337.40 in late fees, interest and other charges the town incurred from 2005-07, while Archer was in charge of Roachdale finances. The matter is currently under investigation by the Indiana State Police.

After confirming that the town was only insured for a loss of $20,000, Long said that prior to the Crum incident, they thought the town had been adequately prepared for this type of funding emergency.

When asked how the council planned to fill up the hole Crum left in the town's coffers, Jones replied: "That's a very good question."

In other business:

* The board accepted a bid for the removal of several dead or dying trees on town property. Trees to be removed are located at 105 E. Railroad St. and 208 and 206 E. Washington St. Total cost was estimated at $1,200.

* The board accepted a report submitted by accountant Pat Callahan stating gas bills for Roachdale residents have increase by 2 percent from November through January, but that the overall rate is still down 19 percent from the same time in 2006.

* The board stated that they are still considering raising the price of a building permit from $1, arguing that the price is out of step with other local communities whose permit policies are far stricter and more expensive than Roachdale. The board also stated that a water bill increase is inevitable in 2008.

* The board accepted a bid from Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering to serve as inspectors for a $1 million road improvement project currently slated for 2009.

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The Town of Roachdale's finances are a mess and now the Board will not release information that is a matter of public record without consulting with their attorney, why? It is the law.

I find it very sad that a town board member would want to remove a patron who asks for information that is a matter of public record. It sounds like the board is hiding some information.

why are the board meetings at 6:00 p.m. Anyone who works out of town can't make it to the meeting. Perhaps the board wants it that way so they can be sneaky and past this ordiance or that ordiance.

why wasn't the town's attorney present? In light of the fact that the former town clerk owes the town $49,000 and the infomation was published in the paper last week -- the attorney should have been present.

I feel it is time for the residents of Roachdale to ban together and attend all the meetings. When the next election rolls around I'll bet we'll see people running against the current town clowns aka the town board.

Why was the town only insured for a loss of $20,000? Where will the rest of the $29,000 come from. Let's divide it four ways...each board member and Crum can pay 1/4.

-- Posted by everyonediesfamousinasmalltown on Wed, Dec 12, 2007, at 4:50 AM

Wow, Cloverdale's antics are rubbing off into other towns!

-- Posted by Xgamer on Wed, Dec 12, 2007, at 6:33 AM

for the last 3-4 months some of us have been going to these meetings & it has been an amazing experience. watching the abuse of the American way !!!! all 3 of these board members are out of control drunk with power ...yuck.there are things , like abandoned property(10 years+) utility prices for elderly ... just so many things they will not see to. They even passed new ordinences 2 months ago & only did it correctly when I sought advise from a lawyer( also about being called names by Bill Long)

-- Posted by tlwalways beenhere on Wed, Dec 12, 2007, at 7:00 AM

I have been attending meetings also & these board members are out of control!!! We must stand up to them & insist they do right. they as board members must take some of the blame for the recent money problems.

-- Posted by tlwalways beenhere on Wed, Dec 12, 2007, at 7:06 AM

Sounds like to me that the board is hiding something!!!! I used to live there but moved to Indy. That information is public and the best thing to do is call the attorney general and have that office look into the board members wages. Chances are they are getting more than they deserve. Sounds like you need to get these people out of office anyway.


-- Posted by GITURDONE on Wed, Dec 12, 2007, at 2:57 PM

AND YES,,, your right!!!! Cloverdale is rubbing off on everyone else in the county


-- Posted by GITURDONE on Wed, Dec 12, 2007, at 2:59 PM

Hey people where have you been this is happening all over the country. You elect these people to office and then dump more work on them than is possible for a person to do and then you dont even attend a board meeting until something goes wrong and then you bring your big loud mouth big shot attitudes with you. You have no idea the amount of work and time that taxes on employees and business taxes and the billings, collecting of monies and all duties and responsibilities of such a job until you are the one under pressure to get it done . I held a position for several years similar to CRUM ( PROPER SPELLING) with several helpers which if you check with most towns your size they dont dump all the load on one individual and every payment is put before the board before it is made and more than one signature is required on the checks. Most bonds are much more than $20,000 for this type of position. Your community should feel responsible for not attending meetings and you should all be ashamed for the misery I am sure Ms. Crum is induring. Everyone makes mistakes sometime during there life and have you heard of the word of FORGIVENESS and shutting up after the fact and going on with business instead of fighting. I am sure Ms. Crum has suffered enough in your small town without your big mouths and had no intentions of messing up anything for her own town.WAKE UP PEOPLE TO TODAY'S WORLD!!!!

-- Posted by citizenpc on Thu, Dec 13, 2007, at 8:52 PM

Although citizenpc may have a point in their somewhere, this particular topic was about denying public information.

"I know it's public information," Long replied, "but do I ask what you make?"

That is outrageous quote, we ARE allowed to ask this question and ARE entitled to an answer.

Yes, citizenpc, we all need to watch our tax dollars because there are too many people with conflicting ideas how to spend them.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Fri, Dec 14, 2007, at 5:27 AM

Come to Cloverdale and you can learn all about how certain public officials take denial of access to public records to a new height. We have been dealing with this for the past few years. Fortunately some of this is being corrected as we speak. Stand your ground. I won't be an easy fight but in the end it is worth the effort you invest. I do sympathize with you on your quest. Start working with the state public access counselor, they are a great resource.

-- Posted by CdaleResident on Fri, Dec 14, 2007, at 8:29 AM

To the xgamer I see why you are outraged over the board answer I was addressing the concern over the former clerk. Also to THE BUCK STOP NO WHERE, you may want to read the above article as a theft was not made it was over taxes and penalties that occured during the former clerks time. Maybe you should settle down and read and find out before you make such accusations. Only theft I can see is coming from our own government on all these penalities. Think about that or you sound like you could be one of those state or government employees that thinks they are God in such a position.

-- Posted by citizenpc on Sun, Dec 16, 2007, at 3:39 AM

What is the town councils salary ?

-- Posted by fourhorses on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 4:24 AM

Each board member is paid $200 a month for a total of $2,400 a year.

-- Posted by everyonediesfamousinasmalltown on Wed, Dec 19, 2007, at 4:39 AM

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