Gary Deputy Mayor Trent McCain

Gary city council intends legal action against mayoral appointment of McCain

Contributed By:The 411 News

Already in court over Community Benefits Agreement

Gary’s city council has refused to approve the mayor’s appointment of his chief of staff Trent McCain to City of Gary Deputy Mayor. Mayor Prince responded, issuing a letter to the council and executive staff that he was using his statutory authority to make the change.

The Gary Common Council calls it “a disregard of process.”

Mayor Jerome Prince says the “council is trying to obstruct my authority.” And he went even further, saying the council is living in the past. “The 2019 Election is long over. It's time to set aside petty political ambitions.”

Whether the mayor can add the new position, bringing with it an $80,000 salary, is the issue.

Now the council intends to take the mayor to court. Both are citing Indiana Code as supporting arguments. Mayor Prince said he is using statutory power to place McCain in the position and compensate him.

During a special meeting on Wednesday, the council unanimously voted in favor to file a lawsuit against the mayor.

The council’s press release said, “The council will not allow the mayor to disregard the statutory process required for funding positions that it has intentionally zeroed out. We cannot allow a budget to be passed, which is our statutory authority, only to be changed solely by the mayor with no council approval.”

The current city budget includes the chief of staff position in the mayor’s office, but the salary is listed as zero. The council says moving McCain into the position and his salary is “Illegal misappropriation of public funds without council approval [that] threatens the integrity of checks and balances in local government.”

Since the new year, the council has approved 2 personnel changes in the executive office. Mayor Prince requested a salary increase for Arlene Colvin, Director of Community Development. Rodney Pol, a city attorney was promoted to corporation counsel and assumed that office’s budgeted salary.

The Gary council and mayor’s office are already waiting a court decision on the ordinance for a Community Benefits Agreement. Mayor Prince filed a lawsuit in October 2020 after the council approved the measure.

The lawsuit will determine the authority of the mayor and whether the CBA ordinance is valid. Darnail Lyles, the mayor’s attorney said the ordinance is taking powers away from the mayor and giving them to the council.

Story Posted:03/27/2021

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