Pharos-Tribune

Local News

March 17, 2013

Suit filed against city

Attorney: City, LMU lacked authority to seek proposals for public-private partnership.

LOGANSPORT — A Logansport citizen filed a lawsuit against the city last week for what she feels was an unauthorized execution of power in the way it is going about seeking the development of a new power plant.

Last November, Logansport Municipal Utilities issued a request for proposals, or RFP, from companies interested in entering into a public-private agreement to develop a plant powered by refuse derived fuel. In January, LMU endorsed a proposal submitted by Pyrolyzer, LLC, a renewable energy consulting firm based in Boca Raton, Fla. Logansport City Council has since voted to engage in negotiations with the company.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Jim Brugh on behalf of Julie Kitchell, a Logansport citizen and LMU ratepayer who has said she disagreed with how the city is handling the power plant project at public meetings.

The lawsuit cites a part of Indiana Code that states a city must adopt a provision pertaining to public-private agreements before entering into one. Brugh has mentioned the provision at previous city council meetings.

City council adopted the public-private agreement provision at its March 4 meeting. Brugh and Kitchell are saying it needed to be done before the RFP was submitted in November.

“When you read that law, there’s a procedure that states the city does not have the authority to engage in that public-private procedure unless they have first authorized themselves to do that,” Brugh said. “So last November, as soon as the city acted like it had the authority to issue the RFP, from the beginning, everything they’ve done has been without authority. The mayor has to follow the law.”

Kitchell agreed.

“There are rules and laws and regulations you have to follow,” Kitchell said. “They didn’t follow the law, so it should be thrown out.”

Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin was out of town when the lawsuit was filed and unable to comment. According to city officials and city-hired attorneys, the city has done nothing wrong.

John Molitor, an attorney working as special counsel for the city, dismissed Brugh’s claims.

“This is just a political stunt,” Molitor said. “[Brugh] took a technicality which was easily addressed and is trying to make a lawsuit out of it with no merit at all.”

City council’s March 4 resolution addresses Brugh’s claims of out-of-order sequencing, citing Indiana Code 36-14-16, which states, “A unit may ratify any action of the unit or its officers or employees if that action could have been approved in advance.”

“The point that [Brugh] brought up was one of sequencing,” Molitor said, referring to Brugh’s mention of the public-private provision at previous council meetings. “We didn’t ever think it was a problem, but just to be safe, we passed that resolution and put the language in there about the ratification. It ratifies all prior actions, which is perfectly legal and put in years ago by the legislature just to deal with this sort of thing. Sometimes a city council will pass things out of normal sequence. All this says is you’re allowed to do that. It’s perfectly legal.”

Paul Hartman, superintendent of LMU, agreed with Molitor.

“All throughout this entire process, we were very careful in always wanting to follow the rule of law,” Hartman said. “I’m confused as to why there is a problem with this, I really am.”

Alvaro Almuina, director of EllSo Consulting and the project manager leading the study team for the power plant project, spoke on behalf of the team.

“Our position has always been once we had a project in hand we would pass the necessary legislation to move forward to go through the negotiation stage,” Almuina said. “That’s when everything had come together and that’s when the LMU recommendation came to the council. That was the right time to pass the legislation, which we did. This action is really not going to affect our project and I just don’t see any merit in it.”

Brugh contested the claims of Molitor, Hartman and Almuina, citing the part of Indiana Code called the Home Rule Act, which he also cites in the lawsuit.

“That’s the point about municipal law from the Home Rule Act that says if there is a statute that applies to the city, the city has to strictly follow the law and the law says the empowerment has to happen first before the city can presume to exercise the power,” Brugh said.

Brugh said the city’s act of ratifying all prior actions is unjustified, and Kitchell agreed.

“They put the cart before the horse and now they’re trying to rectify that and it’s too little, too late as far as I’m concerned,” Kitchell said.

Mark Crandley of Indianapolis-based law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP, working as special counsel for the city, said he did not want to comment on the lawsuit itself until he was able to review it.

“There’s no reason to believe the city has done anything wrong,” Crandley said. “We will vigorously attest the lawsuit once we have it in hand. We will be prepared and ready to go forward.”

Logansport City Attorney Randy Head said he did not want to comment on pending litigation.

Scott Powers, general counsel for Pyrolyzer, said the lawsuit wouldn’t affect the company’s plans with the city.

“Pyrolyzer is looking forward to working with the city to develop a waste-to-energy power plant to serve the needs of the city and we’re optimistic that the litigation will be resolved in favor of the city and we intend to stay the course,” Powers said.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • NWS-PT072814 McKinley Mortar Work on Logansport senior-living facility continues The transformation of a building on Logansport’s north side that formerly accommodated children is expected to be complete this fall, when it will start catering to those on the other end of life’s timeline.Indianapolis-based Crestline Communities ha

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • History, carnival set for Delphi DELPHI — One hundred and fifty-nine years ago, the founders of Carroll County gathered together to catch up and connect, as it was one of the only ways to do so back in 1885.Referred to as the Carroll County Old Settlers’ Meeting, it still lives on t

    July 28, 2014

  • Eric Peters Veteran on cross- country mission PERU — Eric Peters is on a 2,700-mile mission.As a 23-year-old Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Peters is used to missions. But this one is personal.Thirty-five days ago, he started a cross-country trek from his home in Clark, New Jersey, that

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Purdue corn specialist: Cool weather's effect on crop could differ from 2009 WEST LAFAYETTE — The next two months will determine whether the Indiana corn crop produces high yields as expected or is significantly damaged by any unforeseen, drastic changes in weather and diseases, Purdue Extension corn specialist Bob Nielsen sa

    July 28, 2014

  • Late-season herbicide may be ineffective, scientist says WEST LAFAYETTE — For farmers seeing weeds in their crop fields this late in the growing season, hand-rouging and pulling them by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says.“The majo

    July 28, 2014

  • NWS-PT072714 - manhunt deputy - MLK Manhunt: Law enforcement capture State Hospital escapee BURROWS — An inmate who reportedly escaped from the Logansport State Hospital Thursday evening was apprehended in Carroll County late Friday morning.Jim Gavin, director of communications and media at the Indiana Family and Social Services Administrat

    July 27, 2014 4 Photos

  • Sports briefs for Sunday, July 27 Sports BriefsKizer helps Feverrally to beat StarsSAN ANTONIO (AP) — Lynetta Kizer scored 16 points and the Indiana Fever dominated the fourth quarter in rallying for a 75-68 victory over the San Antonio Stars on Saturday night.Shavonte Zellous added

    July 27, 2014

  • NWS-PT072714 Gregory Konrath mugshot Trial set for man accused of plotting murder PERU — An orthopedic surgeon at Dukes Memorial Hospital who is accused of plotting to murder his ex-wife and make it look like a suicide is set to face a jury trial.In Miami County Circuit Court Thursday, Gregory Konrath, 48, was scheduled to face tr

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cass Co. United Way to move offices Cass County’s United Way office is moving Sept. 1 to Cass City Center from its current location a block away, in the corner of the Security Federal Savings Bank building in downtown Logansport.“The United Way has appreciated the generous agreement wi

    July 27, 2014

  • NWS-PT072714 - wagoner mug [Duplicate] Former Kokomo doctor to forfeit $1.2 million KOKOMO — Former Kokomo doctor Donald Wagoner, who recently was convicted and sentenced for over-prescribing pain medication, has agreed to pay $1.2 million as settlement in a civil suit brought by the Howard County Prosecutor’s Office.Prosecutor Mark

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Should grocery and convenience stores be allowed to sell cold beer?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
eEdition