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September 6, 2013

Kitchell, city argue suit before state court

Decision date yet to be determined

INDIANAPOLIS — Oral arguments for a lawsuit filed by a Logansport citizen against city officials took place at the Indiana Supreme Court Thursday.

The suit was first filed in Cass County Superior Court II in March by Julie Kitchell against Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin and City Council. It claims legislation authorizing the city to negotiate with power plant developer Pyrolyzer LLC is invalid because it was adopted out of order in a sequence defined by state statutes.

The suit alleges an ordinance authorizing the city to engage in the public-private agreement process with Pyrolyzer is invalid because it was adopted after issuing a request for proposals regarding the project.

In the suit, Kitchell's attorney, Jim Brugh, cites the Indiana Code's Home Rule Act, part of which states, “If there is a constitutional or statutory provision requiring a specific manner for exercising a power, a unit wanting to exercise the power must do so in that manner.” He applies this law to the public-private agreement provision, concluding that the city had to first adopt the provision before issuing the request for proposals.

Justice Steven David queried Brugh on this matter.

"Do you agree the cart before the horse issue would be much stronger had the city actually entered into a definitive contract rather than something less than that?" he asked.

The city adopted the ordinance after the request for proposals was issued and after Pyrolyzer was chosen, but negotiations with the company are expected to continue through October.

Brugh said because the city is now dealing exclusively with Pyrolyzer to establish a public-private agreement, Kitchell "thinks that she is riding on the horse and the cart is behind her."

Mark Crandley is representing Franklin in the case and John Molitor is representing the council.

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