News and Tribune

January 6, 2013

McLaughlin a candidate as next New Albany council president

Ethics commission could meet this month for first time

By CHRIS MORRIS
chris.morris@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany City Council will elect officers for 2013 during its first meeting of the year Monday.

Chief among the selections will be the choice for council president — a role currently held by two-term Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti. A name that has been circulated as a potential choice for the new president is Councilman Pat McLaughlin, who is also serving his second term on the body. He said Friday he’d be honored if selected by his fellow council members for the position, but added he expects there to be other nominations.

“I just feel like at some point in time you have to step up and have your time in the seat,” McLaughlin said.

Though he conceded it may seem like one of the most elementary duties of the position, McLaughlin said that if chosen for the presidency, he would seek to run the meetings in an orderly and professional fashion.

He added he would try “to look at having a more unifying effect with the council and the administration, within reason.”

A message left for Benedetti on Friday seeking comment for the story hadn’t been returned as of press time.

On the current body, council members Dan Coffey, John Gonder and Benedetti have served as president. The current vice-president is Kevin Zurschmiede.

Jeff Gahan served as council president in 2011 before being elected as New Albany mayor.

The council president assigns members to committees and also approves the agenda before it’s presented at official meetings.

Beyond electing officers for 2013 and setting committees, the only resolution or ordinance on the agenda for Monday is the final reading for a pool regulations measure. The Floyd County Health Department requested the council grant the organization certain authorities as they pertain to the inspection and potential suspension of pool permits.

The ordinance also calls for all public facilities that have swimming pools to retain a certified pool operator. The council split 4-4 on first and second readings of the measure last month.



Ethics commission could meet this month

Councilman John Gonder said the fifth appointment to the New Albany Ethics Commission was made a few days before Christmas, and the body could convene as early as this month to begin forming its bylaws. The commission was established by the council in August, and is charged with reviewing complaints regarding city government proceedings.

The five appointments to the board were made by area business and community leaders who were authorized by the council through the legislation to make the selections.

After the body convenes, they have 60 days to form their bylaws.

“They should meet quite a few times I’d think during that first two-month period, then it would be on an as-needed basis,” Gonder said.

The commission likely will receive a complaint from local business owner Randy Smith over the firing of former New Albany Urban Enterprise Zone Association Executive Director Mike Ladd. The UEZ board voted to fire Ladd in March, and Smith has accused New Albany Economic Development Director David Duggins of acting unethically in a list of 10 allegations he submitted to the News and Tribune in September.

Duggins made the request to the UEZ board to fire Ladd, and stated at the time the former executive director had paid bills without the board’s approval.

Among the allegations, Smith accused Duggins of “false and defamatory” statements against Ladd.

In a statement to the News and Tribune in October, Duggins stated “I am thankful that we have an ethics commission to handle issues such as these, and I look forward [to] meeting with them if they deem it necessary.”

Smith has stated he will proceed with filing the complaint once the ethics commission is seated.

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So you know

• The council meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the third-floor Assembly Room of the City-County Building.