NEW ALBANY — The New Albany City Council ratified its appointments to the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County Board Thursday in the midst of a disagreement rooted in political affiliation.
Earlier this month, Council President Pat McLaughlin appointed Democratic Councilman John Gonder and independent Scott Blair to the Horseshoe board, which oversees casino-funded appropriations for various projects.
However in a letter dated Jan. 8, the president of the Horseshoe board and Floyd County Commissioner Mark Seabrook informed McLaughlin that Blair’s appointment would not be recognized.
Seabrook cited the board’s bylaws that the city council must appoint one member from each major political party, and the letter states “(e.g., Republican, Democrat).”
As a Democrat, Gonder meets the requirement of being from one of the two major political parties, but Blair does not, Seabrook stated in the letter.
“The other seat on our board will remain vacant until the council sees fit to appoint a Republican representative as required,” Seabrook said in the letter.
However in a statement provided to the News and Tribune on Jan. 11, Seabrook said the board didn’t ratify any new members including Gonder when it met on Jan. 10.
Instead, the prior members were allowed to vote on official business. Along with two city council members, the Horseshoe board is comprised of the New Albany mayor, a Floyd County commissioner, the general manager of the Horseshoe Casino of Southern Indiana and two of their designees.
The city council has only one Republican member in Kevin Zurschmiede. He and Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti were the council appointments to the Horseshoe board last year.
Councilman Dan Coffey called for a resolution to ratify McLaughlin’s choices to the board Tuesday, and the measure passed 5-2.
Coffey said “I was absolutely astounded” when he read Seabrook’s letter stating that McLaughlin should make another appointment because Blair would not be recognized by the board.