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January 8, 2013

McLaughlin picked as New Albany council president

Blair, Gonder chosen for Horseshoe Board amid disagreement over bylaws

NEW ALBANY — Pat McLaughlin was elected New Albany City Council president for 2013 by his fellow members Monday.

McLaughlin — a two-term councilman representing District 4 — was nominated by Councilman Dan Coffey. Last year’s Council President Diane McCartin-Benedetti was the only other nominee, as she was nominated by Councilman Bob Caesar.

Caesar and Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede voted in favor of Benedetti, who wasn’t present for the meeting. McLaughlin voted for himself along with Councilmen John Gonder, Scott Blair, Greg Phipps and Coffey.

Councilwoman Shirley Baird didn’t cast a vote for either candidate.

Councilman John Gonder was elected vice president, as he was the lone nominee for the position.

After sliding into the president’s seat, McLaughlin thanked Benedetti and Zurschmiede “for their servitude and duties for the past year.”

Later in the meeting, McLaughlin announced most of his appointments for various boards and committees. Most of the selections were declared without much discussion, however McLaughlin’s appointments to the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County Board did lead to some lively statements.

McLaughlin initially said he wanted to delay announcing his two appointments to the board, which oversees disbursements of casino funds for various projects, some of which are worth millions of dollars, until he could verify whether they would be allowed.

Coffey said Horseshoe Foundation Executive Director Jerry Finn had stated the council appointments must consist of one Republican and one Democrat. Zurschmiede is the only Republican on the council, and last year he along with Benedetti served on the board.

But Coffey said Finn’s assertion was “purely political” and wouldn’t withstand legal scrutiny.

“I can’t believe [Finn] made that statement,” Coffey said. “He can’t go to court with that.”

Finn wasn’t present during the meeting.

Blair, who was elected as an independent, and Gonder were later announced by McLaughlin as his appointments. Before the decision was made public, Blair said McLaughlin should proceed with his own choices regardless of what the Horseshoe’s bylaws may state.

“Let it play out if that’s what they want to do,” Blair said.

The Horseshoe board also includes Floyd County elected officials and Mayor Jeff Gahan.

In other appointments, McLaughlin selected Gonder and Coffey to serve on the New Albany Redevelopment Commission, Baird to remain on the Develop New Albany Board and Zurschmiede to the New Albany Building Commission.

The only ordinance weighed by the council was the final reading on a measure establishing certain regulations and authorities for the Floyd County Health Department as they pertain to public pools.

The ordinance received a split 4-4 vote on first and second readings, but was approved unanimously Monday after it was amended to conform with state law.

Among its features, the ordinance allows the health department to shut down pools for a period of time due to contamination issues.

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