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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 CHARLESTOWN, Ind. – Thursday, December 12th 2019 –  Yesterday, Mayor-Elect Treva Hodges responded to the petition for election contest filed by Bob Hall. Hall’s petition asks the court to throw out the election results of November 5th and for the court to order a special election. His petition was based upon allegations that the election results could not be trusted. Because this is such an extreme remedy, Indiana law requires strict adherence to the statutory requirements for an election contest. Due to the deficiencies in Hall’s petition, Mayor-Elect Hodges has asked the court to dismiss the election contest and proceed with the recount, which Hall also requested.

“I have no objection to Mr. Hall’s request to conduct a recount in our election, which is a right provided to any candidate for public office in the State of Indiana,” Hodges stated. “I am confident that the recount will confirm the ultimate will of the voters from Election Day and I am prepared to take office on January 1.”

“In contrast,” she added, “the election contest petition has no factual basis or merit.  It relies on gossip and innuendo.  We are fortunate that this election was conducted in a fair, accurate, and professional manner, and nothing in the election contest petition calls that into question.  After consulting with legal counsel and with a firm belief that nothing untoward occurred on Election Day, we have determined that we will hold Mr. Hall to the standards created by Indiana law, and request that the contest be dismissed due to his failure to meet those standards.”

Please find attached the filings as well as a memorandum.

Motion to Dismiss

Memorandum

Exhibit A  | Exhibit B  |  Exhibit C

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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With two council meetings remaining in 2019 before a new council and a new mayor are seated, Mayor Bob Hall and the current city council are introducing an ordinance to create a Sanitary Sewer Board without any input from the Mayor-Elect. While the Mayor will sit on this new board, the council will have full control of the future of Charlestown’s Sewer Utility by giving themselves the power to appoint the other two board members. This is the same council that voted yes to selling Charlestown’s water utility to a private company after circumventing the citizens’ petition for a vote on the sale. The ramifications of this action to the ratepayers of Charlestown are huge. Here is what is at stake for current sewer ratepayers:

  • Sewer rates would be controlled by a City Council appointed engineer and another City Council appointee.* (This means that the council can, if they desire, appoint Bob Hall to this new board for a three-year term.) EDIT: I have spoken to council member Brian Hester who is sponsoring this ordinance and he assured me that, although technically allowed, the intention is not to appoint outgoing mayor Bob Hall to this board.
  • The ordinance allows the appointees to be paid $1,000 a month for attending board meetings. Currently, Board of Public Works members who oversee the sewer system are unpaid.
  • The ratepayers will also foot the bill for additional engineers and attorneys hired by the new Board. This alone could cost ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
  • This action has the potential to set up a sale of the utility to a private company, mirroring what was done with the water utility.

The vote is scheduled to take place Monday night, December 2 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall during the regular council meeting.

As Mayor-Elect, I have expressed my opposition to the timing of this ordinance to current council members. If the mayor is to sit on a newly created board, then the mayor who will hold that seat should have a voice in the board’s creation.

How well the city council works with the mayor will determine how quickly and effectively the inequalities and problems of Charlestown’s past are addressed. On November 5th the voters placed their confidence in a new mayor and in a new council to accomplish these goals. I am eager to work in partnership with the new council to help bring positive change and healthy growth to our community. The vote Monday night will determine if we are to have a collaborative and effective local government, or if we will start our new year and new administration with a destructive partisan divide.

If you are opposed to current elected officials taking the control of your utility out of the newly elected mayor’s hands, your attendance at this meeting is required. In keeping with my commitment to transparency, I have included the draft of the ordinance for you to review here: ORD 17.

I urge you to contact your current council members to ask them to vote NO on this ordinance.

If the creation of a sewer board is a good idea, then there is no reason why it cannot wait until January and include the involvement of the council and mayor the people have elected to serve for the next four years, and with the input of the citizens we serve. There simply is no logical reason to rush this vote. 

Unfortunately, the current public comment procedure prohibits any citizens from speaking about this ordinance at Monday night’s meeting. I invite all concerned citizens to arrive for this meeting at 6:00 PM to gather peacefully in opposition of any radical change to our government structure that would impede our ability to move Charlestown forward.


* While the City Council ultimately sets rates with a separate ordinance, they must do so to cover the expenses and operating costs of the Sewer Board. This removes an important check between the Executive and Legislative branches by giving total control to the Council.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Charlestown Mayor-Elect Treva Hodges Names Transition Advisory Team

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. – Thursday, November 21, 2019 – Charlestown Mayor-Elect Dr. Treva Hodges announced today that she has formally finalized her three-member transition advisory team. Jim James, Jim Adams, and Donna Ennis will work with Hodges as she prepares to take office on January 1st.

Hodges states that she plans to move forward with the transition process notwithstanding Mayor Hall’s petition this week for a recount and contest of the November 5th, 2019 election results. Hodges’ transition team members will serve on a volunteer basis.

“I do not anticipate that a recount will change the outcome of the election and am moving forward in good faith to prepare to take office and hit the ground running,” Hodges said today. “My transition advisory team brings together a small group of civic-minded individuals with diverse backgrounds and strengths.”

Hodges’ team hopes to be able to meet and work cooperatively with the current administration and its department heads in an effort to ensure a smooth and productive transition process.

Jim Adams is a financial advisor and partner with Edward Jones Investments. Jim began his career with Edward Jones in 1999 after attending Indiana University Southeast and works with 365 families and manages 100 million+ in client assets. In addition, Adams is a partner with National Builders and Developers in Charlestown. National Builders owns, manages and develops multifamily and retail properties.

Jim James is a long-time resident of Charlestown, having been born in the city and a resident for over 60 years. He was a founding member of the Charlestown Christian Church and has served on various local boards such as the New Hope School and Charlestown Township Public Library. James was employed for 38 years with the Courier-Journal, beginning as an apprentice while still in high school and spending 19 years as a printer before holding various management positions, retiring as Director of Pre-Press and Transportation.

Donna Ennis currently serves as Senior Operations Superintendent for Indiana American Water. She has previously served as Director of Operations for Midwest Environmental Management Services, and is a graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington. Ennis has been actively involved in the community for over 25 years and has served on various local boards such as Charlestown Economic Development Commission, Clark County Election Board, the Charlestown Beautification Committee, the Charlestown Bicentennial Committee, and the North Clark Hospital Foundation Board.

Individuals who are interested in working with the Mayor-Elect’s administration should send a letter of interest that highlights the skills they want to use in the position and gives salary expectations, along with a resume. All identifying information will be removed from the documents and the transition team members will rank all the applicants based on skill and experience. After the anonymous ranking, a first round of personal interviews will be scheduled for qualified applicants. Current department heads interested in serving as holdovers are also encouraged to apply.

All letters and resumes should be sent to TrevaForMayor@gmail.com by Friday, December 6th.

Infrastructure repairs have been a significant part of my platform from the beginning. Here’s why…

Our wastewater treatment system is in a serious state of neglect and we will not see long-term healthy development in Charlestown until our infrastructure is repaired. 

When you drive through the city today it’s easy to see where our money has been spent. We have freshly paved roads, new playgrounds, and fancy street signs. But what lies underneath our city streets? 

In January, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) performed an inspection of our wastewater system and found it to be in “unsatisfactory” condition.

Among their concerns were…

  • solid waste and trash being dumped directly into our lagoons
  • malfunctioning mechanical equipment that manages inflow and infiltration within the collection system
  • improper sludge disposal – including the dumping of raw sludge directly into stormwater lines in the Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood in August of 2018
  • violations in the self monitoring program
  • presence of a thick black grease pollutant covering the Spring Street lift station 
Flooding caused by clogged stormwater line
Flooding at Main and Harrison

 

In addition to our wastewater system, our stormwater drainage system has also been neglected. The system is clogged so badly that flooding occurs in locations all over our city with even the lightest rains.

Broken stormwater drain completely clogged
Clogged Drain Line at Main and Harrison

Repairs are complicated by the fact that the existing map of the system is outdated – a problem for IAW when they were installing new fire hydrants as they ruptured stormwater lines digging in areas where they were not mapped.

 

Does all this sound familiar? It should. I’ve previously shown how current mayor Bob Hall’s neglect of our water system enabled him to declare the system “distressed” and pass off the responsibility for repairs to a private company. We had the money to repair our water system all along but our current administration chose to spend it on wants, not needs. Now customers are left paying much higher rates for Bob Hall’s poor decision making. 

What happens if Bob Hall declares our wastewater system “distressed” and decides to sell it to IAW as well?

IAW currently owns a few wastewater/sewer systems in Indiana. Here is a screen shot of their rates. 

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As you can see, an average household that uses 3,500 gallons of water would pay over $50.00 per month with the new rate and the meter fee. A customer on Charlestown’s system currently only pays $31.00 for that same usage. Customers who use 5,000 gallons will pay nearly $70.00 per month. How many of us can afford this increase on top of what we’re paying for our water now?

It’s time for Charlestown residents to stop paying for the bad decisions of our current administration. This election is about change for Charlestown. It’s about electing a mayor who will put Charlestown First and focus on our needs rather than just making things look better on the surface. 

Your vote is your voice. Vote Treva for mayor and put our priorities back on YOU!


Read the official inspection documents here:

IDEM WW Inspection Jan 2019

IDEM Inspection PR Aug 2018

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Treva Hodges

Charlestown cannot afford four more years of Bob Hall’s decision making style.


Our current abuse of Tax Increment Financing hurts our schools and increases the likelihood of Greater Clark School Corporation having to ask for a special tax referendum to meet their budget.

Superintendent Mark Laughner said in recent public budget meetings that the school system loses a “significant” amount of money due to the abuse of TIF. Unlike other local cities, Charlestown refuses to allow 15% of our TIF revenue to go back to the school system. To compensate for their budget shortfalls, GCCS raised their tax rate last year (from .8536 to 1.136). Who is paying for Bob Hall’s abusive use of TIF? You, the property owners.

Bob Hall’s plan for redevelopment in Charlestown is costing us millions of dollars and we’ve seen no return on our investment.

We’ve assumed $2.5 million of debt to fund John Neace’s Springville Manor housing community, which is not filling according to expectations. We spent $2 million on an apartment project for a private development company which included selling them $1 million of land for $1. We’ve agreed to over $2 million of TIF debt for a hospital that hasn’t opened yet. These investments have so far only improved the economic situation of private developers and have not created jobs for Charlestown residents.

Bob Hall’s redevelopment strategy has damaged the city’s reputation and wasted taxpayers’ money by embroiling us in three major lawsuits.

Lawsuits related to Mayor Hall’s redevelopment of Pleasant Ridge have attracted negative media attention to Charlestown. To summarize the cases…

  • The Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association has sued the mayor and other city officials on his team in Clark County Circuit Court for alleged civil rights and constitutional violations. This trial is scheduled to begin November 12th and the judge has previously ruled that the association will likely win on the majority of their claims. The plaintiffs ask only that they be allowed to keep their homes and are not looking for monetary awards.

  • Some of the former Pleasant Ridge Landlords have sued the mayor and members of his team in the US District Court for alleged civil rights and constitutional violations in addition to civil charges for racketeering and extortion. Settlement negotiations have failed and trial is set for 2020. Although the judge initially dismissed charges of racketeering, she reinstated the allegations when the plaintiffs demonstrated that a pattern of extortion exists. If the landlords win, they could be entitled to triple amount of their awarded damages.
  • US Specialty Insurance Company, who provides coverage for the city’s legal fees, has sued the mayor and members of his team named in the other two lawsuits in US District Court. The company has asked a judge to declare that they do not have to pay the legal bills associated with the Pleasant Ridge cases because they allege the city is in breach of contract due to city officials’ adverse use of building code enforcement. This matter is set to be resolved next year.

As of today, the city has spent $1,181,836 on legal fees to defend Bob Hall’s redevelopment decisions.

None of these cases will be resolved before the election. It’s significant that the city’s insurance company has sued seeking to be excused from paying because they believe Bob Hall and his team have acted outside the scope of their appointment. If the insurance company wins, Indiana code (IC 34-13-4-1) allows the city council to decide who should pay. Taxpayers should not foot the bill for Bob Hall’s bad decisions.

We need to evaluate our use of TIF so we aren’t hurting schools. We need to spend taxpayer money on projects that benefit citizens.

We cannot afford four more years of costly development plans. This year elect a mayor who wants to keep Charlestown First.

I ask for your vote on November 5th.  

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Each year most of us go through a performance evaluation for the work we do at our jobs. In our reviews, our employers ask if we did the things we were hired to do. The mayoral election in Charlestown this year is a performance evaluation for current mayor Bob Hall. 

Bob Hall has had sixteen years to keep his promises. Instead he has failed to follow through on a number of significant issues. 

  • Leader Story, 10-27-99 (3)In 1999 Bob Hall said there was “no excuse” for neglecting fire hydrants and he promised to fix and maintain them. Instead he ignored a city ordinance that required their annual inspection and in 2019 when IAW bought the utility they had to replace 65 hydrants to bring our system into proper working order. Malfunctioning hydrants were next to all four of our schools.
  • Bob Hall promised people in the newly annexed area around Co Rd 403 that he would ensure proper police protection. Instead, under his leadership, the Charlestown Police Department had an 81% turnover rate in the last four years and we are understaffed when compared to national standards reported by the FBI. See my plan to address this issue here: Funding for Police
  • Bob Hall has served three terms since he first promised to renovate the civic center.  Instead, he allowed the building to fall into a state of disrepair and it now sits vacant and unused.
  • Bob Hall has promised a sports complex since 2007. In the past four years we’ve spent $51,000 on the IDEA of a sports complex with nothing but fancy pictures to show for it.
  • A quarterly newsletter in 2009 promised that city meetings would be shared on a city managed web-based TV station. Instead, in 2016 public comment at city council meetings was significantly limited and questions at public meetings are not allowed. pool
  • In 2011 Bob Hall promised a “YMCA style year-round swimming pool” would be
    built during the third phase at the Family Activity Park. In 2017 he changed his mind and said we’d never have a pool.
  • In 2011 Bob Hall said that he would “solve 99% of the water discoloration problem” within 3-6 years. Instead he passed that responsibility off to a  private company, and the expense off to us.  
  • In 2015 Bob Hall promised residents of Hidden River Valley that he would hire a geologist to address their significant drainage issues and sinkholes in the neighborhood. Instead he paved over the growing sink hole. Neglect of our drainage and wastewater system causes flooding all over town. 

Bob Hall has failed to complete 80% of the immediate and short-term action steps listed in his own comprehensive plan adopted during his most recent term (See details here: Measuring Success)

We’ve taken on $6 Million of debt in the past four years and have no new jobs to show for it. We’ve spent $1,181,836 on legal fees in the last two years to defend Bob Hall’s decisions.

Our debt and legal bills have gone up while basic infrastructure and quality of life issues have been neglected. 

It’s time to do something different in Charlestown. It’s time to elect a mayor who will keep her promises. I am already working to fulfill the transparency portion of my platform by attending every public city meeting and sharing them with you – something I’ve done for over two years now at my blog, www.talkingpoli.com.

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It’s time to elect a mayor who wants to take action NOW to put Charlestown First.

You can read my full platform here: Treva’s Platform and take a glimpse at my initial four-year plan if elected here: First Four Years

 

One of the most common questions I get asked is “Why are you running for mayor?” While I can give a lengthy answer to this question that includes my specific plans and platform, the shortest version is that I think our current administration has forgotten the core principles that guide our democratic government. Instead of a government by the people and for the people we have elected officials who shut out citizen voices and ignore their concerns. I witnessed yet another example of our current administration’s failure this morning at the regularly scheduled Board of Public Works meeting. 

Charlestown resident and voter David Reed appeared before the board to express his frustration with the management of the Luckett & Farley contract related to the proposed Family Sports Complex. Instead of being allowed to engage in a reasonable discussion with the Board or getting clear answers to his questions, Mr. Reed was cut off from completing his statement and given vague answers by the mayor. 

Mr. Reed previously came to me when the sports project was announced and asked if there had been any discussion about the cost to build this park. He was concerned because the contract states that a cost analysis would be provided to the city along with other deliverables by August 2019. When I told him no, he asked how to get in touch with people who could answer his questions. I explained that he could make a public record request through the Clerk Treasurer’s office for any documentation that was available. Since that time, Mr. Reed has worked within the proper channels of communication to obtain the cost analysis mentioned in the contract but has not received the document. I received the following message from Mr. Reed on October 17th: Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 11.08.07 AM

Mr. Reed thought that he might get answers if he appeared before the Board of Public Works since they are the ones who approved the contract (See that meeting summary here: BPW Meeting 06/03/2019 . You can listen to the audio of today’s meeting and read a summary of what happened here: BPW Meeting 10/21/2019

Although, like Mr. Reed, I am also curious about the missing deliverables including the promised cost analysis, my greater concern is the management of this public meeting and the treatment Mr. Reed received by our current administration. 

Mr. Reed should have been allowed to finish his statement. 

The total duration of this meeting was fourteen minutes and forty seconds. Allowing Mr. Reed to conclude his prepared statement would not have made the meeting run exceptionally long. Other than city employees and board members there were only three audience members present today and only one, Mr. Reed, signed up for public comment. A government by the people, for the people, listens to its people. 

Mr. Reed should have been allowed to respond to the Mayor’s rebuttal. 

In other meetings I have witnessed a dialogue between the mayor and the person making public comment following their initial statement. There is no valid excuse for refusing to engage in dialogue with Mr. Reed in today’s meeting. He was not disorderly or rude in his statement and simply sought answers to valid questions. 

Mayor Hall’s comment on the lack of discussion in public meetings is a weak attempt to excuse this administration’s disregard for its constituents. 

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BPW Agenda 10/21/2019

Mayor Hall claimed that board members and city council representatives do not discuss agenda items in public meetings because they receive their packets of information several days in advance and have time to read and ask questions before the meeting. Previously, City Council representative and Board of Public Works member Ted Little has made this same statement and said that discussion is avoided so that meetings can run more efficiently. Today’s published meeting agenda included only one item of business beyond the standard approval of the prior meeting’s minutes, regular claim approvals, and payroll allowance docket. The only other item listed was the BMS contract (which Mayor Hall almost forgot to address). That means that the other items of business brought up by the city engineer and Economic Development Director were NOT on the agenda and not presented to the board members in advance. In fact, I witnessed the city engineer place the claim information packet on the desks of the members immediately before the meeting was called to order. Regardless of work or research performed by board members behind the scenes, public meetings exist not just to move city business along, but to ensure that we, the PUBLIC, have access to the information. It’s inexcusable to withhold discussion simply because those in the positions of authority happen to know what’s going on.

Charlestown deserves better. We must turn our city government right side up this year with our votes. My platform includes numerous plans for moving our city forward into the future growth we’re anticipating, but it does so with full transparency and respect for our residents. It’s time to keep Charlestown First.


Luckett & Farley Contract here for reference: Luckett Farley Contract