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.

Treva banner

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 

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In the spirit of transparency, my pre-election finance reports are posted below. These reports are public record and obtainable via request at the Clark County Clerk’s office. They are due from all candidates on Friday, October 18th by noon. The final finance report will be submitted at the end of the year. 

As always, should anyone have questions about my reports feel free to call (812) 896-5647.  

Hodges CFA-4 Pre-Election

images-6Protecting Charlestown families and citizens is one of the core pledges of my campaign. This pledge inspired my promise to fund and support the Charlestown Police Department in a community policing initiative that builds staff levels and increases the availability of officers on patrol. Charlestown has some of the finest officers protecting our families, and they deserve a level of support that matches their dedication and commitment to our community. 

While it has been a relief to see the completion of the long-promised and significantly overdue new police station, we have a way to go before we can say that we’re providing our officers with the best resources for their very difficult jobs.

My plan to meet our community needs prioritizes: 

  • raising police department staff levels to meet national standards

  • improving officer compensation to limit employee turnover 

Currently our police department staffing falls significantly under national standards for a municipality of our size. According to the 2017 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, most municipalities employ 2.4 full-time officers for every 1,000 members of their population. Based on the most recent U.S. Census our population is approximately 8,200. This means we should employ 20 full-time police officers.  Charlestown’s department is funded for 16 full-time officers and we currently only employ 13. Through proper financial management we can fund the additional positions needed to bring us up to national standards. This is especially important as we consider the two newly proposed annexations and planned subdivisions that will increase the burden on our existing officers. 

One significant problem that affects our ability to hire and retain top-quality officers is that our current compensation package cannot compete with other departments in surrounding cities. On average, Charlestown’s current total compensation (salary and benefits) is $48,450. To offer competitive employment we must raise our officer’s salaries into closer alignment with other local agencies.

  • Jeffersonville $72,393
  • Clarksville $62,649
  • Scottsburg $59,605
  • Sellersburg $54,883
  • Charlestown $48,450

In the last four years our department has witnessed an 81% turnover rate with 13 officers leaving to seek other employment. My plan to fully fund and support the Charlestown Police Department ensures that we have an appropriate number of officers on patrol and that we increase our officer retention. 

A fully supported police department offers our community the safety we deserve. I am the only candidate for mayor who has a plan to raise our department staffing to meet national standards. It’s time Charlestown caught up to the rest of the nation, don’t you think?


2017 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/police-employee-data
Employment data for all departments reflects total compensation packages reported to the State Board of Accounts for 2018 calendar year.

On August 31 current mayor Bob Hall published a video on his campaign Facebook page in which he claimed that his “opponents” have lied about the city using eminent domain to take houses from people in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood. In his video Bob denied that the city is “taking homes” and called upon his “opponents” to either “put up” evidence or “shut up” about the issue.

Bob Hall has only one opponent this November – me. And I’ve never claimed that the city has used eminent domain to take anyone’s house.

Bob Hall has intentionally misrepresented my platform promise to protect private property rights in order to make it easier for him to refute the substantial evidence against his redevelopment plan for Pleasant Ridge.

Although I would love to have had the chance to address this topic face to face with Bob in a public forum, I will have to respond in-kind with this video until he agrees to do so.

So let’s go over the evidence again.

First, Bob Hall’s redevelopment plan for Pleasant Ridge requires the complete destruction of every house in the neighborhood.

  • In 2014 Bob applied for a Blight Elimination Program grant that called for the “demolition of 354 homes” in Pleasant Ridge (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, p. 4). This is the total number of houses in the neighborhood.
  • During a City Council meeting on December 1, 2014 then council member Dan James asked the mayor if it is correct that developer John Neace called for an “all or none” deal in his agreement to redevelop Pleasant Ridge and Mayor Hall replied, “yes” (Council Minutes 12/01/2014, p. 4)
  • On November 8, 2016, current council member Tina Barnes emailed Bob Hall to ask if people who fixed their homes in Pleasant Ridge would be allowed to stay, and Bob said that he would not make that promise because redevelopment of the neighborhood required “all or nothing” (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, p. 14).
  • On November 22, 2016 Bob Hall posted a Facebook status warning homeowners living in Pleasant Ridge not to spend money repairing their homes because he “is convinced that every home in the neighborhood will be demolished for redevelopment” (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, p. 15).
  • In his personal testimony under oath during the preliminary injunction hearing Bob was asked if Pleasant Ridge residents who maintained their homes in good condition would be allowed to remain in them and Bob again refused to make that promise (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, p. 15).

Second, Many homeowners in Pleasant Ridge have said they will refuse to move or sell their homes.

  • Homeowners who want to keep their well-maintained homes have appeared at public meetings, posted frequently about their desires on social media, formed their own neighborhood association to help one another, and filed a lawsuit against the city’s fining practices.
  • During a city council meeting on December 15, 2014 Bob Hall admitted that 30-40 homeowners did not want to sell or move (Council Minutes 12/15/2014, p. 4).
  • In an email that developer John Hampton sent to his partner John Neace on July 6, 2016 Mr. Hampton said he met with Bob Hall and the city attorney to discuss the redevelopment of Pleasant Ridge and their discussion “included speculation that 30-40 property owners would refuse to sell and that eminent domain would eventually be required” (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, p 8).
  • The Honorable Jason Mount – special judge assigned to the Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association lawsuit – wrote in his court order issuing the preliminary injunction against the city that, “The Mayor and other City officials have made it clear that the ultimate objective of Mayor Hall’s administration is the complete destruction of the homes in Pleasant Ridge” (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, p. 31) .

So, If Bob Hall’s redevelopment plan requires 100% of Pleasant Ridge homes and a portion of the homeowners refuse to sell, then the city WILL have to force people out of their homes in order to complete his plan.

An independent, third-party judge agreed.

  • During the hearing for the preliminary injunction Pleasant Ridge homeowner Ellen Keith testified under oath that Bob Hall told her that “he intended to use a combination of fines and eminent domain to force the complete redevelopment of Pleasant Ridge” (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, p. 15).
  • Judge Mount found that “[t]he evidence supports a preliminary finding that the Mayor told Plaintiffs Ellen Keith and David Keith of his plan to use code enforcement to compel the sale of property from Pleasant Ridge homeowners to a private developer” (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, p. 31).
  • Bob Hall testified that his statements had been misrepresented and told the Judge that he meant something different, but the court “does not find that testimony credible” and “does not find the Mayor’s present gloss on his own writing persuasive in light of what the Mayor actually wrote and the context of that written statement” (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, pp 14-15).
  • In light of the facts presented, Judge Mount found that the homeowners in Pleasant Ridge “reasonably fear” that “the City will use a combination of inspections and fines to force them to sell their homes” (Preliminary Injunction Findings of Fact, p. 16)

After hearing all of the testimony and reviewing the evidence in the case, Judge Mount issued a court order temporarily barring the city from unequally enforcing maintenance codes in Pleasant Ridge on the grounds that the homeowners were likely to win their case on three of their four claims. Although an appeals court reviewed that decision and sent the matter back to Judge Mount, the appellate court did NOT refute Judge Mount’s decision on those three issues. Instead they asked him to reconsider the fourth claim because they believe it has merit as well. If someone tries to discredit the preliminary injunction, remember that the matter is still scheduled for trial and the appellate court’s decision does not cancel Judge Mount’s third-party opinion.

Has the City, under Bob Hall’s administration, used eminent domain to take a house? Not yet. And I’ve never claimed they have. But the evidence shows that it remains a possibility and THIS is what I’ve discussed.

Has the City used eminent domain to take property? Yes. In his video posted on August 31, Bob Hall admits to the seizure of three parcels of land that he called “vacant, unbuildable lots” in order to build the road now named Coomer Way. Bob claimed that the city’s use of eminent domain in this instance was not challenged, but during the hearing for one of the properties on October 1, 2018, Alan and Jill Moore told the Board of Public Works that they did not want to sell the portion of their yard that the city was taking. Ultimately, since the city wanted the land for a road, which constitutes “public use,” the Moores were forced to sell a portion of their yard to the city at an amount significantly below their desired price. This is eminent domain.

Bob Hall’s plan for “redevelopment” of Pleasant Ridge reflects his disregard for private property rights.

What the evidence shows is that the city has multiple ways of taking people’s homes. Excessive immediate, daily, accumulating fines for minor infractions, purposeful creation of blight, neglect of infrastructure, targeted plans to drive down property values, and the strategic placement of roads or parks are all strategies that will result in the displacement of community members.

With all the claims being made about issues relating to Charlestown it’s sometimes easy to get lost. This is why I always support my platform and my claims with evidence like what I’ve provided you in this instance. You can also access a transcript of this video and all of the documents on my website trevaformayor.com under the “news” header.

Again, the Charlestown community deserves to hear both candidates for mayor voice their plans in a debate. I publicly invited Bob Hall to a public forum and am still awaiting a response. Until then, if you’d like to talk more about this issue and see the documents that I read to reach my conclusions please reach out any time.

Redevelopment in Pleasant Ridge isn’t the only issue this election year, but it is very important. Whether you live in Pleasant Ridge or not, NOBODY wants to live in a world where they get punished or have their rights removed because of the choices of their neighbors. As we move forward, let’s do so ethically and responsibly – let’s practice redevelopment without displacement. 


Sources used for information:

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-09-04 at 5.27.42 PMPreviously I shared with you a contract with architecture firm Luckett & Farley approved on June 3 by the Board of Public Works (available below). Although the contract was not explained in that public meeting, I obtained a copy through an open records request and learned that the firm has been hired by the city to design a conceptual plan for a sports complex on an unidentified 120 acre parcel of land.

Today I attended a special meeting called by the River Ridge Redevelopment Board. After the meeting I was able to discuss a nearly decade-old promise that River Ridge made to Charlestown to donate a large portion of land with some of the board members. At their next regularly scheduled meeting on September 16th, the Board will consider a resolution that will transfer 160 acres of land to the City of Charlestown. 

It seems things are lining up to give the community the long-promised sports complex. While the gift of land is certainly exciting, the sports park plan raises some questions.

First, in light of the money allotted to studies, conceptual designs, and other parks built in the mean time, could we not have already renovated our existing civic center? This is the heart of my campaign promise to Keep Charlestown First. I believe in planning WITH you to meet your existing needs while welcoming new people to our community. Why wait?

Second, if Klipsh-Card Athletic Facilities, experts in the sports park business, backed off of their study prematurely because they saw we didn’t have the population to fill the need, then is it the best idea to move on a large, expensive facility now?

Finally, how can we entrust such a large project to a mayor who has neglected the basic responsibilities of his job? Working in partnership with the community, and failures in things like infrastructure, drainage, and our water system do not indicate that he’s the best person to manage this project. 

Bob Hall’s decision-making process differs drastically from mine. Take the dog park as an example. Bob Hall told the News and Tribune on August 30, 2018 that while campaigning in 2015 he noticed that people had dogs, so he decided to build the $125,000 dog park. Currently only 45 people have registered to use that park. Our decisions need to be community-informed, not based on the whims of one person.  

This year it’s time to elect a mayor who operates differently. This major project deserves YOUR feedback. Under my administration you’ll be a part of the process, not kept in the dark until the big reveal.

You can review the Luckett Farley contract below. Remember Treva in November!


The Luckett & Farley contract can be read here: Luckett Farley Contract

News and Tribune 08/30/2018 Article  is here

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 8.47.43 PMIn July we learned that over 60 fire hydrants in Charlestown do not work properly. Many of us were alarmed that an official inspection by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management performed in December of 2018 revealed that current Mayor Bob Hall was notified about the faulty hydrants six years ago but had not taken steps to repair them. 

On the second day of August, Bob Hall issued a lengthy statement on his campaign Facebook account in response to an investigative report about the hydrant situation performed by WDRB News. In this statement Bob attempted to divert people from the issue at hand by turning the discussion toward water quality, but also stated that,

“At no point has anyone been in danger because of fire” – Bob Hall, 2019 

In his Facebook statement, the mayor provided a timeline that began in 2013 with a “comprehensive” review of the water system that took two years to complete, and offered an assortment of excuses for why the hydrant repair was not performed. This timeline that he proposes, however, is inaccurate.

In reality Charlestown has been without full access to properly functioning fire hydrants for the past twenty years – a time span that includes ALL of Bob Hall’s terms as mayor.

  • 1999 – During Bob Hall’s first campaign for mayor he recognized the fire hydrant problem and promised to fix it. He won that election.
    • A Bob Hall campaign advertisement in the October 27, 1999 issue of The The LeaderLeader – “Neglect of the hydrants cost [sic] more than we can afford. We will bring them up to proper working condition. Then by implementing a regular maintenance program they should never get in as poor condition again. We cannot afford to ignore this issue. Higher fire insurance premiums or lost [sic] of our homes is the greater price to pay.” – Bob Hall, 1999
    • October 27, 1999 media interviews with the mayoral candidates were published in The Leader. When asked what plans the candidates had for Charlestown Bob Hall said he wanted to fix the fire hydrants because, “There is no excuse for the neglect of the hydrants. The fire department have [sic] voiced concern about this since 1990. We will fix and then properly maintain the hydrants like other towns do.” – Bob Hall, 1999
  • 2008 – During Bob Hall’s second term as mayor the Common Council passed Ordinance 2008-OR-5 which ordered the annual inspection and prompt repair of fire hydrants within the city. 

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  • 2011 – A Bob Hall campaign advertisement boasted that “He [Bob Hall] fixed the water hydrants – half of which didn’t work – and installed new ones where needed.” – Bob Hall, 2011 He won that election and began his third term.
  • 2013 – IDEM notified Mayor Bob Hall that numerous hydrants were not working properly.
  • 2016 – In the first year of Bob Hall’s fourth term as mayor IDEM provided the second formal notice of the inoperable fire hydrants.
  • 2018 – IDEM provided a third formal notice of inoperable fire hydrants.
  • 2019 – Bob Hall sold the water utility to Indiana American Water, who has – only five months into their ownership – started the process of replacing hydrants that Bob Hall has neglected for twenty years.

November 2019 – Despite his neglect of the fire hydrant issue and failure to keep his twenty year old promise, Bob Hall wants you to reelect him for a fifth term.

The first job responsibility listed for the Mayor of the City of Charlestown is to “Enforce the ordinances of the city.” 

Not only did Bob Hall not keep a twenty-year-old campaign promise, he has failed to perform the number one duty of his position by not ensuring an annual inspection as Ordinance 2008-OR-5 mandated – an ordinance he approved with his own signature.

The neglect of our fire safety system has put some of our most vulnerable residents at risk.

JJIAW is currently replacing and adding needed hydrants across town. Some of the more shocking locations of these hydrants include all four of our schools, our public housing community where many elderly and disabled residents live, and at least one church.

 

CMSChurchHousing

As we filter fact from fiction this election year remember these things:

  • Two expert authorities, IDEM and IAW, have classified our non-functioning hydrants as a safety issue.
  • This is about safety and responsibility – this is not about who drinks or doesn’t drink the tap water. Anyone who redirects this conversation to the tap water is trying to pull your attention away from the real issues.
  • At no point did any court process legally prohibit the city from taking action to make repairs while the matter was adjudicated.
  • Repairing broken hydrants did not require the complete overhaul of our entire system.

Charlestown deserves better. Bob Hall has had 16 years as our mayor to get things right, to uphold ordinances, to ensure the effective management of our basic necessities, to provide for our safety. The fire hydrant facts show that he has not done these things.

If you did not perform the very basic responsibility of your job, year after year, you would get fired. So why should Bob Hall be any different? 

 

This November it is time to elect someone who will put Charlestown First and restore community health. To read my plan check out the issues tab of my website here: Treva’s Charlestown First Platform. To see how I’m already keeping my promise to provide transparency and open government even before I get elected, check out my personal blog where I post audio recordings and summaries of every public meeting in the city: TalkingPoli.com

Call or come see me if you want to chat in person – Campaign office 904 Main Street, (812) 896-5647 . I’m ready to move Charlestown Forward by Keeping Charlestown First!


Documents and reports mentioned in this blog can be found here: 

 

*Sponsored by the Committee to Elect Treva Hodges