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Indy City-County Council President Stephen Clay steps down after six weeks amid controversy

Vop Osili elected next council president
Posted: 6:47 PM, Feb 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-20 05:25:39Z
Stephen Clay steps down as Indy council pres.

INDIANAPOLIS --Stephen Clay stepped down before before Monday night's city-county council meeting where he was expected to be voted out as the council president.

In his resignation speech before the meeting, Clay said he would support Vop Osili to become the next council president. 

"Councilor Osili and I have agreed to the orderly transfer of power... I will support Councilor Osili's candidacy."

In Clay's place, Osili was the only candidate presented for the presidency was voted into the position shortly after Clay offered his resignation to the council Monday evening. 

"I'm very grateful that we could move forward and not have to go through a lot of the motions and so on," Osili said after he was appointed the president. 

Osili said he would look at the possibility of restoring Council Clerk Natrina Debow and General Counsel Fred Biesecker, who  Clay fired the clerk and the general counsel of the city-county council , to their positions but he would not make guarantees. 

At the time, Clay called the firings "transitional" and said they were already in the works.

Mayor Joe Hogsett issued the below statement following Osili's appointment as president. 

“For two years, I have worked with all 25 City-County Councillors to address the challenges confronting our city. Whether a structurally balanced budget, increased funding for infrastructure or putting more officers on the street, Democrats and Republicans have come together and moved our community forward.  In that same spirit, I look forward to working with President Osili and the City-County Council on behalf of Indianapolis taxpayers.”

Clay's Downfall

Councilman Joseph Simpson made a motion at the Jan. 29 council meeting to remove Clay as president.

The motion passed in a second vote, with 13 council members voting in favor and 10 abstaining.

Those who voted in favor say they rejected the "political gamesmanship" of the council president.

Clay, a Democrat, won the council presidency thanks to the support of nine Republicans who crossed party lines to vote for him over incumbent president Maggie Lewis. Clay returned the favor by awarding the council’s minority party with the chairs of three committees: public works, ethics, and rules & public policy.

MORE |  Indianapolis City-County Council president launches audit after shredded paystubs, raises come to light

Eight Indianapolis City-County councilors filed a lawsuit last Thursday against Clay,  saying Clay's firing of the clerk and attorney for the council was "illegal, unauthorized and autocratic." A partial settlement in that lawsuit was reached Friday. Both sides agreed to allow a third party to come in and act as attorney for Monday night's council meeting. 

TIMELINE

  • Jan. 8 - Stephen Clay elected council president. He unseated Maggie Lewis in a 14-11 vote. All Republicans on the council voted for Clay except for Jeff Miller and Brian Mowery
  • Jan. 29 - Democrats took a no-confidence vote in Clay's ability to effectively lead. They argued Clay "deceived members of the Democratic caucus," and struck deals that amounted to "quid pro quo" maneuvering
  • Jan. 31 - Clay fired two high-level council staff members: Clerk of the Council NaTrina DeBow and General Counsel Fred Biesecker
  • Feb. 6 - Clay announces a financial and operational audit of the council office. He says he found shredded documents and uncovered evidence of improper pay raises given to DeBow and the deputy clerk of the council, Sa'Rita Hughes. DeBow's attorney held a press conference later that afternoon stating she didn't know any files were missing, and the raises were justified
  • Feb. 7 - Democrats expelled Clay from their caucus
  • Feb. 8 - Eight members of council and DeBow file a lawsuit against Clay, alleging he broke state law by firing the Clerk of the Council and General Counsel
  • Feb. 16 - Council agenda for Feb. 19 meeting publicly released. The proposal allowing discussion and vote to remove Clay from presidency not listed. New proposal postpones discussion and vote on Clay's removal by sending the measure to the ethics committee.
  • Feb. 19 - Clay announces he will step down as president prior to council meeting
  • Feb. 19 - Clay resigns as City-County Council President and Vop Osili is elected as the new president. 

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