The Carmel City Council voted 6-0 to pass an ordinance that will remove Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley from the dais at council meetings and eliminate her speaking time from the agenda.
The ordinance, which passed on Jan. 9, gives the City Council president the authority to decide the seating arrangement for meetings. Newly selected council President Sue Finkam said she thinks it should just be Council sitting at the dais. She said there will be tables for other officials such as the mayor, deputy clerk-treasurer and possibly city attorneys.
Finkam said the changes are not personal against Pauley but make sense with Carmel becoming a second class city, meaning the clerk-treasurer position will be eliminated in three years.
“I want to reiterate that this change is to continue our evolution from a Class 3 to a Class 2 city,” Finkam said. “This meeting is for council to fulfill its fiscal and legislative business. Having the clerk-treasurer present on the dais is a remnant from when we were a much smaller, differently managed city.”
Pauley will also have her planned speaking time removed from the agenda. If she would like to address the public she must fill out a blue card like any Carmel resident and stay within the two-minute time limit.
City Councilor Ron Carter, who just finished a term as council president, said this change was needed because Pauley was disruptive in meetings and would “make faces.” He said her conduct was sometimes unprofessional, and that if councilers need to hear from her they will ask her a question.
Finkam said the seating arrangement will change because of more than $123,000 budgeted to remodel the meeting room. There will also be money spent on new audio-visual equipment to record and broadcast meetings and help with presentations. Finkam said there will be a space for Deputy Clerk-Treasurer Jacob Quinn to sit to record the meetings and take notes, but until that is built he can remain seated at the dais. Finkam said she might be able to find a spot for Pauley to sit at a table if there’s room.
Pauley said these actions are meant to silence her, as she has had some disagreements with the council, namely Carter. Both have publicly questioned each other’s professionalism. Pauley noted that the ordinance was originally written to say the council president can decide who sits at the dais, but it was amended to say the council president can decide seating arrangements. She said that change is because the council was afraid she was going to sit next to Mayor Jim Brainard at meetings.
“I do think I should have some space for me during meetings,” she said. “But it’s just silly. It’s like kids in the cafeteria saying, ‘You can’t sit with me.’”