Thursday, February 2, 2017

02022017 - Portage City Council members can't have it both ways, when it comes to Mayor Snyder's corruption

So, Portage City Council members want Mayor Snyder out of office, now that Snyder has been indicted.

Hang on a second, I don't recall any of the council members calling for Snyder's resignation - or reporting his corrupt actions - for the mishandling of my case. What I recall, were council members going along with Snyder's corrupt ability to make my case disappear.

Council members benefited from Snyder's corrupt actions regarding the handling of the unlawful police entry into my home and the deaths of my beloved dogs - As the city walked away from any accountability for what I endured at the hands of the Portage PD and city officials.

So why should Snyder's corrupt ways suddenly now bother Portage city officials?

Portage City Council calls for resignation of mayor
By - Associated Press
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) - The Portage City Council is calling for the city’s mayor to resign after he was charged with tax evasion and bribery in November.

Council President Mark Oprisko and Councilman John Cannon, the council’s lone Republican, met Monday with Republican Mayor James Snyder, The (Northwest Indiana) Times ( ) reported.

Oprisko said he told the mayor that if he chooses not to resign, he should just collect his salary and let the city move forward. He said the council will try to remove him as chairman of the Utility Services Board regardless of his decision.

“I basically told him how I feel, as well as the others, that it is time to resign. The focus is now more on the indictment and the charges than the city,” Oprisko said.

Four out of the five other council members said they agree with the request. The fifth, Pat Clem, was out of town.

Oprisko said they want the mayor to resign for several reasons, including recent spending trends and the mayor’s attempt to pay $93,000 of his personal legal fees prior to his indictment without seeking approval from the Utility Services Board.

Portage officials ask for indicted mayor's resignation
January 31, 2017 - 11:01AM

Portage City Council President Mark Oprisko has joined a growing list of city officials calling for Mayor James Snyder to resign in light of his federal indictment in November on public corruption charges.

Oprisko also said the council may consider ordinances to neutralize Snyder as chairman of the Portage Utility Services Board.

"It's in the best interests of every official and every resident for (Snyder) to step aside," Oprisko said Monday. "We have great department heads. Let the city run. Let us run it so we don't have to keep hearing about the indictment."

In an e-mailed statement, Snyder remained defiant, citing his "American Civil Rights" and the presumption of innocence, while acknowledging the indictment "is weighing heavily on Portage."

"No Resigning!" Snyder responded when asked if was going to resign. He also said Portage residents continue "receiving the great services they have come to expect, and those services will continue because of the hard work of the public servants working."

Oprisko, D-at large, and Councilman John Cannon, R-4th, met with Snyder in City Hall. Oprisko also said he is "considering different options" to remove Snyder from his position as chairman of the Portage Utility Services Board or weaken him in that spot.

Cannon, who described the discussion with Snyder as "spirited," said he is a longtime friend of Snyder's, but the November indictment may be a factor in where the city goes from here. Cannon said he did not "directly ask the mayor" to step down.

"I think Council President Oprisko and myself, we have real concerns about our city and if there's something holding our city back from growing and holding back all of the wonderful things this mayor has done, then we have to address that," Cannon said. "(Snyder) may not be able to continue to do the wonderful things he's done if there's a cloud hanging over him."

In November, Snyder and John Cortina, owner of a towing company in the city, were indicted. Snyder was charged with one count of tax evasion and two counts of bribery.

In a final 2016 annual campaign finance report, Citizens for Snyder, the mayor's campaign committee, reported receiving $2,000 in direct support from Cortina and a $10,000 loan from the businessman.

On the Hammond courthouse steps Nov. 18, the day he was indicted, Snyder's attorney, Thomas Kirsch, indicated they could prove Snyder received a loan from Cortina, not a bribe.

The campaign finance report also showed Citizens for Snyder gave $6,300 to the Committee to Elect John Cannon between March and August last year for Cannon's failed run for county commissioner.

Cannon defended the contribution as part of his efforts and Snyder's efforts to give Portage residents more say at the county level.

"I'm assuming at some point in time I'll be put in same light as mayor because of that relationship and our party," Cannon said. "The perception may be we're connected at the hip, and that's the farthest thing from the truth.

"Campaigns are not about the person running. It's about what we're going to do to better the citizens of Portage."

The City Council agreed on asking Snyder to resign, Oprisko said, and one member, Collin Czilli, D-5th, in a separate statement, said Snyder is innocent until proven guilty, but "if Mayor Snyder truly believes in Portage's future success, it is incumbent on him to resign his office, effective immediately."

Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham called for Snyder's resignation earlier in January.

"I think it's a powerful message the president of the City Council has joined my previous call for Mayor Snyder to step down," Stidham said Monday. "My call was based on the fact this indictment was an enormous distraction."

Snyder seemed to shock city officials last September when he asked the utility board to pay for his more than $90,000 in legal fees, to that point, related to the federal investigation.

Oprisko, who is the vice chairman of the board, said he immediately sought to stop the board from paying the expenses,.

The council president said he is exploring ordinances to remove the mayor's office from the utility board seat or deny Snyder compensation.

Portage council call for mayor's resignation
Joyce Russell
Jan 30, 2017
NWI Times

PORTAGE — The City Council here has called for the resignation of Mayor James Snyder.

Council President Mark Oprisko, a Democrat, and Councilman John Cannon, the council's lone Republican, met with Snyder on Monday afternoon for more than an hour.

"I basically told him how I feel, as well as the others, that it is time to resign. The focus is now more on the indictment and the charges than the city," said Oprisko, adding he has had reports from employees that the mayor's legal status is impeding their jobs.

"I told him if you are not going to resign, stay home and collect your salary and let the city move forward," said Oprisko, adding that if he doesn't resign, the council will propose an ordinance to remove him as chairman of the Utility Services Board.

Snyder was indicted on three counts in federal court in November including bribery and tax evasion. His trial is set for April 10.

Oprisko said there are several reasons why they are calling for the mayor's resignation, including recent spending trends, the effort by the mayor to pay $93,000 of his personal legal fees prior to his indictment without seeking approval from the Utility Services Board and, most recently, his trip to Washington D.C. for a mayor's conference and to attend the presidential inauguration, taking two police administrators and his family.

Council members Sue Lynch, Liz Modesto, Scott Williams and Collin Czilli all said they agreed with Oprisko's and Cannon's request of the mayor. Member Pat Clem was out of the area.

"I am standing behind the city council members in asking him to resign," said Lynch. "If he truly loves the city, he needs to do what is best for the city."

"I am 100 percent in support of President Oprisko's decision to approach the mayor and ask him to step down," said Williams. "I believe the morale has been affected to prevent the city from operating properly and it is the time the council stepped forward and made a stand."

Modesto said "it is not just one thing, it is a combination of things" that caused her to agree to seek Snyder's resignation, citing recent issues with the mayor's spending.

"I still believe what I said in my statement of Nov. 18 to be true, Mayor Snyder is innocent until proven guilty and deserves his day in court," said Czilli. "However, after two months of consideration, I have reached the conclusion that if Mayor Snyder truly believes in Portage’s future success, it is incumbent on him to resign his office, effective immediately."

The council's call for Snyder's resignation follows that of Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham.

Snyder gave a statement to The Times via email saying "When I signed my oath of office there was no clause giving up my American Civil Rights, including my presumed innocence. My rights and my oath of office are no different than Councilman Oprisko or Councilman Cannon’s rights. They are correct that this is weighing heavily on Portage and we are operating well under these circumstances. Residents of Portage are receiving the great services they have come to expect and those services will continue because of the hard work of the public servants working. My dedication to working with other City elected officials has not feigned and together Portage will see more big things accomplished. Any rash decisions are ill advised and detrimental to the future of Portage."

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