Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Friday issued veto of the Democrat-controlled City-County Council’s proposal that would have spent $180,000 on new Council maps. The Democrats have cried foul since the Republicans, as one of their last acts on the Council approved new maps. However the Mayor’s Office says the maps are perfectly legal and there’s no reason to revisit the issue.
In his veto message to the Council, Ballard said the Council had “legally and fairly redistricted earlier this year” and with the city facing a $47 million shortfall, he called the proposal “an unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer money”.
Democrats were not too happy. City-Council President Maggie Lewis says state law requires the Council to redraw the maps this year. She tells the Indianapolis Business Journal that she doesn’t think the Mayor’s signature is legal and says at the end of the day, the entire matter will likely land up in court.
The key dispute here is simply language in the state statute. Under the statute, IC 36-3-4-3, the City-Council shall by ordinance, divide the whole county in 25 districts that are compact, equal in population, do not cross precinct boundaries and the division shall be made during the second year after a year of the federal census.
Democrats and other critics say the maps were drawn in 2011 but should have been drawn in 2012.
The Mayor’s office makes the legal argument that while the Council may have approved the maps in 2011, the ordinance doing the division was not adopted until the morning of 2012, during Ballard’s last few hours of his first term. They point to language in IV 36-3-4-14, which says an ordinance or resolution passed by a legislative body is considered adopted when “if subject to veto, either approved by the executive or passed over the executive’s veto by the legislative body.”
Ballard signed the ordinance at about 10 a.m. on January 1 of this year; a few hours into 2012, but still signed in 2012.
Either way, this is likely to end up before the Indiana Supreme Court, which ironically is the entity that drew the last set of maps 10 years ago when Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on what the new districts should look like.