Carmel City Council member Ron Carter on Oct. 18 wrote to Current in Carmel an e-mail in which he accused the council’s president, Rick Sharp, of limiting access to correspondence with the council’s legal counsel, Frost Brown Todd.
“Now I know what citizens feel like when they can’t get information from their local governmental units,” Carter stated. “My point to Rick is very clear. If the law firm, which is being paid by the City, is the counsel for the City Council, then all of us should have access to the emails between our counsel and the Council. If Luci (Snyder) and (Sharp) are the clients, they can keep the emails private and they can pay the legal bills.”
Sharp offered subsequent thoughts.
“(Carter) is trying to obfuscate things because he was directly involved in the $100,000 secret payment to (former Center for the Performing Arts CEO Steven) Libman,” said Sharp. “He’s a part of the cover-up of that action because he’s an elected official and knew the (Carmel City Center Community Development Corp.), which has no connection to Libman, had made this payment. This is a classic case of political misdirection.”
Sharp said limited disclosure is par for the course, both in council and general business practices.
“This is a long-established practice of how the council does business, in fact how almost any entity does business,” he said. “It’s a matter of privilege. This is an investigation as to how the CRC (Carmel Redevelopment Commission) could have possibly gotten so deep into debt and done it in such a manner. I am concerned that these documents would be leaked to other people, at which point in time the privilege ceases to exist.”
“(Sharp) said to the council, ‘I’m going to hire outside counsel to help us review and investigate these fund documents,” Snyder said. “There was no objection. We had a vote. Anyone could have objected, but they didn’t. Mr. Carter’s involvement with the CRC puts him firmly on both sides of the fence, so there are some things you don’t particularly want him to know.”
Sharp concluded by saying he met with the council’s vice president, Kevin Rider, on the afternoon of Oct. 18 to create a compromise.
“I talked with (Rider) and set the wheels in motion for a compromise,” he said. “I’ve asked our attorney to review e-mail correspondence that deals with any matter of substance since a meeting of the Finance Committee on Sept. 21. We’ll then evaluate whether or not it is privileged information, and forward them on to council members.”