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Council’s choice of attorney raises questions

Two and a half months ago, one of Harrison County’s deputy prosecutors entered the Harrison County Court House. Shawn Donahue did not have his own key to the courthouse. He was given one, along with a key to the treasurer’s office, by a fellow county employee.
He admitted entering the courthouse and treasurer’s office twice in one evening. Donahue claims he needed to fold some letters, which may very well be true. We don’t know what those letters were for though. Plus, this happened a week before the general election, which called into question whether or not he was using county equipment for campaign purposes. He was at the very least using county equipment for personal purposes which isn’t ethical and may not be legal.
This issue had for the most part died around Harrison County as the Harrison County Board of Commissioners have not publicly looked into why keys were handed out to someone. Nor has the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. or Indiana State Police made the public aware of an investigation. A complaint was filed by Harrison County Republican Central Committee Chairman Larry Shickles calling for such an investigation.
I would think the county would want to know who was handing out keys to the courthouse and the treasurer’s office. I, for one, would like to know so I can get a key. It would be a lot of fun having the courthouse to myself after hours. I can imagine the fun I could have on the main floor. My rollerblades would get a lot of use. A key to the treasurer’s office would be pretty swell as well. I wonder how many years of tax records are kept in that office and whether or not I can find mine and delete them. I wonder who’s been handing out their key, although I suspect most of the county already knows.
Last week, to my own personal amazement and I’m sure some of the audience as well, the Harrison County Council elected Donahue as their attorney. I found myself wondering what our two new councilmen and our new councilwoman were thinking. Obviously, they were not thinking in the best interest of the county.
Donahue was nominated by William (Bill) Nichols and seconded by Leslie Robertson. Gordon Pendleton and chairman Carl (Buck) Mathes also voted in his favor.
Obviously, the four were voting along party lines. All four and Donahue are Democrats. And I don’t normally say this, but I think the other three, Ralph Sherman and Rhonda Rhoads, both Republicans, and Democrat Chris Timberlake should get the intelligence award of the week, if there were one to give.
Donahue replaces Michael Summers, who has served as the council’s attorney for 10 years. So basically, the council just poured 10 years of experience and files down the drain. During the council’s last meeting of last year, former chairman Gary Davis thanked Summers for a job well done and commented that Summers was a good attorney, that he only spoke when asked a question. I guess some of the new councilmembers missed this one.
I wonder in what direction our county is moving. I just don’t understand why the council would opt for Donahue ‘ with no experience as a county or council attorney and who was recently in the newspapers for misconduct ‘ over someone with 10 years of experience who was praised for his work at the council’s end-of- the-year meeting.
Basically, I’m sitting dumbfounded. I know the answer. I guess the fact that Summers has been elected by both a Democrat-led council and a Republican-led council for the past 10 years confuses people, despite the fact he’s done good work for the county. Four of the five Democrats on the council want to forget his 10 years of experience and choose someone from their own party, which I guess is their choice. The county elected the councilmembers, and choosing an attorney is one of their duties.
However, I’m just wondering why the office of our county and council attorney’s should be political at all. The county would benefit the most from having an experienced attorney in our corner. I’m sorry to tell our county officials but the law is the same whether you are Republican or Democrat, and all attorneys abide by the same ethical code.
I wonder how much not having Summers’ 10 years of experience is going to cost the county. I wonder if our newly Democratic-led board of commissioners is going to continue to allow keys to be handed out. I wonder if our Democrat sheriff and prosecutor are going to investigate Donahue’s entry into the courthouse. I know if it was an everyday citizen entering after hours, it certainly would have been. Although, I also know now that Democrats obviously stick together.

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