LOGANSPORT, Ind. (WLFI) – The mayor of Logansport declared a state of emergency this weekend so he could continue driving a city dump truck and volunteering his time with others at the city pool construction project, 24-Hour News 8 sister station WLFI reports.
Mayor Ted Franklin says what he did was within his powers and that the only person who complained is his opponent in the November election. But his opponent disputes that account.
“Look, this is no more than a cheap political ploy, that’s what this is,” said Franklin.
Franklin tells News 18 he was volunteering his time Sunday with several others including the police chief, moving dirt from the ongoing construction project at the Tower Park pool to the old Tipton Elementary School about three blocks away. That’s when he got word of a complaint that city equipment was being used on a Sunday. It was baseless.
But another one, a little later, had merit. He was driving a dump truck without a Commercial Driver’s License. After talking with the city attorney, he declared a state of emergency just for the three blocks in between the job sites, for as long as the volunteers were working Sunday.
“I don’t see it as a big deal and still don’t see it as a big deal,” said Franklin. “We were covered under state statute and the opinion of the city attorney said this is simple.”
He says while he’s never had a CDL, he’s owned and driven a dump truck and a bucket truck in the days before a special license was needed. He’s also a firefighter with plenty of experience driving a fire truck as well.
Franklin adds because the city had authorized its use, if there would have been any accidents or wrecks, he would have been covered under the city’s insurance policy.
He says throughout the pool project.. many residents have volunteered their time to save on costs, including 200 children who painted various murals. He estimates the work of volunteers Sunday saved about $10,000.
“We want to save money when we can, every opportunity that we can,” said Franklin. “But really it was just to advance the project. It wasn’t as much about the money as it was about getting the project done.”
Because of state law governing Home Rule, Franklin could make the call without anyone else’s approval.
The move doesn’t bother Council President Joe Buck.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” said Buck. “If he’d gone to the Council to vote, I’d definitely voted to go ahead and do it.”
Franklin says he’s been told the complaints were made by Dave Kitchell, his opponent in November’s mayoral election.
“This is really a non-issue,” said Franklin. “It’s a cheap attempt, but it’s a non-issue.”
Reached late Tuesday night, Kitchell disputes some of Franklin’s story. He says he was not the only person to complain about what happened Sunday. He also says it’s part of a pattern that Franklin has had of acting above the law.
News 18 tried reaching City Attorney Randy Head and Indiana State Police for this story, but neither returned our messages.
Meanwhile, work continues on the Tower Park Pool project, which was initially slated to be done by June.