City-County Council president fires two employees ahead of removal vote

Posted at 12:54 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 18:59:47-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis City-County Council President Stephen Clay fired two employees less than a month before the council will vote on whether to remove him as president.

Clay fired NaTrina DeBow and Fred Biesecker Wednesday morning. 

"This decision is mine," Clay said Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the firings. "I did it, I made it." 

Debow was clerk of the city-county council for 13 years and called it an "inappropriate firing" because she was elected by the entire council. 

She says she held the position when both Democrats and Republicans had control of the council.

DeBow's responsibilities included managing a staff of five people. She was also responsible for setting agendas, office payrolls, reviews, administering oaths and signing the city's bond requests, she said. 

“The staff that remains will divvy up the work that we have in place," Clay said. "The council efficiency and proficiency will not be hindered because we are missing two people." 

Biesecker was general counsel for the city-county council.

"I don't believe the council president has the authority to fire me," said Biesecker. "But, he did. I think the thing that bothered me most is the way I was escorted out of the building and that kind of nonsense as if I was a thief."

Clay called the firings "transitional" and said they were already in the works. 

"It's transitional, not retaliatory," said Clay. "Whether or not they were going to set the agenda for removal, the analysis and determination with respect to staff was and is occurring."

At the last City-County Council meeting, Councilman Joseph Simpson made a motion to remove Clay as council president. 

The motion passed in a second vote, with 13 council members voting in favor and 10 abstaining, meaning that council can decide at the Feb. 19 meeting whether to remove Clay as council president.

Those who voted in favor say they rejected the "political gamesmanship" of the council president.

Clay, a Democrat, won the council presidency thanks to the support of nine Republicans who crossed party lines to vote for him over incumbent president Maggie Lewis. Clay returned the favor by awarding the council’s minority party with the chairs of three committees: public works, ethics, and rules & public policy.

Clay has denied allegations that he had inappropriately touched a 14-year-old boy more than 15 years ago. Jonathan Bryant, 30, made the allegations in a blog post on saying that Clay grabbed him in his private area while he was staying overnight when he was 14 years old. 

Rev. Clay called the allegations "untrue" and "not factual." Clay is the senior pastor of Messiah Missionary Baptist Church where he has served for 31 years. 

MORE TOP STORIES |  Deaths of couple found dead, locked in embrace in Madison County field, ruled murder-suicide | IMPD gang unit arrests four on firearm, drug charges | Indiana mom admits to putting hand over 2-year-old son's mouth for 45 minutes, court records show | Plainfield woman, 37, dies just three days after being diagnosed with the flu | Police say they'd have fewer calls to McDonald's in downtown Indy if lobby was locked overnight

Top Trending Videos