Monroe County Commissioner Mark Stoops
Monroe County Commissioner and Metropolitan Planning Organization member Mark Stoops says Friday's vote to include I-69 in the local Transportation Improvement Program failed because one of the yes votes violated state conflict of interest statutes and was thus invalid.
Monroe County Public Works Director Bill Williams 'yes' vote became the deciding vote on a close 7-6 decision to include the controversial interstate after he failed to recuse himself when it was revealed that his son was employed by a subcontractor working on I-69 for INDOT.
"The decision by MPO Chair Kent McDaniels to allow Bill to vote on the issue violated State conflict of interest laws. State law (IC 4-2-6-9) requires Boards and Commissions to have possible conflict of interest issues reviewed by a third party and then to issue a written decision on the matter," said Stoops.
"The motion to include I-69 in the MPO's Transportation Improvement Program failed, meaning that INDOT cannot use federal funds on the part of Section 4 that is in the MPO's jurisdiction." - Monroe County Commissioner Mark Stoops"Also, the first step under state statute is that the appointing authority, the County Commissioners, must request review and a decision by the MPO in writing. That was not done. The Commissioners can only act in a public meeting, and I was only notified of the conflict of interest on Thursday, the day before the meeting. Bill Williams should have recused himself from that vote."
"With an actual vote of 6-6, the motion to include I-69 in the MPO's Transportation Improvement Program failed, meaning that INDOT cannot use federal funds on the part of Section 4 that is in the MPO's jurisdiction," said Stoops. "But it is a bigger issue than that. If the MPO is not interested in including part of Section 4, it is highly unlikely that we will vote to include Section 5, which extends from the proposed intersection with State Road 37 south of Bloomington, up to Martinsville in Morgan County. With a 'no' vote, INDOT will not be able to use any federal funds for Section 5, even in areas outside of our MPO's jurisdiction." Stoops noted that all elected officials on the MPO voted to exclude I-69 in the TIP, except Dan Swafford representing Ellettsville Town Council.
"If I were Mitch Daniels and INDOT, I would be seriously reconsidering my options at this point. Does it make sense to spend the $1 billion necessary to build Section 4 when there is no hope of continuing I-69 from Bloomington? One choice would be to continue the interstate north along SR 231 and 67. The wise choice would be to stop wasting Hoosier money on this boondoggle and fix the deteriorating roads and bridges we already have," said Stoops.
Stoops has officially contested Friday's vote with MPO.