Tempers flare even as NIRPC, group reach tentative settlement
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org April 17, 2014 7:56PM
Not allowed to offer comments at NIRPC meet, Everybody Counts Teresa Torres kept standing, talking Thursday, April 17, 2014, at the NIRPC meeting in Portage. | Carole Carlson/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 19, 2014 2:20PM
PORTAGE — Despite an agreement in principle announced Thursday that could end a federal lawsuit, Everybody Counts’ leader Teresa Torres continued to clash with the officials from the Northwestern Indiana Regional Plan Commission.
Torres engaged in a shouting match with Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor as he presided over a NIRPC board meeting Thursday morning.
Torres, who heads the nonprofit disabled rights group, became agitated when Snedecor refused to let her speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Snedecor said Torres did not sign up to speak on a specific agenda item.
When Snedecor told Torres she couldn’t speak, a defiant Torres kept standing and shouting back at the Hobart mayor.
Finally, Snedecor declared a recess while Torres said she expected to be arrested.
Instead, the meeting resumed and when Torres again began talking, Snedecor slammed his gavel down saying, “Enough.”
After the meeting, Snedecor said he wants to afford everyone the right to speak at meetings, but he had to move the lengthy, 100-page agenda along quickly.
“We need to deal with matters at hand. I want to work with her,” Snedecor said of Torres.
After the meeting, Torres released a written statement criticizing NIRPC for holding its public comment period at the start of meetings.
“How exactly can one say anything about reports before they are given,” she said.
Meanwhile, court documents released in court said the agreement will amicably resolve issues raised by Everybody Counts in its December 2013 lawsuit.
Both sides said a written settlement document would be filed by May 16.
Merrillville-based Everybody Counts contended NIRPC didn’t follow a 2006 federal court consent decree over transportation issues. The group said NIRPC made it too hard for disabled people to attend its annual meeting on transportation issues for the disabled.
NIRPC is a regional council of local governments from Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties focusing on transportation, the environment, and economic development.