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Redistricting by Porter County commissioners is topic of council meeting later

Updated: January 19, 2014 12:09PM



VALPARAISO — The Porter County Council made quick work Tuesday of a $9,000 fund transfer for the animal shelter to cover hourly wages.

What took center stage — and much of the brief meeting — was that, at a meeting earlier in the day, the Board of Commissioners redistricted the council and bumped Councilman Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, out of his district. The county’s four districts are up for election in 2014.

Given the redistricting and the recent federal investigations into county business, Rivas suggested the county look into joining the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission after the start of the year. The commission is composed of representatives from Lake and LaPorte counties.

“If that’s not the vehicle to do it, we need to do something, because something is wrong,” he said.

Rivas, who has said he will move to a different precinct in Portage Township so he can run for a second term on the council, was clearly angry about the commissioners’ move.

During the commissioners’ meeting, he said the flip-flopping of two precincts would have kept him in his district.

“I was thrown out of my district in a purely political move,” he said at the council meeting, singling out Commission President John Evans, R-North for much of his wrath. “That move, that says a lot. A lot is fundamentally wrong with Porter County government and that shows it.”

Rivas said he’s being punished for doing his job for his district, and the federal government’s investigation into county government proves something is wrong.

Clerk Karen Martin is scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury Wednesday in a criminal case about conflict of interest forms filed with her office.

Officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation also have sought information on highway department contracts, and from the county’s insurance administrator about a health clinic contract with Porter Regional Hospital.

“What is the federal government doing in Porter County? What the hell is going on?” Rivas said.

Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st District, applauded the work Rivas has done as a councilman.

“I have no explanation for what happened today. It wasn’t necessary and I think the timing, at the very least, was questionable,” he said, encouraging Rivas to continue his bid for his seat.



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