When City Council interviews citizens nominated to serve on unpaid boards, it can be a yawner. Not on Monday.
One of three people chosen by Mayor Steve Bach to serve on the Urban Renewal Authority board, the funding arm for the $250 million City for Champions tourism venture, bitterly scolded Council for creating a "negative environment."
Council President Keith King and Councilors Don Knight and Joel Miller, all of whom question C4C, interviewed Bach's picks after action was postponed March 25. First up was Nolan Schriner, who worked for the city in the '70s and formed his own urban planning firm, NES, Inc., which he says he's since sold.
Councilors zeroed in on C4C funding and use of eminent domain — over which the URA board will have substantial control. Schriner was turned off.
"I'm so disappointed in what's going on in the city right now," he said. "If the proposals that are being made, if they're not up to your standard, please do something to help the city out, because the economy is bad, jobs are bad and the city is looking bad."
He said C4C could help the city attract new residents, and he blamed Council for the ongoing political struggle with the mayor, saying, "You need to change it. It's pathetic."
When Miller said, "I would encourage you to tell the same to the mayor," Schriner said, "I have, but get past it."
"We're trying," Miller said.
"It doesn't look like it," Schriner shot back. "How many boards have you been on in the city?" Schriner has served on many, including the Downtown Partnership, which supports C4C.
One, Miller replied: City Council — to which he was elected in a district of 70,000 people, he pointed out.
City Human Resources Director Mike Sullivan said such questioning by Council creates a "chilling effect" that dissuades citizens from serving. Schriner called the interview "pretty obnoxious." He told King, Knight and Miller, "If you can find somebody better, then I think you ought to do it," and called the March 25 meeting the "most negative environment" he'd ever experienced.
Miller tells the Indy he won't recommend Schriner be appointed.
The other candidates, high-tech business owner Valerie Hunter and real estate agent Peter Scoville, answered in vague terms, saying they didn't have adequate details.