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PORTAGE — Fourth District City Councilman John Cannon, the lone Republican on the board, says it all started when he requested information concerning the city's switch in charging storm water fees to businesses.

It happened again and again, he said, when he requested information about legal invoices for the Utility Services Board, of which the council manages, and when he requested information on the recent purchase by the USB of a mini-excavator.

"Multiple things have not been supplied. If they have, it's been at the last minute. I can't make decisions without the proper information," Cannon said.

He believes it is all politics. Cannon has formed an exploratory committee to run for mayor next year, but said he hasn't made a firm decision. He also said he's been supportive of Mayor James Snyder, a Republican, in spite of Snyder's federal public corruption indictment.

"I truly think it has to do with politics. I am trying to work with the man (Snyder), and I think they want me to go along with them bucking him," he said.

Cannon also claims his removal as chairman of the City Council's strategic plan committee and placement on the ways and means committee was a political move by the Democrats to make him ineffective.

City Council President Mark Oprisko, D-at-large, and USB chairman Scott Williams, D-3rd, disagree with Cannon.

"That's disheartening to hear that," Oprisko said.

Oprisko, who appoints council members to various committees, said he removed Cannon from the stategic plan committee because Cannon was ineffective.

"He was part of the strategic plan committee for years and only met a few times to look at a new city hall. He didn't do his homework," Oprisko said, adding a new partnership committee with the school district was Cannon's idea, but he failed to attend any meetings.

Oprisko said when he chaired the USB in 2017, he offered Cannon a position on the project and bonds committee, but Cannon declined.

Cannon said he declined the appointment after Oprisko did not appoint him chairman to the committee and believed fellow council person Liz Modesto, D-1st, should serve on the committee instead because of the number of projects within her district.

Williams also denied there's been any politics being played.

As for the attorney billing, Williams said it is a client privilege matter and that, as chair, he sees the detailed billings and it is his decision whether to share with the entire board.

"I haven't seen any detailed bills yet," said Williams, who has chaired the board for two months. He added if he shared the details, it would be with all board members.

Cannon sought an opinion from the Public Access Counselor, which said, in part, that as a board member, he should have the right to see unredacted invoices.

Williams said there was never any written recommendation on the recent purchase of the mini excavator and that Cannon has been asking for something that is nonexistent.

"This is simply contrived on his part," Williams said, adding nothing has been withheld from Cannon to prevent him from doing his job as a councilman or USB member.


Porter County reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for more than 38 years, including 23 years with The Times. She covers municipal and school government in Valparaiso and Portage.