A May 14 veto by Mayor Steve Rosenthal did not stop the contention raised at the May 13 Indianola Board of Aldermen meeting over the Henderson Street “No Parking” signs.
Rosenthal came under fire from some of the aldermen because he had signs erected on that short dead-end street without the aldermen’s pre-approval and they voted 3 to 2 on that Monday to have those signs taken down, but allowed others that were installed on Roosevelt Street to remain even though those did not have aldermen approval either.
Rosenthal maintained that he has the authority to order that type of work because he is in charge of day-to-day operations and that decision falls under that designation.
So, on that Tuesday, citing Section 52-491 of the city’s code as his basis, Rosenthal issued a mayoral veto in a letter that was distributed to the aldermen, city attorney and city clerk. In the document, he wrote, “The motion to remove the signs from only Henderson because it was not board approved, but not remove those on Roosevelt is improper.”
He then addressed what he believed to be the underlying issue. “To make this motion because someone is the Aldermen’s buddy or friend or they do not look like them or they do look like them only separates our city further.”
The crux of the matter seems to be that cars, visiting at least one of the homes on the short street, are parking on the north and south sides of the road and are restricting access and has resulted in several calls to the police.
At the May 28 session, a question posed to Police Chief Edrick Hall by Alderman Ruben Woods caused the issue to resurface even though it was not on the agenda. Before the conclusion of the vote on the departmental reports Woods asked Hall if his department had any record of response to any calls on Henderson Street.
Hall affirmed that they have responded to several reports of cars being parked on both sides of the street, which allegedly hindered the traffic flow. Woods then wanted to know how they had handled it.
Hall stated that before the “no parking” signs were installed, his officers could only direct the drivers to move the vehicles and make sure they were pointed in the right direction.
Woods subsequently alluded to “some type of feud” between the neighbors being the deep-seated issue and not just the parking. Hall explained that it started from the parking but escalated into other problems that resulted in some of the neighbors filing charges against the others.
Henderson Street resident Orgle Singleton stepped up to speak about the apparent turmoil among the neighbors. She said although there were problems among the Henderson Street residents even before she moved there less than a year ago, a new source of contention seems to stem from the belief that her daughter is responsible for ruts in a neighbor’s yard.
Without mentioning any names or addresses, Singleton said her neighbors have also reported her son to the police for simply standing on the street in front of their house.
Singleton alluded to the placement of the signs being directed towards her household and maintained that when the signs went up, she had questions.
“My rights is just like anybody else’s,” she said.
Singleton mentioned that she had attempted to query the mayor about the signs, but he wasn’t in his office that day, so she took her issue to some of the aldermen.
She asked, “How can they do this without informing the neighbors and I asked them on the street, they said they didn’t know nothing about it.”
Rosenthal asserted that wasn’t true and that every neighbor on the street, except Singleton, had called and complained.
“Complained about what,” Singleton queried.
Rosenthal responded, “There are some problems I understand, about your son dropping his pants in the middle of the street, those are the kinds of problems we’re dealing with, and with no underwear.”
Singleton denied the allegation that her son was not wearing underwear at the time and accused Rosenthal of listening to only one side of the story, which he denied.
In her address to the Mayor and Aldermen, Singleton also denounced an insinuation made in a statement by Rosenthal and published in the May 16 edition of the E-T.
“It’s not a discrimination thing. It’s not the color of your skin. It’s what’s right, and I feel that this right here is not right that you’re trying to satisfy one person on the street because of what they’re wanting and they’re at the end.”
Alderman Woods asked Chief Hall for the names of the complainants and two other Henderson Street residents, only identified by their addresses, came to the podium to address the board. One lady said her home was at the end of the street and emergency vehicles have to pass Singleton’s home in order to get to her.
“I have Lupus, a pace-maker, heart disease, lung disease and liver disease and no time for BS,” she said.
The 10-year resident said Singleton has been there less than a year but she has had to call officers out at least seven times because the street was blocked. And referring to the man standing with her, she said someone had also driven onto his property.
“Not the driveway, around the whole entire property,” she said.
The lady said during one instance three police cars responding to her address had to park at the end of the street. “Why? She said, “There was 15 cars across each other, blocking. (The) police cars couldn’t even get by.”
Rosenthal referenced a statement reportedly made by City Attorney Gary Austin that a 10-foot clearance is needed to allow proper traffic flow and Rosenthal asserted that with two cars parked parallel, it would not allow for proper clearance.
She then shared some statistical data on the width of the road, the size of the average car and the width of police SUVs, ambulances and fire trucks before surmising, “You can’t get another average vehicle between them.”
She underscored that to be the problem and claimed there is video plus charges pending at the police department to prove “All of the other stuff brought up.”
And before taking her seat the woman said in refutation to an earlier remark, “And I did speak with all the other residents that were there and they are the only ones that said no and I didn’t bother asking them because I already knew the answer.”
The city leaders took no action.