City officials raise questions about clerk-treasurer consultant


Over the last few months, tension has been building between Mayor Jim Brainard and Clerk-Treasurer Diana Cordray. Now, Brainard’s political allies are taking aim at one of Cordray’s closest advisors.

Questions are being raised about Mike Shaver, a consultant who helps Cordray with the finances of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission. Shaver, who is president of Wabash Scientific, said part of his job is to “ask important questions” in order to help improve transparency of the CRC and the city.


Shaver said he thinks “asking those questions” is why some people are now attacking him.

City Councilor Ron Carter requested all of the invoices related to Shaver’s consulting contract. Carter is critical of how much Shaver is paid and whether it’s appropriate for taxpayers to pay for his work.

Shaver submitted invoices of more than $82,000 for his work since 2012; $3,472.50 of that was for consulting for the City Council in 2012.

The Clerk-Treasurer’s Office had $29,500 budgeted for consultant work in 2014 but Shaver submitted invoices to a total of $68,490.

Carter said he wonders how Shaver can be paid more than the budget, but Cordray said the answer is simple: he wasn’t. Invoices can roll over into the next year’s budget and an invoice for $45,000 hasn’t been paid yet, so Cordray has not gone over budget.

Cordray also cites Ordinance D-1207-96 which states city departments can transfer funds between line items within budget classifications as long as it’s no more than $50,000 per line item per calendar year.

Shaver points out that many consultants end up doing more work than initially proposed. He said it is not uncommon to find out that a project is much bigger than originally imagined.

But the amount of money isn’t the main issue. Carter said it’s the substance of the work. He accuses Shaver of pushing an anti-Brainard agenda in what should be a nonpolitical role.

Cordray responds that “I’m nothing but non-political.”

Shaver said Carter is the one who is making this political.

While he used to be a behind-the-scenes influence, Shaver made news headlines last year when he accidentally left a joke in a report that was released by the Clerk-Treasurer. There was a flow-chart that spelled out what to do if there’s not enough money to pay Carmel’s debt and the final level of the chart read: “Shoot council, castrate mayor, put head between legs, kiss [explicit]goodbye!”

City Councilor Sue Finkam said she thought the “joke” was proof that there was a political bias to the report.

Much of Shaver’s responsibilities include improving transparency of city government, specifically the CRC. A new state law now means new reporting guidelines for redevelopment commissions and Cordray was given new duties as the treasurer of the CRC.

Shaver bills his services at $150 an hour and $90 an hour for his employee John Schutte.

Shaver himself admits he’s not an accountant, but an expert in municipal planning. But by admitting that he’s not an accountant, Carter said Shaver isn’t qualified to advise Cordray.

“Shaver admitted in an email to the City Council last June that he was not competent to review the finances of the 4CDC,” he said. “Based on that alone it would seem he is not competent to review the finances of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission either and his employment by Cordray is a total waste of Carmel tax dollars. This call for an audit based on Shaver’s recommendation is nothing more than partisan politics at its ugliest.”

Shaver and Cordray said Carter is mischaracterizing the work that they’ve done.

“It’s a transparency project, not an accounting project,” Cordray said. “That’s why we have asked for an independent audit to look at the numbers.”


City Councilor Rick Sharp said he’s been impressed by the work that Shaver has done for Cordray and he believes that Carter is delving into Shaver’s invoices only as a “political witch hunt.”

“I think that the work speaks for itself,” he said.