Lawrence council votes to hire Frost Brown Todd law firm


In a split vote Jan. 17, the Lawrence Common Council voted in favor of hiring Frost Brown Todd law firm as its new legal counsel.

The motion was approved 5-3 with one abstention from Councilmember Carlos Jennings (D-District4). Councilors voting in favor were Tyrrell Giles (D-District 1), Rick Wells (D-District 2), Lisa Chavis (D-at-large), Liz Masur (D-at-large) and Kristie Krone (D-District 6).

Councilors Sherron Freeman (D-District 3), Betty Robinson (D-at-large) and Zach Cramer (D-District 5) voted against a contract with Frost Brown Todd.

An earlier motion to hire Ice Miller law firm failed 3-5, with Freeman, Robinson and Cramer voting in favor.

Before the vote, John Gregg of Ice Miller’s Government Affairs and Regulatory Law Group spoke briefly to the council.

“I have experience with municipalities,” he said. “I used to work at AIM (Accelerate Indiana Municipalities) before coming to Ice Miller — been at Ice Miller three years, I was at AIM for about four years, where I’ve dealt with municipalities all across the state. And while I’ve been at Ice Miller, I also deal with municipalities across the state as well, ranging from councils to redevelopment commissions, etc.”

Giles asked whether Gregg had experience helping cities with energy savings, noting that it is one of the council’s more complicated responsibilities. Gregg said he had not worked on that in Indiana, but he did help cities with federal energy regulations in Georgia.

A representative from Frost Brown Todd spoke to the council at its previous meeting. Only two law firms were up for consideration.

The council’s previous attorney was Kristina Wheeler of Bose McKinney & Evans.

The council also heard a brief report from Deputy Chief of Staff LeAndre Level, who said Mayor Deb Whitfield has made some appointments to the Board of Works and Safety: Jim Perron, former mayor of Elkhart; Barb Lawrence, Marion County treasurer; and Lawrence Chief of Staff Zachary Brown.

Level also reported that the sprinkler system in the day room at Fire Station 37 on German Church Road had burst a few days prior but had been fixed. He said he would report back with any expenses not covered by insurance.

Councilor Wells asked Level whether the mayor’s office would be open to a discussion about establishing enforcement powers for zoning rules. He said without enforcement, businesses can violate zoning regulations and there’s nothing the city can do about it.

Level said he would gather more information about that to share with the council.

The next Lawrence Common Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Lawrence Government Center, 9001 E. 59th St.