Councilman Prasad Resumes His Council Business To Mostly Jeers, Some Cheers

Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad faced a barrage of criticism, and some support, upon his Nov. 27 return to his council duties.

Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad has ended his self-imposed exile from council business, attending the Nov. 27 meeting and facing his supporters and detractors.

The embattled Prasad (D-At Large) came under fire in recent months for the way in which he handled the approval process for a proposed “Peace and Non-Violence” monument park on some township open space, and for a racially charged comment he made to the administrator of licensing issues for the estate of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. for a statue for that park.

Prasad’s actions in apparently steering a township landlord to a municipal court judge to help the landlord with an eviction matter are also apparently under review by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

Prasad’s last meeting was Oct. 9, at which time his statement that he would be stepping aside from council business for a “few weeks” was read.

Prasad had until Dec. 4 to return to the council; state law mandates that an elected governing official who is absent from their duties for eight consecutive weeks automatically vacates that seat. The next council meeting isn’t until Dec. 11.

Prasad and the rest of the all-Democratic council was lambasted by residents, many of whom are actively seeking Prasad’s recall. Several residents called for him to resign at the Nov. 27 meeting.

There were also a handful of Prasad’s supporters on hand to greet Prasad on his return.

Among those supporters was Vinod Gupta, who said any of Prasad’s “mistakes” should be forgotten.

“The question is we should ask, is what are we going to do,” he said. “Are we going to live in the past or are we going to prepare for a better future?”

Answering his own question, he said, “Forget the past, we all make mistakes. Let’s worry about the future.”

Skip Schaeffer was among those who answered Gupta.

“I’d like to ask that gentleman, is that what you teach your children?” he said. “That when you do something wrong, you’re not held accountable. That when you do something wrong, there’s not a penalty to pay.”

“There’s going to be a cloud over this chamber, and it’s brought on by one person, and it’s been for the last three years,” he said, referencing the Catalpa Park controversy of 2015.

“His actions in this chamber representing the people of this township over the last three years, he’s proven himself to be morally and ethically challenged,” Schaeffer said. “He’s proven himself to be a liar, to accept no responsibility, to show no remorse for these actions. It’s not personal attacks, it’s his actions in these chambers that demand he resign.”

Addressing Prasad, Schaeffer said, “Until you’re gone, there will continue to be a cloud over these chambers, we will not forget your actions, we will continue to remind this council of the shame and embarrassment you have brought to them, multiple times. Your usefulness and your effectiveness as a councilperson in this town are over, it’s done.”

Chandrakant Desai told the council that “We should highly appreciate (Prasad), he is working hard for everyone.”

Also referencing Gupta’s remarks, Sam Velu said, “Some people say mistakes can be made, let’s move forward. Mistakes can be made once, mistakes can be made twice. Mr. Rajiv Prasad, it is time for you to resign.”

Another of Prasad’s supporters noted that he had helped several other council members with their elections, a fact that Velu did not leave unnoticed.

“I ask all the councilmen here, from what I heard, all of you received help from him, that means you do not have the guts to tell him to resign,” Velu said. “That means money is gone, or some other help has been given to you guys.”

“This is about following the process and making sure you are taking care of all the people, not just your people,” he said.

Rob Peterson also called on Prasad to resign.

“Mr. Prasad, I would call upon you to do the right thing, to resign,” he said. “I would call upon the council if he fails to do that to ask publicly for his resignation, to come out on record and indicate why you feel his historical pattern of disrespect for this community and disrespect for each of you on the council is tolerated. I don’t understand it.”

Rob Trautmann asked Prasad if he would refund the township the amount of his salary and benefits accrued during his absence.

“To the rest of the council, you all have a pretty hard job,” he said. “With you having such difficult jobs, why are you making it harder on yourselves by carrying Prasad’s water? Why are you letting him drag you all down?”

“You can thank him now because he stayed away for the election, and now you can actually stand up and do what the citizens are demanding you do, and that is asking him to resign,” Trautmann said.

Prasad did not address any of the comments when it came his turn to speak during the “council comment” section of the meeting.

“I’m glad to be back here to serve the voters that elected me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity and I will continue to do so to he best of my ability,” he said.

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate live streamed public and council comments:

Township Council meeting; Prasad’s Return

Posted by The Franklin Reporter & Advocate on Tuesday, November 27, 2018



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