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Council votes to protect puppies;
White named to library board

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The Indianapolis City-County Council voted unanimously on two major proposals during its regular meeting March 6, including banning the retail sale of commercially raised cats, dogs and rabbits in pet stores in the city.

In a vote of 23-0, the Council approved Proposal 66, appointing former Martin University president and IPS superintendent Dr. Eugene White to the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees.

By the same margin, the Council approved Proposal 57, which Councilor John Barth said would effectively put a stop to the “puppy mill to retail pipeline.”

Proposal 57 received an outpouring of support as community members, animal welfare groups and businesses came to the meeting wearing purple and carrying small purple paw print shaped signs reading “vote yes.”

“This is something people want to see happen,” said Barth, who co-sponsored the bill alongside Zach Adamson, Dan Boots, Jason Larrison and Ali Brown. “I don’t like it when Indianapolis is behind the curve, and we are in this situation.”

Barth said the Council has been working on this proposal for more than a year and he’s disappointed Indianapolis was behind more than 400 cities, including 13 in Indiana, that have already passed similar bills. 

Pet stores in the city currently selling puppies and kittens will have two years to transition into a new business model, including the option of selling animals from rescue organizations, such as Animal Care Services and IndyHumane. But the sale of commercially raised animals will be prohibited.

Proposal 66

Councilor Monroe Gray first introduced the proposal during its regular meeting Feb. 6, where it was assigned to the Municipal Corporations Committee, which Gray chairs. The committee then voted 7-0 in favor of White during its meeting Feb. 8. The proposal moved back to the full Council March 6 where they voted 23-0 in approval.

White’s appointment to IndyPL’s Board of Trustees fills the vacancy left by TD Robinson, whose resignation was announced in January, and completes the board at seven members.

“I want to thank him for his continued service to the City of Indianapolis in so many different capacities,” councilor Keith Graves said, adding that White was somewhat of “a legend in our city for his many community contributions.” 

White is well-known for his robust career in education and administration in both K-12 and postsecondary education. In 1990, White became the first Black principal of North Central High School in Washington Township, and in 1994, he became superintendent of Washington Township.

White later served as superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools in 2005, where he was credited with cutting the high school dropout rate by 50% in five years. White was named president of Martin University in 2013 and retired from the predominantly Black Institution in 2018. 

Stephen Lane, who was appointed to the library board by the IPS school board in January, said he looks forward to working with White. Lane, who said he hasn’t felt very welcomed by library board president Hope Tribble, said he hopes White’s appointment will help to smooth over any tensions remaining so the board can find a way to work together.

“Now that we have a full board, this definitely gives us the opportunity to figure out a path forward following our strategic plan,” Lane said, “and making sure that we are also following the recommendations of climate improvement study, which was meant to rebuild the trust between the board and the community as well as the library workers.”

Michael Torres, president of the Library Union, said he feels hopeful now that the library board is full.

“I’m elated that we’re going to have a full board and I think we’re pretty hopeful that the candidate, Dr. White, is coming in,” Torres said. “He’s supportive of what’s been going on and he’s paying attention. So, we’re hoping he’s making some changes.” 

The next full council meeting will take place April 3 at 7 p.m. at the City-County Building in Downtown Indianapolis.

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-726-7848 or chloegm@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.

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