- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 1, 2017

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) - The Portage City Council is calling for the city’s mayor to resign after he was charged with tax evasion and bribery in November.

Council President Mark Oprisko and Councilman John Cannon, the council’s lone Republican, met Monday with Republican Mayor James Snyder, The (Northwest Indiana) Times (https://bit.ly/2jVpjCh ) reported.

Oprisko said he told the mayor that if he chooses not to resign, he should just collect his salary and let the city move forward. He said the council will try to remove him as chairman of the Utility Services Board regardless of his decision.

“I basically told him how I feel, as well as the others, that it is time to resign. The focus is now more on the indictment and the charges than the city,” Oprisko said.

Four out of the five other council members said they agree with the request. The fifth, Pat Clem, was out of town.

Oprisko said they want the mayor to resign for several reasons, including recent spending trends and the mayor’s attempt to pay $93,000 of his personal legal fees prior to his indictment without seeking approval from the Utility Services Board.

Oprisko said the most recent reasons include a trip to Washington attend a mayor’s conference and the presidential inauguration, during which he brought his family and two police administrators.

Snyder said in a statement that he is dedicated to working with other elected officials and that any rash decisions would be detrimental to Portage.

“When I signed my oath of office there was no clause giving up my American civil rights, including my presumed innocence,” he said in the statement. “My rights and my oath of office are no different than Councilman Oprisko or Councilman Cannon’s rights.”

The mayor’s trial is scheduled for April 10.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.nwitimes.com

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