SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Former Gov. Joe Kernan took the South Bend Common Council to task Wednesday, accusing members of losing their focus and getting caught up in distracting issues and petty squabbles that are hurting the state’s fourth-largest city.
“I don’t think we can let this kind of behavior be the focus of everything that they do. It’s a waste of time, effort, energy, resources, money and it’s not acceptable,” said Kernan, who was elected mayor of South Bend three times before serving as lieutenant governor and governor.
The nine-member council has had infighting recently. Also, Council President Oliver Davis dismissed misconduct charges against council member Henry Davis Jr. after some city residents complained that he had posted in January an explicit photo on Facebook with a link to a blog that said Congress had legalized sex between humans and animals for members of the military.
Kernan, who hasn’t been publicly involved much in politics since leaving office nine years ago, didn’t name names on Wednesday. But he did say what led him to call a news conference was Davis Jr.‘s retweeting a tweet last month that was critical of Republicans.
Davis Jr., who later apologized for the Facebook post, declined comment Wednesday about Kernan’s statements.
Oliver Davis, who is not related to Henry Davis Jr., said he disagreed with Kernan that the council had lost its focus and said he was disappointed the former governor took his grievances public, calling the action “shabby.”
“What the governor has talked about is really something to be another distraction,” he said. “Therefore, we are moving forward.”
Kernan, who was surrounded by former Mayor Steve Luecke and other former city leaders during the news conference, said he hopes his statements will encourage council members to focus on issues important to the city. He said if they don’t, he will work to get new people elected.
“I don’t think this is a political issue as much as it is of taking responsibility and with that responsibility, accountability,” he said of the nine-member council, which has eight Democrats and one Republican.