City council disagrees on new committee: Bureaucratic or responsible?

Truth file photo

ELKHART — The Elkhart City Council this week created its own Internal Controls Committee in a 7-2 vote along party lines.

Council President Brian Dickerson, R-at large, led the effort to create the new committee. He said an ordinance adopted by the council at the beginning of the current term called out for a committee to be established when it would seem appropriate.

“Given the circumstances that we have had in trying to cultivate an environment for good internal control, there’s a lot of work to do there,” Dickerson said.

The council has held executive sessions to address internal controls issues multiple times this term.

He said many members of the City Council felt the workload created by those efforts called for the creation of a committee to handle that job. Dickerson’s six Republican colleagues voted yes, while the council’s Democratic members, Dwight Fish, D-4, and Brent Curry, D-5, voted against.

“I was shocked that two of the members of this council voted against that,” said Dickerson.

Fish said he believes the new committee will just create another level of bureaucracy.

“We’re not going to improve anything by not trusting the Mayor’s Office,” he said. “It’s not our job to train the Mayor’s Office. It’s not our job to show him where he’s made his mistakes.”

And that is what he believes the Republican council members are trying to do with this committee, he said.

Curry said there’s no need for another level of bureaucracy to get things done. He said sometimes it’s hard not to vote along party lines.

“There’s only two of us, there’s seven of us. Seven Republicans, the mayor is a Republican. We’ll see where the mayor falls on this thing,” Curry said.

Mayor Tim Neese does not have a say in the creation of council committees.

Fish said the Republican council members have had a number of issues with Neese.

“If they can’t get along, we’re just going to stand on the sideline and watch the crazy. You can quote me there - watch the crazy,” he said.

Dickerson said the council needs to establish a precedent that hasn’t been done set prior administrations.

“I don’t believe this is an issue of trust. I believe this is an issue of cooperation, and that both branches of the government need to work together, “he said. “We have a responsibility.”

Dickerson, as council president, has the power to appoint members to the committee and designate the chairperson and vice-chairperson of the committee. He must appoint members from both parties.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(1) comment


The new committee is to the Council President's discretion for use. The level of internal control and Elkhart's recent history would validate the need. It is not about trust with the Mayor's office but one of reasonable accountability and the State Constitution obligating any Council to money and budget oversight.

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