South Bend Joe Kernan has been the Mayor of South Bend, and the Governor of Indiana, and today he played the role of a diplomat.
Kernan today called upon the current city council to get its act together. “I got sent over the edge a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking of ways we might be able to impact what I see as a very serious problem,” Kernan said at a morning news conference.
And just what sent Kernan ‘over the edge?’ “The much discussed Facebook posting,” he said, “And then the council went through an excruciating process to figure out what if any kind of being held accountable should be and came up empty.”
Days later, Kernan was disappointed when another citizen filed a complaint over a controversial retweet on the part of Councilman Henry Davis, Jr. “Of language that was so far out of bounds and unconscionable to lay that out in front of the men and women and particularly children in our community,” said Kernan. “Is, I think, a violation of the responsibilities that an elected official takes.”
Kernan wasn’t alone in expressing his frustrations. As he spoke at a Wednesday morning news conference he was flanked by former South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke, and two former members of the city council. “The image that we're presenting to the community is not the one that South Bend deserves,” said Luecke.
While Luecke realizes not all was rosy on the council during his terms in office, at least it wasn’t Roseland. “It’s been embarrassing to have the South Bend council compared to town council up the road.”
Former Councilwoman Ann Puzello fears that what happens in South Bend doesn’t necessarily stay in South Bend. “And so when we’re talking about business, and all sorts of things, and just respect in general, we don’t want to be the laughing stock of the State of Indiana.”
Current Council President Oliver Davis wasn’t laughing as he listened to the criticism. “But the fact that he's the former governor and everything else we respect him, we respect his jersey in the hall of fame and those in the hall of fame need to stay in the hall of fame,” said Davis. “Because they don’t understand what the issues are today.”
While Kernan has kept a low political profile since leaving the governor’s office, he chose to make a public statement now fearing that the only other opportunity for change would come during the 2015 city elections.