South Bend, Ind. The South Bend Common Council voted Monday to consider adopting a set of personnel policies for council members in the wake of member Henry Davis Jr.’s current medical leave.
There are currently no guidelines governing leave for council members.
While Davis’ name was never mentioned in the committee or council meeting, several council members privately acknowledged that the move is in response to Davis’ recent leave of absence.
“We want to put forth a program where we are accountable to the citizens,” said Council Member Fred Ferlic, who supported the adoption of a personnel policy. “If we misbehave… there's some censuring taking place or some accountability.”
Henry Davis Jr. announced his medical leave on July 28 following his July 19 arrest for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Davis was driving westbound in an eastbound lane on the U.S. 20/31 Bypass at the Crumstown Road overpass when he was pulled over by St. Joseph County Police.
The council decided to have the City’s HR Department put together a preliminary presentation on the topic with the help of the attorneys for the Council and the City.
The group has already started looking into the existing policies for elected officials in comparable cities. They are expected to present those findings next month.
Council President Oliver Davis was the only person to cast a vote against the resolution.
He said the council is giving a knee-jerk reaction to the current situation with Davis Jr.
“You can let go an employee but you can't let go an elected official,” Oliver Davis said. “To compare both of them is not justice, and for us to say we're going to do this, who’s going to enforce it?
Dr. Ferlic felt such a policy should be enforceable.
“I'm not above the law, I should be no different than any company. I'm an employee of the city basically. I'm an employee of the citizens and I have to be accountable,” Ferlic said.
Davis’ next hearing in Traffic & Misdemeanor Court is scheduled for Sept. 5.