SOUTH BEND, IND-- A South Bend councilman didn’t violate his oath of office, but may have acted against the rules of decorum when he posted a graphic photo to his Facebook page.
That’s according to Council Attorney Kathy Cekanski-Farrand’s 55-page report about the incident, which she handed over to the rules committee during a special meeting Friday afternoon.
“It is in my opinion that there are material allegations that could be substantiated,” she told the council.
The photo in question showed a man engaged in an explicit act with a dog. Henry Davis Jr. posted it to his Facebook page, along with a link to a blog on Jan. 26.
In the report, Davis Jr. said he was “aware that it was disgusting” but he “wanted people to pay attention to what was going on.”
He also stated he “did not take the picture --- it must be encrypted or embedded.”
“It’s not about Henry, it’s about what Henry did,” said South Bend resident Becky Kaiser. “And, he still doesn’t seem to understand that he had to go look for that picture. And, then, he posted it somewhere where everyone could see it.”
Kaiser was one of nine people who filed formal complaints against Davis Jr. because of the post. Six of them were interviewed as part of Cekanski-Farrand’s report.
The rules committee will read over the hefty document before making a decision on how to move forward. Once they get through the report, Cekanski-Farrand will give them a confidential 5-page advisory recommendation that won’t be made public until their next public meeting. Council members will not be allowed to discuss the recommendation with citizens or the media until then.
If they find Davis Jr. in violation, the council could vote to censure him or ask him to resign from committees or office.
The controversy highlights the lack of official guidelines for council members regarding their use of social media.
“In addition to the city of South Bend Common Council page, the city of South Bend has eight other governmental Facebook pages that are operating,” Cekanski-Farrand said. “As of this date, there are no citywide policies in place. That is a concern that I think has to be addressed.”
The rules committee plans to meet again to discuss the controversy the first week of April.