The tumultuous relationship between two South Bend Common Council members continued through email Friday morning.
On June 20, Derek Dieter wrote the following to Henry Davis Jr.:
I am doing a press event today at 4:15pm at Columbia and Monroe for the Get Booked program if you would like to attend.
Have blessed day,
Henry Davis Jr. responded:
Thank you for the invite however I do not think you are interested in my development as a person or public servant. I do not trust you because you have caused so much stress to me and my family it is unfathomable to think you want me to stand with you for the good of the children. You have filed a police report against my father because you think it is was a good thing. You are currently asking for more security for Monday's meeting as if my supporters are unruly or will behave inconsistently with the rules governing a public meeting and now you are trying to get me to stand with you so you can show yourself as a leader and for the people? Really? And the truth of the matter, I could continue with all of the traps you have set for my downfall but I am sure you know them better than I could state them. Derek you should be ashamed of yourself. This press conference is ALL about you and not the residents of the district that I have served faithfully since 2008.
I sincerely hope that you find a better way to serve the taxpayers of South Bend without serving yourself first---Please do not take this as 'angry' message because it is not. I just understand your angle and for my safety I cannot be apart of your traps any longer. As I type this message I cringe at pushing the send button because I only know you will probably use this against me, but let the chips fall where they may. I WILL continue to pray for you and your family. Have a blessed day and weekend.
Dieter recently filed a complaint against Henry Davis Sr., the father of Henry Davis Jr.
While the councilman’s father never laid a finger on Dieter, it’s alleged that he used one of his fingers as part of a hand gesture directed Dieter’s way.
“The report alleges that Mr. Davis' father got up from his seat, made an obscene gesture towards councilman Dieter and also used profanity toward him, and physically approached him, at which point councilman Dieter reports feeling intimidated by that,” said South Bend Police Captain Phil Trent.
It's this history between the two council members that prompted Henry Davis Jr. to respond with an extensive e-mail.
NewsCenter 16 spoke with Davis Friday afternoon, Davis explained that he was out of town and could not attend the press conference.
Davis said he sent the e-mail to local news outlets in order to get out "ahead" of any future controversy that may have arisen from skipping the event.
"I'm not trying to be aggressive," said Davis on the phone.
When asked about the invitation, Dieter said it's a standard courtesy for council members to inform their colleagues of events going on in their district.
"I have no idea what he's doing. I extended an invitation and I'll leave it at that," Dieter told NewsCenter 16.
Davis, however, said Dieter has never before extended him an invitation to something and felt this event was a "trap."
Council members Tim Scott and Dieter invited the public to a press conference Friday afternoon to announce the expansion of the Get booked program.
Several residents of Monroe Park, located within South Bend's second district, built a free standing book hut in their neighborhood. The hut is on the corner of South and Cornell in the city's northwest side.
"It's a great opportunity to expand literacy in the neighborhood," said Dieter before Friday's press conference.
The book hut mirrors a "Drop a Book-Take a Book" program that originated in Wisconsin. Residents can borrow a book from a hut, free of charge, read it and return it.
South Bend Common Council's Health and Public Safety Committee, along with the Residential Committee began a pilot program with the huts. Better World Book is supplying the initial books to stock the huts, and the council will monitor the flow of the books from hereon out.
Henry Davis Jr. said he thinks the free book huts are a good idea, but believes the program will benefit kids that already like to read. Getting children excited about literacy, Davis said, starts in the classroom--something Davis believes the second district is lacking in.
Moving forward, Davis said he wants to stay focused on getting things accomplished for his constituents. Including, expanding job and other economic opportunities.