South Bend mayor calls for special meeting with Common Council

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 2:29 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - South Bend Mayor James Mueller announced a special meeting of the South Bend Common Council on Feb. 6.

At the special meeting, the Common Council will consider all items from the regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 23 that was canceled due to a recommendation from the Public Access Counselor (PAC) regarding the state’s Open Door Law.

One of the items that was set to be discussed was a reparatory justice resolution. Earlier this week, local groups called for an investigation into the cancellation of that meeting.

The committee will have 15 minutes to talk about the resolution.

“But just the amount of time that they are giving us with these meetings, and even the meeting on Monday at 3:30 for fifteen minutes, you have to do this,” said Community Member Bruce Mitchell.

The meeting is taking place in the Board of Public Works Conference Room, which is on the 13th floor of the County-City Building.

Some are wondering if meeting in a conference room, which holds about 50 people, was done to restrict attendance.

“It reduces public input. It reduces the idea that the public should be a part of this process...We need to expand access for the public. The public deserves to have access. We could have went to Ignition Park. We could have went to Howard Park. We could have went to one of the local schools to have the meeting. We do not need to be in such a crammed space,” said South Bend Common Council Member Henry Davis Jr.

Mueller’s administration says the meeting is in the conference room due to room availability.

“I’m glad that the Common Council and I have identified a time to move the many important agenda items forward,” Mueller said in a press release sent out on Wednesday afternoon regarding the special meeting. “Among the items under consideration on Monday will be a resolution to approve financing for transformative projects across our city, including additional funding for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Center, Linden Avenue Streetscape, Kennedy Park, Elwood sidewalks, Walker Field, the Beacon Integrative Health and Lifestyle District, and new trail connections.”

On Jan. 20, the Council Attorney spoke with the state PAC about the status of notices for the Jan. 23 Common Council meetings. The specific violations of the Open Door Law identified from that conversation were:

  • No physical posting of a notice of the full Council meeting at Council Chambers more than 48 hours prior to the meeting.
  • No physical posting of the times for individual committee meetings on Chambers more than 48 hours prior to the meeting.

The PAC further advised the Council Attorney that the Common Council could not legally convene either Committee or full Council meetings on Jan. 23 and suggested to have Mueller call a special meeting of the Council as soon as all of the paperwork could be processed.

That paperwork has now been processed, and the Mueller has called a special meeting for Feb. 6 pursuant to Chapter 2, Article 1, Section 2-5 (a) of the South Bend, Indiana Municipal Code.

The full meeting agenda is attached below:

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