South Bend councilman garners another complaint in Twitter flap


Another South Bend taxpayer filed a formal complaint against Common Councilman Henry Davis, Jr. Monday in the city clerk's office. It's the second complaint in a week and the eleventh this year against Davis, Jr.

The latest complaint has to do with something the councilman re-tweeted about abortion and it's upsetting a lot of people. He did it just two days after the council president decided not to punish Davis, Jr. for a January Facebook post of a naked man and a dog engaging in a sex act.

Now the process to see whether the council will discipline Davis, Jr. for the latest social media flap starts all over again.

"I, as an employee couldn't get away with 6 months of having this kind of negative publicity for my job and I don't think our elected officials should either," said Rhonda Richards, the woman who filed a June 30 complaint against the councilman.

She's fed up with Davis, Jr.'s behavior on social media - including the June 25 re-tweet about abortion.

"He's not putting any value on life at all," Richards continued. "It's just too over the top to let it slide."

Richards said she wants the council to hold Davis, Jr. accountable.

A week after she filed the complaint, a South Bend woman named Barbara Jewell filed another one about the abortion re-tweet, calling it "obnoxious" and "obscene."

"Had he at least received a reprimand for the first occurrence, this offense could have been cobbled to it," Jewell wrote in her complaint.

"I think the people of South Bend have had enough, but apparently Val Schey and Oliver Davis haven't," said Becky Kaiser, a taxpayer who lives in Davis, Jr.'s district. "And so at some point we have to hold them responsible too. Because when they just swept away the original situation, they said it doesn't matter what a council person says or does."

Kaiser filed a police report against Davis, Jr. earlier this year after he posted a picture on Facebook of the naked man and dog. It was so disturbing to some that it's never been published in local media.

A special prosecutor cleared Davis, Jr. of any criminal wrongdoing in that incident.

At a June 23 meeting, council president Oliver Davis granted a motion by Davis, Jr. that the charges against him be stricken from the Common Council's agenda and be given no further consideration.

"So much of this is blurred lines where a public and private life come out," said Councilman Tim Scott, who won't talk specifically about the Davis, Jr. controversy.

Scott recently drafted 25 social media guidelines he thinks all council members should follow. He said he's asked all council members for their feedback on the draft and it will now be discussed at a future Information Technology Committee meeting, a committee that Scott chairs and Davis, Jr. is a member of.

Scott said he's hopeful the guidelines will go before the full council and eventually become part of its policy.

"A lot of it is common sense," he said.

"It is so far past common sense at this point that you have to take a good long look at Henry and his allies and say, 'What are you thinking?'" Kaiser asked.

The St. Joseph County Democratic Party is also asking the Common Council to settle this latest issue quickly and professionally. Party chair Jason Critchlow even apologized to anyone who may have been offended by the post.

During a brief phone call Monday, Davis, Jr. told WSBT reporter Kelli Stopczynski he's "not interested" in talking about the latest controversy.

The two complaints now go before the Council Rules Committee, made up of Valerie Schey, Dave Varner, Fred Ferlic and Oliver Davis.

WSBT left messages for Schey, Varner and Ferlic Monday to get their take on the Twitter flap involving Davis, Jr. Those messages were not immediately returned.