Saturday, March 29, 2008

Two on SB City Council appear to show lack of ethics

(from the South Bend Tribune with my comments in italics -KJH)

Council member driving without valid plate
Temporary tag on Cadillac expired 2 months ago

Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Driving a car with an expired paper plate is the same as driving an unlicensed vehicle, a police spokesman says.

So it begs the question why Henry Davis Jr., a South Bend Common Council member since Jan. 1, has been driving around for two months with such an expired plate on his car, and why he hasn't been ticketed.

His temporary registration tag has an expiration date of Jan. 29.

When questioned about the issue by telephone Thursday afternoon, Davis, D-2nd, said he has an extension on the temporary plate, but he declined to let a reporter see the relevant paperwork. He said he didn't understand why it's of interest to the press, and after a short conversation, he hung up.

Davis parks his 2003 Cadillac in a space marked "City Council" in a city-owned lot on Lafayette Boulevard. The lot is across the street from the County-City Building, where Davis is employed as a caseworker in the Child Support Services of the county prosecutor's office. His job is on the sixth floor of the County-City Building. He also has an office in the city council suite on the fourth floor.

His fourth-floor office is next to the office of Council Member Derek Dieter, D-1st, who works as a South Bend police corporal. Asked why he hasn't ticketed Davis, Dieter said police have jurisdiction on public property, and the car is parked on a private lot.

[Note Dieter's explanation is that he doesn't have jurisdiction]

But the lot is owned by the city, according to the mayor's office, and police can issue tickets on any public property, according to Capt. Phil Trent, spokesman for the South Bend Police Department.

[Dieter's explanation is directly contradicted by South Bend police dept. spokesperson]

Dieter said he has talked to Davis about the expired tag. City Clerk John Voorde said several council members have mentioned it to him. Davis has told them, Voorde said, that he's taking care of it. He allegedly told them he got a 60-day extension because he's waiting for a special plate."That would not be correct," James McCormick said about the extension. "We cannot do that."

[This implies Davis' stated explanation is patently false.]

McCormick owns McCormick Auto Sales, which sold the Cadillac to Davis in December. He also supplied the temporary tag. McCormick said his files indicate that no extension has been requested or granted.

[Again, implies Davis' explanation is patently false.]

Julie Fletcher, a spokeswoman for the BMV, said Friday that the BMV does not renew or extend paper plates. If a customer comes into a license branch to license or title a car, and some delay occurs, she said, the customer would be given a BMV-issued paper plate, which is different than a dealer-issued paper plate. The customer would have to display the BMV-issued plate in his car window, she said.

Violations of the temporary registration laws are a Class C infraction. The fine would be only $1, but court costs would be $112.50.

[From a comment posted to the South Bend Tribune's forum in response to the article:
What sad behavior for a local official. Henry Davis is only in office for 3 months and this is how he carries on? Davis obviously lacks the maturity and integrity to serve the public. Instead of just admitting his fault to a Sulok, paying a small fine and rectifying the matter, he chooses to lie to her and then gets caught. Is he just that stupid? His arrogance shows a lack of respect for those he was elected to serve and behavior like his continues to feed the cynicism that the public has toward elected officials. The people of the second district will soon realize what they lost in the way of a 1st class city council representative when they chose to replace Charlotte Pfeifer. Davis has a long way to go to fill her shoes.

Derek Dieter doesn't do himself any good either. As a city councilman and a police officer he doesn't know that the lot where all those city officials park is owned by the city? Give me a break. And if he really didn't know, he could have found that out in 5 minutes with a phone call when it was brought to his attention. Just looks like one "good old boy" covering for another. By the way, now that he knows it, will a ticket be written and the car towed.]