South Bend Common Council rejects resolution on reparations over lack of cover letter

NOW: South Bend Common Council rejects resolution on reparations over lack of cover letter

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A resolution proposed by South Bend Common Councilman Henry Davis Jr. to give reparations to the city’s African American community was struck down because it didn’t meet the legal standard for filing, leading to some accusations of councilmembers making it more difficult for each other to pass legislation.

Common Council President Sharon McBride said that the resolution shouldn’t have even been on the agenda in the first place, because of its improper filing.

“It was not sent to the council. It was not sent to the attorney. It did not have who the petitioner was and it had no formal cover letter, which is mandated in chapter two of the ordinance that it has to be filed,” said McBride.

Bill 22-61, a resolution for reparatory justice in South bend called for the Common Council to issue a formal apology to the city’s African American population, and make financial reparations by using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to invest in healthcare and affordable housing.

However, in a statement from Sharon McBride and Common Council Vice President Sheila Niezgodski, the resolution was improperly filed, lacking a legally required cover letter, and—after consulting with City Attorney Bob Palmer—called for the City Clerk Dawn Jones to remove the resolution from the agenda.

In her own statement, Clerk Jones accused the Common Council of restricting some of its members from being able to present new legislation to the council.

But McBride said the procedures in place are meant to help the council work together.

“One of the things I hear so much of as of late, is that we’re trying to take away the public’s rights,” said McBride. “Actually what we’re trying to do is make it more inclusive. For us not to have dialogue with one another, for us not to talk to the community and for us not to talk to the administration—that’s not a good bill, and we’re seeing a lot more divisiveness. In what my role is as the president of the council, is to make sure that the council business is done orderly and done right. So no matter what council person, if something is filed incorrectly, in the future, going forward, I will remove it also.”

McBride added that they want to have the City Attorney work with Councilman Henry Davis Jr. on future legislation to continue the conversation about racial equality in South Bend.

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