Donna Pandori

South Bend Council Members Henry Davis Jr. & Oliver Davis Do Not Support Equal Rights For GLBT?

Filed By Donna Pandori | June 26, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
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Many in South Bend are praising Mayor Steve Luecke for his executive order issued Wednesday that bans GLBT discrimination of city employees and prospective workers. However, council members Henry Davis Jr. (district 2) and Oliver Davis (district 6) are not.

In 2006 the Common Council considered a similar proposal which would have banned GLBT discrimination city-wide but the measure was defeated by "one vote".

Council members Henry Davis Jr. and Oliver Davis were not on the council in 2006 so it is not clear how they would have voted but their initial reaction to Mayor's executive order sheds light on how they might vote in the future.

Mayor Luecke's motive for issuing the executive order:

The City of South Bend is a progressive community that believes in freedom and equality of opportunity for all. We treat everyone with dignity and respect," Luecke said. "This order ensures that my administration will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment decisions, including hiring, firing, promotion, compensations or other terms and conditions of city employment.

The executive order seems pretty straight forward. A person will be judged solely on the basis of individual merit. Everyone deserves to be treated respectfully and with dignity. If you do a good job you should be promoted and if you are a qualified person you should be hired. Not "special rights" just the "same rights" as everyone else.

Why would anyone object to this?

Council member Henry Davis Jr. had this to say to WSBT:

"This is going to come back to the council at an extreme time and give us more work rather than focusing on the budget," said council member Henry Davis, Jr.

First of all this isn't going to cost the taxpayers a dime. Second of all, is council member Henry Davis Jr. implying an area as important as insuring equal rights for all is too "inconvenient" for him to take time to deal with? Well, this is not the first time he has found something too "inconvenient" to deal with.

Progressives, South Bend provides us with this insight, Two on SB City Council appear to show lack of ethics , pertaining to an incident investigated by South Bend Tribune Staff Writer Nancy Sulok in March 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

NANCY J. SULOK
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 Davisin 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 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.]

(Coincidentally, council member Derek Deter voted against the 2006 Human Rights proposal that would have added protection for the GLBT community)

I think that pretty much covers it for Henry Davis Jr.. How embarrassing. Let's move on to council member Oliver Davis whose reaction captured by WSBT was this:

Council Vice President Oliver Davis told WSBT he is still taking feedback from constituents in his district.

"I think the issue is not only to have the executive order put in, but also to get the buy-in from the community," Davis said.

He also said he's heard from constituents on both sides of the issue -- but more people are against the equal rights proposal than for it.

"Buy in from the community"? Does this mean he will oppose equal rights as long as the "majority" of his constituents tell him to do so? That seems rather unjust wouldn't you say?

Hmm. Apparently council member Oliver Davis, an Assistant Professor of Social Work and BSW Program Director at Andrews University, is either leading two separate lives or he doesn't embrace the philosophies in a Field Manual authored by the very department he works for at Andrews University.

Excerpts from the Andrews University Department of Social Work "Field Manual":

We affirm
- That God's Kingdom embraces and includes all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, class, gender, sexual orientation, cultural background, religious belief, health status, ability, choice or action;
- The life and example of Jesus, who modeled a life of compassionate service to others and sought to end institutional and social oppression and improve the lives of others in the here and now;
- That all people possess strengths and are resilient and capable of love, respect and self-determination;
- The values of self-determination, individual worth and dignity and the importance of life.

We lament
- The institutional and social pain which humans inflict on one another, whether rooting in power, religious intolerance or secular philosophy;
- The injustice and violence which pervades our communities and our world;
- The fear and selfishness expressed in racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and homophobia which separate us from one another;
- The exploitation of the earth and its poor for economic gain;
- The ways in which those with power attempt to impose their beliefs and will on the powerless, whether because of religious or secular dogma, ignorance, ideology or personal gain;
- The ways we fail to consistently demonstrate God's message of peace, hope, impartial justice, holistic healing and unconditional love for all communities and all others;

Nondiscrimination Statement
"Andrews University is committed to the same policy of nondiscrimination in education, research and all aspects of faculty, staff, student and alumni relations. All personnel policies, including all matters affecting compensation, benefits, promotions and employee discipline, are administered without regard to race, color, creed, ethnic background, country of origin, age, sex, height, weight, physical handicap, marital status, political preference, gender, sexual orientation or past military service."

There has not been any justifiable explanations forthcoming from either of these two council members to merit their non-support of Mayor Lueck's executive order.

Those who oppose extending equal human and civil rights to the GLBT community are running out of wiggle room to continue their, for lack of better word, bigotry.

Change is coming to Indiana.


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