SOUTH BEND, Ind. — South Bend Common Council Member Henry Davis Jr. is calling for the FBI and others to open an investigation into potential fraud regarding actions taken by the current Council President, Sharon McBride.
“After much consideration and research, I am asking for a forensic audit into potential fiscal waste, fraud, and abuse.” Davis wrote in the statement. “The taxpayers of this city deserve an external investigation by the County Prosecutor’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The council neither voted on nor discussed a rate of pay for any contracted personnel to assist the council in any endeavor.” (Full statement below)
This follows an RNM story published last week, outlining the secret contract of a woman hired to do the job of the South Bend City Clerk, as well as one of her questionable invoices, charging the City of South Bend more than $11,500 for a month of work. The contract was never seen or approved by the entire Common Council. In fact, it appears Council President Sharon McBride and Vice President Sheila Niezgodski are the only two who even knew about it. It also appears none of the other council members were aware of the invoicing either.
The contract, which took effect in April of this year, is for former Chief Deputy Clerk Bianca Tirado. Sources tell RNM, she has been acting as the defacto City Clerk in her scope of duties. However, South Bend citizens are responsible for electing their City Clerk. The current Clerk is Dawn Jones. Jones was elected via a caucus following the departure of the previous clerk who vacated the seat at the beginning of her 4-year term.
The contract states, “The parties agree that the Consultant will be compensated at a monthly rate not to exceed $6,000 a month. It is understood that if performed hourly, the services to be provided would approximate $60 per hour for hours approved by the Common Council… Upon receipt of the Consultant’s monthly summary of services, the Common Council may request greater detail from the Consultant as it deems appropriate.”
Tirado’s last monthly invoice was for more than $11,500. Subscribers can view the contract and invoice here.
MCBRIDE RESPONSE TO RNM INVESTIGATION
Initially, McBride urged all councilmembers not to respond to RNM requests for comment, sending an email to of them claiming the City Attorney would be the point person regarding the issue. However, that changed yesterday. In news release of her own, McBride essentially called current City Clerk Dawn Jones incompetent to justify her actions.
“City Clerk Dawn Jones has never been elected by the voters of South Bend. She was selected through a special caucus vote of precinct chairs in August 2019. The special caucus was required by the departure of the then City Clerk, Kareemah Fowler, for a position with the South Bend School Corporation.” McBride wrote. “To the best of the knowledge of the Common Council, Clerk Jones had little, if any, experience with the practical duties and responsibilities of the City Clerk’s office including the statutory duty to act as the Clerk and administrative arm of the Common Council… Whether the lack of performance was the result of inexperience, lack of training, or otherwise is irrelevant.”
“(The contract) expenditure from the Council’s budget, like any other expenditure from the Council budget, was nonlegislative (sic) and did not require approval or a vote of the entire Council.” McBride went on to state.
McBride then goes on to lie in her statement, claiming all members were notified about the contract. Two members, Henry Davis Jr. and Eli Wax both confirmed with RNM that they had never seen the contract or invoices prior to RNM providing it to them.
You can read her entire statement below.
DAWN JONES RESPONDS
Following the scathing statement released by McBride, Clerk Dawn Jones released her own to combat the narrative being put out by McBride.
“The council is paying this individual between $6,000-11,000 per month with city tax
dollars to purportedly do the statutory work of the City Clerk, described in the contract as
training the city clerk staff.” Jones stated. “I did not see the (unsigned) contract until October 2022 and had been doing the work of City Clerk that whole time which included training my own staff. The presence of the hired consultant caused confusion and discord creating an oppressive and hostile environment for my staff. According to Chapter 2 of the Indiana Code, the City Clerk is responsible for their own staff.”
You can read Jones’ entire statement below.
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