SOUTH BEND, Ind. — WNDU Reporter Monica Murphy ignored standard journalistic ethics involving a conflict of interest by failing to disclose her relationship to her uncle in a recent story. The article appears to be an attempt to shame Republican members of the St. Joseph County Council who are looking to potentially pull funding from a failed homeless program that has been spearheaded by the reporter’s uncle, Democrat politician and former St. Joseph County Auditor, Mike Hamann.
Currently, the St. Joseph County Council is looking at potentially pulling funding from the Motels4Now homeless program due to major problems it has caused on the westside of South Bend. A REAL News Michiana investigation uncovered police have been called to the location of the program more than 1,000 times since it opened in the old Knights Inn on Lincolnway West in 2020. Multiple businesses have also left the area due to the increase in crime the Motels4Now program brought with it.
Multiple people spoke in opposition of the program at a County Council meeting on February 14th. Despite the numerous testimonies of problems being caused by the program, Murphy did not mention it in her story. Instead, she quoted her politician uncle.
“I looked in her eyes and I saw Christ. I saw Jesus Christ. Looking at me and saying, ‘do not look away from me. Do not look away. Please help me. I didn’t see drug, adult criminals...,” said Former St. Joseph County Commissioner Mike Hamann.
PLEAS FOR HELP IGNORED BY WNDU
In fact, Murphy ignored all of the pleas for help from businesses and residents of the area near the Motels4Now program, including a mother who says she can no longer allow her kids to play in their own yard.
"When I moved to the neighborhood my kids were able to play... now, none of them are able to do that because of the things that we experience." Tina Wilson said during public comment at the February 14th meeting. "I keep hearing of what will happen if we see the tents downtown, or afraid of losing business... the thing is, it's still happening. It's just happening in my neighborhood."
"I can't go outside of my home without taking a firearm because sometimes these people approach me." Wilson continued. "I've had these people camping in my backyard... They come off that property and sleep on my property at night. They leave their needles. They leave their trash. And, they leave everything else."
"I've never been as scared." A local business owner testified. "The westside gets the short end of the deal for everything."
That business owner, who has owned a flower shop in the area for 28 years, also said her shop has been broken into multiple times since the Motels4Now program started. She never had problems prior.
"I'm tired of picking up needles. I'm tired of picking up beer bottles. I'm tired of seeing homeless people walking down the street everyday." She said. "I shouldn't have to live like that in fear. It's my business. I worked for everything I've got. And, I don't want anybody to take that away from me."
MURPHY'S CONNECTION TO MIKE HAMANN
Former St. Joseph County Auditor, Mike Hamann, has been a major advocate for the Motels4Now program since it started. Hamann is Monica Murphy's uncle. However, their relationship is never disclosed in her story.
According to social media posts by Murphy, it appears she has a close relationship with her uncle and his wife, Lori Hamann, who is currently a Democrat member of the South Bend Common Council.
Since 2011, Murphy has advocated for her politician relatives on her Facebook page. She made numerous posts pushing for people to vote for her uncle when he ran for Mayor of South Bend in 2011. She also worked on the campaign for his wife when she ran for Common Council starting in 2014. It also appears she spoke at her aunt and uncle's wedding and she has posted multiple pictures of her at events with her Democrat politician family members. Murphy is also the daughter of current Democrat St. Joseph County Auditor, John Murphy.
CRIME RIDDEN PROGRAM
The Motels4Now program currently operates in South Bend and has been a massive strain on first responders in the city. Since opening in 2020, police have been called to the Motels4Now location at the old Knights Inn on Lincolnway West more than 1,000 times. The "low barrier" facility has been the scene of countless drug overdoses, thefts and batteries, while purporting to be helping those most in need in our community. "Low barrier" means there are essentially no rules for being admitted and housed, allowing drugs and crime to run rampant. The program is also asking for $1.65 million in additional funding from St. Joseph County in order to keep its doors open while Democrats have been soliciting activists to intimidate elected officials into funding the failed program.
Police responded 250 times from December of 2021 through December of 2022. The calls include everything from stabbings to overdoses, sexual assaults and thefts.
While a large number of the calls (42) from the past year were for reporting “Unwanted Persons,” it is apparent crime is a major problem with the program located at the old Knights Inn on Lincolnway West in South Bend. Below is a breakdown of some of the highlights.
Assault: 17 Calls
Theft: 15 Calls
Disturbance: 15 Calls
Overdose: 14 Calls
Threat: 10 Calls
Suspicious Activity: 8 Calls
Fighting: 4 Calls
Burglary: 3 Calls
Weapons: 3 Calls
Shots Fired: 3 Calls
Harassment: 3 Calls
Vandalism: 2 Calls
Stabbing: 1 Call
Sex Assault: 1 Call
Drugs: 1 Call
It also turns out, the taxpayer has already footed the bill for this nuisance property at the tune of millions of dollars. Through the end of 2021, the program received $2,076,514 from St. Joseph County. In 2022, the property owner received $268,975 in taxpayer dollars from the county himself. And, that’s not including emergency rental assistance that has been paid out at taxpayer expense.
In a typical circumstance, a property like this would be considered a “nuisance property” facing several costly fines with the potential of being shut down. It’s unclear if any fines have been levied against the Motels 4 Now program or the property owner. RNM has requested that information and is waiting for it to be provided.
REAL News Michiana reached out to Murphy for comment on this story. As of publication, she has not responded.
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If someone did something like this in my field, we would likely be fired and fighting for our licenses. I wonder what consequence this reporter will face for failure to disclose a conflict of interest?
Someone needs to complain to her station manager that’s a breach of ethics