WSW: A Battle Over Ethics and Accountability

Jul 13, 2015

Battle Creek City Hall - file photo
Credit WMUK

When Battle Creek City Commissioner Jeff Domenico was the subject of an ethics hearing he walked out just as the meeting began. A week later he argued with fellow commissioners while the meeting was being adjourned. 

Battle Creek Enquirer Government Accountability Reporter Jennifer Bowman joined WMUK’s Gordon Evans via Skype to recap the debate. Domenico has posted a number of stories and comments on Facebook which have been critical of the city’s police department. Bowman says that led three commissioners to call for a hearing to determine if Domenico had violated the city’s ethics code.

Bowman describes the June 23rd meeting as “pretty lively” at least at the beginning. Domenico called a “point of order” over how the meeting was conducted, and said it violated the Open Meetings Act. When his motions were denied, Domenico walked out.

Domenico acknowledges that he probably broke the city’s ethics code. But Bowman says Domenico believes that he would have broken the ethics code if he didn’t stand up for citizens. The Ward 5 Commissioner says that’s also part of the ethics policy. 

Commissioners determined that Domenico’s violation merits a “verbal reprimand.” Bowman says Domenico was supposed to meet with Mayor Deb Owens and Lynn Ward-Grey, but he did not show up for that meeting.

Bowman says other commissioners showed their frustration with Domenico when they adjourned the July 7th meeting while Domenico was arguing with them. Bowman says it doesn’t seem likely that the commission will try to remove Domenico from the commission. But she says Domenico is likely to continue his criticism of the police department Domenico has not said if he will seek re-election in November.