Hobart councilman apologizes for slamming fellow councilman
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent July 18, 2012 9:46PM
Updated: July 19, 2012 7:44PM
HOBART — Councilman Pete Mendez, D-2nd, received a public apology Wednesday from a fellow councilman who had publicly reprimanded Mendez for his actions at a neighboring council meeting.
“I made comments during our last meeting. In hindsight, I would have handled things differently. I apologize to Councilman Mendez for any pain I might have caused,” council president Dave Vinzant, D-4th, said during Wednesday’s Hobart City Council meeting.
Vinzant said he hoped the two could continue to work together on important issues facing the city.
Mendez accepted the apology and said he was happy Vinzant was willing to take the step.
Vinzant and Councilman John Brezik, D-5th, had publicly reprimanded Mendez at the last council meeting, saying Mendez had been disruptive at a Lake Station City Council meeting. Mendez, who owns vacant parcels in Lake Station, had attended the meeting to protest its stormwater fees.
Mendez had pointed out that people with contiguous lots could combine them at the Lake County Government Center and pay one fee for all the lots instead of a separate fee for each lot.
He has insisted he did nothing wrong and was not disruptive. He pointed out a grandchild read his letter to the Lake Station council for him.
Brezik was not at Wednesday’s meeting.
In other action, the council agreed to delay acting on a proposed ordinance that would ban parking on unpaved surfaces for an extended period of time.
Vinzant said people are parking their cars on their lawns and side yards for long periods of time.
“There’s nothing on the books that says people can’t park there,” Vinzant said.
City Attorney Anthony DeBonis is working on an ordinance that would require residents to park their cars, boat trailers and other vehicles on improved surfaces, not grass.
Mendez suggested the law have a six-hour limit so people having family parties wouldn’t be penalized.
Building inspector Mike Hannigan said he agrees that people shouldn’t be ticketed when having a party, but was against the six-hour limit.
“A judge will ask how long a person was parked on the lawn and they’ll say they don’t know,” Hannigan said.
A city officer suggested council members look at their districts before passing the ordinance.
“The amount of violations will be much higher than you might realize,” he said.