County commissioners to further discuss McDonough situation

CENTREVILLE — The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners will look further into what actions they can take regarding County Prosecutor John McDonough.

Third District Commissioner and Commission Chair Dennis Allen said during Tuesday’s meeting via Zoom teleconference the commission will take up that discussion topic at their next executive committee meeting, scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 29. The meeting is open to the public and is expected to be done via Zoom teleconferencing.

“At that time, we as a board can discuss the options and so forth according to the commission’s bylaws,” Allen said.

The discussion comes following the submission to the board members Monday of a letter signed by over 20 local constituents, including 59th District Rep. Aaron Miller and several township officials, calling on commissioners to ask for McDonough’s resignation.

McDonough, who has been prosecutor for the past 12 years and is seeking re-election this year, has been under fire in the past several weeks following an alleged drunk driving crash on May 11 in Lockport Township. On June 23, he was charged by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and having open intoxicants inside a motor vehicle. He is scheduled for a pre-trial appearance in St. Joseph County 3B District Court Friday, presided over by Kalamazoo County District Court Judge Vincent C. Westra.

While the letter does touch on the May 11 incident, it also alleges multiple problems with McDonough’s leadership at the prosecutor’s office, including a “continual lack of leadership, lack of work ethic, and mismanagement of the entire office.” The lack of leadership claim, according to the letter, also alleges a “habitual lack of attendance at his workplace for the last several years,” causing a “catastrophic backlog of criminal cases that has clogged the entire criminal justice system.”

Multiple citizens addressed the letter during the public comment section of Tuesday’s meeting, including Tadd Davis of Colon Township, one of the letter’s co-signers. He said the reason for the letter was not just about the upcoming primary election in two weeks, where McDonough will face local attorney Dave Marvin for the Republican nomination for prosecutor.

“We don’t want to continue paying Mr. McDonough through the end of the year if he’s not going to come back and do the job,” Davis told commissioners. “Even if he doesn’t win the election, we still have to deal with it for the next six months. I really feel as representatives of our county, which you guys are, I encourage you to look into it further and do what you can and do the right thing.”

Second District Commissioner Kathy Pangle said she is looking forward to discussing the situation with their legal advisors.

“I feel we need to listen to our legal advisor on how we need to move forward,” Pangle said. “Speaking as a taxpayer and not as a member of the board, I’m supportive of the letter and those that signed it.”

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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