Dr. Joe Schwarz was called as a witness Tuesday in a Battle Creek ethics code violation hearing involving a city commissioner. Ward 5 commissioner Jeff Domenico was found to have violated the city’s ethics code by “publically attacked the police department and its leadership” via a Facebook post, according to a Battle Creek Enquirer story published Wednesday.
Schwarz, whose ties to the city run deep, provided his assessment of Domenico’s actions, saying that elected officials ought to follow the chain of command, but was also critical of the commission’s handling of the matter.
"This is an issue that probably did not have to come to a hearing like this,” Schwarz is quoted as saying in the article. “This is an issue where you could stepped behind closed doors and say, 'OK, this is the way we do this' to a newly elected commissioner. It's unfortunate that it has come to this."
Schwarz also recommended that “one-on-one mentorship” be offered to Domenico, according to the story, which Battle Creek Mayor Deb Owens said she was willing to provide.
The commissioners voted to give him a “verbal reprimand in a private setting,” a punishment he's already twice received, according to the story.
Schwarz, a Battle Creek native and lecturer in public policy at the Ford School, served as a city commissioner from 1979 to 1986. He also opened and has maintained a private medical practice there for 37 years. Following his time as serving as a Battle Creek city official, Schwarz was elected to the Michigan Senate, where he held office from 1987 until 2002. From 2005 to 2007, he represented the state’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.