Local News

Sweet and Sour Shoe on Other Foot

(La Porte County, IN) - Sparks appeared to fly between two opposing elected officials following Wednesday’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting.


Commissioners Rich Mrozinski and Joe Haney, who are in different political camps, stood face to face within inches of each other.  There was an exchange involving at least one raised voice and some finger pointing.  


The encounter was brief yet caught the attention of Commissioner Connie Gramarossa and few other people in the audience until the two men walked away from each other.


She and Haney are now in the majority on the three member governing body after Gramarossa took her seat on the commission today for the first time. 


Mrozinski was in the majority the past four years until Gramarossa defeated his political ally, Sheila Matias, in the November 8 election.


During reorganization, Haney and Gramarossa wasted no time in casting Mrozinski aside.


They appointed themselves to almost every liaison position in county government. The crumbs left for Mrozinski was similar to what happened to Haney when he was in the minority on the commission the past two-years.


Haney and Gramarossa then replaced the legal counsel Mrozinski supported in each of the past four-years, Shaw Friedman.  Andrew B. Jones from South Bend is now the county attorney.


The screws on Mrozinski further tightened when Haney and Gramarossa restricted the number of meetings commissioners can attend electronically and vote to just one a year.


A commissioner will not be able to vote after that unless they’re physically present for meetings.


Haney and Gramarossa said the action was in response to Mrozinski voting at past meetings he attended repeatedly on ZOOM while living in Florida during the winter. They said a public servant has an obligation to not frequently rely on a screen to participate in meetings and cast votes  


“I believe that when everyone gets to a certain age they want to snowbird. That’s wonderful, but as long as you’re an elected official, I believe that is the time when you really dedicate your time to your county and the people that elected you,” Gramarossa said.


“People come here in person and they want to see us,” Haney said.


Later, a visibly upset Mrozinski called the actions of his colleagues personal.  Mrozinski also said he’s in the commissioners’ office on a daily basis and more than any other commissioner.  He said he also performs duties outside the office for a job officially classified as part-time.


“Every day I’m in that office.  I never see them.  I never see them at all.  I’m in there first thing in the morning and I’m in there until at least noon every day and that’s not good enough for them,” he said.


Haney and Gramarossa strongly denied his claims.

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