A Columbus resident who had served in city government in appointed positions has demanded that councilman Frank Jerome be censured and removed as city council president for a social media posting about a recent apartment complex fire in Columbus.

David Jones read a letter Tuesday night — addressed to Mayor Jim Lienhoop, City Council representatives and Bartholomew County Republican Party leaders — at the end of the Columbus City Council meeting. It accused Jerome of making a Facebook post, “Don’t they know they (sic) is an ordinance about open burning within city limits?” after fire destroyed a Fox Pointe Apartments building on Aug. 8.

Jerome made the social media comment on another individual’s Facebook posting at 10:49 p.m. the night of the fire, a screen shot of the posting provided by Jones shows.

Jerome posted another Facebook comment in the same string of comments at 11:38 p.m. the next day that he had visited the apartment fire scene, also according to the screen shot.

“I went over there today to see what can be done to make such places more resistent (sic) to fire spreading in the attic space,” Jerome wrote Aug. 9 on Facebook. “Just blocking the space every two apartments with 5/8-inch dry wall would do wonders.”

However, there was no reference of that comment in the letter by Jones, who had served on the Columbus Parks and Recreation Board as president and vice president, and as a former city plan commission member.

Eight apartments were damaged in the Aug. 8 fire at the complex, located just north of 25th Street between Taylor Road and North Talley Road, with losses estimated at $750,000.

“That fire could have been far worse than it ultimately was, however Councilman Jerome couldn’t be bothered with concern, instead he thought flippant jokes were in order,” Jones wrote.

After Tuesday’s council meeting ended, Jerome told a reporter that he had no comment on Jones’ letter.

The letter was also critical of Lienhoop for setting “an atrocious tone” with his first-year administration, with Jones writing that the tone exhibited by members of the Columbus City Council is a direct reflection of the tone the mayor sets for his administration.

“Mr. Jones has chosen to get in the gutter and I choose not to follow,” Lienhoop said Thursday, responding to the comments in the letter. “That’s the tone I try to set for the city and our administration. And beyond that, I have no comment.”

The council took no action and made no comments about Jones’ allegations during the public meeting, which adjourned after Jones completed reading the letter.

A year ago, two city councilmen — including Jerome — were also criticized by residents for social media posts the residents deemed inappropriate.

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.