Council’s resolution to investigate the Electric Works project passes committee session

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In a 5-3 preliminary vote, the Fort Wayne City Council voted in favor of a resolution that will start an investigation into the Electric Works project. The measure should receive a final vote next week.

One part that sparked discussion was the amendment by 1st District Councilman Paul Ensley that gives the council the right to subpoena if necessary.

Transparency and accountability are what many council members are seeking after the termination of the Electric Works contract. With the resolution, council members will be allowed to take a deeper dive into why the Electric Works contract was canceled. Last week, RTM developers and city officials presented their cases to the board.

“I believe this resolution moves us in the right direction to get the answers,” said veteran Councilman At-Large Glynn Hines.

Hines explained that the mayor wasn’t asked to come to the meeting to inform the council on what happened rather to inform the public on what happened. Council president Tom Didier agreed.

During the meeting Dider stated that the people just want to know why, they want to know they truth and they want to hear it from the mayor. Many council members question why the mayor refused to come to the public meeting to speak about the project.

“Now if the mayor still declines to give us the kind of answers that we want publicly, then of course we will have to pursue the subpoena option,” Hines said.

Before voting, the council passed an amendment that would empower the Investigation Committee to request a subpoena for someone to appear in-person. While some council members fully supported the amendment, others were discouraged.

“Subpoenas are terrible precedence to set, they could make us function like Washington D.C., but ultimately the worse precedence to set, would be if council ask questions and the mayor ignored them,” said Councilman Russ Jehl, 2nd District.

Councilman Jehl did vote for the resolution, however the district’s councilman where the project will be built voted against it.

“While I was extremely disappointed in the efforts of the redevelopment commission and the suddenness of their decision a few weeks ago, I do not believe that rises to the level of an investigation,” said 5th District Councilman Geoff Paddock.

Councilman Paddock doesn’t think there was anything nefarious about the decision by the redevelopment committee, and he wants to spend his time focusing on how to get the Electric Works project started again.

“I’ve been in discussions with individuals today and I am very hopeful that we might find another government entity or another organization that would be able by state law to bring the economic development agreement forward that the Fort Wayne redevelopment terminated,” Paddock said.

The council members who voted for the resolution were:

  • Paul Ensley – 1st District
  • Russ Jehl- 2nd District
  • Tom Didier – 3rd District
  • Tom Freistroffer – At-Large
  • Glynn Hines- At-Large

The council members who voted against the resolution were:

  • Jason Arp – 4th District
  • Geoff Paddock – 5th District
  • Sharron Tucker- 6th District

Councilwoman -At- Large Michelle Chambers was not in attendance for this meeting.

Lat week, the group unanimously voted to introduce the resolution after a three-hour discussion. RTM explained that they have everything they need to keep the deal going. City officials claimed that RTM was given multiple extensions and still hasn’t held up their end of the bargain.

The council will have its final vote next Tuesday.

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