Council votes to subpoena Red River CEO, creates committee to investigate

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne City Council has approved issuing a subpoena to Red River Waste Management’s CEO James A. Smith.

In January 2018, Red River took over Fort Wayne’s trash and recycling contract which covers over 25,000 homes. Since then thousands of complaints have been filed against the Texas-based trash collection company.

In October, Red River filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In the filing, the family-owned business, which services 310,000 households across five states, blamed the COVID-19 pandemic, a credit agreement, and “operational challenges” for its financial struggles.

On Nov. 16, the council requested that an official from the company be present at the meeting to answer questions that council members have. However, due to a “scheduling conflict,” officials did not attend.

This week, the council has begun pushing forward for a subpoena with a vote of 5:1.

In addition to the subpoena, the vote also included creating a three-member sub-committee to lead an investigation into Red River. According to the resolution, the committee will be required to report its findings to all council members no later than Jan. 22, 2022. Members of the committee will include Council President Paul Ensley (District 1) and the council-appointed members of the Solid Waste Advisory Board.

While he does support the subpoena, Councilman Tom Didier (District 3) said that he believes that there should be another step to speak with state lawmakers to change the bidding law which requires the city to take the lowest bidder.

Councilwoman Michelle Chambers (At-Large) voted against the subpoena saying that “I don’t think that we are making the best use of our public dollars to begin another process and spending money to issue a subpoena.”

Councilmembers Glynn Hines (At-Large), Jason Arp (District 4), and Sharon Tucker (District 6) were not at the meeting. 

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