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WRITER: Kevin Leininger

KEVIN LEININGER: What is it about voters some Hoosier politicians don't like -- or trust?

The fighting between Republicans and Democrats in the Indiana General Assembly was so bitter that members of one party refused even to show up in order to prevent action by the other. That's not a description of the current legislative session or even Democrats' 2011 attempt to thwart Republicans' "extreme" agenda by exiling themselves to Illinois, preventing the quorum needed to get things done. The year was ...

Capital Improvement Board pays $6M for site once eyed for new downtown arena

The Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board on Thursday agreed to buy the so-called "fast food block" west of the Grand Wayne Center for $6 million. The CIB, which oversees county food and beverage tax revenues, acquired an option to buy the property in late 2018 and will pay $200,000 to exercise the option. CIB members stressed there are currently no plans to redevelop the property, which is home to ...

KEVIN LEININGER: New political reality on City Council has worked out just fine -- so far

With the GOP's majority on City Council dwindling from 7-2 to 5-4 on Jan. 1, some predicted the first test of Democratic loyalties would come with the choice of whether to uphold Mayor Tom Henry's pocket veto of bill to weaken his administration's control over Fire Department discipline and promotions. The reasoning appeared sound enough: The bill passed in December by a 7-2 vote, and an override decision ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Electric Works lands an anchor tenant -- if the city will give developers more time

Electric Works may have found the long-sought anchor tenant that will allow the massive project to move forward and claim $65 million in promised public funds. If the developers get more time to finalize the details, that is. In a letter sent Friday to local officials, RTM Ventures said it has secured a letter of intent from a company wanting to locate its headquarters in 200,000 square feet of the former ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Should state spend more on teachers? Maybe, but schools should examine their priorities, too

Are Indiana's teachers underpaid? Gov. Eric Holcomb certainly seems to think so, recommending in his State of the State address Tuesday that the Legislature next year transfer $250 million from Indiana's surplus into teacher retirement funds, making an additional $50 million per year available for teacher pay. And the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute last August noted that more than 90 percent of public-school ...

KEVIN LEININGER: It's time to flush the Fort Wayne-Huntertown sewer battle once and for all

When its new $20 million sewage treatment plant opened two years ago, it seemed Huntertown's long, expensive and often-contentious battle with Fort Wayne's City Utilities had finally been flushed away. A dispute over sewers at the Allen County Fairgrounds proves otherwise. But is this a case of lingering hard feelings? Or an attempt by both sides to protect their legitimate interests? The bureaucratic ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Is Donald Trump really 'assassin-in-chief'? If so, he's not the first

It was called "Operation Vengeance," and its unapologetic mission was to kill the foreign military leader responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans. A description of last week's U.S. air strike that resulted in the death of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, leader of the terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp Quds Force? Hardly, although you might think so given the number of people who seem to ...

KEVIN LEININGER: $65M for Electric Works got plenty of scrutiny; shouldn't $38M get at least half as much?

When the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board approved a bond of up to $45 million for Electric Works in November 2018, it capped nearly a year of examination and debate over a public financing commitment totaling $65 million. And yet, except for a column I wrote two months ago, the city's request for $37.85 million toward construction of four major downtown projects has received virtually no ...

KEVIN LEININGER: The federal nanny state is at it again -- and didn't even bother to warn anybody

The older I get, the more I seem to guard the vices I still have left. Maybe that's why I was so aggravated by the sign posted on the window of Riegel's tobacco shop when I stopped in last week hoping simply to enjoy a good cigar and some friendly conversation. "The sale of tobacco to persons under 21 is forbidden by law," the sign warned. And it was no idle threat: It didn't take long for the clerk to turn ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Divided City Council will put premium on cooperation, but union fight could return anyway

In May 2014 City Council eliminated union representation for most city employees, with all six Republicans voting to end collective bargaining and all three Democrats opposing the idea. But the man who co-sponsored the controversial legislation says he would not even attempt it today, and for the most practical of reasons: Thanks to the November election, council's GOP majority — which subsequently had ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Pope is right: 'Separation of church and state' shouldn't apply to sex crimes

Not every sin is a crime, nor is every crime sinful. Some actions, however, are both — which is why Pope Francis' decision earlier this month to lift the veil of secrecy from clergy abuse cases was both welcome and overdue even though it could have limited impact in the United States. But in light of this week's Associated Press report of how more than 900 names have been left off diocesan lists of priests ...

Another 'mixed-use' project coming downtown?

Could another big "mixed-use" project be coming to the heart of downtown Fort Wayne? Nothing's official yet, but don't bet against it. A sign posted in the parking lot at East Wayne and Clinton street is advertising "future mixed-use potential," along with a rendering of what such a building might look like. "Over the past two or three years there's been a lot of interest in that corner," said Rob Young, ...

KEVIN LEININGER: New mayor predicts '20s 'decade of New Haven'; West Jefferson project to resume

"The '20s are going to be the decade of New Haven and east Allen County," predicted Steve McMichael, who on Jan. 1 will just happen to become the city's first new mayor in 20 years. "I get to build on what Terry (McDonald) has done. We're in a great position," said McMichael, who in November was elected just the seventh mayor in New Haven's history by winning 65 percent of the vote against Democrat Darren ...

KEVIN LEININGER: With a voter mandate and more-friendly council, new year will bring new goals for Henry

After winning an unprecedented fourth consecutive term by a 12,000-vote landslide, it's not an overstatement to suggest Mayor Tom Henry will begin the new year with a mandate that may be unmatched in local political history. On the other hand, because he has already said the coming term will be his last, the Democrat is also something of a lame duck. Look for both extremes — coupled with newfound ...

UPDATED: Commissioners unanimously pass resolution making Allen a 'pro-life' county

First New Haven did it. Then so did Huntertown and Woodburn. Now the movement to pass pro-life resolutions has gone county-wide. The Allen County Commissioners on Friday unanimously approved a resolution stating that "human life begins at the moment of conception and continues, uninterrupted, until the moment of natural death . . . and that human life, including the unborn, must always be valued and protected, ...

KEVIN LEININGER: If you're really looking for Christmas, you won't find it at the mall

I made my annual journalistic safari to Glenbrook Square Wednesday searching for signs of Christmas and, of course, to do a little shopping on company time. My quest yielded no purchases but no shortage of evidence that plenty of people don't mind profiting from the "C-word" so long as they don't have to use it. "Holiday 2019" read the fine print on the poster outside of one store, which together with the ...

IU Health breaks ground on $20 million surgery center

Ground was broken Thursday on IU Health's latest addition to the Fort Wayne medical market — a $20 million ambulatory surgery center on seven acres at Aboite Center and Dicke roads on the city's southwest side. The project, first reported by The News-Sentinel in June, could open by late next year or in early 2021 and will include about five operating rooms and five procedure rooms for more than 10 different ...

Allen County's regional water and sewer district fires executive director

The Allen County Regional Sewer and Water District is looking for a new executive director following the firing of its leader for the past two and one-half years. Trustees of the district, which was created in 1979 to extend sewer and water service into more sparsely populated areas of the county, on Wednesday terminated Jeff Morris for reasons attorney Andy Boxberger called "performance related. The board felt ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Happy New Year! State says county bridge taxes can go up in 2020

The new year will ring in a tax increase for Allen County residents — at least for those whose properties have not yet reached the state-imposed caps. That’s because the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance has denied an appeal filed in May by the Neighborhoods United group, clearing the way for an increase in the county’s bridge tax from $0.0129 for every $100 of assessed value to ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Thanks to new revenues and strong economy, area has weathered dreaded tax caps

"City Controller Pat Roller says the budget woes are due to property tax caps in effect since 2009 that have cost the city $53 million." The News-Sentinel reported that somber outlook on May 14, 2013. But when the city rolled out its proposed budget in September, my story began far more optimistically: "Calling it the city's strongest budget in 20 years, Mayor Tom Henry on Thursday announced the city's ...