WRITER: Kevin Leininger

KEVIN LEININGER: There's still time to do 'Anthony Wayne Day' right -- if people are willing to talk

Here we are in the middle of Memorial Day weekend, just a month and a half from Fort Wayne's first "Anthony Wayne Day," and commemoration of the city's namesake still evokes that famous 1967 movie line from Cool Hand Luke: "What we've got here is failure to communicate" As I wrote in April, history belongs not to the victors or the vanquished but to everyone. So it was good to see attorney Mike Loomis, who ...

Electric Works developers seeking more help from City Council

Developers of Electric Works are seeking more help from Fort Wayne City Council — but this time not in the form of cash. On Tuesday council is expected to consider six separate petitions under which the city would vacate, or give up, portions of alleys or streets in or near the former General Electric campus that lines both sides of Broadway just south of downtown. Development of the first phase, to the west ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Public funding for private enterprise is a complicated business -- and a worthy campaign topic

"Philosophically, we don't have a strong belief in tax abatements. As much as we want jobs, I guess we wonder why we should give abatements to new companies if we wouldn't be willing to do the same for companies that are already here." That quote is not a contemporary one from a fiscally conservative Fort Wayne politician. It was something Janesville, Wis., City Manager Phil Deaton told me 34 years ago next ...

20 candidates, groups face fines for late campaign-finance reports; Tom Didier tops list at $900

Seven people on the May 7 ballot — including three elected officials — have agreed to pay a total of $375 in fines for filing tardy campaign-finance reports. But that may be only the beginning, with the Allen County Election Board on Friday scheduled to consider fining 13 candidates or groups another $2,125. And the three largest potential fines target current Fort Wayne City Council members: $900 for Tom ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Lack of development near Maplecrest Road is fueling drive for bridge taxes now

Eleven years ago next month, Allen County Council by a 6-1 vote approved issuance of a $25 million bond for the extension of Maplecrest Road 1.5 miles south across the Maumee River to Adams Center Road. The lone dissenter was Darren Vogt, who feared the county's ability to maintain its bridges would be jeopardized if the $55 million project failed to generate the economic growth that would generate the taxes ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Can't find a new house? Taxes up on your old one? Sometimes, problems represent progress

It's been nearly four years since the launch of the "Road to One Million" campaign intended to add 225,000 people to northeast Indiana's then-stagnant population by 2030 or so. But that ambition carries with it a classic free-market chicken-and-egg question. Which comes first: the people needed to justify construction of new homes, restaurants and stores — or the facilities needed to attract, accommodate ...

Redevelopment Commission to give boost to improvements at Jefferson Pointe, Sweetwater Sound

Public improvements near two prominent Fort Wayne businesses — Sweetwater Sound and Jefferson Pointe shopping center — apparently will get a boost from the city's Redevelopment Commission. On Monday the Commissioner was expected to approve a proposal under which it would reimburse RED Development up to $3.5 million toward the cost of constructing a street through the courtyard of the shopping center on ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Site of major 1986 fire finally redeveloped; trail and Fire Department concerns exposed

Development of a used-car lot wouldn't normally rate much attention, but what's happening along North Clinton Street is notable for two reasons: the Fort Wayne debut of the nation's largest "pre-owned" auto dealer and — more important still — rebirth of the once-contaminated site of a 1986 fire that forced the evacuation of 3,000 people from a 20-block area around Glenbrook Square. They're moving a lot ...

City Council could give final OK to water-rate increase Tuesday

City Council on Tuesday is expected to consider rate increases for water service slightly lower than those it approved by a 7-2 vote last June. The increase approved last year would have phased in an average monthly increase of about $1.50 over five years, beginning this year. The proposal was to increase the monthly bill for a typical customer using 4,000 gallons by $1.34 in 2019, followed by increases of ...

KEVIN LEININGER: It will take more than 'Gorilla Glue' to put GOP Humpty Dumpty together again

"I've got some Gorilla Glue in the car," Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine responded Tuesday night when I inquired about his plan for party unity in the wake of an often-contentious mayoral primary between City Councilman John Crawford and victor Tim Smith. But it will take more than that if the GOP hopes to end its 20-year exile from the mayor's office in 2020 in light of Crawford's post-election ...

Tim Smith defeats John Crawford, will challenge Tom Henry for mayor in November

It will be a three-term veteran against a political novice in the November race for mayor of Fort Wayne, thanks to incumbent Democrat Tom Henry's route of two challengers and Republican businessman Tim Smith's surprisingly easy defeat of City Council President John Crawford in Tuesday's primaries. Henry and Smith each hope to use the contrast to their advantage. "Henry was elected to City Council in 1983 and ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Public's passion should help library benefit from change, not avoid it

As director of the 2.4 million-book Allen County Public Library, Greta Southard no doubt is familiar with German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's observation of how "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." She believes the turmoil that has buffeted the usually placid organization she has led since 2014 will have a similarly beneficial effect. "We've been trying to think through why this has been ...

KEVIN LEININGER: The free market works, but not every time – as City Council just learned

Given the spotty performance of Red River Waste Solutions, city government's contracting practices has received legitimate scrutiny and criticism this election season. But while many City Council members blame the administration of Mayor Tom Henry for their support of the trash-collection contract that took effect last year, Henry is criticizing members of council — one of whom just happens to be running for ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Where there's smoke there's fire? Just-retired captain alleges turmoil in key city department

When I asked at-large Republican City Councilman Michael Barranda why Fort Wayne firefighters (unlike police) are still without a contract four months into the year, his answer was succinct: "(Union President) Jeremy Bush and Chief (Eric) Lahey hate each other. It's a personal feud." But this is more than the usual labor-management tension according to several current and former officials with ties to the ...

'Pay to play' bill is legal despite court challenge: John Crawford

Responding to a court challenge filed last week by the owners of a Fort Wayne construction company, City Councilman ad Republican mayoral candidate John Crawford Wednesday defended the legality of the "pay to play" ordinance he co-authored in 2017. The ordinance, which Crawford sponsored with Councilman Jason Arp, R-4th, prohibits vendors from bidding on city contracts if they contributed more than $2,000 a ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Wife's persistence, doctor's skill put Fort Wayne at medical forefront -- this time

Last October I wrote about how Bluffton business executive Scott Mentzer felt compelled to seek treatment at a renowned Texas cancer center after not one but two local doctors misdiagnosed his potentially deadly squamous cell carcinoma as a simple cyst on his neck. The medical exile story could have been much the same for South Whitley resident Jim Barnes. But this time, the advanced treatment he needed came ...

County looking to keep property tax rate flat as it seeks millions for bridge needs

It appears overall property taxes will not be going up to maintain bridges in Allen County. Faced with an anticipated $54.2 million in bridge needs over the next eight years, the Allen County Commissioners on Friday were expected to establish a tax rate for bridge repair and construction, but all three commissioners say they plan to do so in a way that will keep rates flat. That is possible, Commissioner ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Campaign cash is flowing, and business leaders are a big reason why

Money alone doesn't win elections, but the campaign-finance reports filed this week nevertheless offered some intriguing insights into which contests in the May 7 primaries will be the most hotly contested — and the names of the individuals and groups most interested in influencing the outcomes. Political action committees have also made major contributions in two contests, including a donation unusually ...

Developers get delay they say is needed to comply with Electric Works commitments

Electric Works developers have received the crucial extra time they say is needed to keep the $250 million redevelopment of the former General Electric campus moving forward. Ratifying a decision made earlier this month by the city's Redevelopment Commission, the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board Thursday gave RTM Ventures until Nov. 30 to meet the conditions set by their development agreement ...

New library policy seeks to guide, explain collection decisions and reassure critics

The Allen County Public Library is taking steps to ease concerns about its alleged "purging" of books . The library Board of Directors Thursday considered but delayed a vote on an amendment to the "collection development" policy last updated in 2018. In a memo to the board, Director Greta Southard and others library executives explained that last year's revisions were intended to "align with our present-day ...