Expect the Fort Wayne City Council to waste a lot of time this week debating something it has no control over.
Some council members want another government agency to change language in a plan. But all the council can do is ask. And if the other agency agrees, it could threaten millions of dollars in federal funding for local road projects, making any changes unlikely.
The issue is the city’s plan to make needed improvements to State Boulevard west of Clinton Street, not the least of which is a new bridge that will improve safety and reduce flooding in the Eastbrook-Westbrook neighborhood. Councilman John Shoaff – the council member who continued to fight Harrison Square after the project was approved and most of it built – insists the city change its plan. The first step would be to convince the Northeast Indiana Regional Coordinating Council – a government agency that essentially clears road projects for federal funding approval – to change its planning documents by requiring more neighborhood input.
This despite the fact that city representatives have been talking to neighbors of the West State project for, literally, years, and more public hearings are planned.
If NIRCC had done something irresponsible or harmful, the council might have reason to ask it to reconsider. But the transportation agency was simply using language necessary to obtain federal money for streets.
The Allen County Ethics Commission this week will conduct a public hearing on an ethics complaint filed against County Councilman Paul Moss. The complaint concerns the previously reported June 2 overnight traffic stop of a car Moss was driving. An officer had planned to require Moss to take a Breathalyzer test but released the councilman after Moss called Sheriff Ken Fries.
Panel members Thomas Hardin and Wendy Stein will conduct the hearing. The third spot on the ethics panel is vacant after the resignation of Senior Circuit Judge Tom Ryan, who walked out of the last meeting in protest.
Whether the commission can penalize an elected official has been questioned, though Moss was adamant that elected officials be covered by the county’s ethics law when it was drafted. Moss will leave office on Dec. 31 at the end of his term. But the commission members could still send a message to county employees and the sheriff’s department if they rebuke Moss for making the call.
Fort Wayne Community Schools board will consider Superintendent Wendy Robinson’s contract during its meeting today. The decision on awarding a performance bonus was delayed from September because the formula for calculating it rests on data delivered late by the Indiana Department of Education.
Last year, the board voted 6-1 to give Robinson a $5,498 raise and a $15,000 bonus, bringing her total compensation, including $20,000 in annuity, to $215,000.
DCS study committee
The groundwork for some of the most important work facing the Indiana General Assembly is being done by the interim study committee examining Indiana’s troubled Department of Child Services. Tuesday, the committee will consider proposed legislation and the committee’s final report, based on hours of testimony heard over 11 meetings and much written testimony.
Expect the report to address reporting procedures for child abuse and neglect. DCS’ consolidation of reporting services at a statewide call center has needlessly endangered children by bypassing local child protection and law enforcement officials.
Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, is co-chairman of the committee. Allen Superior Court Judge Charles Pratt also is a member.