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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 02, 2019 1:00 am

2 councilmen question letter on Electric Works

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Two Fort Wayne City Council members weighed in last week about the planned Electric Works development, in light of recent revelations regarding the project's future.

Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, said Tuesday that an update from Electric Works developers was requested March 25. The developers were supposed to attend the May 21 council meeting but delayed their appearance until June 11.

“It's incredibly frustrating, as all of us are essentially $10 million partners in this project, to ask for an update before City Council and then I, like all of you and everyone in the audience, had to read about the update in the newspaper and did not have an opportunity to ask any questions for another two weeks,” Ensley said.

A letter from RTM Ventures published in the May 26 edition of The Journal Gazette claimed the project was in danger of faltering as “a small group of people in positions of influence and power ... are working aggressively to thwart the progress of this project and the potential of this community.”

Ensley took exception to the notion that any elected official is trying to undermine the project. 

“I know they refused to name anyone, but if the developer is having trouble leasing their space, I certainly don't appreciate the implication that anyone, regardless of their vote on this matter, is trying to sabotage or undermine the project. That's certainly not the case,” Ensley said.

“I don't think there's anyone that doesn't want to see Electric Works blossom into something other than it is now.”

Electric Works would transform the former General Electric campus along Broadway into a complex for residential, retail, office, education and entertainment tenants.

“The events of the last few days have brought some questions. I hope, as we are so close to putting this package together, that we don't lose steam, that we can put this over the threshold,” said Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th.

“It would be certainly a shame if we let this project slip away and I hope that it will not.”

Firing up Dems

Democratic Party organizations in Noble, DeKalb, LaGrange, Kosciusko and Whitley counties will host the Tri-State Cornfield Conference at noon June 29 at the Noble County Fairgrounds in Kendallville.

Event organizer Carmen Darland, vice chair of the Noble County Democratic Party, said in a news release the conference “is designed to get Democratic activists fired up” for the 2020 elections.

“It is time for a revival of the Democratic Party, so that we can restore checks and balances in government at the Statehouses and in Washington, D.C.,” Darland said.

More than 20 speakers will address the conference about such topics as Midwest climate challenges, immigration, health care, voter registration, legislative redistricting, campaign fundraising and voter referendums. Special guests will include state Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis, and state Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary.

Becker Digital Strategies will provide digital activism training June 28-30 at the fairgrounds.

Tickets for the Cornfield Conference, including training, are $10 per person. Tickets for a fundraising lunch June 29 to benefit the host organizations are $10 a person. Tickets are available on Act Blue or by calling 260-237-1199.

Additional information is available on the Facebook page @2019CornfieldConference.

To be studied

The Legislative Council recently assigned dozens of topics to be studied over the summer break as varied as forest management and CBD oil taxation.

Every year, lawmakers meet during the off-session months to dive into issues that leaders decided needed more study before action.

Most of the time there are no recommendations on the items, and bills can be filed regardless of action.

This year's meetings, which usually kick off in July or August, include the following topics:

• Management options for state forest land

• How money from school referendum property taxes is used

• Solvency of the unemployment insurance trust fund

• Key cost drivers and trends of Medicaid 

• Taxation of CBD oil and vaping products

• Regulation and practices of pharmacy benefit managers 

• The commercial ticket market, including scalping, ticket resales, speculative ticketing and ticket platforms 

• Multiyear study of energy policy development.

Journal Gazette staff writer Dave Gong contributed to this report. 

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.