Friday, May 05, 2006

More information on Fort Wayne's shameful abuse of Eminent Domain against Aqua Indiana North

Eminent Domain is a power that Fort Wayne has a long history of abusing. After filing a Freedom of Information Request with The City of Fort Wayne I have even more information about The Aqua Indiana case.

Facts:

The Resolution to steal Aqua Indiana North with Eminent Domain is Resolution 89-183-6. This resolution unanimously passed The Fort Wayne Board of Public Works on July 12th, 2002. This resolution basically says that "Citizens would receive higher quality, lower cost water and wastewater utility service if they were customers of The City." The resolution was voted in favor of by all three members: Ted Rhinehart, John Suarez, and Denise Porter-Ross. (Note City Council has delegated its authority to oversee these matters to The Board of Public Works.)

Per recent articles in the newspapers The City of Fort Wayne has spent about 1.2 million dollars in just the last three years to Indianapolis lawyers to pursue this theft.

Per recent articles in the newspapers The City of Fort Wayne MAY have spent a total of about 2.5 million in lawyers fees on this process, all to Indianapolis law firms...

The Journal Gazette (And Mike Sylvester) filed a Freedom of Information Request to force Fort Wayne to disclose the legal fees it has paid. The City refused. This went in front of City Council. On Party lines The City Council revealed the legal fees... The Republicans all five voted to reveal the fees; all four Democrats voted to hide the fees from the taxpayers.

The Aqua Indiana Case has been heard by The Indiana Supreme Court. A verdict can come at any time. This verdict may well allow Fort Wayne to steal Aqua Indiana North, a private company...

IF The Indiana Supreme Court decides that Fort Wayne can steal Aqua Indiana North and sets a price that Fort Wayne will pay, then The City Council will have to vote to authorize the expenditure. So realize this, if the City Council were to vote AGAINST this use of Eminent Domain (And it clearly should)we would have WASTED millions of dollars in legal fees!

What bothers me about this abuse of power:

1. Who says that I will receive a higher quality and lower cost service? I am The President of my Neighborhood Association. I am a current Aqua Indiana customer. I have talked to about 20 other people in this area and not one of them wants Fort Wayne to take Aqua Indiana North over. All twenty either do not care, or favor Aqua Indiana...

2. The City just raised its water fees by 25% and its stormwater fees by 65%... How is this cheaper service?

3. The City did not conduct a survey of residents. I might feel differently if a MAJORITY of residents in this area wanted the City to seize the utility... I certainly do not feel that very many citizens in this area want Fort Wayne providing our water service...

4. The City seems to have spent ABOUT 2 - 2.5 million in legal fees SO FAR to steal a private company. How is this a good use of taxpayer money?

5. Why on Earth did Fort Wayne hire Indianapolis lawyers to handle this case? There are several HUNDRED qualified attorneys in Fort Wayne. Lets spend our money here... I maintain that Fort Wayne has NO CONCEPT of economic development. They prove it every week.

6. Why has our City Council delegated The Board of Public Works to spend 2 - 2.5 million dollars in legal fees WITHOUT a specific vote by our City Council?

7. Why is there not more outrage about this in Fort Wayne? What will we do if Fort Wayne decides it can run schools or taxis or law firms?

8. Why did all four Democrats feel that we should hide the fact the Fort Wayne has WASTED millions of dollars in legal fees?

9. Why did the Republicans on City Council allow this to occur in the first place? They should pay attention to what The Board of Public Works does since they have delegated them authority...

What I think should happen:

1. We should vote in a lot of new City Council members and a new mayor.

2. We should consider appointing three new members to The Board of Public Works
immediately...

What do you think?

9 comments:

Andrew Kaduk said...

I think that the water pressure at my house blows goats during the day (it's ok at night). If the city can fix that, more power to them.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Who is your Water provider Andrew?

I think it is Fort Wayne.

Fort Wayne obviosuly will NOT fix your water pressure problem by increasing the size of their system partner...

Mike

Jeff Pruitt said...

I am opposed to eminant domain in nearly every case. I find it quite comical that 3 people decided that you would be better served by seizing this private company. How so? Where's the data - just because they say it doesn't make it true. Provide me w/ the financial and water quality data to prove the point.

I am embarrassed by the actions of the democrats on the city council. And to use Indianapolis lawyers is just illogical. This entire thing has been mismanaged from the very beginning and the entire city council is to blame.

And they wonder why most in the county are opposed to Unigov?

Andrew Kaduk said...

Jeff,

I'm guessing they use out-of-town lawyers to limit the "conflict of interest" improprieties that might arise from using attorneys that are actually directly effected by the result of the action.

Mike,

My water bill shows up on FW letterhead, so I'm assuming you're right. However, it does, in fact, blow goats...regardless who is pushing it to me. I wish they'd fix it.

PS: Congrats on your Pundie, Mike.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Andrew:

There is in no way a conflict of interest if The City were to use lawyers from Fort Wayne. I have spoken with two lawyers and they both assured me that there would be no conflict of interest.

Jeff:

You put it very well.

Mike Sylvester

Andrew Kaduk said...

I suppose I should have phrased it a little differently. Since we are talking about politics here, it's really more the perception of impropriety, and not necessarily actual wrong-doing. I understand that it is fairly easy to keep everything "on the table" and visible to everyone, but that wouldn't stop the conspiracy theory crowd from using it as political fodder. And yet, it seems to have become fodder anyway.

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