Friday, October 05, 2007

Voters Demand More Representation--The Clay Amendment

Soon the citizens of Fort Wayne will be able to challenge every candidate for more representation. The following is the Preamble to a piece of legislation which has been presented to the current City Council and their challengers for their endorsement:

With the annexation of Aboite Township, Ft. Wayne crossed the population threshold to become Indiana's second first-class city. With that distinction the Indiana Constitution dictates that Ft. Wayne would now have 29 city council members.

On Tuesday, December 7, 2004 the 63rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Fort Wayne City Council dropped its own bomb on the citizens of Fort Wayne. They announced the size of the Fort Wayne Common Council would remain at nine members. In June 2004 the Indiana Legislature passed legislation, at the encouragement of Fort Wayne City Council, changing Ft. Wayne from a first-class city to a second-class city to preserve the minimum requirement of a nine-member City Council.

As a result some neighborhoods have become so fractured that they fall into as many as four separate districts, each represented by a different councilman. Each City Council member represents about 44,000 people, with Indianapolis, for example, having 29 City Council members representing 31,000 people. As a compromise to get this legislation through the Indiana Legislature, the new legislation allows for second-class city's to have up to 13 members on their Common Council. With new annexation and the City Council voting down any additional members, the taxpayers have less representation than before. They passed a law in 2004 to avoid having 29 members, but refused to pass a provision to add just 4 more members to the Ft. Wayne city council.

They blame their lack of integrity on the fact that the Council was deadlocked, with the Republicans seeking two additional members and the Democrats seeking four additional members. Wouldn’t three be a compromise? Voters have to wonder if this was really a deadlock or just a ruse to protect not only their turf, but also their pay. With a decrease in the number of voters represented in each district, possibly by 50%, a pay cut to offset the expense of additional Councilmen would certainly be appropriate.

It is only through open minds and compromise that our children and grandchildren may live to see the benefits of this compromise.. Future generations may not only see a Council of a diverse cultural background, but also be able to serve on such a Council, a Council that of course would include women.

The attached proposed compromise is concise and relatively simple, yet it will forever change the political dynamics of a city currently in trouble. There has been no attempt by anyone involved to play politics at the expense of current Council members. The proposed compromise increases the number of Council members from 9 to 13, and the number of districts from 6 to 10. And unlike the Council's failed proposals, this amendment costs the taxpayers nothing.

The City Council is under the mistaken impression that only they can write an amendment to the Indiana Statutes. They are wrong. But this compromise gives the Common Council of Fort Wayne their last opportunity of doing it themselves.

If you would like a copy of the amendment proposed to the candidates, email me at I may be able to post it here over the weekend but it is lengthy.

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