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Verbatim: Mayor vetoes safety-officers ordinance

The city of Fort Wayne issued this statement from Mayor Tom Henry today:

Once again, City Council has presented an ordinance that I had to veto because of the disrespect it shows the great employees of our City - this time, the public safety officers.

The last time I vetoed an ordinance, the voices of our non-public safety employees obviously fell on deaf ears. On July 8, when Council approved G-14-05-17 (as amended) impacting the employment of public safety officers, they clearly neglected to talk to those affected.

It’s unfortunate that Council amended an ordinance that had been tabled for weeks rather than going through the process of introduction, discussion, and passage. This approach did not allow taxpayers and public safety personnel, particularly the Fort Wayne Police Department, the opportunity to gain a full understanding of the impact of Council’s decision.

I openly worked with the firefighters’ union prior to the recent passage of their contract to eliminate the membership requirement because that's what they requested. Had the police unions asked for this, I would have respected their wishes and could have signed a letter of agreement with them as well.

To my knowledge, no Council member ever talked with the police unions about a plan to amend this ordinance. No warning was given. I truly believe that is bad governing. This ordinance alienates those who put their lives on the line to keep all of us safe.

Hiding from dialogue, especially when making substantial changes, is a precedent that must not be set. It is also unprofessional. Every worker, union or non-union, deserves to be treated with respect. Council has chosen to take away the voice of many of our employees. Not only do our employees deserve to be heard, but so do residents and taxpayers.

At a time when we’re experiencing unprecedented momentum by working together, a majority of Council members continue to send a message that promoting their philosophy on unions is more important than investing in our future, attracting and retaining jobs, and being a leader in quality of life and neighborhood enhancements.

Despite Council’s efforts to steer our City in a different direction, we will win the future by overcoming this obstacle. By working together with our award-winning City employees, we will continue to build on our multitude of successes that we’re seeing in our City and provide the best services possible to our residents.

Tom Henry, Mayor

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