A group of nine men can do two things: (1) field a baseball team or (2) conduct the People’s Business.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, because this week, the Fort Wayne city council played a double-header–a committee meeting AND council meeting in the same night. Pitching for the home team was Councilman Glynn Hines.
“Is there anyone in the audience that would like to speak in favor of or in opposition to resolution 16-05-04?” he hollered, scanning the bleachers.
“Second call.” (A swing!)
“Third and final call.” (And a miss! No takers.)
Representing the visiting team was a lady from the Ward Corporation. Resolution 16-05-04 was to give her family’s company some tax relief. “We’ve been in business for 52 years,” she explained, brandishing a picture of her relatives.
“Is that Vern?” Councilman Hines squinted. “I played golf with Vern.”
“I actually don’t think that you should have to pay taxes on this property,” Councilman Jason Arp confessed. “I don’t think anybody should have to pay taxes on business personal property.” But before this modern-day Ayn Rand could hit a home run against taxes, he added: “But I’m gonna vote against it because not everyone gets it.”
Despite his “nay,” the rest of the team approved Ward Corp.’s tax relief.
What happened next was truly bizarre: an apology. From the chamber of commerce. For threats. “With regards to the potential intimidation of elected officials, our board was most troubled by this,” their balding representative read from a statement. “If any of you ever felt that there was intimidation, it is no one’s intent. We will at no time use our position as chamber of commerce to threaten electoral retaliation.”
Whose feet did they threaten to put in cement? Whose home did they promise to cut the gas line? “Nice little city council you got here. It’d be a shame if someone were to drag a key across it!”
“I think the conflict was: when you have a project, you’re often very passionate,” Councilman John Crawford murmured carefully. “Some of the advocacy before was like…it was a little too far.”
Heading into Game 2, the councilmen jogged to a new room. Now in the luxurious council chambers, a man in knee-high socks and a yellow “FORT WAYNE” t-shirt stepped to the mic.
“Gentlemen, I’m gonna tell you something: Sunday morning, I felt like dying because the noise was so great. They were shooting fireworks off.
“They’re four men [who] live there, four women that live there, and a whole pack of kids,” he explained. “They’re all Mexicans, as far as I’m concerned.”
Channeling his inner Donald Trump, he concluded, “we don’t need something like this in Fort Wayne. We need to clean up this town. Gentlemen, have a great evening, and the lord bless all of you.”
Steering far away from the crucial matter of cleaning up the Mexicans, Council President Thomas Didier gave a mini-pep talk. “Fireworks are gonna start happening. Fireworks for Memorial Day. Fireworks for Fourth of July. It’s all the holidays…New Year’s Eve. I’m just forewarning you now.”
Final thoughts: If you’re going to be in Fort Wayne between Memorial Day and New Year’s Eve, you might want to bring some earplugs. At least, around the Mexicans.