As you are probably aware, Fort Wayne city government...including yours truly, in my role as 4th district city councilman...has no direct role in our public school systems such as planning, funding etc. Despite this I am a strong supporter of our educational system and I have spent time in all of the high schools and several of our lower and middle schools in the 4th district, from Elmhurst to North Side and from Indian Village to Nebraska to Bloomingdale schools as well. I encourage every citizen...including parents of current students as well as any other concerned citizens...to offer your services as a school volunteer at any of our local public or parochial or other independent schools. Most teachers are under-paid and under-appreciated as well, for all of their hard work teaching our kids. Besides more funding they need the support of parents and others who are willing to volunteer their time and experience. While I am discussing schools I want to offer special congratulations to the staff, kids and parents at Indian Village School. Indian Village was recently highlighted in the local news for its progress. There are many more success stories in the schools in the "Waynedale News" area. Teachers...let me know if I can spend some time with your students discussing the importance of public service. That's one of the best "duties" of my city council job!
I recently attended the national meeting of the National League of Cities. Fort Wayne has been a member of this organization for several years. While at NLC I made a point to attend as many sessions as I could which focused on prevention of terrorist attacks as well as many sessions on an immediate coordinated response should an attack occur. The point was made repeatedly that it is largely up to local communities such as ours, to plan and activate whatever needs to prevent or respond to terrorism. I've already spent time working with local officials including police, fire, health department and county emergency preparedness, doing everything I can to make sure that the right plans are in place and that they are tested. Even traffic engineers need to be involved in case a quick evacuation of the city would be necessary. I am well aware that this is all scary stuff but I'm a strong believer in emergency preparedness. By the way, I should emphasize that Fort Wayne is off to a good start because so much has already been done. A good example of this is our Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) Team, which had quite a bit of experience dealing with chemical spills, etc. Let me know your thoughts regarding this important matter.
You've probably seen some of the recent news items regarding council "redistricting" which State law mandates be completed during the next several months. I've been doing all I can to make sure this process is done fairly. It is my hope that the Waynedale area will remain in one district and not be split in half. Since councilmanic districts have become so large. I also favor adding two additional districts to the current six. This would result in an 11-member city council with 3 "at large" seats and 8 districts, which would not be quite as large as they are now (25,000 rather than 33-34,000 citizens in each district). There is a lot of resistance on council to considering such a change.