Citizens’ Referendums, Undercutting Progress, Money and Repurposing, 6 January Reckoning, ‘Oasis of Faith’, Investing in Nature | letters

Voter referendums Democracy in action

On December 26, The Journal Gazette ran a poignant article by Niki Kelly (“Legislative Resolution for 23? More Listening”).

She documents how our representatives recognize what Indiana citizens really want by passing legislation that Hoosiers oppose while failing to pursue our priorities. They listen to their corporate donors or publicists instead of voters, pass the open-carry bill largely opposed by Hoosiers, and enact an abortion ban that also doesn’t have the support of a majority of voters. Now they are pursuing ludicrous bills to quash the mythical doctrine of critical race theory, which is also not widely supported.

I returned to Fort Wayne 10 years ago after living in Michigan for 35 years. Michigan is one of 23 states that allow popular referendums to strike down a law or introduce new legislation into the statewide vote in general elections. This process varies from state to state, but in Michigan it involves collecting registered voters’ signatures on a petition to put a proposal to the vote. It’s a bit complicated and it takes thousands of signatures, but I think it allows people to have a voice in their own government. Whether I was circulating a petition or just signing one, I always felt empowered through the process.

After Roe vs. Wade was reversed last year, Michigan voted to protect reproductive rights in its state constitution after more than 750,000 voters signed a petition to put it on the ballot. Of course there are petitions that do not get enough valid signatures, or successful petitions that fail in a general election. But even if it fails, this process reflects what voters want, not MPs, who may have ulterior motives or simply aren’t listening to their constituents.

I challenge one of our representatives to be bold enough to propose ballots in Indiana. The process is lived democracy.

Barb Foland Mathews


Philharmonic board undermines progress

It is with increasing dismay that I have followed the contract negotiations between the management of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the musicians’ association.

When we moved to Fort Wayne nearly eight years ago, we quickly discovered that the city had an outstanding orchestra that was part of an amazing community of artists. We felt so fortunate that our new home placed so much emphasis on the art.

In recent months, however, it has become apparent that the management of the Philharmonie does not value their musicians that much, despite the many years of training and commitment to their art that every musician brings with them. They have not received a living wage for years.

While management eventually proposed a wage increase, which the musicians agreed to, management continues to call for job cuts and the abolition of labor rights. These demands will diminish the quality of our orchestra and its ability to keep these amazing musicians here.

Fort Wayne has worked to be nationally recognized as a wonderful place to live. The actions of the Philharmonic management serve to undermine this endeavor.

Pat Darif


Paid interests behind the electricity application

Many thanks to Peg Maginn for the comment of December 28th regarding the pending rezoning application for Parnell Avenue lots. River City Ventures is planning to build a dock and bar on a floodplain property traversed by the busy Rivergreenway bike and walking path. Maginn made a compelling case for a decision based on community needs, not monetary interests.

If you drive past the property on the northwest corner of the Parnell Avenue Bridge, you won’t see the property as it was just a few months ago. This flood prone, wooded lot was purchased at some expense and has already been cleared and improved with no apparent concerns as to the fact that the current zoning prohibits the use intended by the buyer. Perhaps this reflects a serious lack of planning, or perhaps it shows a confident attitude that the rezoning will happen in the best interest of the money, as Maginn has suggested.

I have had the pleasure of being a historical guide on the river for the past seven years. Thanks to Fort Wayne Outfitters, whose kayaks and canoes fill the river on summer weekends, I’ve seen activity on the river explode. From the river I watched the beautiful Promenade Park go from idea to completion. And I saw the arrival of the Rum Runner pontoons. I personally don’t like the pontoons, but they are a creative use of the community owned rivers. They bring people onto the river who might not otherwise come.

Unfortunately, they also get people on the river who shouldn’t come. Those of us who’ve spent a lot of time on the river have no shortage of tales of loud, ugly drunks who don’t care about others and care less about the river and boarding areas. The owners are not responsible for the behavior of these customers, but history has shown there is little they can do to discourage it. Consideration should be given to addressing some of the current downsides before extending the length of the river so negatively affected.

I sincerely hope that the Planning Commission will consider this application responsibly. Yes, those with the money have done great things for our city, but that doesn’t mean that every idea is good. Saying “no” to this request is the way to go.

Markus Meier


Electric Works hosts an ‘Oasis of Faith’

Fort Wayne, the “City of Churches,” now has a non-denominational oasis of faith amidst an ocean of materialism, the newly opened Prayer Works at Electric Works. Is the word “works” a noun (a place) or a verb (an action) to draw near to God? Or is it both?

Remember to share your requests with God. It is equally important to thank him for his blessings.

Dick Kierstead


Jan 6 Conspirators to be brought to justice

I would like to ask the Attorney General why he failed in his duty and issued arrest warrants for those identified by the January 6 Committee as responsible for the attack on our Capitol in 2021? Two years have passed since that attack. The actual participants, most of whom stormed the Capitol, are the only ones who have been tried or are about to be tried for their participation.

Given all the evidence received and shown, why are those responsible for the rioters attacking the Capitol to prevent the smooth transition of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden not brought to justice? The American public needs those responsible for these crimes arrested and brought to justice. Regardless of political views, a true American would want anyone who threatens our republic to be brought to justice.

As far as the status of the AG on this subject is concerned, I’m still at a loss. He’s either afraid to issue arrest warrants, especially for Trump, or he’s lax in fulfilling his constitutional duties. The facts are there. So I and most of the country would like to know why the leader and his cronies are not being brought to justice.

Jim Furos


Encourage legislators: Make nature a priority

The time we spend in our parks and natural spaces in Indiana grounds us. It helps us slow down, connect with friends and family, and experience the wonders of the natural world around us.

That excitement we feel when we see a bald eagle, when we see a deer with our young children, or even the rare glimpse of a bobcat or other elusive wildlife is a feeling only found in nature. For that reason, I am very pleased that Governor Eric Holcomb has prioritized land preservation and trails in his budget proposal to the Indiana General Assembly.

Indiana’s parks and natural areas are a Hoosier treasure. According to the US Department of Commerce, outdoor recreation adds nearly $13 billion annually to our Indiana economy and provides jobs for 107,000 Hoosiers. Utilization of our parks has never been higher.

In fact, in his recent State of the State address, Holcomb proudly pointed out that our State Park Inns have the highest occupancy rate in the country.

And yet wildlife habitat is shrinking.

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, only 15% of the state’s original wetlands remain; and in recent years, 85 counties in Indiana have lost forest cover. Any valuable asset requires care and investment in order for that value to remain and grow. Please join the Hoosier Environmental Council and ask Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton; Rep. Dave Heine, R-Fort Wayne; and her colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee to approve Holcomb’s Land Conservation, Trails and State Parks Budget Proposal. Visit for details and how to get involved.

Sam Carpenter

Chief Executive Officer,

Hoosier Environment Council