Wednesday, April 29, 2015


RED ALERT!! DAMAGE CONTROL..What did the mayor know? and when did he know it?



15 Finds Out: Related Stories


Mayor: Councilman misunderstood collective bargaining comment

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – During all of the collective bargaining debates last summer, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry was very vocal in support of the unions. But, in an interview with the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters Political Action Committee a few weeks ago, councilman Tom Didier said the mayor told him to get rid of all nine unions during a closed-door meeting last summer.
Now, firefighter union president Jeremy Bush is calling for clarification.
“Tom [Didier] made reference to a statement made by the mayor that he was in favor of getting rid of all nine unions. In all this, I think the public deserves to know the truth,” Bush said.
Bush recorded the interviews with all the candidates to get everyone on record on various issues as the PAC decided who to endorse. NewsChannel 15 obtained a copy of the recording with Didier. The following is a transcribed excerpt of the collective bargaining discussion:
Panel Member: I think the bill came up including us in that.
Tom Didier: I wasn’t part of that.
Jeremy Bush: And, I know you weren’t, but understand that
Panel Member: The bill came up and it will come up again.
Tom Didier: Yeah, but you know what? It’s like, uh, when they would bring it before us, you know what. I didn’t have anything to do with this. I sat, he knows this, and as God as my witness, I was with Marty Bender and myself, I was in the mayor’s office, he wanted to get rid of all of you, so.
Panel member: Who’s that? Marty or the mayor?
Tom Didier: The mayor. I won’t publicly come out. I’ll tell you eight people or seven people. Eight people. Eight. I can count. I went to grade school, but um, no, he goes, I said I can’t do that. I would not do that. If I was the mayor, I wouldn’t do that.
Jeremy Bush: I mean, but understanding that he, the mayor told you in his office with those individuals in his office
Tom Didier (over Jeremy): Karl Bandemer
Jeremy Bush: to get rid of collective bargaining,
Tom Didier: All nine of you
Jeremy Bush: Why wouldn’t you guys communicate that to the public or us?
Didier: (over Jeremy) I, I communicated it.
Jeremy Bush: You told it to me, yes, but, but why
Panel Member: But I’m speaking as a citizen of Fort Wayne
Tom Didier: You know…
Panel Member: Especially when he says I’m going to veto it and this is why
Tom Dider: Well, I’m not trying to bad-mouth the mayor, I just did not agree with him.

“We were extremely stunned. That’s information that’s very unsettling given the mayor vetoed the ordinance,” Bush said.
Tuesday, Didier told NewsChannel 15 that he was in the mayor’s office to talk about Legacy Fund money last summer when collective bargaining came up.
“I look at it from the perspective of what I heard. I just took it verbatim,” Didier said. “I know what I perceived it as. I took it for what it was. I thought he wanted to take all nine unions.”
During the collective bargaining debate, Republicans were taking a lot of heat for getting rid of unions. If he thought the mayor wanted to do away with all nine unions, NewsChannel 15 also asked Didier why he didn’t go public with the conversation in the mayor’s office when it happened last summer.
“I didn’t want to get in that boxing match. I looked at it as, ‘Ok. This is the way you feel. This is the way I feel and I’m not throwing mud.’ I don’t work that way,” Didier said. “The mayor never came out and truthfully said what he was wanting to say, I guess you’ll find out in a few hours. You’ll find out what he means. I know what I perceived it as. I took it for what it was.”
When NewsChannel 15 talked with the mayor Tuesday afternoon, he said Didier misunderstood him. Henry said he was upset that council was targeting the non-public safety unions and that’s what sparked the comment.
“If you’re going to go after six of my unions, then have the guts to go after all nine of them. Don’t carve out public safety because you’re afraid there might be repercussions from public safety. That’s not a good reason. So, either you don’t like collective bargaining or collective bargaining doesn’t bother you,” Henry said. “The point is, if I really wanted to get rid of the unions, I wouldn’t have vetoed it. So, you can see how he took it out of context.”
The mayor did veto the repeal of collective bargaining and added that he always was and still is pro-union.

FROM THE INBOX – WHOSE TELLING THE TRUTH: MAYOR HENRY OR TOM DIDIER??? (AND THE REST OF THE STORY) My inbox is really, really, REALLY running over. You have lots of questions about a ton of things and in light of some recent reporting events-- lots of anger and lots of accusations. The number one thing in my inbox right now is about Tom Didier’s statements and Tom Henry’s response to those statements. The short and simple answer to the question is I wasn’t at the meeting and so I don’t know who is really telling the truth. The longer and more complex answer to that question is that both Tom Henry and Tom Didier are telling the truth, technically. What most of you seem to be asking me, however, is whom do I believe is telling the truth and why I believe that. So, here is my best answer to that question (although I admit that in my answer, part fact and part theory, asks even more questions):




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Whose Telling the Truth: Mayor Henry or Councilman Didier

First, we all need to understand that Tom Didier voted against collective bargaining once and he has publically stated that he will do it again.  Regardless of any meeting with Mayor Henry, that is Tom Didier’s position. 

Second, Tom Didier’s statements were made during his February 20th, 2015 endorsement interview with the local firefighters union, whose panel included Jeremy Bush and one member of the Fraternal Order of Police.  Didier’s interview occurred about an hour after my interview with them and immediately after Michelle Hill’s interview.  The reason I know this is because Michelle Hill and I carpooled together that day.  She organized our team to canvas the nearby businesses and residential neighborhood while I was having my interview and I was checking in with our team during her interview.  Tom Didier arrived earlier to his interview and spent his first few moments trying to avoid an awkward exchange between him and I over his most recent decision to “unfriend” me.  He tried entering the two side, locked doors before finally walking in front of my vehicle, acknowledging me with a forced smile and wave, as he moved quickly to the front door.   The point of sharing this rather funny story is that Tom Didier’s comments were not “right before the election.”  They were made two months ago.

Third, to the best of my knowledge NONE of the candidates knew they were being tape-recorded.  I certainly did not.  Cathy Cross was interviewed before me – Cathy, did you know you were being tape-recorded?  Michelle Hill was interviewed after me – Michelle, did you know you were being tape-recorded? Because I did not know I was being recorded, it is highly unlikely that Tom Didier knew he was being tape recorded.

Fourth, here in Indiana, a conversation can be tape recorded as long as one person in the conversation knows that the conversation is being tape recorded. Was this an underhanded tactic??  Maybe.  Was it a legal tactic?  Yes.

Fifth, Tom Didier states that he was repeating a conversation among himself, Mayor Tom Henry, and Mayorally-appointed, Deputy Chief of Special Operations, Marty Bender – who as a councilman also voted to terminate collective bargaining.  One question I have is why hasn’t Bender been interviewed by the media?  Tom Didier has.  The Mayor has.  Why hasn’t Bender?

Sixth, Tom Didier --- like him or not, trust him or not --- is being set up and hung out to dry, politically speaking.  Prior to the 2015 election cycle, Tom Didier had not received one dime from those who fund or have previously funded the establishment.  Didier’s biggest donation of $5,000 came from Hotel Fitness founder Bruce Dye.  My guess is then a donation from Mayor Henry’s transitional team leader, Republican Ken Neumeister, would have been a little too obvious. 

[For those who don’t understand what I mean by the people who fund the establishment, mostly they are members of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, especially the 2013-2014 crowd who had previously been or remain members of the Downtown Improvement District d/b/a Downtown Development Trust and The Alliance (economic development/redevelopment commissions) now known collectively as Greater Fort Wayne,  and the PACS they control---such as the Indiana Realtors PAC, UPSTAR, etc.  To gain a better understanding of Ken Neumeister’s entanglements, please read my Facebook posting of September 29th, 2014, entitled “WILL KEN NEUMEISTER BE THE NEXT ASH “CASH & SLASH” BROKERAGE DEVELOPER??”[2]]

Why is Tom Didier being hung out to dry?  Well, he’s not one of the “in-crowd” so to speak, otherwise, he would have gotten the kind of funding he got this year in previous years.   This means he’s expendable. You see, if he publicizes the fact that HE and THE MAYOR and another CITY COUNCILMAN worked together behind the scenes and had a meeting in private---and a meeting of this kind would be in violation of Indiana Open Door laws --- this proves COLLUSION. Collusion is a big no-no. It’s often an indicator and prelude of anti-trust violations.  If what Tom Didier is saying is even remotely true, the Henry administration and its department heads , its appointees, and its favored business partners could ALL be in a WOOOOORLD of hurt.   Politically, anyone who gave money to the Henry campaign and/or has been funded by the Henry campaign and/or has otherwise benefitted from Henry being in office (City’s department heads and other favored city employees, like the Public Safety Director and Public Safety Director’s grant writer) could all find themselves suspect. 

Of course, this is all premised on Didier telling the truth, which if you believe him (and I do)--then by default, you have to believe that Henry is not telling the truth.

So it really comes down to is Henry telling the truth?  Personally, I don’t believe so in this matter.  I’ve stated that before. 

And here’s why – Henry sat on several of the city union contracts that had been ratified for months before presenting them to City Council.  Why would the Mayor do that?  Why not push those contracts through before there was any talk of an “collective bargaining termination”?  City union contract negotiations began as early as June 2013, with their contracts expiring December, 2013. Why wait???   Matter of fact, the employees of the Parks Department ended up having to sue the Mayor and his administration for contractual non-compliance of their union contract. [3]

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Henry is pro-union.  He needs those union workers to call bank for him and those he supports.  He needs those union workers to take their days off (with and without pay) to go canvassing for him and those he supports.  But most importantly, he needs those union workers to vote for him.  There are more non-city worker unions (private sector) than there are city worker unions (public sector).  Henry—whether he is truly pro-union or not---has to have the appearance of being pro-union.  His campaign is heavily dependent on paid city workers and volunteer union workers.  So Henry is being sincere and technically truthful when he says, during an election year, that no one is more dedicated to union workers than he is. 

No matter what his own union beliefs are or were, Henry was going to do whatever he could to have the appearance of him being a pro-union Mayor.  Yes, he vetoed the collective bargaining termination ordinance.  But he knew his veto was going to be overturned along party lines.  He relied on the 6 Republicans, which included Tom Didier and Marty Bender whom he met with—in violation of Open Door laws---as well as the authors of the legislation, John Crawford and Russ Jehl.  Behind the scenes, Mitch Harper has been funded by the same people that fund Henry as has Tom Smith---they are part of the “old boys network.”  Henry needed the Republican vote locked in so he could have his cake (terminate collective bargaining) and eat it too (not have the appearance of supporting collective bargaining termination). 

Now, I don’t know when “the meeting” took place.  But, what I do know is that Henry needed all six of the Republican votes locked in by the time of his veto. The best way of guaranteeing that “lock in” was by having those votes secured right from the get go.  Its very hard for a politician to change their vote once its locked in—otherwise, they come off looking like an indecisive “flip-flopper.” 

Because I don’t know when the meeting between Henry, Didier and Bender took place, I’m going to do something that I seldom do.  I’m going to share my own theory on what may have happened.  It is nothing more than a theory because I was not at that meeting in question.  I don’t know when that meeting took place (date and time), where the meeting took place, for how long the meeting lasted, etc.  These are details and questions the media should be asking. 

AGAIN, THE FOLLOWING IS JUST A THEORY….all we know is that a meeting took place between Henry, Didier and Bender:

Before this meeting, despite all appearances that the Republican vote was locked in---it wasn’t.  Behind-the-scenes, Tom Didier was waivering.  Didier could have abstained.  He readily admitted that he did not know that much about unions.  Worse, his wife at that time was working at the local union print shop---Lincoln Printing.  A vote for the termination of collective bargaining could have made life for his wife unpleasant and possibly his home life less than stellar.  Didier’s constituents were at best divided on the issue.  Matter of fact, union workers had been out in his district canvassing neighborhoods getting signatures on petitions, raising support and emotions.  He was a Republican in an area with enough Democrats to turn the area back over to a Democrat. Didier was in a tough spot, caught between party lines and divided constituents a year before his bid for Mayor or for re-election to City Council.

Didier was also a family man.  So-called “union supporters” had been calling his home, threatening him and his family.  Was this to turn Didier off to unions? Was this to try to get Didier to change his mind?  The ambiguous nature of a threat can be lost on those being threatened.  And this is all the more reason that Didier could have and should have abstained.  As a man whose family was being threatened and harassed, that would have been a reasonable and fair choice.

Henry couldn’t have that.  Not if he was going to keep his “I support the unions” record spotless.  He needed six guaranteed votes to overturn his Mayoral veto. He couldn’t get them from the Democratic minority.  He had to have all six Republicans.  If Didier abstained, then the veto wouldn’t be overturned.  Henry needed that veto more than Didier “needed” collective bargaining to be eliminated.

Henry organized a meeting with his Chief Deputy (and Didier’s fellow councilman) and Didier to explain why the unions weren’t needed (to educate Didier and make him feel good about his vote), to explore what Didier might need for campaign purposes (as part of casual conversation, not in a direct way, but rather indirectly to find out what “carrot” could be used to motivate Didier), to help him understand how this was a difficult choice for Bender (whether it was or not—Didier needed to feel as though he wasn’t the only one having doubts on the subject—and who better than a member of the police department who has a public safety union), and to find the area of compromise that Didier could support but in a way that would reach Henry’s goals (or rather the goals of those funding Henry).   

And this is partially what I believe led to the birth of collective bargaining termination for all union workers except for the public safety unions.  By or before this time, I’m guessing Russ Jehl was started to back-pedal on his anti-union position.  He, too, was under a lot of pressure in a district that went back and forth between Republicans and Democrats.  He too also had family who were part of city unions.  This is why we started to see the original author, John Crawford, take the reigns back from his “co-author” Jehl, who was really nothing more than a co-signer and re-establish his lead on the matter. 

The compromise with Didier and Jehl saved the public safety unions.  This eliminated some stress for both of these two councilmen.  To make the deal “sweeter”, both were probably promised (but not guaranteed) campaign donations and limited campaign competition.  Both were likely promised no Primary election competition and little if any General election competition.  This would have the effect of sweetening the deal for these candidates and making these races less expensive to run, meaning less campaign donations would be needed.  Because Jehl was likely easier to convince than Didier—a once-upon-a-time Mayoral hopeful and the only Republican to ever beat Henry in an election – Henry made good on the deal with Jehl as it concerned the Primary.  He would have made good on his deal in the General election too, but he had reason to believe that a potential candidate would emerge to challenge Jehl.  Someone the establishment couldn’t control.  So a non-union Democrat was put up, not to compete against Jehl, but to thwart anyone else running in the Democratic primary.  Michelle Merritt was the put up candidate.  If Michelle Hill had not entered the race, then Merritt would have voluntarily withdrawn or not been given any of the promised Party resources she is getting.  Her campaign would have been sabotaged.  The Party could have put up a second candidate to further dilute Hill’s votes, but that would have cost more money and it would have impacted Merritt more than Hill due to Hill’s being at the top of the ballot. If Merrit gets through the primary, then she is going to be in for one surprisingly rude wake up when nearly all Party suddenly dries up.  Her General election race will undoubtedly get sabotaged.

Henry made good on his deal with Didier by making sure that no Democrats were put up in the Democratic primary.  Henry (and Didier) had reason to believe that a potential Democratic candidate would come forward in that race.  So, Henry put up a candidate—again, not to compete against Didier, but to thwart the other Democratic challenger.  When the anticipated Democratic challenger never emerged in the 3rd District race, the put-up candidate, Pamela Downs, voluntarily withdrew from the race.  [4] Pamela Downs is a Green Frog employee, who may be a relative of Andy Downs.  Henry, however, did not make good on the deal that Didier would not have a primary challenger.  Didier was becoming too much of a free thinker.  He needed to be taught a lesson.  He needed to be made dependent upon his own political party.  A competitive challenger with city union ties and a legitimate gripe was put up, Mark Stafford. How do we know that Stafford is also a put up?  Because if he wasn’t, then another challenger would have also been put up to split the anti-Didier votes. 

My theory, of course, admittedly begs the question of why?  What would Henry have to gain by terminating collective bargaining?  Some of you are thinking “Gina—You said so yourself, Henry needs the union workers for his election. He’s not going to mess that up.”   These are legitimate questions and I promise I will answer those before the Primary election.

Some of you are also thinking, “Gina – You are biased against Henry.  You have an ax to grind. Why should we take anything you’ve shared seriously?”  These too are legitimate questions.  Yes, it may seem as though I am biased against Henry.  It’s not Henry that I am biased against, it’s his policies that I am against.  No, I have no ax to grind with Henry, the individual.  Yes, I have an ax to grind with Henry, the Mayor.  Again, I don’t like his policies.  Why should anyone take what I’ve shared seriously? Because with very few occasions, I tend to share nothing but facts that can be backed up with documentation.  I’ve backed up the parts of my theory that could be backed up with documentation. But because I wasn’t at the meeting in question, there is simply no way for me to have documentation.  That is why I purposefully refer to the undocumented events as theory. 

At the end of the day, what is important is that folks realize that Henry was working in conjunction with the Republicans in terminating collective bargaining.  



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