Mayor Henry thinks criticism of his administration over handling of Red River problems go too far

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:11 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - Democrat Tom Henry says complaints about the way his office has dealt with Red River Waste Solutions are misguided. The trash hauler has a documented history of missing garbage pickups and last month filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Mayor Tom Henry argues much of the complaining is being generated by one Republican city councilman who he believes is over the top.

GOP 2nd district council member Russ Jehl has repeatedly taken the mayor’s office to task for not fining Red River Waste Solutions to the fullest for failing to meet contractual obligations over the past four years, including a pattern of missed pickups. Henry told Fort Wayne’s NBC Thursday a review of the company’s track record in the city, especially of late, reveals that “they’re doing a pretty darn good job.”

The mayor showed us statistics of verified missed trash pickups from late October and early November, indicating on average fewer than 100 missed collections per day, equating to about one-half of one percent. Jehl, who serves on the Fort Wayne Solid Waste Advisory Board, says solid waste officials have shared with that board different numbers, estimates that missed pickups often range from three to ten percent each week.

Henry thinks Jehl’s views about the handling of Red River’s troubles don’t reflect what other council members believe.

“To take every opportunity to beat on them and to beat on the administration I just think is disingenuous, that’s not what we as leaders in the community should be doing,” Henry said.

The president of city council, also a Republican, says Jehl is not a lone wolf.

“Those of us that are going to neighborhood meetings, that are talking to our constituents, that are fielding the calls and the emails from people that have had their garbage pickups missed and their recycling pickups missed, it’s very apparent that this is an unacceptable level of service,” said Paul Ensley, who represents northeast Fort Wayne.

Henry says he hopes city council backs down from threats to subpoena management of Red River Waste Solutions to come answer questions at one of the fiscal body’s upcoming meetings.

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