City Council: Delays Approval of Water Filtration, Officer Raises, and Hines Makes Public Apology

By Rachel Martin

December 14, 2011 Updated Dec 14, 2011 at 12:29 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – There was a lot on the plate of Fort Wayne City Council members Tuesday night with a councilman apologizing for offensive comments he made on Facebook, the approval of a $20M renovation to the city's water filtration plant, and approving whether police officers will get a raise.

The $20M water filtration project will have to wait. A federal mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now requires an ultraviolet light filtration process be added to the facility. Currently Fort Wayne’s drinking water is filtered through a chlorine-based process. Contactors say the chlorine process will not be eliminated, but scaled back when the UV filtration is added. The water treatment plant will stay fully operational throughout the renovation, and contractors say they are saving $1.5M by renovating the existing facility. This project will be funded by the current water payment rates. City Council members say they feel they need a little more information, and spending could be approved next week at a Special Session. Contractors say although they are ahead of schedule on construction, they need to get the spending approved soon because the water plant will need to be up and running by next summer.

Another issue put off until next week was regarding a raise for police officers. Officers have not received a raise since 2008, when their last contract expired. Currently officers are being paid under terms frozen by the last contract. Officers are proposing raising salaries by 1.5 percent through 2012. City Council’s Special Session will be held next Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at Citizens Square.

A couple weeks ago, Democratic City Councilman, Glynn Hines, 6th District, made a Facebook comment regarding the Republican Party that some people found offensive. A woman asked Councilman Hines to sign a petition to support President Obama in the upcoming election. Someone who affiliates themselves with the GOP made a comment in regards to Hines’ support. Hines says he responded by saying, “We must re-elect President Obama or…settle for some other Republican retard,” in regards to GOP Presidential candidates, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. Hines says by using the word “R” word, he meant "to obstruct, delay, slow down or hinder" because he felt GOP candidates are “delaying” political progress. Hines says he “didn’t think much of it” until confronted by people on Facebook. Hines says he did not mean to insult or offend anyone.

Here is part of his public apology at the City Council meeting Tuesday night, “I have a long-standing belief system that as a society, we need to be more sensitive to special interest groups and avoid using language that is offensive. I know that I would be offended, of course, if someone used the "N" word. And I want to commit to the community and to my colleagues, both on the council today and as you leave, that I will not use that word.”

Hines says he did research on the word and realized he was being hurtful and insensitive when he made the comment on Facebook. He claims he signed an online pledge to never use the “R” word again, and encourages everyone to sign the pledge. Members of the community who were offended by his original comments attended the meeting and say they appreciated and accepted his apology.

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