Long Awaited School Petition Drive Kicks Off In Fort Wayne

By Jeff Neumeyer

June 18, 2010 Updated Jun 5, 2007 at 6:35 PM EDT

The race is on for supporters and opponents of a proposed half billion dollar Fort Wayne Community Schools building project.

The two sides on Friday began organizing and gathering signatures in a critical petition drive that involves a new twist on a "get out the vote" campaign.

Rather than motivate people to get out to the polls, leaders of the yellow and blue teams are figuring out the best way to get petitions to the people.

Supervisors of the "Write Yellow, Right Now" group, that support the pricey school renovations, picked up their stamped petitions from the Allen County Auditor Friday morning.

It's presumed an army of teachers will help carry yellow sheets, but the plan is, they won't be alone.

"We have a few hundred signed up already and we're still recruiting, so we're going to continue recruiting all through the month of June," said John Peirce, proponent of the school upgrades.

Well over a thousand petitions were also snatched up by leaders of “Code Blue Schools, who want to hammer home that a sizable tax increase will occur if the project is permitted to go forward.

"The library is still being paid for, we've got this coming up, we're going to have a big sewer project coming up, I don't think Harrison Square is going to be free, so I think a lot of people are concerned that it's all just piling on," said Evert Mol, who is running Code Blue Schools.

NEUMEYER: "One of the first people to formally endorse the yellow campaign is former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke."

"You look at that kind of age and the kind of upkeep that's needed on these schools, clearly we need to spend the money now, it's going to cost us more later," said Helmke, right after he signed one of the yellow petitions.

Other project supporters gathered for an afternoon rally and signing opportunity, as part of the petition drive kick-off.

Meanwhile, opponents were also organizing and strategizing out of their storefront headquarters in the Coliseum Plaza Mall right across from Northcrest Shopping Center.

Rather than yellow or blue, a lot of homeowners are seeing red on the school building issue.

A sign in one yard read, “Dr. Robinson is ‘robin us’. Please sign blue.”

Dr. Robinson refers to Wendy Robinson, the Superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools.

The sign was written in red letters, with a postscript, “My wallet is bleeding.”

We'll know which side prevails, sometime after the petition drive wraps up July 2nd.

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