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Mayor rebuts criticism from GOP Council members as ‘disingenuous’

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - A sparring match over vaccine incentives to City of Fort Wayne employees has prompted Mayor Tom Henry to respond in writing.

Henry rebutted allegations from the five Republican members of City Council on Tuesday in a letter that offered criticisms of his own.

It follows the release last week of a document sent by Jason Arp, Tom Didier, Paul Ensley, Tom Freistroffer and Russ Jehl.

The Council members alleged that a plan to provide employees with a $200 benefit for showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination was put together without necessary Council approval and was politically motivated.

Henry announced that incentive program on Sept. 2.

Henry's office immediately rebuked the claim that approval was required, noting that the money would come from the Group Health Insurance Fund -- which does not require Council consent -- and said that members of the body had indeed been notified in advance.

In Tuesday's more detailed response, Henry said he wanted to "clear up some misinformation" about the plan.

He said the payment being offered "is not a mandate" but a "voluntary incentive" -- addressing concerns of overreach by City Hall.

"I find it disingenuous for all of you to assert that offering this wellness benefit has injected partisan politics into the debate," Henry said, alleging that "some of you have ridiculed public health measures since the beginning."

The complete letters from the Council and from Mayor Henry follow.

Mayor-Henry-Regarding-Vaccine-Bonuses

COVID-Vaccine-Wellness-Benefit-Letter-9.14.21

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley is the news director at WPTA TV, which he joined in 2016 following nine years in a similar role in New Orleans and previous news management positions in Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

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