Mayor Tom Henry has quietly appointed a key city official who is not a holdover from the Richard administration: Attorney Tim Haffner is the city’s new corporation counsel, a part-time position that is legally the city’s top-ranking legal official.
The appointment indicates Henry plans to keep the structure of the legal staff his predecessor, Graham Richard, developed after taking office in 2000. A month ago, when Henry announced the reappointment of Carol Taylor as city attorney, he indicated he was unsure how he was going to handle the corporation counsel position.
Taylor is the full-time city employee responsible for the day-to-day management of the city’s Legal Department. Haffner is responsible for representing the city as a corporation, particularly in higher-profile matters. Haffner succeeds Joe Kimmell, who recently announced he was taking a job in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Kimmell was with Baker & Daniels, the firm where Haffner works. Haffner contracted to do some of the legal work related to Harrison Square for the city, and he is a member of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority – appointed not by the mayor but by the county commissioners. Haffner is also a part owner of the Gary Southshore Railcats, a minor league baseball team.
Like Kimmell, Haffner is expected to focus more on long-term legal strategy and bigger-picture issues. Kimmell emerged as one of Richard’s top behind-the-scenes advisers, a position Haffner could well assume with Henry. Haffner will likely be involved in the negotiations over the City Light lease, which expires next year.
A former board chairman of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance and Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Haffner is widely respected in the city’s business, government and legal communities, and could prove to be one of Henry’s most important appointments.
Henry is also assembling his public information staff, reorganizing the office to include three employees rather than one. He named Ozzie Mitson – campaign manager for Nelson Peters’ failed bid to win the
mayoral nomination last year – as a public information assistant. Rachel Blakeman, a one-time reporter for The Journal Gazette who has been director of marketing for Lancia Homes, is the other public information assistant.
Mitson, a Republican precinct committeeman, was involved in the Republicans for Henry campaign.
Henry has yet to name the person who will hold the top post, director of public information, held temporarily by Michael Joyner, a city police officer.
Richard had downplayed the public information aspect of the mayor’s office, and Henry is moving to return the public information staff back to pre-Richard levels. In a news release, Henry indicated he wants the new public information director to work with the 311 Call Center, the Neighborhood Advocate office, City Utilities and public safety agencies to coordinate the flow of information.
2008 campaigns begin
Filing for county and state offices in this year’s election begins Wednesday, and among the first to declare their intentions will be the five Allen Superior Court judges whose terms expire at the end of the year. Judges Fran Gull, Dan Heath, Stan Levine, Steve Sims and John Surbeck are expected to announce re-election plans Wednesday, as they did as a group six years ago. The Superior Court candidates run on a non-partisan basis in November.