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2 out of 3 ain't bad

A couple Republican mayoral hopefuls sound off

By PA

Fort Wayne Reader

2011-02-20


Where does Paula Hughes — former Allen County Council President and current Fort Wayne mayoral hopeful for the Republican ticket — stand on the Harry Baals Center for Government?

Decidedly in the “laughing at us” camp.

In fact, “worldwide laughingstock” is the phrase Hughes throws down in a recent press release, calling the whole episode “…the building naming experiment that made Fort Wayne fodder for late night comedy skits…”

So, was “naming the building” a relatively innocuous, civic-minded exercise derailed by legions of smart-alecks (or 12-year-olds)? Not according to the Hughes campaign. The Mayor’s office should have seen it coming. “…the $72,000 social media consultant contract from last fall has only produced a shortsighted interactive website, Feedbackfortwayne.org, whose content won’t be taken into consideration by the City…”

Hughes continues: “The city administration went into this online experiment haphazardly and they weren’t prepared for the consequences. You would think that a $72,000 contract would bring with it some foresight.”

But not so fast… Mayor Henry’s campaign responded, saying that the “name the building” forum generated over 30,000 responses (many of which had nothing to do with Harry Baals), and besides, the “feedback” website represents only a very, very small part of what Carolyn Grisko & Associates is working on. “Mayor Henry wants to take government to the people where they are and how they want to connect with it, make it easier for them to use. He’s being very prudent about integrating new technologies into City systems.”

“This isn’t just putting up a Facebook page. The City of Fort Wayne serves over a quarter million residents, has approximately 1,800 employees, and operates 30-plus different business units that deliver hundreds of programs and services around the clock. To expand the City’s overall community involvement and outreach methods requires significant planning.”

We don’t know what Eric Doden thinks of the Harry Baals Center for Government, but the Republican mayoral hopeful has a definite plan of what he would like to see happen with the light-lease money…

“To date, the proposals of how best to use the light-lease funds can be described simply as ‘spend it’ or ‘don’t spend it,” Doden said. “I’m proposing a creative third way that maximizes the use of these dollars while protecting taxpayers.”

That plan: lend part of it to developers so they can create more half-empty strip malls.

Well, no, that’s not what he said. What he said was this: lend a portion of the fund to “…attract $85 million in private funds and complete $100 million worth of new residential and commercial projects throughout the city. These projects would be vital in making Fort Wayne a more prominent and attractive location for entrepreneurs, businesses and employees.”

Doden adds: “I don’t believe the City should be an equity investor itself. If the private market does not invest or believe in a project, then it shouldn’t be done. But I do believe that leveraging these crucial funds shows private investors we are serious about transforming our economy and creating a world-class, 21st-century city.”

Republican mayoral hopeful Liz Brown didn’t weigh in on either issue. We’re sure she has an opinion. We just haven’t heard it.

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