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Running on empty

By Jim Sack

Fort Wayne Reader

2014-04-03


Look, Ma. All A’s!!!!

Envy this: the economic development leadership at Greater Fort Wayne and the Regional Partnership have begun working on a set of matrices to evaluate their own work… and city council thinks that’s just fine. Now, wouldn’t you like to write your own evaluation criteria? A few years ago one of the ED leaders was nonplussed at the council table when asked why the ED folk list only their “wins,” not their disappointments. He looked incredulous. “Well, shucks, we don’t do that!” In other words, counting failure would be embarrassing and raise questions of efficacy. Council nodded understanding. But, now, in response to the question of bang for the buck the ED team are preparing, after decades and decades of taxpayer support, a set of criteria to evaluate their future performance. Perhaps council and the ED team are just a bit too cozy these days. Given that council hands out a few hundred thousand in subsidies and millions in abatements, one should expect more oversight and accountability from council, but rocking boats is not what council is about. Cozy is much more comfortable. All A’s and back slaps for everyone, at your expense.

Mr. Green

Tom Henry should be given credit for his recycling program that consistently ranks among the very best in the country. The city makes money on the program that they say subsidizes your utility bills and they prolong the life of our expensive landfill. There is another less noticeable green program: tire recycling. Years ago it was not uncommon to see used tires dumped along city and county roads, down the side of the rivers or strewn in alleys. That is rare today because the city “buys” tires through neighborhood associations at $.75 each and then sells them to reuse facilities. In other parts of the world you will still see piles of tires dumped in fields by businesses and garage mechanics who irresponsibly transfer their costs to their fellow citizens and the environment. Not so much so here. It is one of those quiet programs, along with our recycling program, that makes Fort Wayne a more attractive place.

Let it Snow

Councilman Mitch Harper’s campaign for mayor is having trouble lifting off from the launch pad, the measure of which can be clearly seen in the results of his fund raising efforts. They are simply disappointing. They are so bad, in fact, that the law firm of former Republican County Chairman (and party icon) Orvis Beers gave cash to his opponent, the current mayor, Tom Henry. The results are so bad that many, many other traditional and typical Republican donors have given to the mayor, purportedly a Democrat. They are so bad the mayor has a 10 to 1 advantage in “cash-on-hand.” Ten to One. Does the song, “Running on Empty” come to mind? The numbers are so bad that some of Mitch’s friends in the local GOP have expressed hope that Mitch, a councilman broadly admired, will renounce his mayoral bid and stick with his current office. Henry has three killer advantages: money, the power of the incumbency and an improving economy. But, there’s more! He has achieved one success after another, he is on a roll, Fort Wayne is on a roll and the national economy is improving steadily. Change horses in mid-stream…? And, Mr. Henry has the Legacy Slush Fund to add spice to his casserole of advantages. With no pressing issue of economics, crime or corruption there are but slight glimmers of hope for any Republican candidate. But, look on the sunny side, dear Republicans; there are still 18 months before the election. Pray for rain…or more snow, something, anything to pin on Mayor Tom.

Voter Confusion

The Election Board has changed polling places countrywide, changes, they say, that will affect nearly half of all county voters. As part of an effort to alert voters to the changes they recently sent a poster to neighborhood leaders. A poster? Unfortunately, the poster offers an un-interactive link that leads into the website-maze of county governance. Instead of a link to a “locater” that would allow each voter to tap in one’s address and then see the location of one’s new poling station the un-interactive link goes to the Election Board’s general page with a dozen or more options, none of which clearly leads the voter to his or her answer. The poster is useless. What the election board really has done, however, is make it harder for voters to cast a ballot. Perhaps, this is the Republican secret weapon, because it will deter Democrat voters more than their better-educated, more mobile, more connected Republican counterparts. Lots of people are going to show up election day and find themselves locked out, literally and figuratively.

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