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Running for Congress, etc.
By Jim Sack
Fort Wayne Reader
Liz Brown announced to replace Congressman Marlin Stutzman. You may remember her as that most divisive element on city council until she was defeated running in the Republican 2011 primary for mayor. In 2014, she managed to win a seat in the state house, so shallow is the Republican bench. Additionally, former State Senator Jim Banks is expected to announce to replace Congressman Marlin Stutzman, who thinks he can replace Senator Dan Coats, who is retiring. Musical elephants.
Interestingly, a newcomer to Indiana, a former state senator in Wisconsin, Pam Galloway, would also like to represent you in D.C. One would think she would spend a couple years getting to know the wonders of the state before heading off to Washington to speak on our behalf, but ambition being ambition...
One would have thought the same of Eric Doden who grew up in Butler then decided he wanted to be our mayor in 2012, so he rented an apartment just inside the city limits and tossed his hat in the ring, which voters promptly tossed right back at him. But, being wealthy, the newcomer was given a top-level job in the Pence Administration running Indiana economic development and has since come back to FW to run Greater Fort Wayne, INC. Hutzpah is the word I am looking for. Did I mention he is also going to profit from your tax dollars to build an apartment complex downtown? Nice to be an insider. As for Galloway, who resigned her Wisconsin seat to avoid a recall vote, would someone please give her a newcomers guide to Indiana?
Karl Bandamer has the trust of city council. Nine to nothing was the vote to spend $6 million dollars from the Legacy on river front development. Nine to zero. Every member of council supported his proposal; only John Shoaff took umbrage with the generic looking project drawings which offered less sophistication than one would expect from first year architecture students. “We paid $500,000 for that!” another councilman was heard to sneer, referring to the consulting study. Six million is a lot of money and a fair chunk of the Legacy Fund, so getting six Republicans, all who have voiced concern about “lax” uses of the fund, to vote a go-ahead speaks volumes to Bandamer’s credibility. He sat comfortably in the witness chair at city council, like he was at home with old friends chatting over a fine Pilsner. Most members of council proclamed their phones had been ringing off the hook in favor of a “yes” vote. “My constituents want this done,” said one of the Repubicans. Bandamer accepted with a gentle nod an amendment to retain council oversight of expenditures, but in all the deputy mayor got everything he, the mayor and the citizens of Fort Wayne wanted, a resolute go ahead for river front development.
The Legacy, according to city accounting, has encumbered some $32 million for “transformational” projects, leaving a balance of about $34 million. Market investments increase the fund by about $3 million a year on average and I&M has commitments yet to be paid to the fund. The city estimates the Legacy will yield $88 million through 2025 for local projects. The Legacy is to be catalytic and transformational. It is not to sit in the bank or to be spent on operating expenses. To be both catalytic and transformational it has to be spent, usually in large sums.
Liberals vs. Conservatives
Do you really think there are liberals on city council? Perhaps, in the traditional sense, John Shoaff is a liberal, but the rest on council are conservative. Look at their voting records. Only on the matter of collective bargaining can you suggest that there are liberals on council, and, folks, labor unions are very conservative bodies themselves, asking for little beyond the right to organize and negotiate pay and conditions as a group. Nothing radical there. Council members are all rock-ribbed fiscal conservatives who scrutinize every bill sent down from the mayor’s office, some, of course, more than others. Only in the matter of tax abatements, where they approve tax giveaways faster than parts passing on a GM assembly line do they turn “liberal.” Tea Partiers should have no fear of a socialist coup at council. The question instead of whether they are more conservative or not should be whether they are more thoughtful or not. There is certainly room for improvement. One would think we would vote for intelligence rather than dogma.
How Did That Happen?
Mike Pence sends me fund raising letters. I got a request from Ted Cruz the other day. Same with a couple other candidates of the right. Perhaps their fund raising algorithms need a tweek.
There is more interest than when visionary Mayor Graham Richard proposed the idea a decade and some years ago, but still not quite enough. City council will protect the Coliseum despite the fact the Coliseum is busting at the seams, even adding a wing to meet increasing demand. Truth is there is obvious use for such a facility to compliment the Grand Wayne and the Embassy. If I were Dan O’Connell, the guy who runs Tourism in Fort Wayne, I would be spending all my time putting together a case for a downtown arena. But, one that includes a way to save that Arts and Crafts beauty, the Kinder House, across from the Library at 331 West Washington.