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Those socialist Republicans
By Jim Sack
Fort Wayne Reader
A Spec Building
The city is about to offer a helping hand to a very prosperous business to put up a spec building — a building that has, as of yet, no buyer and no renter. The spec building, according to the folks in economic development, both in and out of government, is needed to fill a gap in Fort Wayne’s economic development portfolio used by the various publicly supported quasi-governmental organizations to promote Fort Wayne to the outside world. The deal means the building’s taxes will be cut and we citizens will guarantee the construction loan for the builder. A check of an international industrial real estate listing website shows that there are quite a few vacant industrial businesses in the city and county. Makes one wonder why another vacant building is needed? Makes one wonder why we have to pay part of the bill to put up the building, especially for a proudly Republican company? Bottom line is you will enhance the company’s bottom line; our system now reduces corporate risk and puts it on you. Next time you hear a wealthy businessman complain of socialism ask him if he supports abatements. Allen County and Fort Wayne have handed out well over half a billion in tax breaks to mostly rich companies.
GM at the Trough.
You might say the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is laundering $5 million through Fort Wayne’s books. It is part of a package of incentives to help poor old GM with their billion dollar expansion of their plant here. Really, it is extortion to keep GM from threatening to move their plant to Alabama or elsewhere. Again, council and the economic development people at Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., will put on shiny helmets, break some ground, take a lot of credit, and the picture will appear in the two local papers. Clip it, decoupage it to a magnet to hold the shopping list against the fridge. You paid for it. And, buy those magnets in bulk, GM will be back at the trough for more abatements, incentives, training dollars and grants so their profits can enrich their bottom line…with a promise they won’t move to Alabama. Again, you taxpayers assume much of the corporation’s risk.
A Stand Up Guy, our Gov.
Governor Mike Pence has reiterated opposition to new air quality standards he blames on Washington… He says he will go to court (on your dime) to block cleaner air. Remember, this is a state with close to the worst air quality and water quality in the country. Indiana, it may be added, gets over 80% of our electricity from…coal burning power plants, so no wonder. Now, the question is who is the governor protecting?
A role model to which Pence might look is Germany where on a recent day nearly 75% of the country’s energy came from renewables. The heavily industrialized Vaterland also once relied on coal and wood, gas and nuclear. Germany, by the way, enjoys nearly a third less sunshine than Fort Wayne, but the Germans have made solar work. Our governor, instead, is protecting his donors in the coal and power industries. They support his campaign. Money buys access and votes, and costs you money, and health.
The Power of the Incumbency
In short, this means tax dollars manipulated by an incumbent to win re-election. It means combining campaign chores with official chores, it means issuing statements that are thin on information, but offer a photo-op. You will see a lot of this in the coming months leading to our fall mayoral election. If you are a journalist on the city PR department’s list you already see it. Call it a summer flurry of activity from the mayor’s PR people. Numerous news releases arrive daily announcing any achievement or just an opportunity to photograph the mayor’s best side as he sets out on some fact-finding walk.
Really, have you seen any yard signs, any billboards, any paid ads on TV? Two and a half months to go and virtually nothing, except those photo ops, and an ad on Fox TV from Mitch Harper that speaks out for the neighborhoods and against the abatements that take money away from sidewalks, streets and schools. If this is the theme of his campaign he will find many supporters.
Another neighborhood, this one in Aboite, is now faced with a game changing rezoning. It is the area at Hadley near Illinois Road. The Plan Commission voted their strong endorsement to the rezoning. Some members of council, however, voiced concerns, sided with anxious neighbors and suggested the developer work with those neighbors on landscaping and access changes. But when council voted it was 6 to 3 in favor of the developer. Interestingly, the councilmen standing with the neighborhood were Messrs. Shoaff, Paddock and Harper, who is running for mayor on a pro-neighborhood platform. In the recent matter of Brightpoint v. Rudisill Boulevard the three also voted as a team to protect those threatened neighborhoods. In matters where there is significant neighborhood concern, a concern from those who, as Mr. Shoaff said, have invested their personal treasure and lives in their homes, it only makes sense to slow the process, as Shoaff, Harper and Paddock voted, so that developer and neighbors can strike a mutually beneficial arrangement. In the scheme of things, a month’s delay is a whisper in time.