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My Hoosier Hospitality

By Jim Sack

Fort Wayne Reader

2015-12-04


Bold Action Time

In the first year of a new administration a mayor can get away with a lot, especially if it is the right thing to do. Over the four years before the next election the voting populace tends to forget even controversial matters and instead focuses on whatever the trend of improvements, the economy or events recommend. So, with that in mind Tom Henry has maximum latitude at the moment to do controversial things like write a letter in support of Syrian refugees. It is the right thing to do. The chances of a jihadii bombing the Franke Park pavilion are zero. The chances a few families will relocate to Fort Wayne is higher as we have been a refugee resettlement community in the past and have the infrastructure to smooth their transition from destitute victims to taxpaying citizens. The chances an enterprising Syrian would then go on to open a superb new restaurant are infinitely higher. He have a history, just as the Demetroffs, the Azars or the Chokas, not to mention the Trevinos and a few thousand Germans who fled the Kaiser or the Red Army will attest. Frankly, what you see on TV involving terrorists is dramatic, but very, very rare, indeed, that’s why it is news. And, good for Mayor Tom for voicing traditional American values, especially in the season when we celebrate immigrants fleeing religious persecution.


Four More Years?

Why not? Mayor Tom isn’t that old in political terms, in fact he is just in his mid-60s, so running Fort Wayne into his early 70s would not be a stretch, by any means. As one political poll said, “It’s the best job he has ever had.” Another joked, “What else would he do?” The question is apt; for those who lead in politics and who find enjoyment in molding the future, who enjoy the limelight, who savor the dinners, the applause, and ribbon cuttings, who really, truly think they are the best person to see the community’s future, age is less of a factor than in other occupations. And the daily urge to saddle up and lead the charge is compelling, indeed. People like Tom, Graham, Paul and Win have a drive in lead, so don’t expect to see Tom join the Fort Wayne crowd in Fort Myers, unless he’s raising money for four more years.


The Politics of Fear

The governor, conversely, looks rather like a vote pandering segregationist. Perhaps he can stop a few agencies from spending state money to relocate a refugee family to Indiana, but once they enter the US they certainly can drive here, buy a house, set up shop and join the rest of us in complaining about Daylight Savings Time. Governor Pence is just an embarrassment to the state. You may remember he became a national laughing stock when he pushed his freedom to discriminate law, simply an anti-gay, dishonorable measure; to compound the wastefulness, he spent a few hundred thousand taxpayer dollars in hopes to repair that damage with an upbeat ad campaign that touted Hoosier Hospitality! Telling war refugees they are not welcome does not seem very hospitable. Christian values, indeed. And, his recent comment to a teacher should tell you he may have slept through a study hall or two. “Don’t take it personal,” is the quote. Perhaps remedial English, as well as a course in the Enlightenment are in order for the governor.


Abatements

Well, seems Greater Fort Wayne plans a push to loosen abatement rules so more businesses can use more tax dollars to fatten their bottom lines. Eric Doden, the head of GFW, Inc., has already buttonholed a few of the members of the new council to get keys to the tax coffers. Just a few years back, when the then highly abused, loosely managed, generous tax giveaway system was reformed a tad, thanks to public outcry, Doden was enraged. Mr. Doden wants expanded tax breaks and is going to threaten council members until he gets it. In short, tax abatements are a tax break for the rich that takes dollars away from services you expect, such as schools, roads, the airport, parks, city services, county services and the rest. The only winners, when tax receipts are raided, are GFW and the politicians who like to point to all the jobs they boast to have created. Watch this space…


The Tower

Well, negotiations continue between the city and the company they have chosen to build the residential part of the Ash Brokerage project. Seems the chosen company was not quite ready to sign in time for a pre-election news release. Seems they were trying to cut a better deal with an administration under reelection pressures. In short, they figured they could weasel more tax breaks. Now, after the election, freed of the pressures of hanging another bobble on the election tree, the mayor can negotiate from a position of power. He won. The chosen company should have taken what was offered. Regardless, it is up to the mayor to protect the tax base from corporate raiders. Let the market work, just as these faux-capitalists demand. These special deals serve primarily to enrich local business leaders, and may never fully repay the tax base, meaning you make up the difference in higher taxes. Remember LOIT?


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