Home > Political Animal > Mom growled…
By Jim Sack
Fort Wayne Reader
Mom growled, “Fort Wayne does nothing but plan.” She added that we could save a small forest by just doing some of the plans we pay for, instead of just blathering about things and commissioning yet another study.
Her thirty-year old comment came to mind when a city councilman complained during discussions on the wheel tax that he wasn’t prepared to vote for the tax to repair our roads because the city lacks a long range plan. Mom would have tossed her coffee. We have oodles, scads, shelves full of plans. Pick one, anyone. In fact, with a little positive
Encouragement, the Deputy Mayor — who has been working on rebuilding Fort Wayne since the 1970s — might be willing to host the new councilmen on a tour of the vaults where they can see everything from Foster’s half-completed Park and Boulevard system to the Hoover Report to the most recent findings of the Fiscal Policy Group. It will be a long tour.
Mom’s point is that there are plenty of plans and there are dozens of ideas on the table that beg action now. While a few of the projects are head scratchers, most, starting with the water front and general downtown redevelopment, have the support of the majority of Fort Wayners. Now is the time to figure out where the money is going to come from, to
prioritize, and to build. Strike while the iron is hot, as she use to say. The iron is hot.
In the councilman’s defense, his job is tough, indeed. Ask any who has served. Not only are the hours back breaking, but councilmen must have thick skins, the powers of intricate analysis, and long memories. Councilmen must also know the detailed workings of city government to be able to make wise, educated decisions. They are expected to be prepared for each and every vote.
Also, in his defense, the last comprehensive plan was written in 2007, as he points out, before the Legacy, before the ballpark, before this plethora of proposed projects (STEAM Park…) that have inundated our discussions over the last several years. But a new comprehensive plan takes months if not years to complete; it is time for the mayor’s office — not council, not Greater Fort Wayne — to point the way, build consensus, and lead.
Right v Left
The right wants to cut government to next to nothing, the left wants to expand government. Citizens want it both ways. Everybody wants the city to do lots of things, we just don’t want to pay for it. This is the “I want my cake and eat it too” syndrome. The left charges that the right starves government of the necessary funds to operate, and then cynically points to governments’ resulting failures as why government can’t do anything right. If government were only run like a business, they sneer! The right changes that the left has no end of ways to spend taxpayer money, and that is about
right, because the public has no end to their demands of government. As a good citizen your job is to understand you can’t have it both ways and that neither right nor left is completely right nor completely wrong.
Don’t laugh at Tommy Schroeder. Mr. Schroder is the unlikely nominee of the Democrat Party for congress because, simply put, no one else would bother to spend the time and money to lose. There is no chance, none, that a Democrat will come within 15 percentage points of any Republican nominee. None. The unenviable situation is in part because the
Democrats have done a poor job of championing our middle class. The local Democrat Party comprises the disenfranchised, minorities, the poor, and the powerless, but has seemingly forgotten the shrinking middle class.
But institutional gerrymandering is another reason the Democrats do so poorly in the Third District. When redistricting occurred after the 2000 census, district lines were redrawn. A concentration of Democrats around Monroeville was shifted out of this congressional district and replaced by a similar concentration of Republican voters near Goshen. The net result was the district became “safe” — virtually a given — for Republicans. There is no chance for a Democrat to win the seat. None.
Safe seats, by the way, contribute to our gridlock in Washington because the district race is decided in the primary, and primary elections favor purist candidates from the uncompromising wings of their parties, not their center. Because district seats are held by the activist wing, there is no need to seek compromise. In fact, there is always someone from farther out on the wing ready to brand compromise as treason.
One-party systems always become the enemy of their constituents — just ask the Russians or Iranians. Parties become set in their ways, adverse to change, and protective of insiders and cronies.
Without competition there is no debate, there is no discussion. No new solutions to our community problems are offered, just platitudes on flyers and insider jockeying for spoils. Think thesis, antithesis, synthesis. That Hegelian formula of progress anticipates discussion by equals, but here, in Allen County, there is no effective antithesis and, thus, no synthesis, no new ideas. So, don’t laugh at Tommy and the Democrats; worry that your voice is effectively muted.