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Bonehead or Brilliant?

By Jim Sack

Fort Wayne Reader


4th district city councilman Jason Arp does things that make you scratch your head. Case in point, his rating of his fellow councilmen on a freedom to authoritarian index with him as the almost champion of freedom, and all the other councilmen comparing more favorably to Stalin than Katy Stanton.

On the face of it, issuing the ranking seems a bone-headed move. One of the principles at the table has been a standard of collegial congeniality. Because there are nine strong personalities with competing interests it is in the best interest of the community for members to be polite and, above all, to avoid “ad hominum,” attacks. Arp’s ranking is simply a personal attack on all the other members of council. He admits as much. So, it will not win Mr. Arp any favors, but he really doesn’t seem to care. Jason is a crusader who sees his philosophy on government as the one and true course in which he is the only true believer.

Mr. Arp lists the vote on whether to allow chickens in the back yard as an example of how the other members of council stifle the will of “the people.” For those of you who did not attend that debate, a string of public health experts and a seasoned husband of poultry offered insights which resulted in an overwhelming vote against raising chickens within the city, but that didn’t seem to sway Jason who sees the disruption to the lives of others as the price to pay for some pristine form of freedom. Fox, rodents, noise, disease and what-to-do-when-the-novelty-wears-off were all discussed by those who had studied or experienced the matter, but Arp stuck to his guns and lost the vote 7 to 2. Consequently, he branded the rest as “authoritarians.” One might conjecture that the Authoritarian Index is nothing more than spite over losing his third vote to end the business personal property tax, his personal bête noir.

In fact, Mr. Arp’s is regularly on the losing end of council votes with margins of 8 to 1 or 7 to 2. Hearts palpitate, eyelashes flutter when he votes with the majority. Consequently one just might deduce he is Custer at Little Big Horn, pissing off the natives, riding off alone and begging for martyrdom. Jason even voted against the 2017 City Budget, the
prolonged considerations of which he chaired at council. He was in charge! He would, in effect, have closed the parks, ended leaf pick up, snow plowing, police and fire protect, etc. No weights and measures inspections, no traffic lights or sidewalks or street repairs. Flooded basements would be the price of his brand of freedom.

In his contrarian ways Mr. Arp’s one lone ally is regularly Paul Ensley, but even Ensley shows Maoist tendencies, according to Arp. No one is ever quite as pure as the true believer, but even this true believer either recognizes some of his flaws or wishes to remain humble, so he gave himself a 93% on the Freedom Index. He, too, admits to authoritarian tendencies. This is, after all, the guy who pushed for guns in our parks.

As for the others, Mr. Paddock, the very face of compromise and collaboration at the table, was honored with Arp’s Josef A. Stalin Memorial Despot of the Year Award for being a full-blow, 100% jackbooted authoritarian. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Storm troopers Mr. Didier and Mr. Freistroffer were both rated 87% authoritarian. Mr. Jehl is 68% authoritarian, the true son of Mussolini, call him Benito at your next meeting. Mr. Barranda is a aspiring Trotskyite at 80% with Dr. Crawford just three daggers lower on the knife-in-the-back scale at 77%. Someone please alert
Pyongyang that Arp has smoked out their moles.

In short, Arp created the analysis from his own mind, based on his own standards without any rational underpinning or statistical analysis. You could do the same over a beer or two. To Jason your freedom to raise chickens is supreme to my desire to rest quietly in my backyard free from circling hawks eyeing my Pommeranian, the wafting scent of Eau de Coop, or the joys of Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter and E.coli, according to his fuzzy logic. His Freedom Index sounds more like an Anarchist Scorecard.

On the surface Jason’s Authoritarian Scale seems boneheaded, and on further examination Jason’s Table of Budding Dictators is just that — boneheaded.

A Great Place to Raise a Family.

It might have been Congress with so many men staring at the lone woman in the witness chair, but it was Fort Wayne and it was nine councilmen telling the one woman that family leave was too expensive for city government and we taxpayers to bear. That condescending bit of pontification came right after tossing a million in tax abatements to a few local companies on the gamble that a few jobs might be created.

From a woman’s perspective it was the same old same old, men deciding about the family without a woman having a vote in the matter. “Pat that little honey on the head and let’s move on to our real business of handing out goodies to investors.” Interestingly, earlier a councilman had gushed about how wonderful Fort Wayne was to raise a family. Gush, gush, gush. With that platitude gleefully gushed and out of the way, another councilman cut to the bottom line saying that the cost, perhaps $20k a year, was just too great, while another councilman said “nope” to family leave bennies for city employees until family leave is the norm in the private sector.

Shall we consider the last comment. Government is historically where new ideas are introduced because business is, well, too conservative unless pushed and pushed hard. Government service, compensation and policies have long been the testing place for new ideas.

Secondly, the US is the only…the only… advanced economic country, the only member of the OECD, the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, that does not have a universal family leave plan for all of its citizens. The other OECD countries from Germany to Japan to Australia see the family as fundamental to a healthy society and believe that the first few months, or years in some cases, are crucial to the development of the child and the stability of the family, i.e., the community. Gush, gush.

So, when city employee Stephanie Crandall asked council for a family leave plan it was not some utopian dream, but tried and accepted policy in every other developed nation. Dr. Crawford-cum-candidate ended the discussion by saying it was too expensive (read: it’s an election year and he’s not going to be tagged with fiscal profligacy by his opponent(s)…), and voted the request down before moving on to the question of how many hundreds of millions of tax dollars he would hand the developers of the GE facility.

For anyone who has brought a child into the world, a little time off, with pay, truly does make this a great place to raise a family. Gush.

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