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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

The 4th District

The Republican mayoral primary may be the most important contest, but the 4th District Democratic one is arguably the most interesting. The seat is now occupied by a Democrat, Dr. Tom Hayhurst, who isn't seeking another term. Whichever Democrat wins will face Mitch Harper, well-known Republican lawyer and former member of the Indiana House.

The candidates -- Charles Langley and Leslie Raymer -- are both educators (see video here). Langley is a teacher at Summit Middle School and Raymer an instructor at IPFW (she is also the former head of the Fort Wayne Human Relations Commission). Langley would take a youthful perspective to council, underrepresented right now, and Raymer would take a woman's point of view, not represented at all on the current council.

On the five questions: 1. Langley thinks Harrison Square is a good idea that has been badly marketed, while Raymer isn't so sure about a "single-use, seasonal" facility. 2. Langley likes the stronger smoking ban but thinks tax breaks should be considered for those merchants who complied with the current form; Raymer says the ban may be heavy-handed but is the best interests of public health. 3. Langley favors cooperation over government consolidation; Raymer says any consolidation should be accompanied by real cost savings, not just better efficiencies. 4. Both list economic development as a top priority; Langley also mentions streets and roads as a 4th District priority, and Raymer would put an emphasis on "green" development. 5. Both like "the people" of Fort Wayne.


Steve Towsley
Sun, 04/29/2007 - 12:54pm

>Raymer isn't so sure about a "single-use,
>seasonal" facility.

Raymer needn't feel like the Lone Ranger. None of the proponents of the ball park was talking about the possibility of other kinds of big events at the venue.

That is, until the day after the City Council's 6-3 favorable vote, when Mayor Richards suddenly spoke up enthusiastically about all of the other events that will be held there (year-round?) including concerts. Outdoor rock concerts too, we might assume.

Loud rock and pop and country concerts. Just down the street from the Grand Wayne Center, the Embassy, and all those historic West Central residences.

It was far less important to me to defeat a downtown ballpark in this so-called debate than it has been to keep a bright light on the Mayor and Council, on the way our public servants can completely ignore the majority's wishes under current laws.

If the people have learned a lesson about their own utter impotence under law when their own politicians run amuk, this can become a long-term win for the citizens.

If local government is ever going to be accountable to its constituency, it's clear the grass roots will have to force the changing of some laws -- government has no incentive to do so and plenty of incentive not to.

One should perhaps be suspicious why, as a matter of ethical full disclosure, this multi-use plan for Harrison Square (which I predicted here would be disclosed and "marketed to the people" after it was too late to change the Council vote) wasn't disclosed as an important bullet point in the public debate way before any voting took place.

Maybe the danger of disruptions by nightly heavy traffic, bright lights and noise disturbances are some of those unimportant dotted i's and crossed t's that one of the business owners told the Council not to worry about when they voted.

Full disclosure was another casualty of the politicians' ramrodding of this project past the constituency. You'd think at least Mr. Raymer would have been informed about his mistake to think this would be a single-use, seasonal ballpark only. I guess you had to be on the inside downtown to get the real tinsel.

Again, this exercise was at least as important for highlighting Fort Wayne's institutionalized (and legally permissible) political disdain for its constituents (in favor of influential business owners, in this case) as it was about the pushing through of a rich outside developer's take-it-or-leave-it project.