I can't quite seem to work up much outrage over the case of Paul Spoelhof, the city planner who heads the Yellow Ribbon task force that will advise the Fort Wayne Community Schools board on building-upgrade spending. Am I wrong?
WANE-TV did a report last night claiming that its "investigation" had uncovered something startling, even though the information came out days ago in routine campaign finance reports. And The Journal Gazette opinion page ran an editorial a couple of days ago calling for Spoelhof to step down because his conflict of interest, or at least the appearance of one, has "compromised the process." Turns out he headed a political action committee that directed $29,000 to two winning school board candidates, who happen to favor lots of school upgrades, and that about half of the money came from construction firms and architects.
Is it shocking that architects and builders would favor candidates who favor building upgrades and would give them campaign money? Does anybody think $14,00 or $15,000 will buy much influence on a project that will probably end up costing hundreds of millions of dollars? Is anyone willing to actually say Spoelhof is underhanded, or are we just going to beat him up for an "appearance" of a conflict of interest? Observers say he has been scrupulous at Yellow Ribbon meetings in gathering others' opinions instead of putting out his own.
I take it for granted that the school board will approve more spending than I think it should -- we started with a top figure of nearly $1 billion, and now everyone seems to be zeroing in on $600 million. I also rather suspect that the JG, after raising such a fuss over peanuts, will strongly urge us all to support the spending, however much it is.