Journal Gazette Coverage of Redevelopment, et. al.

The Journal Gazette has several articles of interest today.

Parkview Editorial: 

Parkview’s Home Run

[…] The chorus of Harrison Square critics already has chimed in on local blog sites, vowing to take its health care dollars elsewhere: “I sure will avoid any Parkview visits during the rest of my life – and you should too!” wrote one of the critics.

The reaction wasn’t unexpected by Parkview officials. Mike Packnett, the health system’s president and CEO, pointed out that Parkview serves about 350,000 people a year. “We could have lowered our fees by $1 a patient,” he said of the $300,000-a-year commitment. “As the region’s largest employer, we have a significant corporate responsibility. …We think the springboard effect (of the downtown project) is the best use we can imagine.”

In spite of its not-for-profit status, Parkview is a major economic player in the community. 

[…] The new partnership is a symbol of both the confidence and enthusiasm the region’s biggest employer has in its community. The critics will remain skeptical, but anyone who has been uncertain about the value of the Harrison Square project should be reassured by the addition of Parkview Field.

The above quote is by John B. Kalb on the Fort Wayne Politics Blog.  I have had mixed emotions about this ever since the announcement last Thursday.  What I have never understood and always had a problem with, is not-for-profits – in any sector, spending money on advertising or “branding” campaigns. 

Yes, Mr. Packnett, you could have lowered your fees by $1 a patient, or perhaps you could have helped a handful of patients that simply cannot afford a medical emergency.   Parkview has one of the worst reputations in our communities for being the worst to work with in regards to paying balances owed for medical services and the lack of hesitation when pursuing court action for remedy.  Perhaps an even better marketing strategy would have been to fix this reputation first, name ballparks later.  Whatever the right thing to do here, enjoy your ability to spend $3 million on naming a ballpark, Parkview.  The hand writing is on the wall and it’s just a matter of time before something gives and major changes in our health care system puts things right again.

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Redevelopment Commission:

For some reason, I neglected to mention the drop in TIF Revenues by 23 percent due to the recently passed and enacted House Bill 1001.  Now that I look at my notes, listen to the recording of yesterday’s meeting and re-read my post from yesterday, I made a decision not to cover it in the post because I was unable to secure a hardcopy of the handouts given to Commissioners yesterday.  I didn’t want to provide false information or take a chance on getting something wrong.  

I was across the room yesterday, on my way to talk with Greg Leatherman, Redevelopment Executive Director, when I heard him tell Ben Lanka that he couldn’t release the documents covering the TIF information or Harrison Square figures to him.  This morning on my way to work,  I will drop off an official written  request to the City for the information to be provided to me.  After all of the openness of the past year and three quarters regarding this project, to suddenly stop the flow of information is puzzling and could invite rampant speculation as to the reasons.  I will reserve my judgement of the situation until I hear back on my request. 

In part, Ben writes:

[…] This will mean less money for future improvement projects, and it will also mean a larger percentage of existing revenue will have to be used to finance the debt for the public portion of the $130 million Harrison Square development.

When presenting the downtown project, city leaders promised not to spend more than 50 percent of the revenue from the Jefferson Pointe tax district on Harrison Square. The revenue cut means the city will now have to spend about 60 percent of that revenue downtown.

[…] Leatherman said even with the cuts, the city’s tax districts still have enough expected revenue to pay the obligations for Harrison Square and other planned projects, such as the Ardmore Avenue widening. He said there will be less money for future projects, however. The money was previously used to improve Jefferson Boulevard.

Although he acknowledged the city will now be spending a higher percentage on Harrison Square, he said it is still the same dollar amount – $1.4 million annually. He said the city made its estimates on the best information it had available, which he said was responsible.

City Councilman Tom Smith, R-1st, said while he understands the circumstances have changed with the taxes, he said the city should come back to the council with an update. He said the redevelopment commission may have the official say in the matter, but the public interest in the project necessitates it come before the council. Smith originally voted against Harrison Square.

Mayor Tom Henry writes about combined 911 operations

Combined 911 operations will save dollars – and lives

[…] Now is the time to stop talking and start doing. The Allen County commissioners and I have agreed to take the next steps in the process of figuring out how to combine the operations. The plan on the table for review eliminates eight positions (not people), allows for a more balanced workload for dispatchers, creates better officer safety on dispatch radio channels and is an effective and efficient utilization of all employees. It moves 12 positions from the county to the city so the sheriff’s budget will realize a cost savings of more than $500,000 a year. Most importantly, it reduces transfer and rollover calls.

[…] Talk of combining city and county communications departments has gone on for too long without any action. We now have the opportunity to create real change for the benefit of our residents and public safety employees.

Jonathan Ray writes about needed black role models

Wanted: Black role models

[…] Some people will suggest it’s too simplistic to assign such a high value to a man being in the life of a child. But just take a visit to the local jail, the Juvenile Justice Center or state prison. You likely will be confronted with a sea of black men – strong, able-bodied, creative and restless – who have spent or will spend years with a prison number identifying who they are.

[…] The rampant poverty that exists has led many young blacks to a life of crime, choosing to sell drugs and involve themselves in gangs as opposed to focusing on education as a way out of poverty.

[…] Black men, it’s time to man up. Unless black men own up to this problem – and fast – we are going to see another generation of young black men who are angry with their lot in life. And the result will be more discipline problems in school, which will lead to folks dropping out, and that is nothing but a one-way ticket to jail.

Be a volunteer – you can make a difference. The Fort Wayne Urban League is in partnership with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and has created a new program that’s called Project Mentor. The program is set up to accommodate busy schedules but gives volunteers an opportunity to give back and make a difference.

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