Opinion: Legacy Fort Wayne task force

Legacy Fort Wayne logo.

Last week, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry announced the formation of a 15 member Task Force to, “direct the process” of deciding how to spend the City’s money from the Light Lease fund and upcoming settlement payments.

Thirteen members have been selected by the Mayor which leaves two members to be appointed by the Fort Wayne City Council.  The thirteen include:

  • Quinton Dixie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Co-chairman
  • James Vann, Chairman, Board of Directors, Rea Magnet Wire Company, Inc., Co-chairman
  • Marty Bender, Member, Fort Wayne City Council;
  • Terrell M. Bond, Jr., M.D., Vice President/Chief Medical Officer, Fort Wayne Neighborhood Health Clinic;
  • James E. Cook, President, Northeast Indiana Region, Chase Bank;
  • Jennifer Callison, Vice President, Mike Thomas Associates/F.C. Tucker;
  • Meg Distler, Executive Director, St. Joseph Community Health Foundation;
  • Joseph Dorko, Chief Executive Officer, Lutheran Health Network;
  • Martin Fisher, Executive Director, Science Central;
  • Cathy Hawks, Music Director, The Chapel;
  • Julie Inskeep, Publisher, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette;
  • Timothy Pape, Member, Fort Wayne City Council; and
  • Wendy Robinson, Ed.D., Superintendent, Fort Wayne Community Schools.

The above is a pretty well-rounded group of individuals with just about all the areas covered one would expect to see on a task force charged with this sort of task.

However, there’s a glaring omission which I hope the Fort Wayne City Council will correct with their two appointees.  Where’s the neighborhood association representation?  Or better yet, an average, every day citizen?

While the above list is certainly impressive, leaders only make up a small percentage of our City’s overall population.  True, their influence can be immense, however, this task force is supposed to be all about the community’s desires.

Even if the Council appoints 2 average citizens or neighborhood leaders, will they be enough to sway recommendations that favor the business community or special interest groups?  Before you say it’s far-fetched to think of that sort of grappling for funds, remember how much we’re talking about.  Perhaps almost $75 million.  You don’t think lobbying will happen?  It probably already has and definitely will be.

So please, dear City Council, consider your appointments carefully.  Consider neighborhood leaders or average citizens.  And then, follow that up with ensuring the process remains truly open to the community’s desires.  Don’t let this task force become another that is swayed by big names and big ideas that will only benefit a few.  Let it benefit us all!

Related AFW blog posts:
Join the Legacy Fort Wayne conversation now17th January 2011
Photos and video from the Legacy Fort Wayne press conference held earlier this month17th January 2011
Mayor Launches community diaglogue on Light Lease Legacy13th January 2011

Related Images:


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