“A popular government without popular information, or means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm them selves with the power which knowledge gives.” James Madison
As we enter a new year and a new administration, I would like to congratulate Tom Henry and his new team. He will face many issues – some of them divisive and some of them ordinary and routine. We live in a great city, and it has the potential to be greater. But that greatness requires citizen participation, not just complaining, and it requires open government.
In the last administration, Harrison Square was a divisive issue, and looming on the horizon is the North River project – another project which has already stirred heated debate. The Richard administration, by not exercising the option on the project, transferred the decision of the North River project into the Henry administration for further study and decision. Mayor Henry now has six additional months to work with the terms of the existing contract and review the condition of the property.
The Henry administration has the opportunity to step forward and assuage the public’s concerns about the environmental clean-up issues surrounding the property’s condition. The additional six months should be used to assess the public safety issues involved with the clean-up, if needed, of the OmniSource property as well as whether such a clean-up should be the responsibility of the owners of the property. Confidentiality clauses may prevent the administration from releasing the study results; they surely do not prevent the administration from assuring the public that our tax dollars will not be used as clean-up funds.
The James Madison quote with which I began this post is one which I hope Fort Wayne citizens take to heart in searching for information and using that information to participate, not just complain, in our city’s growth and future advancement. I also hope that our city officials take the guidance of James Madison to heart in providing that information.