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Karen Goldner

Mayor Richard definitely made a conscious decision to "play nice" with other elected officials. Sometimes this strategy was reciprocated, sometimes not. Perhaps it was because of his approach that other elected officials seemed to forget that he, too, was accountable to the voters and therefore had a right and an obligation to let people know that he was representing us.

And regarding the media acting as if Mayor Richard was Mayor of the whole area - in this respect the media was simply illustrating the incredibly poor job of civic education that we do in this country. I know for a fact that Mayor Helmke used to receive calls about people who were mad that their child support wasn't being handled to their satisfaction, for instance. The best call ever was someone who called Helmke's office during the first Gulf War asking for the location of a naval vessel which was presumably in the Middle East somewhere. I didn't talk directly to this person (I was just around when the call came in) so I didn't get a chance to ask them why they thought that a mayor would have this information - I'm sure the caller thought it was logical. Somehow.

Craig Ladwig

Ms. Goldner is allowed to imagine how much more she and the mayor would have been able to accomplish had they been given a more enlightened citzenry. We, however, are allowed to imagine how much better our lives would have been had we been given elected and appointed officials who understood economics.

Kevin Knuth


You are not "given" elected officials- you vote for them.

Karen Goldner

Craig, I am really offended by your comment, and I don't offend so easily. I have no idea where you are going with the comment about economics.

My point was that we have an entire society full of people who haven't been taught about how our government is supposed to function in its very basic aspects - and that (in my opinion) is why the media tends to ask a mayor questions that have very little to do with what the mayor's responsibilities actually are. That's all. Representative government functions best when it is accountable, and if people don't know who is supposed to do what, it's hard to have much accountability.

I was not criticizing people for not understanding government - civic education in this country is a low priority if it is given any priority at all. To be dramatic about it, "Ignorance is a tragedy, not a sin." (Snideness is somewhere in between, perhaps.)

Sam Talarico, Jr.


I am a frequent reader of FWO, but I am not a frequent commenter.

However, after reading your many comments, I am compelled to comment and ask why you do not run for office? You seem to enjoy being a full time complainer, so why don't you do something about it. It is a little bit more difficult to actually become involved as an elected official or in a role like Kevin Knuth volunteers his time for.

So, Craig, if you have a special gift that allows you to understand economics more than all other politicians, please run. It seems that all of your post have the same message... "if everybody understood things the way Craig does, we would all be better off".

Run Craig Run.

By the way, I think Graham Richard has been an outstanding Mayor, and, as a citizen, I want to personally thank him for being willing to put himself in the mayoral arena for the last 8 years.

Kevin Leininger

Sometimes, the public misunderstands government precisely BECAUSE politicians blur the lines. For example, I remember Mayor Richard's first campaign, in which he implied he could improve the quality of education -- even though the mayor has NO CONTROL over an elected school board!

I mean no disrespect to Richard or anyone else, but in my 27 years of journalism I've seen plenty examples of politicians who talk a lot about how they'll address problems over which they have no control. If they can't or won't get it right, how can the public be expected to do any better?
Kevin Leininger

Bill Henessey

Well put Kevin.

I think what Craig was trying to say was that efforts to improve our local economy have been lackluster because our local officials have a minimum understanding of economics and economic planning.

That includes you too Sam.

Bob Gaul

At least Graham Richard has DONE something for the south side of the city....can't say anyone else has plowed these waters with such verve or tenacity.

Robert Enders

To be perfectly fair, Fort Wayne's economy is heavily dependent on the national and world economy. If an OPEC country has a fit, cuts back on oil production, and drives up gas prices, there isn't much that can be done about it from Calhoun Street.

Sometimes when I canvass door to door I am asked about my stance on immigration. I first make it clear that the federal government sets immigration policy, and that I would not have control over that since I am running for a state office. Then I tell them that I think the federal government should make it easier for people to apply for legal entry so that fewer of them attempt to sneak accross.

I think that whenever a politician encounters ignorance in a voter(or vice-versa) then it is their job to enlighten that person.

Paul Spoelhof

The lines are blurry because the lines are blurry; this is the reality of overlapping political jurisdictions. It is not only a function of ill-informed citizens; nor disingenuous political rhetoric; neither still a conspiracy of journalism to miss-inform. The political reality is that jurisdiction only defines the electorate who may vote for one official or another; while the social and economic factors at work in that jurisdiction affect and are affected by the broader array of political jurisdictions in the region.

Can a Mayor, Township Trustee, or Judge set reasonable goals to improve education of the citizens they serve? Of course they can. And the more respectful, creative and genuine they are about the goals they set; the better chance they will have to deliver on the promises made. I don’t know a community leader who is more respectful, creative or genuine than Mayor Graham Richard. I suspect that these characteristics play a significant part in what Mitch Harper astutely identifies as a legacy of Mayor Graham Richard.

Paul Spoelhof

Robert Enders

Blurry lines make it easier to shift blame around and harder to hold people accountable. Often mayors, governors, and presidents take both undeserved credit and blame for everything that takes place when they are in office.

Nancy Nall

How ironic that this discussion is followed by several posts on the Right to Life campaign event. RTL has in the past canvassed candidates for elective office that do not touch on the abortion issue in any way -- city council, various county offices -- and presented voting recommendations based on the responses. RTL doesn't care that a Fort Wayne City Council member's job has nothing to do with whether abortion remains legal in the United States; if they're not on the team, they're not getting the RTL seal of approval.

Mike Sylvester

Nancy Nall brings up a great point.

RTL sends surveys to candidates for School Board as well...

Mike Sylvester

Alex Jokay

This tactic seems to spill over into the members' interpersonal relations as well. Talk about grass roots.

"Oh, so you support murder, do you?"

That's the retort I got from a woman who tried to browbeat me when I declined to contribute money. I told her I don't regard others' reproductive decisions as any of my business. Or hers. We haven't spoken since.

James C. Wetzel

Or perhaps RTL knows that, in our tightly-circumscribed political duopoly, what goes into one end of the meat grinder appears in due time at the other end. The Exalted Senator Richard Lugar, for example, started out on the Indianapolis school board.

School boards are a "gateway drug" for those who go on to bigger and worse things.

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