City residents paid nearly $50,000 for a consultant to study the extent of contamination at a key near-downtown site long pegged for a major development. City officials have no good reason to conceal the results of those environmental studies from the people who paid for them.
Withholding them will do little to help the city’s negotiating position – the city may have already shared some of the results with the property’s owners – and does much to cast doubt on the possible purchase of the property.
This is an opportunity for mayor-elect Tom Henry to show that he believes in the tenets of open government. Mayor Graham Richard never did; he has always believed in governing through a consensus of elitists and shutting out the general public. That style might fit in the political generation in which Richard was groomed but it is woefully lacking in today's information age. Citizens expect information and transparency from their government. Whether or not they will admit it publicly, even ardent supporters of Mayor Richard believe he could've done a better job promoting open government initiatives.
In his waning hours as mayor, Graham Richard should release the study. If he doesn’t, Tom Henry could go far toward establishing a firm position favoring open government by releasing the studies.
Involving the public at each step should include informing citizens about the extent of contamination and should help build support for the project. Withholding information only breeds distrust.
Fort Wayne citizens paid for the studies; they should know the results.
So the choice is quite simple for mayor-elect Henry. He can either embrace open government and build goodwill with everyone in the community or he can continue the stonewall tactics employed by the Richard administration and alienate a large portion of the community. This decision will likely tell open government advocates everything they need to know about the future of the Henry administration...