12/29/10 Although predictions are not necessary news worthy, many citizens wait each year for the anticipated annual predictions of John Oliver. WTCA is proud to post the 2011 predictions for all to enjoy.
We will carry mixed memories as we pass from 2010 into a new year. Certainly the economy – for many – was unable to provide the standard of living we have come to expect. Both the public and private sectors experienced extraordinary declines in revenue despite an unprecedented amount of ‘stimulus’ funding injected by the Federal Government. As we embark on a new year the economic hangover is almost enough to make one despair for the future. Almost, but not quite!
As is my custom, I offer suggestive predictions (I long ago abandoned any pretext of humility) for those elected officials and community leaders who are tasked with providing us public services, justice and visionary leadership.
If not for the greater good…perhaps for a bit of fun… I predict:
Marshall County Council will seek to rescind their recent 65% increase in the Innkeepers Tax. They will accept the invitation of the Marshall County Tourism Board to tour the County in search of more barn quilt locations on which to spend the extra tax money. They will travel north of Plymouth on Michigan Road and notice the serious decline in some local hotel stock. Stopping at the 2009 stalled construction of Comfort Suites, whose marquee sign will still say “Open in 2010”, the Council members will unanimously conclude that raising taxes on such facilities, simply because they can, is adding to their decline. MCT Director, Mike Woolfington will note his appreciation for another successful tour of Marshall County.
Jackie Walorski, defeated challenger to Joe Donnelly for Indiana’s 2nd District Congressional seat, will take a job with Manpower Staffing to fulfill her campaign assertion that she knows how to provide jobs. Ms. Walorski will reject suggestions that she used the misery of unemployed Hoosiers as a political ploy to beat Donnelly. “After all” she will be quoted, “I spent millions of dollars to secure my own job…and failed….what do I know?”
Most local public employees will receive a modest pay raise in 2011 budget deliberations for 2012. This will be a just reward for their forbearance during recent years when they worked without a customary increase. To be fair, by comparison, they were actually better off than their private sector counter-parts, but the tradition of virtual automatic, across-the-board increases was a difficult one to break. By all accounts these employees understood the realities of lower revenues and the need for management to take unprecedented measures to maintain solid financial footing. One needs to look around surrounding counties to appreciate how local public sector employees deserve our respect….and a raise.
The 2011 Indiana General Assembly will reapportion election districts to adjust to the 2010 census data. The process – redistricting – has been fraught with gerrymandering, designed to give the party in power election day advantage. Such manipulation of the election adds greatly to voter cynicism and general rejection of the voting process. I predict that a genuine effort to design voting districts that inherently assure compactness, party parity and community of interest will be a hallmark achievement of the upcoming session.
Marshall County will be a beneficiary of redistricting. In 2006 challenger Nancy Dembowski received far fewer votes in Marshall County than incumbent, Steve Heim. But she won. Similarly, in the recent election, challenger Francis Ellert received many more votes in Marshall County than incumbent Dembowski . Again, Nancy won. The reason is obvious. Besides spending twice as much as her opponent in both elections, prior gerrymandering carved out the Republican-rich Bremen area from District 17 and added Democrat-rich precincts from Laporte County. Logically, Marshall County should be kept whole…as should Laporte County. I predict this realignment will be made, thus the likelihood of Marshall County being represented by someone for whom the majority voted will be greatly increased.
Redistricting will impact 2nd District US Congressman, Joe Donnelly. The current District which meanders from the Michigan state line to McDonalds on the Kokomo by-pass will be made more compact and voter-neutral. This will persuade Joe that his political future may be best served by answering the call of the State Democratic Party to be its standard bearer for the 2012 Gubernatorial race. Joe is one of few Democrats who recently bucked the wave of rejection his party suffered in this state and throughout the country. His star will continue to rise as he will compete with 6th District US Congressman Mike Pence, my predicted Republican nominee, to replace term-limited Mitch Daniels as Indiana’s next governor. (The winner will be included in next year’s predictions).
Local developer, Vanco , will launch a new, more comprehensive marketing campaign for the Tech-Farm properties it owns and in which City taxpayers have invested an unprecedented amount of public funds. For Vanco to secure a $1.1 million federal grant the Plymouth Redevelopment Commission initially contributed $570,000.00. Vanco contributed $57,000.00 in funds in addition to the land on which the infrastructure improvements would be made. Upon securing bids for construction it was determined an additional $700,000 was needed. PRC doubled down and contributed the entire amount from local taxes. In return PRC was provided favorable consideration upon the sale of lots within the development. Unfortunately, no lots have been sold. Taxpayer patience is warranted but they deserve assurance that the developer is fulfilling its responsibilities. This is the most ambitious public-private development in the history of Plymouth.
Local political novice, Ryan Ripley, will fire his campaign manager (himself) in a bid to reorganize his future quest for public office. Much of Mr. Ripley’s initial campaign was to persuade voters to fire his opponent, incumbent County Council member, Jude Stone. The voters didn’t cooperate, in part because they rejected his scorched earth tactics. Negative campaigns are generally conceded at state and federal levels but locally, voters are more comfortable without personal attacks on opponent integrity or motives. I predict a political future for Ryan. He is bright, articulate and engaging. His generation is sorely needed to design future public policy. He will shed his angry conspiracy-laden attacks in favor of actual policy and vision.
The Plymouth Redevelopment Commission will finally take action on the seemingly moribund South Gateway project. The 2011 Commission will be revitalized by appointees being required to commit themselves to full engagement and pro-active participation. The “lowest hanging fruit”…the disgracefully dilapidated Cook/Dimmitt building will be acquired and demolished. Feeling the rewards of ‘action over rhetoric’ the PRC will then proceed with the design and development of the much anticipated downtown park. Mayor Senter will lead the newly energized mind-set around City Hall by including a commitment in his 2011 State of the City address. His message: stop talking and launch the initiative.
The Plymouth Chamber of Commerce will be revitalized. In a creative move it will sell its current office building (adjacent to City Hall) to the City of Plymouth and then enter into a long-term lease to locate in the City-owned Old Fire Station. The transaction will help resolve long-standing financial issues for the Chamber while allowing for City offices to be consolidated in an expanded City Hall. Annual Chamber elections will install progressive leadership and the rich history of a local institution will once again flourish.
That’s it folks, my Top Ten Predictions for 2011. Thank you for your interest and please remember, WTCA paid nothing for my editorial so there can be no doubt as to it’s worth.
I wish you a New Year filled with happiness and peace.
John J Oliver