There are a number of problems with this situation. Let’s take a look at a synopsis:
1. First of all, why again is it an issue that the phantom average taxpayer hasn’t been represented on the foundation board? Over more than a quarter century, dozens of community and business leaders from the city or county have served on the board. They have been taxpayers, and both they and their corporations have paid taxes handsomely in our community. The foundation leadership has made it a point not to rely completely on tax dollars, but has worked closely with the corporate sector to fund its mission of expanding economic growth privately. Board members have tried to run a foundation like a business, but are about to be replaced by government officials who will run it like … well, you get the picture.
2. The reason it makes sense to have local business leaders on the board in part is because most new jobs don’t come from mega plants that have hundreds of cities to choose from, but from existing industries. These people are the existing industries, and the forum in which they have served has included education leaders who have to train the work force to supply the employers. Representatives from the service sector and manufacturing sector have been represented on the board. Demoting these people to an advisory capacity which has been proposed by the city is sort of the city’s way of condescending to the people who represent a huge chunk of the tax base and are fighting for their bottom line.
3. The foundation has done an excellent job of broadening the base of local stakeholders who are willing to step up to the plate and do something about job creation. Anyone who has attended an annual meeting for LEDF can appreciate that it’s more than a dinner, although city and county officials haven’t been the best at attending that meeting.