Pharos-Tribune

December 31, 2012

OUR VIEW: Much went well with 2012 agenda


— Looking back on our agenda for 2012, we had a pretty good year.

In terms of establishing a coordinated economic development effort, the community took a few steps forward and a few steps back, but the outlook seems bright.

The controversy that emerged over the makeup of the Logansport-Cass County Economic Development Foundation board wasn’t exactly a step forward, but the two sides did end up with a compromise that seems to be working. And the board appears to have made a great hire with its new president. Connie Neininger brings not only a countywide focus but a regional focus, and the newly renamed Cass Logan Economic Development Organization appears poised to lead exactly the sort of coordinated effort our agenda envisioned.

As to our goal of developing improved housing in the community, Mayor Ted Franklin deserves credit for his focus on ridding the city of eyesores. He’s made a good bit of progress and has shown no signs of letting up. The city still has some work to do, but it’s headed in the right direction.

Another goal for 2012 was to encourage Republicans to take advantage of their control of city and county government to improve cooperation among agencies and explore the possibility of saving taxpayer dollars through consolidation.

Things looked promising early in the year as the city and county were talking about collaboration on such things as a shared building commissioner. That effort went nowhere, though, and there was little talk of collaboration by the end of the year.

For several years, we’ve been encouraging state lawmakers to take another look at the local government reforms proposed by the Kernan-Shepard Commission. We had some hope that progress would be made in the final year of the Mitch Daniels administration, but it looks like Indiana lawmakers have taken all the action they’re prepared to take.

It’s now up to local officials to decide what efforts, if any, to pursue.

Neighboring Howard County took a shot at consolidating townships along school corporation boundaries this year, but the plan was rejected by voters.

We hope the vote won’t spell the end of such efforts. Cass County could certainly benefit from a similar consolidation plan.

We also sought to support local schools in their efforts to improve student performance. The schools had mixed results this year, but part of the problem might be with the standards. No one disputes that schools should be held accountable, but there is some question about whether the current standards are fair.

As to encouraging parity in athletic competition, the Indiana High School Athletic Association took a step forward this year with its new rules requiring schools to move up a class if they begin to dominate the competition. The first test of the new rules will come in 2013.

We’ll keep an eye on progress, but we’re optimistic the changes will produce positive results.

Yet another goal for 2012 was to continue our efforts to identify the community’s assets and promote them both here and elsewhere. We take seriously our role as a community cheerleader, and Logansport and Cass County have much to brag about.

We also have an important role to play as a watchdog on local government. Insisting that elected officials be accountable to the public is the basic job of a newspaper, and it’s one we will continue to take seriously.

Coming Wednesday: Our agenda for 2013

2012 agenda

• Promote the creation of new jobs in Logansport and Cass County through a coordinated economic development effort.

• Encourage improved housing in the community by ridding neighborhoods of blighted properties and exploring the development of new housing.

• Encourage parity in athletic competition among Indiana schools. Explore options to the current system, which has seen the same schools dominate year after year.

• Encourage Republicans to take advantage of their control of city and county government to improve cooperation among agencies and explore the possibility of saving taxpayer dollars through consolidation.

• Insist that local elected officials be accountable to the public.

• Encourage state lawmakers to take another look at the local government reforms proposed by the Kernan-Shepard Commission.

• Support local schools in their efforts to improve student performance.

• Continue efforts to identify the community’s assets and promote them both here and elsewhere.