The News-Sentinel's Kevin Leininger, an excellent newspaper political columnist of the type we're sorely missing here in Indianapolis, notes in a column today the shift in the Fort Wayne Chamber's views.
. . . Remember when chambers of commerce were considered house organs of the GOP? The endorsements by the Greater Fort Wayne Business PAC, which is "supported" by Greater Fort Wayne Inc. but a separate entity, indicate those times have changed. Not only did the PAC not support Harper, who is City Council's appointment to the GFW Board, it also pointedly did not endorse several other Republican candidates who share his view that, when it comes to economic development, government "shouldn't pick winners and losers."
That sentiment is shared by 1st District Council candidate Paul Ensley and 4th District candidate Jason Arp, neither of whom was endorsed in favor of Mike Conley and Rusty York, respectively. Third District Republican Russ Jehl, who like Harper was skeptical of council's decision to increase the local income tax a couple of years ago, also was not endorsed. Neither was his opponent, Michelle Merritt.
Incumbent Republican John Crawford, R-at large, was endorsed. He is known as a fiscal conservative but also served on Henry's policy committee that recommended the increase in the first place . . .Mitch Harper's reaction to the chamber's support of the tax-and-spend Democratic incumbent mayor is spot-on:
"Greater Fort Wayne) isn't a true chamber of commerce anymore. It's (made up of) those who seek to harness government . . . often for private benefit," Harper told me after he suggested to Rotarians gathered at Parkview Field that government should use its resources to create common wealth -- that is, benefits for all -- and not specific businesses. It's one thing, he said, to provide incentives such as sewer lines and roads, and quite another to provide incentives that, in effect, benefit one taxpayer at the expense of another. Harper currently represents the 4th District on council.Harper's analysis of the Fort Wayne chamber is equally as applicable to the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, which I view as the most anti-business, anti-taxpayer chamber of commerce in the United States. The chamber has supported every tax increase enacted in the past decade. It has supported every publicly-financed sports stadium and enhanced subsidies to the team's billionaire owners. It supported each of the three sales of the Indianapolis Water Company, even though each successive sale compounded the screwing of the utility's ratepayers. It has supported new regulations on businesses. It opposes ethical reforms to clean up government. And it supports an increasingly-powerful municipal executive at the expense of the legislative branch, which it believes should serve nothing more than an advisory role. What it particularly favors are large public subsidies for a select favored group of businesses at the expenses of all other businesses, even if that results in shifting the tax burden to other property taxpayers and business owners.
The Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is supporting Joe Hogsett for mayor, who also enjoys the endorsement of every major union hall in town. When labor unions unanimously support a candidate backed by the chamber of commerce, something has become a tad eschew. Like the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, the Indy Chemaber withheld support of Republican council candidates like Christine Scales who have been stronger watch dogs for the taxpayers and opposed tax increases backed by the chamber. Unless you rely on a government contract or government subsidies for your business, there is no reason any other business owner would want to throw money away on an organization that is so hostile to the interests of the vast majority of business owners and taxpayers as the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.