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To begin with, bold leadership requires truth

By: Spencer Short Special to The News Messenger
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In response to the column by Stan Nader and Mike Miller (May 31 News Messenger, page A5, ?Bold leadership required?), I am very disturbed by the lack of factual basis for their story. As mayor, I must set the record straight with a number of factually incorrect and misleading comments made in their column. The General Plan, which was approved in 2008, is the vision document for Lincoln. Simply because one objects to the vision is not a reason to scrap a plan the entire community worked on diligently for more than seven years. Mr. Nader has never objected to the General Plan in council discussions. Why didn?t Mr. Nader voice his concerns before he financially benefitted from the 2008 General Plan by selling land his family owned for development of Village 7 of that plan? However, the rest of the General Plan is too broad? Interesting, given the primary focus of the General Plan was developing a sustainable economy for our community over the long term, long before the fiscal sustainability committee was formed. While the General Plan was developed during a time of relative prosperity (and took more than seven years to complete to encourage a forward thinking approach tied to a number of regional efforts including transportation, water, and conservation activities), it was not intended for a specific era of prosperity or challenge. The General Plan was designed with the vision of a sustainable community at the end of a 50-year build-out process. Success does not come quickly or without some sacrifice when it comes to building a community. (The General Plan won a statewide award by the American Planning Association.) Mr. Nader?s and Mr. Miller?s comment that, ?The budget for police has increased by 60 percent while the number of officers has dropped by more than 20 percent,? is wrong. The approved budget for police has dropped by more than 37.5 percent from 2008 to the present. The number of officers has dropped from 41 to 18 during the same time frame (a 56 percent decrease). This is presented in documents including the budget that will be presented for adoption next Tuesday (6 p.m. City Council). To provide information that is false and misleading is the anti-thesis of leadership and has been used to gain some form of political advantage. As for economic development, I stand behind Beermann?s Restaurant as an example of solid economic development because it has reinvigorated downtown on nights and weekends so that downtown maintains an identity and remains a focal point of the community. To dismiss Beermann?s as not being significant economic development in the downtown is to dismiss any business smaller than Beermann?s as inconsequential. The backbone of Lincoln?s downtown is small business. In fact, Beermann?s has brought more than 90 jobs to this community. This council has always supported local businesses and has encouraged development in the downtown. The council has found ways to support and encourage new businesses in this community. We have instituted programs to help businesses defer start-up costs and have sought the right kinds of businesses to meet key needs. We have a key challenge in the completion of the bypass, which has prevented key industrial users from making full use of the airport. That challenge will be overcome when the bypass opens by October, leading to a greater marketing feature for the airport industrial area. We continue to work with businesses to gain the right mix of job creation and sales tax development in our community. In fact, there are other discussions happening now relating to bringing some key, large businesses to the community, which will require and (I would hope) receive council support should those businesses be able to make the financial commitment to Lincoln. To announce them would be premature. However, a key problem is that when incorrect and misleading information is presented by one in a position of authority, it creates mistrust and confusion in the community, which appears to be a calculated act for some sort of political gain. Great things are happening in our community, despite the challenges of the state and national economy we have been presented with over the last several years. Some in our community and at least one on our City Council would tear them down because there?s no catchy mission statement or slogan. These individuals wish to eliminate the past forward progress and would seek to return Lincoln to a limited vision of the future. Based on the tone of the previous column, maybe Mr. Nader is just reverting to his belief presented during last year?s budget discussion that the ?City is like an airplane six inches from the ground ? and I don?t care what lever you pull, we are going to crash?? Mr. Nader, the current council and staff worked through our financial challenges and have at least some breathing room based on that hard work and rejection of your belief that we are going to crash. The key attributes of a leader are the ability to be honest with and work hard on behalf of the community. Spencer Short is Lincoln?s mayor.