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A COLUMN BY KEVIN LEININGER

2007's top local stories

Leininger is usually more terse; today his column is in verse

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 - 6:41 am

Editor’s note: The headlines are taken from the Dec. 26 edition of The News-Sentinel ranking the top 10 local stories of 2007.

You know it will happen, so why do you do it?

Why promise to do things but never stick to it?

But as another year dawns and we ponder our fate,

events of the past show it’s still not too late

to fix our mistakes and resolve to improve

so last year’s top stories aren’t next year’s big news.

So with tongue firmly planted in both of my cheeks,

may these tips change the subject in 52 weeks.

1. Kelty indicted; Henry elected

Matt Kelty’s indictment and Tom Henry’s win

led many to question the wages of sin.

But whose fault is it really when things go so wrong –

the man or the party to which he belongs?

Even if some really were out to get him,

Kelty for some reason decided to help them

by seeming to blame nearly everyone else

for things he had mostly just done to himself.

The message is clear, or at least seems so to me:

Life’s what we do – not some conspiracy.

2. Harrison Square moves forward

There’s a big muddy hole where just two years from now

a stadium, condos and shops should grow.

But Harrison Square isn’t supported by all,

and some say downtown will never compete with a mall.

So if $130 million can’t save Fort Wayne’s core,

there will be calls for just one thing more.

At the risk of sounding silly and rambling,

what this project needs most is ... riverboat gambling!

3. City smoking ban

No smoking in bars, or in restaurants, either.

City Council has spoken, so take a breather.

But as some businesses close and some merely survive,

officials with different ideas arrive.

A new mayor and council at least seem willing

to revisit a law that can’t live up to its billing.

Cold air is keeping cigars from my lips,

which sooner or later will cost waiters my tips.

There’s only one thing for our new leaders to do:

Get rid of this law or we’ll get rid of you, too!

4. Taxpayers deny FWCS $500 million

Men’s Health magazine may still think we’re dim,

but I’m more than willing to go out on a limb:

Refusing to give a blank check to the schools

proved people who live here are nobody’s fools.

For half a billion, give or take a few bills,

one might have expected to solve all the schools’ ills.

But even that money, they told us, would pale

before what was needed to make sure schools don’t fail.

Lost in it all was what really matters:

education itself, and making it better.

So here’s my advice, you can take it or leave it:

We know waste when we see it. You’d better believe it.

5. The problem of property taxes

That big refund check you just took to the bank

was more of a bribe than a reason for thanks.

While you’re busily thinking of shopping and spending,

you won’t even notice the next bill they’ll be sending.

But property taxes are out of whack,

and there’s only one way to get sanity back.

Taxing income won’t work, and neither will sales taxes.

There’s only one thing to do: Get out the axes.

Cut spending here and cut it more there,

and hope nobody very important will care.

But they will, of course, for complain as we might,

we all like Big Government – by day and by night.

So if you want lower taxes, here’s what to do:

Let’s cut spending on the other guy – and on your programs, too.

6. Library reopens

They say print is dead, but just take a look:

Allen County just spent millions on houses for books.

All of our knowledge is there for our use,

right next to the homeless guy taking a snooze.

At $84 million the price wasn’t cheap,

but libraries are something communities keep

if they want to be seen as bold, smart and with it.

But not again for a while, please – we just can’t afford it.

7. Case closes on Rios murders

His wife and three young children dead,

Simon Rios sobbed in court and bowed his head.

Hoping to see his family in heaven,

Rios must think he’s been divinely forgiven.

That’s appealingly possible, I must agree:

If there’s hope for a killer, there’s hope even for me.

But all that grace leaves me a bit queasy:

Spending this life in prison, Rios got off easy.

8. Developmental center closes

It was the home for “feeble-minded youth”

until that sounded uncouth.

But changing words and definitions

can’t erase the center’s mission.

When mind and body fail,

will budget cuts prevail?

The State Developmental Center: nothing really rhymes.

But compassion demands something take its place. It’s time.

9. Kitty Hawk closing

You win some and lose some, it’s said – and it’s true.

But when losses are many and victories few,

it’s probably best to do something new.

First it was Burlington, then ATA.

Now Kitty Hawk’s flown the coop, ruining the day.

The airport is great and means a lot to us,

but some of its companies have worked hard to, er, hurt us.

So maybe until aviation comes ’round,

we should keep tax dollars out of the air –

and our dreams on the ground.

10. City weathers blizzard

It snowed last February – a half-foot or so.

Was that really big news? I confess I don’t know.

It snows every winter, and often quite more.

So if 6.5 inches was news, last year was a bore.

Epilogue

Will this year be better? I pray that it’s true.

If it isn’t, don’t blame me.

Like I told you before,

It’s all up to you.

Kevin Leininger’s column reflects his opinion, not necessarily that of The News-Sentinel. Contact him at kleininger@news-sentinel.com, or call 461-8355.