The Merger 2.0 task force completed its designated task in rather bureaucratic fashion. Its October 31 report (available at http://www.louisvilleky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/62D1B720-30F2-4213-BB52-B2BB6A90644F/0/TaskForceReport_Mayor.pdf) was list after list of recommendations regarding different city services. It was not exciting reading and in turn, it was difficult to conceptualize a post that would be interesting to read when it had came out.
The Courier-Journal ran a story today (pages A1-A6) (online yesterday at http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=courier-journal&sParam=38016445.story) three weeks after the Merger 2.0 task force’s final report. According to the story, Darryl Owens submitted a report he commissioned by U of L Professor H.V. “Hank” Savitch just over one week after final report. Savitch’s report was not available online (I’m sure it would be interesting reading if I could get it).
While there was quibbling over interpretation of numbers regarding efficiency in public services, there was indeed the matter of economic development. The Merger 2.0 task force did not cover economic development because it was not within its scope.
Some of my thoughts go back as to my original post about Daryl Owens’s appointment to the task force on this web site. It was politics.
It does not surprise me that Owens submitted this report on merger and it does not surprise me that Savitch wrote it. They teamed up again after the campaign of 2000.
The Merger 2.0 task force did indeed only cover efficiency and effectiveness matters of public services–just as it was commissioned to do. It seemed that they did it in a “no more-no less” fashion. Armstrong’s statement in the C-J story is spot-on as to task force purpose.
However, part of the political rhetoric of the election of 2000 was that Merger was indeed going to advance economic development. For what is cited of Savitch in the C-J story is consistent with his previous writings and lectures I have read and the lectures I have sat through (actually enjoyed). I would simply refer you to the story
Mr. Armstrong and Ms. Jackson did their jobs well leading the Merger 2.0 task force. However, (at the risk of over-using the literary technique of personification) Merger should have provided more radical economic development tools (and more of them) and should have began to chip away at the disparity in service delivery.
For the fact that a drama is somewhat depicted in the C-J story, it seems to say that the economic development tool kit merger provides are in the hands of others not named in the story. For Louisville, time and time again research shows that it is the elite or as Harvey Molotch would call “The Growth Coalition.” Those people control the tools and must agree to work together to maintain the tool kit and use them together to fulfill the promises of merger.
It would be welcomed if Mayor Fischer signed another executive order for a Merger 2.1 task force that focused on the economic development concerns and includes different members such as Hal Heiner and Todd Blue and maybe Junior Bridgeman. I think that there is room for such a discussion beside focusing on super corridors with Lexington and Indianapolis.