City Hall will do just about anything for economic and community development. After all, most every city has as its mission statement, “… to improve the quality of life of its citizens.” That’s fine until the dubious projects begin appearing. Now I’m not advocating the idea that city governments should never provide incentives or get involved with projects. There’s a place for that. But one idea should be paramount: if the project is not financially feasible in the marketplace the public should know that City Hall is making an investment in a project that is not market-driven.
So how does the average citizen know when a project is dubious? I watch for City Hall’s response when the media starts asking questions about the project. If City Hall’s response is to criticize the media for not “supporting economic and community development in our city,” then I shout “Beware.” If City Hall’s response is to say, “Thanks for giving us the opportunity to provide more information about how this project will benefit our community,” then I’m feeling more comfort in the notion that City Hall at least believes that the project is feasible.