“Why don’t you come to Gary and see what Gary really is?”
Transcript for No Interest in Seeing Our City Progress
You know—city services are based on tax revenue and if you don’t have enough people who are paying into that tax base, then of course, you can’t provide the level of service that you have provided in the past. You have a lot of people who come into Gary, earn their living, but will not live here. Don’t pay anything into the tax base. And so, consequently, that creates a problem. And these are, in some instances, some of the biggest offenders in terms of talking about what the city is not.
If we were able to do some things in terms of economic development—if people—if we didn’t have this stereotypical myth that, “Don’t move to Gary because, you know, the crime is so high. Da-da-da…all these bad things.” And if we could have businesses who would say, “I’ll take a chance on Gary because I believe that it has potential,” then we could do a lot of things in the city. And that is what our issue is, is economic development and the fact that people want—they’ll come here, and make their living, and at five o’clock, they’ll leave, and during the day, they do not spend any money putting anything into the tax base. And that’s true with a lot of our public service employees, our teachers, a lot of people who work in the city but will not live in the city.
Statutorily, we cannot require them to live in the city. They can live in a contiguous county. That’s what the statute says, so they don’t have to live in the city. I don’t believe that there’s anything that we can do in order to change it at this point because of the way that the state legislature is made. It’s made up of people who are, you know, southern whites who have no interest in seeing our city progress. There are those people who would like to see Gary just die and that is so sad. It’s so tragic. Because we do have a lot of potential.
Several years ago when we were—when they had the Distressed Unit Appeal Board come in and their position was, “You need to shut down the Genesis Center. You need to shut down Hudson-Campbell, you need to take away the clerk’s office, you need to take away the city court, you know, you need to take away all these things.” But they really didn’t know anything about our city, you know? So, you know, my position was, “Why don’t you come to Gary and see what Gary really is, and see? Because some of the things that I think that you believe just aren’t so.” I can remember—well, I won’t name names, but going to an interview with someone from downstate, and there was a problem—we had a problem with some of our finances. And the lady’s first comment before we even started the meeting was, “Well, when Gary has to file bankruptcy, it won’t matter.” So… I thought, “Hmm…” You know? Yeah.
Hold a Conversation
Can you imagine leading a conversation about this story? Where? With whom? What kinds of questions would you pose? (See How to use the questions for reflection for one approach.) Please email your questions to us or post them in the comment box for our consideration. If you use them in an actual discussion, let us know how the conversation went.