Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

March 4, 2014

Words can discourage development

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, incensed some Howard County Republicans won’t stop badmouthing the city’s dealings with developer Jeff Broughton, took a jab at Howard County Republican Party chairman Craig Dunn in his State of the City speech last week.

“[Broughton’s] company recently purchased the former Elks Lodge, across from the courthouse, from local businessman and bank board member Craig Dunn,” Goodnight said at the tail end of the speech Feb. 24. The mayor also mentioned Broughton is in the process of purchasing the downtown building where the Howard County Republican Party holds a lease.

Couching the remarks as a rah-rah plug for downtown development might have made them seem innocuous. But they were petty and had no place in an otherwise substantive, serious speech.

Dunn was furious.

“I believe that Mayor Goodnight has told this lie in an effort to try and drag me into his colossal conflict of interest with Mr. Broughton,” Dunn wrote in a post-speech press release.

Dunn said the local media has chosen to “ignore the manipulations and falsehoods of this mayor for far too long.”

“I, for one, do not intend to allow Mayor Goodnight to turn this city into another East Chicago,” he added.

For anyone confused at this point, here is the background.

Last year, Goodnight and city director of operations, Randy McKay, sold Broughton, of California, on the city’s downtown development plans. Broughton agreed to undertake some projects.

Before Broughton got started, however, he transacted some business with Goodnight personally, purchasing two rental properties from the mayor.

Goodnight, in turn, thinks Dunn’s criticism is the pot calling the kettle black.

Dunn has insisted he sold his ownership stake in the Elks building, 107 E. Sycamore St., for less than it was potentially worth, just to avoid having any direct business transaction with Broughton.

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