The ongoing game of political football over Gorman Co.’s plans to turn the ex-Amerock building into a massive downtown hotel and convention space has become the topic du jour for persons suddenly concerned with open government.
The problem for those baying voices is that Amerock is showing us how transparent government processes should work. The latest plan put forth by Mayor Larry Morrissey was never going breeze through the council, certainly not just weeks before an election. But the powers that be in this situation have done the right thing: sat down, had conversations, searched for middle ground, all with the best intentions for the long-term success of Rockford in mind.
Gary Gorman, at the end of the day, is a developer, and from most perspectives a pretty good one. But that makes him a businessman, and therefore at odds with the ultimate purpose of government in such deals: to protect the interests of the taxpayer. Thankfully, Gorman – far from backing away – has seen fit over the past week-plus to meet with most of our city council members, hearing their concerns and the concerns of their constituents. Government is working.
We should be so lucky to have such functional government at all levels. The school district faces a strike that will harm our children, a strike driven by a perfectly reasonable notion: the people who watch our kids should be compensated fairly and adequately. Government has failed us.
More staff cuts are torturing Rock Valley College as the school scrambles to plug budget holes created by the stalemate in Springfield. Government has failed us.
And let’s not even get started on what’s going on in Washington these days; we’ll just skip to the punchline.
But the city government, when it comes to Amerock and now the proposed expansion of the City Market, is doing what good government should: listen to the concerns of its citizens and search for the best solutions that will ultimately see Rockford succeed.
With the Amerock hotel project, government is actually working. We should be so lucky all the time.