The Lincoln City Council today considers approving more than a half million dollars worth of tax increment financing, or TIF, to help developers convert the former Meadow Gold milk processing plant into mixed uses for now, and commercial and residential uses later.
According to city documents, they will be converting the plant into “high tech industrial manufacturing,” office space and a brewery. The public assistance (TIF) “may” be used for streetscape and facade improvements and geothermal energy improvements.
Since the city declared that area south of the Haymarket blighted way back in 1984 (and again for the arena project, I believe), that opens the door for this kind of redevelopment.
Awhile back, Councilman Doug Emery told a talk radio host that if he decided to run again, he wouldn’t take money from unions or LIBA (Lincoln Independent Business Association).
Now that Emery has officially announced his plans to run again for his seat representing District 1, or northeast Lincoln, I asked whether that radio promise still stood. Today he said yes. He won’t be taking money from city employee unions or LIBA.
Of all the special interests and groups that lobby city hall, LIBA and the fire union are probably the biggest dogs in town right now. The firefighters’ union has become the single largest contributor to local campaigns, and LIBA is not far behind.
Emery said he made the pledge because he’s “tired of unfounded allegations” by me “and others” that “donations somehow influenced votes.” He says LIBA gave “some” council members “far more than the unions” and “their influence is not questioned.”
He misses a key point: LIBA isn’t negotiating labor agreements with the city.
This pledge comes on top of his refusal to promise NOT to raise taxes. It took guts to refuse LIBA and fire union contributions; it takes cajones not to do the “read my lips” dance.