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Our Opinion: Every man with a plan

January 17, 2002

If word gets around that you are giving away free stuff, pretty soon the line is going to get really long.

Such is the case with Calexico Redevelopment Agency.

The RDA board, which actually is the City Council wearing a different hat, appears to have gotten a bit of a reputation. That rep appears to be if you are a developer and don't want to pay for a large portion of your development, the Calexico RDA is the place to go.

That reputation goes back for years and years, and some of the examples of businesses that have started in the pink as a result of the board's largesse are the Calexico Wal-Mart and the Calexico 10 movie theater complex.

While helping get businesses started in a poor area bereft of jobs is a good thing, the idea behind the creation of redevelopment agencies was to improve blighted areas. Whether areas that have never been developed or have been farmland are blighted is an intriguing question, particularly in Calexico, where such areas have been developed with RDA help in recent years.


Now man after man with plan after plan seems to be coming before the board seeking "assistance" with a project that would be placed in the city, but only if that city assistance is forthcoming. Let's see, there has been an agave processing plant, a border mall, a pharmacy, a grant writer for a new hospital and more. While all these operations might create jobs for local residents and bring tax and other revenues into the city, the problem is the pot is only so big and the line of people who want to feed out of the pot is endless.

What can happen is loans given by the RDA may never be fully repaid, as is the case of Calexico Tissue, whose parent company went belly up with after not long sucking down $300,000 in Calexico RDA loan money. Good luck collecting much of that money in bankruptcy court.

Good things can come out of such machinations, too. The Calexico theater complex would be one example of something that has been good for the city that RDA money made possible.

We are glad city leaders have shown some discretion in recent months regarding which projects they would help fund with RDA money. While we like the idea of some RDA money being spent to spur new business and investment, we also would like to see some money go for — hey, here's a novel idea — redevelopment. We like the idea that RDA money was committed to fixing the roof at the historic Carnegie Library and that other RDA money went to the city's new Nosotros Park on the west side.

We could feel bad about telling city leaders how to spend their money, but the point is it is not their money, nor is it the money of every businessman looking for a quick prop-up for his grand plan for Calexico. It is the money of the people of Calexico, and should go to the betterment of the entire populace.

We implore the Calexico City Council/RDA board to remember that always.

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