I do not personally know Marvin Sands, but I trust that he is a good person. Unfortunately, his Examiner guest column on Tuesday (“City has lost trust of citizens”) makes a number of assertions that are either unfounded or incorrect. I feel compelled to provide additional information to help set the record straight.

I do not personally know Marvin Sands, but I trust that he is a good person. Unfortunately, his Examiner guest column on Tuesday (“City has lost trust of citizens”) makes a number of assertions that are either unfounded or incorrect. I feel compelled to provide additional information to help set the record straight.

Mr. Sands contends that there has been a linear progression of poor decision making by the city and a corresponding growth in public distrust. Regardless of the merit of his individual arguments, or lack thereof, he portrays a very convenient telling of history. The inconvenient truth for Mr. Sands is that the Independence Events Center has been very well received by our community and the entire region. With well more than 1 million visitors to date, the facility has created wonderful opportunities for ice skating, hockey, soccer, basketball and numerous concerts and other exciting events.

During a prolonged national recession, the IEC has been a source of hope and support for area merchants, hotels and restaurants. The funding source was completely legal, used elsewhere in Missouri, and made sense. The businesses that benefit most from the IEC charge and collect the dedicated tax. A citywide vote would have required merchants in other areas of the city to charge a tax on their products, when their businesses would have received little or no benefit.

The Falls at Crackerneck project, in which Bass Pro Shops is a tenant, originated back in 2003. At that time, most current City Council members were not even in office yet. Those who were in office were unanimously in support of the project. Local media and the community at large were also very supportive, as were the TIF Commission and the state of Missouri, which committed to the project.

The timing of the development, the downturn in the economy and other factors all contributed to the inability of the developers to attract sufficient business to properly fund the project. The city has actively considered alternatives, such as debt refinancing and changing the land use while still maintaining the state’s financial commitment. We continue to reach out to the economic development community for additional problem solving ideas and approaches.

The IEC opened in November 2009. The next opportunity for “public outrage” against the city would have presumably been in April 2010. Yet, both incumbent at-large council members were overwhelmingly re-elected against token opposition, and I ran unopposed. In August 2010, voters strongly supported perpetual sales taxes for parks and storm water. Last month, two district council members were re-elected without any opponent.

As elected officials, we are called to try to champion issues we think would make Independence a better place to live and to work. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that every issue or every project will work out exactly as planned. Standing on the sidelines and throwing rocks and making empty assertions of doom and gloom will not move us forward. We can still be positive as a community and work together, and that is my overall goal.