Letters to the Editor

Eco devo myth

July 1, 2008


To the editor:

As night follows day, the American Eagle Myth can be counted on to land in the middle of local reporting on economic development. The angry villagers chasing a frightened, helpless corporation out of town with pitchforks and torches is a useful image in our local politics, I guess. But it didn't happen.

A brief summary of the actual history of the American Eagle warehouse question goes like this: In the year 2000, following an important, generally civil, debate over land use and tax abatement policies, the City Commission granted the company everything it had asked for. Then the company's economic outlook took a turn for the worse, and they chose a smaller, existing, $26 million project in Ottawa rather than the approved $45 million one here. Locally, the AE debate ultimately led to a better tax abatement policy (thanks to Mayor Jim Henry).

You could look it up. A quick search of contemporaneous Journal-World reports yields this example, dated Nov. 23, 2000, quoting an American Eagle representative: "Nobody killed the deal. : It was strictly a business, economic decision." How clear is that?

Although the Journal-World reported the events as they occurred, the Myth has managed to lodge itself in the local consciousness anyway. It is especially curious that some advocates for local economic development are quick to revive and promote the Myth, since it seems so clearly counterproductive to our efforts to attract new businesses to our city.

David Dunfield,


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 11 months ago

AE was given what they asked for, and the $20 million difference in what Ottawa (whose taxes for residential taxpayers are higher than Lawrence's, for obvious reasons) had to offer was the difference, as the company acknowledged. Was the process drawn out? Sure, they wanted to build on land not zoned for a warehouse, and wanted a huge abatement for mostly low-paying jobs. In the end, they got what they wanted, and what they wanted still very likely would have meant a net loss for Lawrence taxpayers. Them's the facts.

gr 9 years, 11 months ago

"After all, it's repetition of the same BS, over and over and over, that makes it True, not actual facts and history."Do you think that could apply to more than one area?

hail2oldku 9 years, 11 months ago

Siting the same article David did - "The process was so drawn out," Fostyk said Wednesday. "As one can imagine, we were inundated with offers, unsolicited, from everywhere else. People used to stand outside the commission meetings saying, 'Hey, things aren't going well. Come to our town.' "Of course that statement somewhat refutes David (and bozo's) facts. Yes, they were ready to come to town but the hoops they had to jump through gave other communities the opportunity to make better offers - which they did and AE accepted.

Corey Williams 9 years, 11 months ago

Thanks to Tom and Bowhunter for proving Bozo right.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 11 months ago

Yea, I'm sure the $20 million lower cost had nothing to do with it...eyeroll.But I'm sure if all you who think losing all those $8 an hour jobs was such a monumental loss, if you had just ponied up that $20 million, they likely would have come here instead.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 11 months ago

I love Devo, especially that "whip it" song.

Charles Jones 9 years, 11 months ago

As a card-carrying member of the eco-devo crowd I would appreciate it, Mr. Dunfield, if you would keep your paws off our myth!Why what do you expect us to talk about?The Chamber's promises of jobs -- in return for big buck support from taxpayers -- that remain as empty as the Serologicals building?How Lavern Squier demoralized then drove good people out of the Chamber, while the Board went missing in action?How Hack, Johnson, Squier and Corliss -- aided by the LJ World and the pro-growth city commission -- managed to fumble away the Deciphera deal?Cling desperately to facts if you must, Mr. Dunfield. Truth has always been the refuge of your type, sir! As for me, when I think of the terror in those angelic American Eagle eyes as they raced one step ahead of the snapping, frothing jaws of the antigrowth crowd, well it just makes me want to cry.

BigPrune 9 years, 11 months ago

I thought it was all the kooks protesting American Eagle Outfitters because they wanted to build on "virginal" farmland and whatever nonsense they could pull out of their butts.Ottawa wecomed them. Lawrence did NOT welcome them. That's why they went to Ottawa. That's the truth, no matter how much Dunfield and others spin it.

hail2oldku 9 years, 11 months ago

"Yea, I'm sure the $20 million lower cost had nothing to do with it:eyeroll."That $20 million never would have come into play if the fight to build it wouldn't have been so tough. Of course it becomes economics when it take that long just to get as far as you did yet never even reached the point of turning a spade of dirt. Then 20 miles down the road you're given the same type of deal you've been working to get, and you've got a building that's ready for you to move into and work from while you add an expansion to the back side.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 11 months ago

And despite your laying out of the actual facts, David, there will be at least a half dozen posters here today who will cling to and repeat the Myth. After all, it's repetition of the same BS, over and over and over, that makes it True, not actual facts and history.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.