Gary's mayor no longer has the mandate of her electorate, having been resoundingly defeated in the May primary election.

Now a scheme she supports — one that constitutes government by shell game — should be discarded by the Gary Common Council.

Lame-duck Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson first proposed selling the city's public safety building at 555 Polk St. last fall.

She did so under the guise of generating $40 million in "emergency" revenue to make fiscal ends meet.

It's a shell game for a payday-style loan that could leave Gary in worse fiscal shape in the long run, all in the name of a supposed short-term fix.

The city doesn't plan to vacate the building once sold. Instead, it would lease the public safety building back from the prescribed nonprofit entity buying the building.

As we argued in a September editorial, government by shell game won't repair the dire financial straits of a foundering Gary.

Now the Common Council is poised to vote on the plan Tuesday, and it clearly should be voting no.

Any plan involving such bait and switch should send a shudder down the backs of any fiscal-minded government leader or taxpayer.

The lease agreement in this case would be with the Gary Building Corp., a nonprofit entity created decades ago for the sole purpose of owning and leasing facilities to city government.

That nonprofit went defunct when the state canceled its registration but recently was revived, with its board composed of two members of the city administration and a Gary resident.

Under the plan, the city would sell the building to the corporation for $40 million, and in turn, the corporation would lease the building back to the city.

Borrowing would be required to make the whole deal work.

The city of Gary would be required to set aside local income tax revenue, currently being used to pay debt and operational expenses, to repay the bond debt.

As part of the plan, the corporation would issue lease rental obligations in a principal amount not to exceed $40 million, with bonds in a series not exceeding 8% annually, according to the ordinance. The length of the bond could be up to 22 years.

It amounts to a subprime mortgage of the city's financial future.

It's also clear the plan's chief supporter, Freeman-Wilson, is a short-timer in Gary city government.

Voters handed her a defeat in May, with challenger Jerome Prince winning the Democratic nomination, and a virtual lock on the November general election.

Freeman-Wilson only received 37.5% of the 14,448 votes cast in her primary race to Prince's 48.2 percent.

The rest of the votes were diluted in a field of eight other candidates.

That's a clear sign she no longer holds the favor or mandate of her citizens.

By year's end, she'll be packing up and leaving City Hall. The sale and lease plan for city property should be rolled up with her other personal effects and taken with her.
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