The challenge of our time is to do more with less. As your Mayor, I am always mindful that my first responsibility is to the people of this community and to Fort Wayne'€™s economic health.

Through innovation and sound management, the City of Fort Wayne delivers cost-effective, high-quality services to all our citizens, day in and day out. But in these difficult times, I am equally mindful that to meet expectations and to keep our community attractive and competitive, we must constantly seek new ideas and new ways of doing things. 

Several months ago, I shared the news with you that we had begun studying the issue of gaming. We did so, because private business interests came to us as they investigated the possibilities here.

Since then, we have talked with various groups, and continue to do so. Additionally, we initiated a thorough examination of the gaming issue.  We know it has broad implications that we need to understand fully. 

We engaged professionals to research the economic and fiscal impacts of gaming and its market potential here. We also sought insights into its social and community effects.  Those efforts remain underway and the full reports will be released shortly, but some of the preliminary information is already in hand.

As I had hoped, all of this activity has spurred a community dialogue about gaming. Not only should we be talking about gaming, but we should be talking about some of the other real challenges confronting us. As well, we need to determine what our priorities are, and how we might achieve our goals in these uncertain times. 

What these many conversations and the early data have made clear to me is that the issue of gaming is a complicated matter. It is important to you. And it is something that we as a community have only started to explore.

I believe that we should have the courage to pursue a full consideration of gaming and when we have, we should be able to make a choice that benefits us and is right for us. With each day, I am more convinced that the decision about gaming is not mine alone to make, but ours to make as a community.

To that end, I am calling for a citywide referendum on the issue of gaming, and I will ask the Indiana General Assembly to support us in our quest with legislation enabling it. 

Two of the principles on which I have shaped my administration are openness and community participation. It is why I walk neighborhoods, hold Mayor'€™s Nights, issue surveys and attend community events. We are partners in building this city together. Your ideas are valuable to me. They guide me and help me to lead.

To address the critical needs of our community, to help the public gain a better understanding of the gaming issue and to prepare us for our collective decision, I will hold a series of community forums. This subject certainly merits our thoughtful, objective deliberation.

I will champion the right for our voices to be heard. But you can be confident; I will be persistent in keeping the door open for opportunity to enter.