There's nothing like an election year and a scorned privileged class to raise the political heat in the Bloomington summer.

Those uber-wealthy medical marketers over at Finelight, the same good folk who sacrificed a profitable, sustainable, 50-year-old local business last winter for their own corporate ambitions, announced they were packing up their pocketbooks and heading west.

They swore it was all about business, but they didn't do a very good job of hiding the fact that Mayor Mark Kruzan offended them.

CIVITAS: Finelight vs. Bloomington

Based on the facts and the public's best interests, the mayor seems to have concluded that local taxpayers should not subsidize a company whose executives jet around in a $27-million private luxury airliner by building them a parking garage that the city doesn't need.

"In a sense, it's not just about parking," the Herald-Times quoted Kruzan on May 31. "It's been about one developer expecting taxpayers to subsidize a new parking garage."

How dare he? Facts? When really big money is involved?

Republican mayoral candidate David Sabbagh howled in agony, as only he can, and offered up proof positive that a Sabbagh administration would be devastating to all that is special about Bloomington.

"This is the city's worst fear," he told the H-T. "... This administration bears responsibility for allowing this irreparable damage to Bloomington."

No one but Finelight, apparently, would want to work on the Courthouse Square. Sabbagh didn't say just how long will it be before the northwest corner of Fountain Square turns into a crack house.

And, judging from some anonymous source comments on the Herald-Times Online, without all those Finelighters sprinkling around their medical-marketing money, servers and dishwashers and shift managers from every lunch joint in town will soon be on the welfare roles.

(Wait. Don't those high-minded journalists at the H-T have a policy on anonymous sources? How are readers supposed to judge whether sources are reliable or, God forbid, have a vested interest in whatever they are talking about, if readers don't know who the commenters are?)

(And has anyone asked just what medical marketing is? Where all those millions come from? Ever given a thought to the social and economic consequences of medical marketing?)


And talk about journalism. The H-T flipped the marketplace of ideas the bird with its coverage of Finelight and the downtown parking study Kruzan used as a basis for his hopefully evolving vision of downtown.

The paper didn't quote Sabbagh once in five news stories on the subject. No doubt the journalists thought interviewing a man who could be mayor would be too political in an election year.

Instead, they included his thoughts in a sidebar titled, no kidding, "What people are saying." (Italics added for ironic emphasis.)

The H-T's idea of people whose talk matters was composed of the Republican candidate for mayor, a former Finelight vice president, a downtown restaurateur, a realty company that rents downtown space to Finelight, a bank that rents downtown space to Finelight and the pro-parking-garage director of a downtown nonprofit.

For balance, they included the former owner of Ladyman's Cafe. (No kidding. Read it. It's a hoot.)

No, the H-T slobbered over the views of Travis Vencel, whom it identified as "president of Heartland Development Group, which handles Finelight's real estate transactions."

Buff Brown, president and founder of Bloomington Transportations Options for People, whose work was validated by the city's independent parking study, was quoted one time more than Sabbagh in the series, which is to say once.

And the $55,000 study that showed what anyone really familiar with downtown knows already - there is no parking problem downtown - merited an eight-paragraph sidebar to one Vencel piece titled, "Study: Parking problem not as bad as people think".

Which brings us to the backdrop against which all of this is set, the 2007 city election.

The good news is that Mark Kruzan appears to have taken a stand. How long he stays on his feet is another matter.

It is an election year.

Steven Higgs can be reached at .