February 28, 2014 10:09:17 AM
Columbus City officials and LINK officials agreed Wednesday to work together in bringing retail development to the city, a partnership that can best be described an "off again, on again" relationship.
The joint press release announcing the LINK will resume its retail recruiting on the city's behalf puts an apparent end to a four-week-long spat that began when the city council entertained a pitch from a Birmingham-based retail firm to recruit new retail development to the city. Although a proposal to sign a contract with the group, Retail Strategies, was tabled on the advice of Mayor Robert Smith, who said council members should first discuss the idea with LINK officials, the damage had been done. Two days later, the LINK issued a press release saying it would no longer serve as the city's retail development recruiter.
Wednesday, that fissure had been closed, thanks primarily to the mayor, who has been busy soothing the ruffled feathers at the LINK.
In the aftermath, the blame for this dust-up must be shared equally by the council and the LINK.
It was, indeed, premature for the city to consider adding another consulting firm to the mix without first discussing the matter with the LINK. The council would have been well- served to talk to the LINK officials about what they do in terms of retail development in an effort to determine if adding Retail Strategies would complement or duplicate those services. The council failed to get the information it needed to make a wise decision, which is often this case with this administration, sadly.
The LINK, however, does not escape blame. Its decision to announce it wouldn't perform retail development for the city was childish, even arrogant. As far as we know, the LINK is paid to provide that service. There is nothing in its agreement with the city that permits it to simply pick and choose which services it will perform.
We hope both parties have learned something from this.
The council should not have to tip-toe around the LINK. It doesn't need the LINK's permission, after all, since the city, along with the county, is essentially the employer and the LINK is the employee.
If, after having gained a better understanding of what the LINK provides in the way of retail development, the council still believes the addition of Retail Strategies will enhance retail development, it should not hesitate to pursue that course without apology or fear of retribution from the LINK.
Both parties should remember they are ultimately accountable to the taxpayers.
There is no reason the city and the LINK cannot work together toward a common goal. Communication and mutual respect, two qualities missing in the brief break-up, are essential to achieve that goal.
Let's hope they have learned something from all this.
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