Humorless Fort Wayne bureaucrats disrespect proud legacy of Harry Baals

Despite garnering far more support in an online poll than the thicket of other suggestions, residents shouldn’t expect Fort Wayne’s new government center to be named after one of the city’s longest tenured mayors.

Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy said naming 200 E. Berry St. the Harry Baals Government Center was “probably not” going to happen….

Baals – pronounced “balls” by the then-mayor but “bales” by his descendents – became the Republican nominee for mayor in 1934 and was elected for three successive terms. He returned to politics in 1951 by winning a fourth term but died in office in May 1954. His accomplishments include elevating the railroads in town and negotiating the contract with the Army to establish Baer Field as an air base.

Benjamin Lanka, Fort Wayne Register.

In a story that easily could have been ripped from a spec script for Parks and Recreation, the government of Fort Wayne, Ind. put the name of its new building up for an online vote and somehow failed to consider that Fort Wayne’s longest-tenured mayor ever was named Harry Baals.

Now, they’ve either got to go to work every day in the Harry Baals Center or disrespect the legacy of the great mayor Harry Baals. I’d obviously opt for the former, but apparently the Fort Wayne government doesn’t like to work blue (pun only vaguely intended).

Also, the polls are still open. Rock the vote.

And I suppose now is a reasonable enough time to admit that the fake student-government campaign from my college days that I’ve alluded to several times on this site was indeed for a candidate named Harry Balls. Every year, the full list of every tallied vote — regular and write-in — was published online. We chose the name because we thought it was funny in its simplicity, but also because it was easy to remember and spell correctly in the write-in form. Also so our campaign materials could be filled with various puns like the ones made here.

The funny thing — or maybe the unfunny thing — is that the campaign sort of spiraled out of control. We wound up dedicating way more time than we expected to and committing way more energy than we thought we would, and some of the real candidates — most of whom took themselves and student government extraordinarily seriously — got pretty worked up about it. In an incident that to this day marks the most thorough missing-of-the-point I have ever witnessed, one candidate actually approached me hoping to gain Harry Balls’ “official endorsement,” insisting that he and Harry Balls represented a lot of the same ideas.

When it came time for the outcome of the election to be announced, we actually went down to the student center to hear the results. But there was a delay. And then more delay. Some guy came out and said they were having a problem with the computer voting system. About an hour later, they announced the winner — not Harry Balls. But for the only time in the four years I attended the school, they never published the full results of the election. I’m still suspicious.

This post does not contain a picture because I am unwilling to search for “Harry Baals” on Google Images from my work computer.


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