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PARRY ACCUSES HOPPE: Of "extortion" in Frat House deal

Inside Columbia publisher condemns Garagezilla, new City Hall, endorses Tillotson's "fresh perspective" 
 
COLUMBIA, 4/2/12  (Op-Ed) -- In a round condemnation of 6th Ward Columbia City Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe, Inside Columbia publisher Fred Parry accused Mrs. Hoppe of "a barely legal form of extortion" for her role in a settlement between the Beta House fraternity and East Campus Neighborhood Association.

"Hoppe has been described as a 'bully' when dealing with issues in her ward," Parry writes in this month's edition of his magazine.  "She used a minor technicality...to 'exact' $100,000 from the fraternity." 

Bad for jobs, Parry argues, Hoppe voted against the Landmark Hospital and Maguire Blvd. extension, which he says could have cost Columbia IBM.  He also condemns Mrs. Hoppe's role in the approval of the widely-disparaged Garagezilla parking garage and an estimated $80 million shortfall in city pensions. 
 
"Council members were asleep at the wheel when they moved forward with a string of costly construction projects that included the new City Hall," Parry added.  "Hoppe's opponent, Bill Tillotson, would bring a fresh perspective to council matters."   
 
Parry's editorial illustrates the no-win situation Council members are often thrown into, and why the only way out is to dance with the ones who brung ya -- at every dance.   He condemns Mrs. Hoppe for her anti-business stance, while at the same time condemning her pro-business votes. 
 
The business lobby strongly favored the City Hall expansion, with pro-business Trib columnist Bob Roper leading tours through the old Daniel Boone building and labeling it a "cramped fire hazard." 
 
Garagezilla's chief champion was Trib publisher, REDI investor, and staunch business advocate Hank Waters
 
Mrs. Hoppe has voted for the Odle student housing projects downtown; a second "baby Garagezilla" on Short Street; the controversial Grove Apartments; the Enhanced Enterprise Zone; TIFs; cameras; and a long string of business and developer-friendly projects over her six years in office. 
 
And yet, the business lobby's condemnation of her continues, reaching newly-absurd heights.   They aren't only stabbing her in the back, but twisting the knife this time around.

Perhaps in her last term, Mrs. Hoppe will stop voting with this group and be more insistent -- much more insistent -- that City Hall get off its special-interest fattened duff and start working for average folks. 

Instead of building giant parking garages and City Hall Mahals, let's spend money on neighborhoods struggling under decades of city neglect.   The people from those neighborhoods are, after all, the ones that not only brung Mrs. Hoppe to the dance, but have kept dancing with her even as she dodges the business lobby's ill-advised bullets and barbs.          
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