Strong Lives, a regional nonprofit, operates therecreation center for the Minnesota town of Forest Lake. The city subsidizesthe centers operation and residents who join pay a membership fee. Thefacility houses cardio and weight equipment, a swimming pool and teen center,exercise classrooms, and a large community room. Low-income residents pay lessfor their memberships, which are subsidized through donations. Those with physicaland mental disabilities use the equipment weekly. Members can take a variety ofexercise and health classes and a number of community groups (AlcoholicsAnonymous, ALANON, book clubs, job-seeker groups, mental health support groups,seniors) make regular use of the large meeting room. A survey found strongsupport for the recreation center, with 80% of the towns residents approvingof current operations.
When Strong Lives 20-year contract with ForestLake came up for renewal, the mayor and several city council members objectedto continuing the partnership. They claimed that too much of the money paid bythe city went to support Strong Lives operations in other towns. They arguedthat the town could reduce its costs by contracting with a private health clublike Planet Fitness or Golds Gym. The council then solicited bids for the newcontract. The winning (lowest) bid came from Northern Healthy, which operates anetwork of private health clubs in the upper Midwest. Strong Lives came insecond. In order to operate at reduced cost, Northern Healthy would eliminateprograms for special needs and low-income residents and would convert thecommunity room into additional work out space. Membership rates would increase.Most of the current employees would be replaced and new ones hired at reducedsalaries.
Reaction to the councils decision was fast andfurious. Opponents bombarded council members with e-mails not only protestingthe membership fee increase but pointing out that the recreation center wasreally a community activity center and that service to the needy would end ifNorthern Healthy took over operations. The council held firm, however,defending its decision based on the potential cost savings. Frustrated with themayor and those who voted for the new contract, the opposition launched asuccessful recall drive. The mayor and her supporters were removed from office.The new mayor and replacement council members cancelled the contract withNorthern Healthy and renewed the agreement with Strong Lives.
Discussion Probes

What are the ethical considerations in this situation?
How did the mental script of the mayor and council members prevent them from understanding the moral elements of this situation?
How is the decision of the council an example of failed moral imagination?
What solutions might have addressed the concerns of the council without cancelling the current contract?

Please write a 3-minute speech including references.