Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chamber group sets legislative priorities

Found this on the DM Register site, and though it was interesting. Obviously Davenport One is part of the Chamber Alliance.

Iowa’s economic development leaders said today they want the Legislature next year to re-establish a community investment program like Vision Iowa, develop a plan for recruiting, retaining and retraining workers, and allow cities to use eminent domain powers in urban renewal areas.Also on the Iowa Chamber Alliance 2007 agenda are perennial issues like equalizing property taxes among residential and commercial and industrial properties and restructuring the funding formula for road improvements. Expanded tax credits for historic preservation, affordable health-care options for small businesses and investment in renewable fuels also are on the chambers’ priority list.Not among the recommendations that the alliance outlined today at the Capitol: raising the minimum wage in Iowa. The reason, said Bob Mundt, the Alliance chairman and chief executive of the Council Bluffs chamber, is that the group hasn’t had an opportunity to fully determine what the impact will be on businesses.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Is the QC Times irrelevant???

Understand I am a newspaper guy. I start my day my reading three and then going on line for a few others. My three papers are the QC Times, Des Moines Register and Wall Street Journal. Sometimes I can grab the Argus as well. Old fashion as it may be, I believe a newspaper can be the soul of a community.

That said, a buddy of mine told me yesterday he was dropping the QC Times. Lack of content, over sized ads and the ability to check obituaries and such on-line makes the paper side worthless to him. So I took a quick survey of 15 folks and found 10 of them don’t subscribe to the QC Times.

Grabbing my paper this morning, I find our newspapers mid front page is all about Carey Grant dying 20 years ago. That and a pointless editorial about Isle of Capri (sorry Mark Ridolfi). In fact, my daily review of the QC Times is becoming shorter and shorter. Among my 15 survey folks, lack of meaningful content was the primary reason for not buying the local paper.

Although I found Dustin Lemmon’s article of the Nixon murder case interesting, little else caught my eye. It’s said (and I find true), “Read the Des Moines Register today, so you know what’s in the QC Times tomorrow”. More and more, I am finding this to be true.

It’s got to be tough to be a local newspaper. They got to be “on” 24 hours a day. Industry wide, stock values for these companies are at all time lows. Subscription rates are dropping and alternative media and advertising venues put greater pressure on these local papers.

So my question (or babble) today is simple. Is the largest newspaper in eastern Iowa and western Illinois relevant? I say yes, but alarmingly less and less every day!

Have a great day….. George

Update - FYI
QC Times Front Page Story: here
DesMoines Register: here

Monday, November 27, 2006

So when did things go wrong????

Spent the weekend with some friends, and the discussion of Davenport came up. After a few beers, a good friend asked a very good question. When or why did things go wrong? Specifically the discussion centered on the lack of progress in Davenport, it’s downtown and the economic progress (or lack thereof) these last two years.

Think back to the early 2000-2003 period. Those councils doubled the budgets for street and sewer projects, actually hired extra environmental inspectors to help central city Davenport as well as collaborated with the private sector to bring River Renaissance forward. Think about it, a countywide vote said yes to spend millions in downtown Davenport. By late 2003, I had friends in Cedar Rapids pointing to Davenport with envy.

During that same time period, you had major commercial developments in NE & NW Davenport, the re-use of four-decade-old “vacant industrial site” in downtown and all signs pointing to a strong economic up swing.

But things have changed. What the Quad City Times calls “bumps”, my local friends call a complete collapse; especially the relationship between the private sector and city hall. A few others point to the frustration with Quad City Development and a few “selected” aldermen. Others blame the “anti-Davenport folks” and or the lack of strong leadership from the Davenport One board of directors.

I enjoyed the dialogue, and thought I would extend the question or premise here. In 2003, it appeared Davenport, it’s council and business/union groups where all heading on a unified front to move forward. That “momentum” appears to have hit a brick wall.

Chime in, and provide a viewpoint. I will share mine later in the post.


Friday, November 24, 2006

The City of Davenport Lost A Good Man....

I heard sad news this morning, that long time Davenport citizen Bill Holgersen died Wednesday. Bill loved Davenport. Until recently, Bill lived at the corner of Elm & Jersey Ridge and ran at least twice for the 5th ward aldermanic seat. I believe Bill has served on the ZBA commission for over a decade and his death was unexpected.

Bill & his wife Shirley moved about a year ago to a smaller home without the big terraces, and smack dab in the 6th ward. It had been rumored Bill was considering a run for the 6th ward seat next year.

Bill was a big man with a big heart. He took his responsibilities seriuosly on the ZBA. It was typical for Bill to be walking in someones back yard, trying to figure out if a 2' variance into a setback would have any negative impact on the neighbor next door.

My prayers to Shirley and family. He was a really neat guy and will be missed by many.


* Quick update on changes to the blog. Blogger has a new version which allows additional features I want to utilize. I had hoped the conversion would be completed before Thanksgiving. Obviously, they have over promised and under delivered. So I will continue as-is, but look forward to the new features soon.