Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Colonels Top 10 List of 2006

I am no Dave Letterman, so forget any attempt at humor. But as we finalize 2006, I thought I would consider the top ten political events in Davenport that shaped the year as well as the year to come. My top 10 Political events of 2006…

10. A Six to four vote (in closed session) provided former City Employee Phil Yerrington some bucks for a wrongful discharge lawsuit. Barnhill, Ambrose, Lynn and Meyer always supported the guy. New additions of Van Fossen and Hammerlinck turned Phils luck.

9. City Council agrees, and then disagrees to sell the commercial land at 53rd & Eastern. Spend a few thousand dollars for outside appraisals, only to reject offers that meet or exceeded the so called outside opinions.

8. Davenport Levee Commission hires former Alderman and failed Mayoral candidate Steve Ahrens as a riverfront consultant. After some speeches and such, the council leaves the selection alone. More important, the council fails to create expectations or objectives for the Commission and their newly hired consultant.

7. Davenport City Council lies to downtown developers about the Freight House. Would be investor Regency offered to buy and invest millions in new downtown development condos; subject to the city pulling the trigger on the freight house. They promised in closed session, then retracted a few days later. In the end it was never about the Freight House, but the inability of a public body to deal honestly with private sector folks that consider investing in our community.

6. The opening of the Adler Theatre and Skate Park. More ammo for the radio talk show gang, but great community assets for a wide range of citizens.

5. A thrashing of Republicans in the fall election helps local candidates take control of the Scott County Courthouse as well as State Legislature. Can you say Supervisor Moritz!

4. The illegitimate ploy to rid the Quad Cities of Thom Hart. That’s what all of the Chamber merger talk was all about. Never was the intention to merge the chambers, but to ride the community of a local failure. And it was about time!!!

3. 500 Jobs is nothing to sneeze about. Unfortunately this is something that only comes around once in a while. Maybe as a result of political pranks found on list such as this!

2. Quad City Rental Association’s influence over several elected officials lends support to demolish a complete City Department. Environmental enforcement is pushed onto the Fire Department, which has battled for several elections to prove their legitimacy.

1. A failed ouster of City Administrator Malin by new comer Hamerlinck and fueled by 2nd term Alderman Lynn fails. As the reality of previous contract law as well as public pressure from the private sector mounts, the majority of alderman buckles. Unfortunately a series of blunders by new and existing council members brings the overall perception of City Hall to a new low.

On second thought, maybe this is indeed humorous.

The Colonel

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lazy, no good trash dumping folks!!!!!!

In a town of 96,000 most of our problems can be traced to a handful of jerks. Want to lower crime, move out the gang associated family of the Howard’s and all their cousins and we would have a good start at it. Such an ill thought one day after Christmas?

Not really. You see, a friend of mine called me this morning and told me about his dumpster at work filled to the brim with garbage bags. Stuffed with boxes and wrapping, the sloth’s at nearby apartment complexes are likely the wrong doer’s. That, or lazy slobs that are unaware of the free bag privileges this week.

You see, I have been rather impressed with what the City has done over the last few years. Automated garbage, increased efforts in public safety and until this year, increased manpower to environmental enforcements.

All of this, because of a handful (in terms of our overall population base) of inconsiderate, self-absorbed slobs that have little concern for their community. This isn’t the poor or the John Lewis folks. These folks can be found in all portions of our city.

It’s because of these folks, that government grows larger. A quick solution to our trash issue is to include all residential properties (including apartments) to participate in our containerized trash program. Or maybe more cameras or cops on every corner to deal with a handful of jerks.

Not the thoughts I wanted to start the week out with…

George

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tis The Season - A City Wish List

Well I think I am going to be too busy with holiday stuff to worry about the site for a few days. So I thought it would be a great idea to create an oppurtunity for local bloggers to communicate a Holiday Wish list for their elected officials. Let Elve Lynn, Santa Brooke and the other elected officials in Davenport City Hall know what you would like for our fine city.

For me, I would like to see Alderman Meyer try his "Black Christmas" poem again. Only Keith is creative enough to find something that rhymes with Hammerlink!

Merry Christmas,

George

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Call Center Jobs... No thanks to Thom Hart

The announcement of 500 new jobs and the development of a new call center is good for our economy. Hopefully the Quad City Times and local media won’t allow Thom Hart to stand up front and take credit. The hard work is due to City Hall staff and a hustling Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Agent.

It’s continued good news for developer Steve Schalk, who happens to own the land that has been selected. For those that keep track of this stuff, Mr. Schalk was pleased to have some more of his ground selected by PEDCOR earlier this month.

Maybe we should hire Steve Schalk to replace Thom Hart, so he can develop all of his land, bring jobs to the community and increase population.... Yah, I didn't think so.

Congrats to all those that actually worked to make this a reality.

George

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cave Men, Inspections and other city stuff.....

I think this is a good example were more government is good a thing. As the city council tries to clean up the mess they made of Davenport’s environmental and rental inspection program, I offer some free advice. Take it for what it’s worth.

First, bring back the housing inspectors and strengthen the housing and environmental department. It’s probably better under Public Works then Community Development. But obviously the fire department can’t deal with it when they are the cities first responder to health and safety concerns.

Secondly, change the city ordinances that require the city to collect refuse for all properties of twelve units or less. Yah, this is expanding services but this will ensure a large number of rental properties in Davenport have containerized collection.

Thirdly, as part of the rental license, owners of buildings of twelve units or more must register what commercial hauler they utilize. This will allow the city to monitor if the problems are directed towards specific landlords or the haulers themselves.

Finally, let’s admit that government has a purpose. Cow towing to special interest like the Quad City Rental Association has not lead to a better community. There some things government should do. Let’s hope Alderman Shawn and Lynn take a step back from the libertarian stance that government is the enemy. We got stuff to do, so let’s get it done.

Other stuff…

The Colonel gives condolences to Mayor Freemire and his family on the death of his mother. May the Good Lord embrace her soul!

Banning compassion is not great PR. May I suggest to Alderman Keith, that a moratorium on social services is not a well timed topic. Yah, I understand the concerns and frustrations of folks down there. May I suggest the council just votes down the request for waiver of the liens without much comment! The outcome benefits the surrounding neighbors and the council avoids the appearance of poorly groomed cavemen.

Have a great day….

George

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hey, when I screw up, I screw up.....

Well, when I question whether the Quad City Times is relevant, I should take the information in the rag as suspicious. So getting back in town from a weekend away, I learn the QC Times screwed up the facts regarding the settlement between the city and the guy trying to open the Hispanic bar/venue in the Village of East Davenport. There is a difference between $5,000 and $500,000. I apologize for relying upon the Quad City Times. My Bad….

I still believe Alderman Lynn and Howard screwed this up. I know first hand Alderman Howard walked the applicant through city hall and tried to grease the process. Alderman Lynn in turn, joined the group of Village businesses that wanted to violate city laws and processes because of skin color and heritage. And lets be honest, if this was a country western bar, nothing would have come of it.

Anyways, I apologize to the City Hall folks for spreading misinformation. Unfortunately, most readers just assumed something stupid like this would come from city hall. And that says something as well.

George

Friday, December 15, 2006

Davenport Politic Stuff - Weekend thoughts...(UPDATE)

Been really busy this week, but I leave you with weekend thoughts dealing with Davenport politics....

Congratulations to local politician and former liberal radio talk host Karl Rhomberg and his looonnnggg time girlfriend Allison Hart. They are finally getting married, per the QCT “Matter of Record”. For those that don’t recall, Karl was on the city council and failed candidate for the Scott County Board of Supervisors. Love him or hate him, don’t underestimate him. Karl is one smart cookie when it comes to politics. Allison Hart is Senator Harkins local guru, and a smart cookie herself. The Colonel is very happy for both of you, and wish you all the liberal happiness you both deserve.


Davenport’s “King Maker” Mary Ellen Chamberlin has retired from the Vision Iowa Board. Now do us all a favor Mary Ellen, and step down from the high paying RDA job you have had for over a decade. I call her the “King Maker”, because Mary Ellen was once quoted calling herself that in the local newspaper. She would rather “make kings, then be one”, if I recall the quote.

I heard Alderman Hammer on WOC radio, opposing any talk about increasing sewer taxes. I agree, but his quote went on to state the City must fully investigate and lobby for greater federal funds for the West Side Sewer Tunnel. Again, I agree, but maybe this year Alderman Hammer and the majority of council members will do there job and actually go to Washington DC this year and lobby. They can do it cheaply and effectively. But a no show at lobby time, equals no money for your per projects.


Silvis gets a Wal Mart, without controversy! Remember the fight in Davenport, the nearly packed city council chambers and the reports of doom and gloom. Remember the anti Wal Mart folks that promised the old Wal Mart building would be vacant for years. It times like this, that illustrate the difficulty of doing business in Davenport.

And of course, PEDCOR is going to northeast Davenport. What I find ironic is the three largest multi-family developments for low income will be located east of Jersey Ridge Road. There is one on Jersey (north of 53rd), the other on 53rd across from the new Checkers and now PEDCOR. So the land that was going to be MENARDS (anti folks were against, because they wanted it in west Davenport) but they backed out and decided not to invest in Davenport will now be the home of PEDCOR (that west Davenport didn’t want). Ironic? Nope, just good fortune for developer and land owner Steve Schalk that reportedly owns the Elmore ground.

Have a good weekend,

George

UPDATE - Other blogs will deal with this, but I wanted to make a quick comment about the $500,000 payoff. This settlement is one of many this council has agreed to. And all under the cover of executive session. Shouldn't all settlements be finalized with a public vote? And is this another example of Ald. Bill's leadership. Lynn pushed for what many in city hall knew were illegal. I think Howard screwed this up as well. Tisk, tisk...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

QC Times provides some hope....

As a frequent critic of the Quad City Times and their inability to provide significant coverage, the Colonel tips his hat to the staff for a great Sunday newspaper. The ability of the paper to delve into the realities of QC Development and the make up and functions of our local chambers is fantastic. I must say, today’s paper is the best edition that has come out in some time. As important, a bold and pointed editorial about potential service collaborations in terms of public safety is a challenge to all public servants and the voters that support them.

For those that don’t subscribe, you can read the debacles of the QC Development here. A nice analysis/story about our chambers and their functions of economic development (and public monies) can be read here. And finally, a pointed editorial about potential service mergers with our fire fighters can be read here.

It’s unfortunate the QC Times waited until decisions have already been made, to highlight the structural failures of the QC Development entity. More important, exposing the inabilities of Thom Hart to be honest with the public regarding the lack of outcomes over his tenure is indeed necessary. If we can’t learn from our mistakes, we are damn sure to repeat them often. Just think what we as a community could have done, if the business sector and QC Times stepped forward earlier.

So I hope folks take measure of what a local newspaper can do. Not necessarily the local beat reporter putting a negative spin on city hall stories. But a venue that reports on the facts, and as they say, “Let you (the reader) decide”.

The QC Times needs to continue to push for public service and chamber mergers. The Scott County area is layered in government and duplicate services. With proposed changes in the property tax code for commercial properties, local governments will again be cut in funding or additional service burdens. This is Iowa, not Massachusetts! We can’t afford to be something to everyone. Nor can we afford to let “our people” be everything to “our people”.

Let’s hope the business leaders continue to be empowered by the recent changes in QC Development. And let’s hope the QC Times looks at today’s paper and realize they can indeed be relevant.

Happy Sunday,

George

Friday, December 08, 2006

Crime fighters - Magican's Play....

A weeklong conversation with some friends has lead to this weekend post. How much control does Davenport really have? I mean, we have lots of talk radio folk’s complain about crime and bloggers devote site after site to this one central issue. The typical conclusion is city hall, alderman, the police chief or Davenport One is somehow to blame. But the real question is, how much control do they really have?

Think about liquor licenses! If you have a tavern or bar that produces a great deal of problems, an elected official can try to hold up their license for approval. Sometimes hold them up for ridicule utilizing the local media. But if they decline to renew, odds have it the State of Iowa will over turn.

Our Police force spend lots of time running down the bad guys, only to have the courts minimize, plea out or drop charges. Is there an outcry from the population? Hell no, our County Attorney/Prosecutor just ran in the last election unopposed! Name me one state official that ran on a “reduce crime” theme and was swooped into office.

I guess we could have a city council that dictates nearly 70% of the budget to public safety, but I think we already have that. We could have a city council that dictates the police department step up enforcement, through any means necessary. But that produces ideas like technology, cameras and spending more money to make sure juvenile crime cases actually see the light of day in our judicial system.

In reality, cities are more or less stuck with a bandage approach. Cover the infected areas as best as possible, and hopefully the infection will simmer down or move else where. Yep, lots of cities have neat programs or neighborhood organizations that “take it back”. But in reality, they just move it elsewhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not taking anyone off the hook. But the challenges this city or any other city has in Iowa or may I say the region, far exceeds the resources of city hall, its alderman or any business entity group. More prisons, a stronger religious culture and families with two parents in the same house/apartment would go a long way.

Just call me crazy, but if the next municipal election is all about crime, candidates better be damn specific what they want to do. Tell me again, how long has Bill Davis been the County Prosecutor? And just how big is Davenport One’s police force? Ahh, I see…

Have a great weekend,

George

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Generational Well Running Dry?


With the news of Lujack’s selling to an out of town ownership group, the question continues what generational business entity will remain in Davenport. More important, does it matter?

With family names like the Figgie’s, Lujack/Pohlmann’s, Foster’s, Ruhl’s, Carver and Waterman’s all divesting wealth out of the community are these causes of concern. Other family names like Palmer, Peterson’s and Roeder have long been gone.

Is this the reality of the present day business climate? Joint ventures and minority partnership agreements replacing family ownership that valued community?

I understand folks may think these family entities have not done enough for the Quad Cities. I disagree. You can’t replace a Pete Pohlman or a guy like Mel Foster Jr. When we lose generational talent and wealth with-in a community, I think it takes a toll.

Interested in your thoughts…

George

Monday, December 04, 2006

CITY HALL SQUAWKING….

No, not the politicians at City Hall!! I saw the crows are back in front of city hall, right in front of Mayor Ed’s office. Look for Dee and Chief Bladel to go shooting some crows to hang them (if you remember the early 2001 solution).

I need a day of Tuesday down time. So feel free to act like the crows and squawk about anything.

Be good - George

Saturday, December 02, 2006

QC Development - Organization Make Over???

As a long time critic, and someone that has been calling for the ouster of Thom Hart as head of Q-C Development I almost chocked on my Cheerios this morning reading the QC Times. It’s about time!! But the retention of Hart as “Senior Vice President for Government Relations” is unacceptable. By Hart’s own admission, he has been a failure at the post for over a decade; “There are others who are better suited to that” Hart commented in the QC Times regarding his leadership in sales and marketing.

This is why this announcement doesn’t go far enough. The second step is to re-examine the Board of Directors that has allowed this flawed operation to continue over time. Not only should the private sector investors require all directors submit letters of resignation, but local governments and the Chambers that fund QC Development as well. Let’s keep the strongest members of the board, and let the “old & retired” move on.

Finally, if we really want to have a Senior Vice President of Government Relations (which is code for Arsenal work), then lets hire Mark Schwiebert.

It’s time for all of the funding sources of QC Development to be bold, and require more then an “organization make over”. Let’s not wait another 10 years to do what is necessary.

George

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Glee of Snow Days & Camera Monies


Well the excitement from QCA children on today’s snow day can only be equaled by the glee from Davenport City Hall and the new found $700,000 generated from the enforcement cameras.

Remember how happy you were as a kid, when you looked at the window and saw snow. Remember running to the TV or turning on the radio and hoping the news of no school. As a matter of fact, I believe in this global warming stuff. And kids today don’t have the winters we older folks enjoyed. I guarantee you, as kids, we never had “a two hour delay”. If it snowed, it snowed. Heck, Davenport didn’t even plow city streets unless it snowed at least 4 inches….

As a matter of fact, I also believe in the concept of law enforcement through technology. While I am surprised at the level of income generated, I believe it’s politically smart for these aldermen to get ahead of this and ensure all the monies goes back into police enforcement. I am aware of a petition going around town, seeking the removal of these cameras. I also understand Lynn and Ald. Shawn are trying to walk a fine line here (note the lack of any comment from the two) in terms of their position of the darn things.

But let’s not worry about all of this today. Today is a day of happiness for local children and Davenport politicians. And in the wisdom of our local Police Chief Mike Bladel, “The important thing is there are no taxpayer dollars in these proposals”.

Happy Snow Day…

George