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|Alderman Ignores Citizen During “Public with Business”|
|Commentary/Politics - Editorials|
|Tuesday, 06 February 2001 18:00|
It didn’t even take a week for the public’s worst fears to be realized regarding the recent censorship of Davenport’s “Public with Business” portion of council meetings. At last week’s Community Development meeting, chaired by Alderman Bill Sherwood, the cameras were turned off during the “Public with Business” segment as promised, whereupon Alderman Sherwood proceeded to ignore citizen Niky Bowles during her allotted five-minute presentation by taking a call on his cell phone.
This is the epitome of unacceptable behavior on the part of a public official, let alone an elected one, not to mention the manners of a goat. This behavior would not have occurred if the cameras were still rolling.
But because they were not, Alderman Sherwood thought himself unaccountable for this lack of respect for the public. This is precisely the kind of rude disregard that typifies past council behavior toward the public, but was curbed when broadcasting began. Alderman Sherwood has personified the very rationale for why censorship of the public is so detrimental to city business proceedings. We must not allow this censorship to continue. Write your aldermen, the mayor, acting city administrator Kent Kolwey, and any other government officials that might influence the retraction of this destructive measure. It has been reported that the city council believes the public outcry over this action will disappear in a month’s time. Let’s collectively show them just how wrong they are. Behavior like that of Alderman Sherwood will go a long way in justifying the continuing outrage censoring the public so richly deserves.
Register Your Protest Against High Energy Costs
The Reader has a new component to its website — an interactive petition where citizens can register their protest against the recent high-energy bills that are being perpetrated upon us by MidAmerican Energy. Once this petition is completed, we will present it to MidAmerican Energy, as well as each one of our legislators, both at the state and national levels. The purpose is to insist on relief and assurances that these high costs will not be borne by consumers alone. The Reader website will provide articles on the subject, research on the causes and effects, and an analysis of rising costs as they relate to consumers—residents and business owners alike. In other words, we will examine real costs to families, future cost projections possible solutions, including alternative energy sources, with which to combat the crisis we are in as a community, a state, and a nation. We are being held hostage by these energy prices because we have no choice in our energy provider, therefore no means to mitigate the costs.
The State has risen nobly to the aid of Iowans with their recent repeal of the utility sales tax, providing relief in the short term for March and April energy bills (approximately 5 percent), but its more significant contribution won’t be realized for another five years. Senators Maggie Tinsman (R) and Pat Delurhey (D) both supported this important legislation, which Governor Vilsack signed into law this week. However the relief will mean cuts in other programs provided for by the state that the utility tax funded, so Iowans need to keep a vigilant eye on how those loss of dollars will be absorbed. Also, Senator Tinsman helped to draft a bill that will give substantial relief to Iowa’s low-income families, especially our elderly who are on fixed incomes. The bill provides for $15 million in additional heating assistance for those who qualify, bringing the heating assistance total to $45 million, which will help a projected 75,000 Iowa families this year, an increase per family of as much as $600 over last year’s $204 in aid. Senator Delurhey currently chairs the Senate Energy Task Force, whose mission it is to seek long-term strategies for energy use. He also floor-managed the 1990 Energy Efficiency Bill for Alternatives. Both Senators advocate the exploration of alternative energy sources, especially wind, for which Iowa is third in the nation.
Planning & Zoning Considering over 300 acres of Development North of 53rd Street
If the Planning & Zoning Commission goes forward with petitions that represent nearly 300 acres of residential and commercial development, the phrase “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet” will have all new meaning for traffic problems on 53rd Street. Most of the development being considered will have to empty onto 53rd one way or the other. The petitions are being considered individually, but need to be looked at in unison, as well. And certainly the city should rely on its own traffic studies rather than those of the developers. The problem is we are currently without a traffic engineer. Once again, the questions that need to be considered deal with needs assessments, adequate public facilities, adequate buffers between different zonings, and the lack of a comprehensive land use plan in place to direct most of this development, or so it appears because many of the petitions require vacating the current, albeit outdated, land use plan.
Resolutions With High Price Tag Fast Tracked Again
It never fails. Davenport’s city council is being asked to consider four resolutions, then render a final vote at Wednesday night’s regular Council meeting (February 7) after only two days review because it was initially introduced at the same week’s Committee of the Whole meeting (February 5), bypassing the Community and Economic Development Committee altogther. Fact sheets on two of the four resolutions, amounting to approximately $350,000 in city funding for projects related to the Vision Iowa application going to the state next week, were received by the aldermen just minutes before the Committee of the Whole began. Again, the criticism is about the process here, not necessarily the projects.
How can aldermen give a fair and reasonable assessment of these resolutions, let alone the projects, when the information comes to them at the eleventh hour like this? (According to Clayton Lloyd, two of the four resolutions were drafts of development memorandums and subject to revisions prior to Wednesday night’s vote.) The council should table this for adequate review, but they may not have time due to the deadline of the VIP application itself. So who should be held accountable for this lack of procedure? Aldermen McGivern and Sherwood did their usual saccharin speechifying, but didn’t ask one single, solitary question about the news-to-us-all development agreements with Kaizen Company of America, L.C., such as ‘who is that?’ and ‘what are the specific costs, conditions, and timetables relative to such agreements?’—in other words the fundamental basics that might have better informed the public.
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