Your Vote Counts and Then Some Print
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 10:03

For what seems like eons, politics in Davenport have been stigmatized by uncommon divisiveness. The current leadership would have citizens believe it is mostly the fault of Third Ward Alderman Keith Meyer. It blames Meyer for his relentless pursuit of need-to-know information that it would rather not disclose.

In recent times, the mainstream media have been hyper-focused on Davenport's newest corporate subsidy via TIF to Russell Construction and eServ, accusing Meyer of "leaking" confidential information to the public pertaining to the deal. Nothing, I repeat nothing could be further from the truth.

Meyer leaked no such information, nor was there any such information to leak, as confirmed by the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Mayor Ed Winborn, with plenty of help from the mainstream press, is doing his best to discredit Meyer at the expense of the truth.

Simply put, Davenport's divisiveness exists because of a perpetual conflict between those aldermen who represent taxpayers and those who represent special interests. There is no "getting along" with each other when agendas are so clearly split. Meyer has been steadfastly for the taxpayers, much to the aggravation of the special interests and DavenportOne, which heads the list.

So don't kid yourself: This election is absolutely no different. For voters, it boils down to what representation they want - advocacy of taxpayers or advocacy of special interests. Put in this light, it is fairly simple to choose a candidate, especially once the dots are connected.

The newly established PAC Citizens for a Better Davenport is basically a contribution mechanism for DavenportOne's leadership, both past and present, and the larger developers in the community, with the largest contributors at $1,000 plus. As of this PAC's last disclosure statement - October 4 - only five candidates had received funds at $450 each, including Gene Meeker (running for an at-large seat); Bill Boom (running in the Third Ward against Meyer); Ian Frink (incumbent running for an at-large seat); Tom Carnahan (running in the Second Ward against Hamerlinck); and Lisa Lewis (running in Fourth Ward against Ambrose). Meeker retired last year from DavenportOne, after many years of service.

Even though only $2,250 had been contributed to these individual campaigns, the Citizens for a Better Davenport PAC declared $12,650 in total raised funds at that same time. Nine thousand dollars has been earmarked for a political consultant, alone. These are significantly higher funds than most of the campaigns have raised by themselves.

My guess is that a barrage of political "messages" will blanket the airwaves and consume ink mere days before the election, so voter beware. For incumbents, consider each voting record as proof of positioning (taxpayer versus special interests) because they are crystal clear, speaking volumes for their priorities and loyalties. As for evaluating challengers, especially since voters can rarely rely on campaign promises, consider civic and business-related backgrounds, as well as campaign contributors (at the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board's Web site) for clues as to each allegiance.

For example, Bill Gluba, who is running for mayor against Phil Yerington, is an ex-Iowa state legislator, as well as a local realtor, who owns numerous parcels, and who is reported to have an outstanding balance still owed, carried over from his last legislative election. One of Gluba's largest campaign contributors as of his last disclosure statement is local developer Steve Schalk.

Meanwhile, Yerington, as past mayor of Davenport for two terms, has a well-documented, albeit controversial, record supporting taxpayers as the "people's mayor." One of his largest contributors is rental-property czar Dan Lubell, but at least Yerington has recognized the ill-fated perception this alliance brings by publicly declaring that he is not for sale.

Both candidates have public records and enough relative information disclosed to fairly determine which side of the fence they fall on, so voters may cast their ballots accordingly.

Voters have four separate decisions to make in this November 6 election: who should be mayor, their ward alderman, and two at-large aldermen for Davenport's city council. While the divisiveness described above is not new news, it is a harsh reminder that elections are the only meaningful opportunity to create real change. Don't believe for a minute that your vote does not count. It counts and then some.

What hasn't changed are the conflicts, the adversarial positions within city hall as they relate to civic/fiscal policy, and the toxic frustration because nothing does change. Frankly, it never will if we, the people, don't start participating at the fundamental level of voting. We don't have a prayer of "getting along" unless we elect leadership that represents the interests of taxpayers over those of special interests across the board. The former is more often sensitive to the long term, while the later views mostly the short term, which is by nature counterproductive to a healthy community because the decisions made today have their greater impact tomorrow.

The act of voting can restore a sense of civic belonging, instantly compel accountability, and start the political healing process that so desperately needs to occur in today's politics. Please vote on Tuesday, November 6. In this week's article "Davenport Municipal Election Survey," there is a survey of candidates for your consideration. Thank you in advance for your participation!