Hearty congratulations to the 10,793 voters who managed to vote in last week's primary election. Those 10,793 voters represent approximately 17% of Davenport's 64,361 registered voters. This means that less than 20% of Davenport's population decided for us all which candidates will actually run for city government.

We would like to extend our congratulations to all those who completed the candidates' position surveys (pages 6-11). We believe it is vitally important to communicate views and positions on the critical issues facing Davenport, especially with this many candidates.

After September 11's horror, it has never been more important for the American people to engage in our country's foreign policy. It is time to get educated and informed about exactly how we conduct our foreign affairs. As a governed people, we know precious little about it. We are content to leave it to our elected officials because we have more immediate concerns, like paying the mortgage and keeping our kids on the right path. But the luxury of ignorance in the matters of foreign policy is over. It is our kids who will be the ones to fight this new war.



America's foreign policy has always been reactive relative to its involvement in war. We are not the invaders; instead we respond militarily to invasions perpetrated on other countries by imperialists. This policy is evident throughout America's brief history. With the exception of the Indian wars, the Revolutionary War with Britain, and World War II when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, we have never engaged militarily against foreigners inside America's borders. We have always crossed the ocean to engage armies on foreign soil. The over-simplified rationale has been that we are protecting against some form of political tyranny, especially where America has had significant economic interests at stake. But always the crisis involves some entity forcing itself into the military arena, and America stepping in to fend them off.



In this new war, the enemy is not a specific governmental entity or country, but a collection of terrorist cells, whether in the form of not-for-profits, financial institutions, or political factions, such as the Taliban, which has no sanctioned legitimacy within the framework of diplomacy. There is no single country, no individual political organization to hold accountable. The Al-Qaida is a collective group of anarchists operating under the umbrella of religious theocracy rather than political organization. Al Quaida invokes Jihad, which is holy war according to Muslim scripture, as the justification for its own brand of imperialism. They invade many countries at once, only in small numbers. They are a diverse network of individuals and facilities that operate independently of one another most of the time. The common goal that threads them together in this loose network is to reclaim Muslim holy sites and free Muslim lands from US occupation. If it means the annihilation of innocents, then this is acceptable if it achieves these stated goals. Because of the sporatic nature of their organizational structure, terrorism is their primary weapon. Once we understand this, and that for them life and death have no intrinsic value as it relates purely to the human condition, then we can begin to deal with the magnitude of what we are up against. By we, I mean all civilized people who value life and freedom.



The Afghan people have been co-opted into this nightmare. There is no governmental entity other than the Taliban, which inserted itself after the defeat of the Soviet Union. It is hypocritical of bin Laden to claim this country his sanctuary when he is not native-born, but is an invader himself of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, with all his wealth and resources, what has he done to improve the quality of life for the Afghan people, who are starving by the thousands? Bin Laden is no better than the Soviet regime in this regard. Sadly, it was American resources that allowed bin Laden to position himself as the patron of terrorism. As his ally against the Soviets during the invasion of Afghanistan, we provided training and weapons. The Taliban and bin Laden had access to the most sophisticated strategies and arms against the Soviets. When Russia was defeated, bin Laden turned his aggression on the United States. We became the next infidel to be eradicated from Muslim occupation.



There is so much more to the story, however, than this narrow overview. It just barely demonstrates the complexity of international relations, the global economic structure and our interdependence. British author Martin Amis put things is perspective in a recent article published in the Guardian (September 18, 2001):



"It will also be horribly difficult and painful for Americans to absorb the fact that they are hated, and hated intelligibly. How many of them know, for example, that their government has destroyed at least 5% of the Iraqi population? How many of them then transfer that figure to America (and come up with 14m)? Various national characteristics - self-reliance, a fiercer patriotism than any in Western Europe, an assiduous geographical incuriosity - have created a deficit of empathy for the sufferings of people far away. Most crucially, and again most painfully, being right and being good support the American self to an almost tautologous degree: Americans are good and right by virtue of being American. Saul Bellow's word for this habit is "angelisation." On the US-led side, then, we need not only a revolution in consciousness but an adaptation of national character: the work, perhaps, of a generation."



Americans need to get out of their cultural cocoons and learn about the dynamics that are fast propelling us into another world war. We must be able to direct our elected officials by being informed. We must execute our philosophies and our wishes through our vote. We must demand that those who want to participate in the political arena are qualified and educated about these serious issues if they are to lead us. It has never been more important to become civically involved, to pay attention and learn. But more important than any other single thing, we must engage in the most American liberty of all–voting!



Vote YES for River Renaissance



We have a local election coming this fall: the primary election for city government is October 9, and the general election is November 6. We also have an extremely important special election coming October 23, where the county voters have the opportunity to vote YES for River Renaissance. Now more than ever we need the economic stimulus that a $113 million project would provide for our community. We must lock that money in or it will surely go elsewhere as different needs arise. If we vote no on River Renaissance, then we jeopardize all the Vision Iowa money that has been earmarked for Scott County. Some other county in Iowa will get it. Can we possibly be foolish enough to lose that money? By voting in favor or River renassaince, we say YES to all the jobs that will be created with this project, as well as the additional cultural amenities that will dramatically improve our ability to attract companies with high-paying jobs to Scott County. Of course we will have to pay close attention to make sure that we get what we are paying for, but we have the State of Iowa to help with this oversight and accountability. The petitioners who organized and secured the right to vote on this issue have already won. Their efforts paved the way so that voters now get the opportunity to have a voice. So let our collective voice be unified in saying YES to River Renaissance to better ensure a vibrant and economically healthy future for Scott County.



Mayoral Candidate Forums to Attend



As stated above, there is no greater privilege, no more sacred right, and no more American duty than to vote. Davenport has a primary election on October 9, when voters must choose between seven mayoral candidates: Bob Yapp, Charlie Brooke, Pamela Davis, Luana Stoltenberg, John Waddell, Bill Sherwood, and Denise Hollenback. Davenport faces some of the most important issues of the new millennium and needs qualified, honorable people to serve. Because the selection is so large, it is important to hear the candidates. The forums listed below will give voters an opportunity to weigh in with the candidates and hear their positions on the issues, as well as to get an idea about their demeanor, public persone, and how well they understand the issues. It is vitally important for the public to attend these forums to demonstrate just how seriously we take the business of electing candidates. (At the QC Rental Association forum, only four candidates showed up: Bob Yapp, Pamela Davis, Luana Stoltenberg, and Denise Hollenback. Send the message to the no-shows that you expect them there for an examination of their suitability to serve.) At a time when America needs solidarity, they also need to reaffirm the duties and obligations incumbent upon all citizens that continue to make us free. Nothing contributes more to our democracy than voting. And nothing gives more meaning to voting than being informed about the issues, then choosing candidates who will best represent the voters.



Central High School (student-organized), Thursday, September 27 at 9am, CHS Auditorium, 1120 Main Street, Davenport, 323-9900.



United Neighbors, Sunday, September 30 at 7pm, 808 N. Harrison Street, Davenport, 322-7363.



DavenportOne, Tuesday, October 2 at 7:30am, Clarion Hotel, 227 LeClaire Street, Davenport, 322-1706.



CASI, Tuesday, October 2 at 10:30am, 1035 W. Kimberly, Davenport, 386-7477.



WOC and River Cities' Reader, October 4 at 7pm, Central High School Auditorium, 1120 Main Street, Davenport, 344-7000.

After nearly 10 years of observing Davenport's city councils in action, one would think nothing would come as a shock. It's as if a line keeps being drawn in the sand that councilmen keep stepping over. Such is the case with 6th Ward Alderman Bob McGivern.

Last Saturday, the Davenport Democratic Party PAC (formed when nonpartisan elections came into being in 1998) endorsed its candidates for Davenport's city council. The process, which should be equitable to all, was nothing more than a stacked deck of family and friends of incumbents who had the voting power to endorse their own.

In the larger scheme of things, citizens organizing to try an defeat a $5 million bond issuance that will increase property taxes on the average of between $3 and $5 per year per home seems a bit premature. The $5 million represents the county's contribution to a revolutionizing revitalization project in downtown Davenport that includes amenities and business components designed to bring high-paying jobs, along with an increased tax base that will help fix streets and sewers.



But more importantly, where were these same citizens when the council agreed to tax increment financing (TIF) for Sentry Insurance, which cost taxpayers more because it directly impacts funds available for street and sewer repairs. Not a word from many of these citizens then, and most certainly silence from mayoral candidate John Waddell, who also lobbied hard for the Super Wal-Mart center, and a different kind of tax provision known as a SSMID that was a complete dereliction of stewardship by our city leaders.



Waddell's political manipulation of this issue is galling, especially considering that Waddell claims to be a friend of development. Judging from Mr. Waddell's recent support of development issues in Davenport, this support appears to pertain only to big-box development in the form of sprawl. Never mind that the county taxpayers' contribution of $5 million to this $113.5 million downtown development is only 4% of the entire project. It is the largest leveraged capital improvement campaign to grace this city in decades, and it couldn't come at a more necessary time. Davenport is well behind the development curve when compared with the rest of the Quad Cities, and it was time to step up–and we did so in an exemplary way.



With that said, I believe that citizens have a right to vote on matters of taxation. And I honestly admire the grassroots efforts that citizens are engaging in to have a voice. They are more concerned with the process and the lack of public debate about the project than with the actual dollar amount of the bonds. Their response in the form of a petition drive is a reasonable one for most circumstances because if a project has merit, the public grasps it with little trouble. But the risks of a failed referendum and the potential loss to our community far outweighs the benefits in this case because if a referendum fails, it will reflect the wishes of a minority, not a majority of voters.



Unfortunately, our city leaders have done a dismal job in building community consensus about the River Renaissance project by not educating the public, neglecting to launch a significant awareness campaign early on, and excluding the public from any open debate. They hoard most of the information, don't allow any but their inner circle to participate, and then expect blind cooperation from the public. This petition for a referendum is a glaring example of the exclusionary nature of the folks behind the project.



But the truth is that all Quad Cities residents should be embracing this project, celebrating it as a phenomenal achievement for our community. The possibilities are tremendous. And a genuine opportunity exists for the collective talent so prevalent throughout the Quad Cities to contribute to the process to make this the flagship development of Iowa, with community buy-in based on informed support.



Unfortunately, we currently have a plethora of misinformation abounding, resulting in a petition that has real legs, but is more political then factual. It is a sad testimony to the divisiveness that clouds so much of the good that is occurring. Our city leaders need to pull their heads out. Their disregard for the taxpayers' stake in all this may end up hanging them this time. But the punishment would be far worse than the crime in this instance.



It needs to be emphasized that the Vision Iowa Program (VIP) insisted that Scott County get involved with a portion of the funding. They suggested $10 million, but the county was only willing to do half. Without Scott County's involvement, the $20 million from the state is in serious jeopardy. All of the other cities that submitted similar applications for VIP funding had the financial support of their respective counties to a much larger degree than Scott County. So in that respect, Scott County is being as conservative as possible, but contributing enough to satisfy the VIP requirement.



But Scott County taxpayers need to fully understand that if this petition drive is successful, and the referendum is placed on the ballot, and if the referendum fails to pass because the public votes the $5 million bond down in November, we would lose the $20 million VIP grant, scrapping much of what is planned for the redevelopment and revitalization of downtown. This would position us as the economic fools of the Midwest.



The $5 million would not otherwise pay for streets and sewers in Davenport. That is the responsibility of city funds, not county funds. So to argue that the money can be better spent on streets and sewers is not a legitimate one. What is legitimate is that by rebuilding our downtown and attracting more private investment, we will increase the property tax base, which does contribute directly to the city funds that pay for street and sewer repair.



Maybe it would make citizens more comfortable if they knew that even the grantor of the VIP funds is aware of the questionable nature of some of the River Renaissance development, such as an ag-tech venture capital center and its relationship to real estate developers Kaizen Corporation, whose principles, also chair DavenportOne's economic and community development division, and who just happen to be in line for that portion of the funding ($6 million) through the DavenportOne Foundation.



To ensure that money is properly spent, Vision Iowa staff is the process of crafting oversight rules governing measurables, accountability, and consequences should funding be mishandled in anyway (see feature story on page 6). There will be intense state-level scrutiny of all expenditures.



Scott County residents need to weigh the risks of a referendum failing against the benefits of allowing the $5 million bond issuance to occur without it. If getting city leaders' attention is the goal of the organizers of this petition, then be assured the mission has been accomplished. Before turning in the required petition, take this opportunity to insist on accountability; invite city leaders to speak to your concerns via city channel 13. Demand that the City Council and the Scott County Board of Supervisors provide a presentation on the overall project, including its individual components and funding structure that explains the various private and public contributions. Request a cost/benefit analysis that also explains the cost of not doing the project. Before we risk the entire project and lose it forever, let's get informed by educating ourselves so that we aren't doing irreparable damage to our future.

Next week, the Davenport City Council will vote on terms to renew the QC River Bandits' lease for John O'Donnell Stadium for their 2002 season. The current lease amount was based upon a false belief that by giving the team owner Kevin Krause a reduced rental rate, we would keep the River Bandits in Davenport.

This year's November elections are proving to be quite interesting indeed. Local politics is often a microcosm of how it works on the state and national level, so it is important to scrutinize the process.

Last week, in an unprecedented political maneuver in which Democrats behaved like schoolyard children, the Democratic Central Committee PAC ousted one of its own (Bob Yapp, who is now running for mayor as an Independent) for openly criticizing the PAC.

Last week's cover story and editorial in the River Cities' Reader regarding DavenportOne elicited a phone call from a Davenport city staff member who was concerned that commenting on DavenportOne's first year in operation without disclosing certain facts relative to the Reader appears to be a conflict of interest for this paper.

As readers can see, our cover story this week features the first anniversary of DavenportOne. While congratulations are definitely in order, it was somewhat shocking for me to note the enormous weight DavenportOne gave to the City of Davenport's deal with Sentry Insurance as somehow being a feather in its own cap.

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