Kathleen McCarthy, in her "Donkey in Elephant's Clothing" opinion piece (see River Cities' Reader Issue 584, June 7-13, 2006), invited dues-paying members of local chambers of commerce to consider whether their interests as small-business owners were being served by the chambers' support for Governor Tom Vilsack's recent veto of House File (H.F.) 2351, and the governor's call for a special session of the legislature to modify this act. I have been a dues-paying member of the Davenport Chamber of Commerce and its corporate successor for nearly 25 years, and I am in total accord on these issues with both the governor and business leaders' support for the governor.
McCarthy, as a "horse race" journalist, mischaracterizes this eminent-domain regulation legislation as a "donkey versus elephant" conflict, even though she reported that H.F. 2351 had been passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. H.F. 2351 started off as a typical Republican "wedge issue" - attempting to gin up a popular solution in search of a problem, when there realistically was no problem in this area in Iowa. Iowa's historic eminent-domain procedure requires multiple steps and safeguards at the local governmental level before it is invoked. If the process is abused, the remedy for such abuse is quick political retribution at the polls, directed at the abusers.
What is at stake in calling for H.F. 2351 to be revised, as both the governor and chamber leaders have requested, is to preserve flexibility for using the public power of eminent domain to assist worthy economic-development projects that call for healthy public sector-private sector partnerships. Rather than work constructively toward that end, Republican legislative leaders have announced their intention to override the governor's veto, or failing such an override to make this non-issue into a potent "sound bite" distraction in the fall 2006 general election.
While I do not agree with every DavenportOne initiative, and certainly not its current misguided effort to modify the City of Davenport's two-year terms for its mayor and city council, I strongly support its backing of Governor Vilsack's veto of H.F. 2351.
Thomas C. Fritzsche
Independent Businesses Give Rock Island Its Character
Dear Rock Island City Council,
As a lifelong, 31-year-old Rock Island resident, I am writing a desperate plea not to approve the expansion of the enterprise zone at 18th Avenue and 38th Street to make room for a large Ace Hardware store. If you rezone this area, it will severely hurt or put out of business the family-owned and -operated Handy Hardware Store just a few blocks away, and M&M Hardware on 14th Avenue. Both of these stores have generated thousands of dollars in sales tax over the years and have forged strong relationships with many of their customers and business owners throughout the city.
One of the major reasons I have continued to live in Rock Island and not Moline are the small, family-owned businesses that give the city its character. I purchase my goods at Handy True Value, where I can get in and out in less than five minutes. I get my car repaired at Bell's, where I know the mechanics are honest. I get my hair cut at Steve's, my comics at Tim's Corner, my spaghetti at Huckleberry's, and my take-out from Poor Boys'. These people know their customers by name. They know the pulse of Rock Island, much more than some greedy developer from Davenport.
The developer wants a ton of tax breaks now because he promises sales-tax dollars years later? That should only be used to attract new development to a struggling area, not to compete with other small businesses just blocks away! How about we give tax breaks to the existing businesses so they can expand? Please, let's embrace the businesses that make us unique and not chase two birds in the bush.
Democrats Have Betrayed Their Party
The horrifying murders of two U.S. soldiers in Iraq are wrenching to read about. I can only imagine the pain that family members are feeling today.
After these murders, after the deaths of 2,500 U.S. soldiers in Bush's unnecessary and unjust war, and after the release of the internal memo from the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, Bush can no longer hold out the fiction that things are getting better over there.
The fact that more Democrats still are not demanding withdrawal is an absolute disgrace. Oh, I understand it only too well. It's craven political cowardice. But at a time like this, I would hope that more Democrats (more Republicans, too, for that matter) would stand on principle and vote to bring the troops home.
With the splendid exception of Wisconsin's Russ Feingold, the only senator who had the cajones to vote against both Bush's unconstitutional "PATRIOT" Act back in 2001 and Bush's unholy invasion of Iraq in 2003, have all of you been bought and paid for by campaign donations?
I've been a proud, registered Democrat since 1971, but I'm now forced to admit that, quite simply, I've been betrayed and humiliated by my party's gutless actions and/or its inaction- again and again and again - ever since Bush's s/election in November of 2000.
The recent sorry voting record in the Senate on the Feingold-Kerry Resolution was the last straw.
Who will be the last wo/man to die for Bush's lies?
Shame on the cowardly lot of you.
Laurie Johnson Manis