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. The council dropped the lease rate from $57,000 to $50,000 as an incentive to Krause, who some argue had no intention of staying in Davenport?ever!

So now we have an opportunity to recoup some of our money, and craft a more reasonable business deal for the taxpayers of Davenport, many of whom feel betrayed by the owners of the River Bandits. Alderman George Nickolas is asking to reestablish the lease rate at $60,000 (an additional $3,000 above the original amount of $57,000); provide that owners pay all utilities at John O'Donnell; include more special events dates that won't interfere with baseball provided the city cleans the field after each special event; and allow the city 50% of the net concession receipts during special events only.

Personally, I would find a way to send Krause on his don't-let-the-door-hit-you-in-the-ass way. While this is no reflection on the team, the owners of the River Bandits have created some serious ill will and it is time to bid these folks farewell. The public should support Alderman Nickolas in his efforts to secure the best financial lease arrangement possible.

Naturally, Aldermen McGivern and Moritz appear more interested in getting Krause what he wants, disregarding the potential lost revenue. Could it be that some of the owners are McGivern's associates in the real estate industry? Either Davenport voters need to stop electing wannabe politicians whose livelihoods depend on real estate altogether, or at least insist that they abstain from voting on economic development that involves their professional peers. To believe that there are not at least perceived conflicts of interests is naïve. Recall that Alderman McGivern's publicly proclaimed policy for development is "There is no stupid growth." I wish we could say the same for aldermen.

Meanwhile, Mayor Phil Yerington has stated that one of his goals before departing as mayor of Davenport is to secure baseball in Davenport, specifically at John O'Donnell Stadium. He has repeatedly asked for public input on the merits of affiliated minor league baseball versus independent league baseball. Weigh in on the matter by letting him know your thoughts. He has some very interesting ideas and possibilities to share.

Scott County Does the Right Thing Chipping In

I believe the Vision Iowa review board was prudent in asking to see a financial commitment from Scott County. Most of the other cities seeking program funding from the Vision Iowa Program have substantial dollar commitments from their respective counties. The board even looked into it so far as to ascertain that Scott County has plenty of bonding capacity to chip in with. County Administrator Glen Erickson shared that the increase of the county portion of property taxes would be negligible. For example, based on a $5 million bond issuance, the annual payment including principal and interest amortized over 15 years would be approximately $473,000. This would mean an increase of about $5 per year for an individual resident with a $100,000 home. Owners of a farm valued at $160,000 could expect an annual property tax increase of approximately $13. These increases are more than reasonable when compared to the benefit derived from the whole VIP project for downtown Davenport. It is not realistic to say that only Davenport residents will benefit. Many rural and surrounding communities will be able to access the worthy amenities that the VIP funding will create.

Interestingly, the way that bonds are issued at the county level is threefold. The first is through mandatory referendum based on the purpose of the issuance, such as a jail. The second way is through what is called "essential usage," which means the need is central to the continued operation of the county, such as Scott County's recycling center. The third way also falls under essential usage, but with a "right to petition." This means that citizens can petition for a referendum to vote on the matter if they secure signatures equal to 10% of the last general election voter turnout. In the case of the last general election, which happened to be a presidential election (Gore v. Bush), approximately 70,000 voters turned out. A petition in this case would require 7,000 signatures to force the $5 million bond issuance to a referendum.

Scott County will schedule a public hearing for August 30th during its next regular Board of Supervisors meeting (August 16th). After the public hearing, the Board of Supervisors will take action on the $5 million bond issuance.

Is the Patients' Bill of Rights Compromised Beyond Redemption?

Watching C-SPAN is fascinating much of the time. The station televises the actual proceedings of both our US House of Representatives and the Senate, including many of the House and Senate committee meetings. I happened to catch one such meeting last week that left me astonished, to say the least. It was the House Rules Committee, which convened to debate whether to "vote the rule" to send the Norwood-Fletcher Amendment to the ongoing Norwood-Dengill Patients' Bill of Rights (HR 2563) to the House floor the following day for a vote by the House of Representatives. The astonishing part was that the amendment had not been drafted yet. In other words, there was no bill available to read for accuracy, let alone to check for appropriate language to ensure that the bill is fulfilling its mission. The result was that the entire US House of Representatives voted on a bill that not one of them had read, or even seen for that matter.

Unbelievably, all the participants admitted that they had not seen the language. All further admitted that they were not even sure that the language would exactly reflect their wishes for a good patients' bill of rights. Regardless, the Republicans postured about how great the bill was for Americans, even though not one of them had read the bill for themselves. Democrats railed against them, citing the irresponsibility of the vote itself, not to mention the bill's lack of merit from their perspective.

Republicans and Democrats alike complained about not having a completed draft of the bill for purposes of discussion, yet when it came to a vote on the House floor, most Republicans urged voting in favor of the bill, while the majority of Democrats urged its defeat. Unfortunately, precisely because of the way the issue was handled, the result to the American people will be no patient's bill of rights at all. My guess is that this was exactly what the HMOs and insurance companies intended.

I blame President Bush for this particular fiasco. His record as governor of Texas is clear; he favors the HMOs, insurance companies, and managed care providers over the individual consumers of these services. Fortunately, Texas was able to enact state legislation that reflected a different agenda, one that was more suitable to patients. Bush's position is no different relative to the national medical care agenda. The current Patients' Bill of Rights is being compromised to secure Bush's support because Bush is only willing to sign it if several conditions are changed in the Bill. The authors of the Bill are desperately trying to close a deal, so they are compromising to a point where the overall merit of the Bill disappears. In other words, the deal is being done for the deal's sake, not for the sake of the patients of America.

As one of his conditions, Bush wants to include Medical Savings Accounts, claiming it will make health insurance more accessible and affordable to more people through small businesses. However, there is no science to support this claim. Most insurance providers will tell you that MSAs have not been particularly successful. The second and far more serious condition concerns preemptive rights of cause of actions. This means that HMOs will only be held accountable in courts at the federal level, where they are governed only in cases of "denial of care" or "delay of care." Nothing is included relative to malpractice or harm to a patient via HMOs. In these cases, the states are preempted by federal statute. It automatically repeals state consumer protection laws that govern medical care across the country.

The Republicans are claiming that this Norwood-Fletcher Amendment to the Norwood-Dingell Patient's Bill of Rights (HR 2563) somehow works to insure larger numbers of this country's current 43 million uninsured people. This amendment does no such thing. MSAs cannot replace major medical coverage, and any contributions over and above major medical coverage are additional dollars, so where are the savings? (It should be noted that the Golden Rule Insurance Company alone contributed more than $300,000 to the Republican Party, while not giving a nickel to the Democrats.)

Meanwhile, Democrats are arguing the issue based on these same premises, but in the reverse because they vehemently claim the amendment will do nothing to secure insurance for more Americans, taking the debate into a realm it does not belong. Unfortunately, no one knows how to debate the amendment because no one has laid eyes on its language. It is a disgraceful amount of posturing on both sides of the aisle, with little basis in truth, or meaningful direction on either party's part.

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