It's no wonder that the three businesses located on Davenport's riverfront levee - Builders, River/Gulf Grain, and W.G. Block - are loath to give up the location. It is prime real estate that two of the three (Builders and River/Gulf Grain) lease for a song, complete with a spectacular view and centralized location. And if the city continues to allow occupation of such valuable real estate by industrial users, then who can blame them?

There is no question, however, as Davenport's downtown revitalizes and begins to thrive again, that the industrial use of the levee at the particular location of River Drive and Third and Fourth streets is a poor one. Forgetting that it is an eyesore at Davenport's gateway (no amount of landscaping can disguise the negative impact of the use), the trucks entering and exiting there disrupt the flow of traffic and create safety hazards, and the dust and dirt it generates is offensive and unhealthy to say the least.

The culprit in this particular matter is past Mayor Pat Gibbs. The council in 1987 formally adopted a plan for the levee that did not include industrial use, but had the vision for more aesthetic and relevant development that would raise the bar for the entire Quad Cities. But in 1997, Mayor Gibbs, in what appears to be a bitter and final farewell gesture to Davenport voters because he lost the mayoral election to Phil Yerington, renewed the leases for at least 15 years as one of his final actions. I liken it to giving Davenport residents the distinct third-finger bird on his way out.

No TIF for Home Depot Development

I would be asking the Davenport City Council and Community & Economic Development staff why Home Depot is trying to locate in Bettendorf, when it was supposed to be part of THF's $60 million development that was so vigorously supported when Wal-Mart relocated to 53rd Street and Elmore Avenue. Residents were led to believe that Home Depot was part of the largest commercial development in Davenport's history. Perhaps Alderman McGivern can give us some insight into this sudden change of plans. Whatever his explanation might be, don't let him tell you that it is because Bettendorf is providing a $2 million in TIF incentive, because that would not begin to cover the difference in development costs that developers will incur if they develop at Duck Creek Mall instead of flat, graded, ready-to-build land next to Wal-Mart. And all the marketing and advertising efforts could not drive traffic to Duck Creek Mall like a Super Wal-Mart located right next door. Could this possibly be a means to force Davenport to offer a competitive TIF to try to keep Home Depot in Davenport? Should this occur, it will be because our council is thoroughly devious and corrupt, because it means that Davenport taxpayers will end up paying for the road improvements at Wal-Mart's intersection instead of property owners' SSMID taxes!

But if Home Depot does locate at Duck Creek Mall in Bettendorf, then what about the $60 million development that THF presented and Davenport's city council promised taxpayers? And who is holding any of these parties accountable?

Enron Continues to Cost Americans Millions

What isn't being talked about in the mainstream media is the potential bailout that American taxpayers are facing with the collapse of Enron. According to many different sources, such as the book Pipe Dream by Robert Bryce, Senator Tom Harkin's wife was part of a committee that helped obtain a governmental loan guarantee for Enron in the amount of $700 million to build an energy plant in India. This means that if Enron goes under, taxpayers are automatically on-the-line to pay the $700 million. It is twice the amount of the Savings & Loan bailout two decades ago. This is a serious liability, especially in the face of the huge expenditures facing our nation with the Iraq conflict.

With this level of corruption occurring both in the private and public sectors, there is no possible way to restore a nickel worth of confidence in the marketplace. Nothing makes me sorer than to think that all the crimes committed by petty thieves sitting in prison, on taxpayers' dime no less, don't represent a scintilla compared to those perpetrated by corporate America and our elected officials. Once again, however, who is holding these perpetrators accountable?

Are Decreasing Interest Rates Helping or Destroying the Economy?

A theory worth considering follows what has happened with Japan's economy, which is in complete disarray. As Japanese corporations failed and could not meet their bank loans, the Japanese government began lowering the prime interest rate. This would instantly cause the companies to go from red to black, and they could make their bank payments. This became a vicious cycle. The government and banks kept this practice up because they didn't want to foreclose on the largest corporations in Japan. But this policy did nothing to address the systemic problems that were causing the corporate failures in the first place. Eventually, the prime went to zero. There was nowhere to go from there, especially because now the banks were in jeopardy as well.

Now consider that the prime is consistently going down in America as a means to stimulate the economy. Could it be that our largest companies are unable to meet their loan obligations, and we are following the same detrimental policy that the Japanese did? Couple this theory with rampant accounting shenanigans being exposed almost weekly, and Americans have reason to truly be concerned, perhaps on a level that matches or exceeds the Great Depression. So who should be held accountable now?

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