I cannot resist weighing in on the City of Davenport's new "Rules of Conduct" as they apply to certain aldermen and the mayor. Included in the rules is the mandate to "Be honest and truthful. Tell the truth." For several aldermen and the mayor, this is a tall order. In a recent report by the daily on the subject, Alderman-at-Large Jamie Howard detailed her interpretation of this particular rule, opining that it was merely a guideline that isn't necessarily meant to be enforced, because truth was sometimes a subjective matter depending on your level of understanding of an issue. She is quoted saying, "My truth may not be someone else's."

In other words, truth is an option because we may not have a clue about what is really going on; we don't have to tell the truth because we may not know what the truth is. In Alderman Howard's case, this is glaringly obvious. She rarely demonstrates even a modicum of understanding of an issue, especially if it involves financial data. And she is not alone. The same holds true for Alderman Barnhill more often than not.

But what is really disturbing is Howard's thought process, which allows her own ignorance of issues to let her off the hook for the truth. Does Howard deliberately avoid getting acquainted with the details of issues in order to remain ignorant of the facts so she cannot be held accountable to the truth when the time comes? Could this be how she justifies consistently voting against her constituency in favor of DavenportOne's agenda? Is she so resigned to the fact that she will vote the way Aldermen Brooke, Frink, Dumas, and Barnhill vote that the less she knows the better?

Regardless of what her rationale is, her conduct is unacceptable as an elected official. It is one thing to differ in opinion about an issue when you are fully informed, because at least your vote is defensible. It is another when you are ill-informed and your vote has no defense. This holds true for all five of the above-mentioned aldermen, and the mayor, whose lack of honesty and abdication of his role as liaison between the public and City Hall has rendered him one of the worst mayors ever. In just three short months, he has managed to completely undermine decades of public service and a political career that was marked with distinction. The question is: Why?

How well do these aldermen and the mayor know the issues? As recently as three weeks ago, Winborn thought the city owned the Freight House. Ask any of them about details, and you will learn how uninformed they often are, lacking even the basics. Winborn's justification is to trust the staff. Does this absolve him, the administrator, or the aldermen from having an in-depth understanding of the important issues that require their vote? Absolutely not.

Mayor Winborn's consistent vetoing in favor of the above-mentioned five aldermen speaks to the same willingness to serve special interests over the interests of taxpayers and residents of Davenport who elected him in hopes that he would deliver on his campaign promises of fairness, trust, and truth. As mayor, his service to date could not be further from those ideals. Nor does fairness appear to be any part of his conduct. Davenport citizens haven't been this disappointed in an elected official since ex-Alderman Bill Sherwood.

No amount of denial will change the truth that business savvy is necessary in running a municipality. Everything is some sort of business transaction. Yet there is no sense of this requirement in City Administrator Craig Malin, Mayor Winborn, many of the aldermen (blessedly, not all), or most of the department heads. Malin would solve part of the shortfall created by Swing owner Kevin Krause's delinquency (he owes the city nearly $450,000 in back payments) by increasing ticket prices. Brooke claims it is a rarity for attorneys to include penalty clauses in contracts. He fears doing so will discourage people from doing business with the city. (Who does he mean? Certainly not taxpayers, because there are penalties in things as simple as sewer bills.)

I repeat my challenge to the aldermen to ask Cedar Rapids developer Darryl High if he would take the city's position in the Freight House deal. Local engineer Bill Ashton has formally advised the city that the hydraulic study submitted by the Isle of Capri is dangerously flawed; therefore no flood plain construction permit should be issued based upon the current configuration. This warning came from a highly esteemed engineer, whose knowledge and understanding span 40 years of working around the world and specifically with local issues involving the Mississippi River, and whose expertise has been sought on numerous occasions by the city for other projects, out of his concern for the public. Where is this due diligence on the part of our city employees? Where is the business sense that naturally dictates that building in a flood plain is not a fiscally sound plan?

The list goes on and on and on. If these aldermen continue on this track, the citizens of Davenport will have to act. There are remedies, but it requires organization. Trust me when I tell you that DavenportOne is highly organized in its effort to control City Hall. To think it will not take the same focused effort to derail such agendas is naive and foolhardy.

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