During the past year, literally hundreds of Iowans have told me they want to support the cultural environment in Iowa. More than 200 of you did just that when we marched to the Capitol on February 22 in support of Cultural Advocacy day.

Last Monday night, April 23, Quad Cities Interfaith hosted a remarkable documentary film, produced by Micha Peled, on the impact of Wal-Mart stores in communities. Only three Davenport aldermen bothered to show up: Aldermen Hean, Sherwood, and Englemann.

The businesses on River Drive and 2nd Street need your help!!! The flood is coming and there is a lot of work to do to save these properties and businesses from the ravages of flooding. Businesses such as MidAmerican Glass (call Michelle Magyar?they are located at River Drive and Sturtevant); the Peterson Paper Building (call Internet Revealed or the Reader); Trissell, Graham & Toole; the QC Steamwheelers; Peterson Hagge Furniture; the old Silvia's building; the Rummage Closet; and the Redstone are but a few examples of those properties in trouble, which need all the help we can get sandbagging and building water barriers. We would be grateful for any amount of time you can give. We have a monumental job in trying to prevent and mitigate the damage the flooding does to these riverfront properties. From our hearts, thank you in advance for your efforts on all our behalves.


Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement Districts for New Development Not Necessary


This week, the Davenport City Council will vote on the "First Consideration" to approve the creation of two Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement Districts (SSMIDs)?one south of 53rd Street and Elmore Avenue, and one just north of the same intersection. These SSMIDs will allow a single developer, THF Realty, to use a public financing mechanism to pay for infrastructure improvements it is required to construct as part of the privilege of developing property in Davenport.


However, nowhere in the state of Iowa, and perhaps the entire nation, has a SSMID been created for the sole benefit of single for-profit property owner to pay for infrastructure obligations that strictly benefit new development. SSMIDs were designed to help eliminate blight and provide a means to improve established, albeit deteriorating, neighborhoods. Once again, the Davenport City Council has decided to subvert the intent of a law that should be used to help poorer neighborhoods redevelop. Instead, they are twisting the law's purpose to serve the unobstructed greed of the few they serve.


Even more objectionable is that the Davenport City Council is proceeding with these SSMID considerations (the law requires approval of three considerations before passing) outside the law. In order to approve a SSMID, the proper zoning must be in place first. This is not the case with THF's property. The law states that SSMIDs can only be created for properties zoned commercial. Much of THF Realty's property is still zoned agricultural and only a portion has a type of commercial zoning in the form of a Planned Development District (PDD). (It is interesting to note that the Comprehensive Land Use Plan [CLUP] calls for the PDD to be limited to office use, not retail. In order to put in the Super Wal-Mart, the council must waive the restriction and allow for rezoning of part of THF's property to commercial. It is hopelessly hypocritical on the council's part to allow this variance, especially when they used complying with the CLUP as the very reasoning to deny developer Niky Bowles her rezoning request.)


Currently, the council is in the process of approving THF's two rezoning petitions. Aldermen went so far as to simultaneously hold both public hearings on the two SSMIDs before they have even finished fast-tracking the necessary rezonings. This conduct is deliberately circumventing due process and stretching the limits of the law. Now the public hearings will have to be rescheduled once they have the proper zonings in spite of their obtuse behavior.


At the same time, they are moving forward with other rezoning petitions, including Jersey Farm Partners, that will constitute aggregate development of nearly 300 acres of land north of 53rd Street, creating traffic that will all funnel onto 53rd Street within the next few years. There isn't a visionary on this council, with the possible exception of Alderman Hean, who bothers to contemplate the enormous burden and potential danger that they are deliberately perpetrating on the citizens of Davenport. And who is going to stop them? How can we demand that these individuals engage their questionable intelligence to oversee these issues competently? Why are these potential dangers so hard to perceive for this council? Why don't they care about the unanswered questions? Why aren't they taking their stewardship seriously enough to thoroughly examine the development projects before them? What are they afraid of? And how are these various developers able to so completely mesmerize (or is the operative word intimidate) these individuals?



Meanwhile, the highest priority campaign issue that most of these councilmen promised taxpayers was more open government and the protection against the abuse of our tax dollars through manipulation of such things as TIF, which they utterly betrayed when they granted TIF to Sentry Insurance. Now here we go again with the creation of two SSMIDs for the benefit of one large developer, yet another betrayal of the public trust and the intent of a law that was supposed to help eliminate blight and give neighborhoods a helping hand. Beyond that, this council went so far as to actually impose a policy of censorship against the public by not broadcasting the "Public with Business" segments of all council meetings?an unprecedented action by any Davenport council. And isn't it ironic that the sole reason for censoring "Public with Business" was to silence one particular citizen, Niky Bowles. To that end, the council's censorship policy has been a dismal failure. In fact, Ms. Bowles has even more opportunity to expose their endless incompetencies. No matter how much the council discriminates against this citizen, they cannot refute the accuracy of the majority of her information. There is comfort in knowing that they cannot censor truth, let alone their own bias and relative bullying tactics.

We have a real crisis in Davenport relative to traffic on 53rd Street. Not only is it becoming increasingly unsafe to traverse that sector of town, but the Davenport City Council has every intention of making matters worse.

Mostly, in this space, we go for laughs. This is a legitimate objective, because everyone needs that cleansing breath of humor after a stop or two on the bus of life, especially when we're the only person behind the yellow line who seems to realize that the driver is a chimpanzee.

All Alderman Brown needs is an ottoman and a pillow during council meetings as he reclines back in his seat, hands behind his head, and appears to be sound asleep. He rarely comments on any of the issues. Yet he is one of four aldermen who have perpetrated destruction upon an individual life at city hall.

Societies ? you, me, our friends and neighbors, or any folks we find ourselves stuck in traffic or a tax bracket with ? thrive on shared experience.

Having something in common is what defines a society, and shared experiences create them ? even small and temporary ones. Who hasn't whooped it up at a baseball game with people we just happened to be sitting next to?



The fruits of a shared experience can be positive even when the experience itself is negative. Some of humanity's most moving moments are when total strangers pull together during a flood or a blackout.



All of which brings us to that shared experience known as: The Economy.



Nothing hits the spot like national prosperity, and most folks had a great time over the last few years watching the stock market "create" wealth, unemployment hover near zero, companies giddily expand. It was one big boom town, with everybody high-fiving each other and racing to buy the next round of drinks.



But, like someone said about the Civil War, they started this one drunk, and they're going to have to settle it sober.



And with each week seeming to bring more layoffs, salary freezes, and disappearing assets, there's plenty of hangover to go around. I got an e-mail recently from a retired man who depended on the go-go market to keep up with his substantial medical expenses. Now, he and his wife don't know how they're going to make it.



All of which would be bad enough if everyone were in the same boat (see "shared experience," above). Americans have weathered recessions, depressions, and assorted panics in the past, with most everyone taking a hit and no one to blame except a run of bad luck, usually temporary.



This time, though, it's starting to look like a few people are doing just fine at the expense of everybody else.



The issue of CEO compensation may be an old thorn, but ? really now ? what's it going to take before shareholders put a stop to the outrageous, multi-million-dollar packages their head guys pull down while they slash thousands of jobs in the interest of "trimming expenses"?



I know, Alex Rodriguez makes $21 million a year. But the difference is, he doesn't take anybody into the batter's box with him. I'd like to see CEOs hit their marks without help from the rank-and-file workers they so blithely lay off.



And if you lost money (or a job) when some skyrocketing tech stock suddenly veered earthward, you'll be interested to know that your experience wasn't necessarily shared with the nice folks who asked you to invest in the first place. According to the Wall Street Journal: "Meet the $100 million club, an elite group of at least 50 insiders at Nasdaq companies who collected immense fortunes. They each sold more than $100 million of stock in their companies....In many cases, these insiders sold near the high points of stocks that have fallen 80 percent, 90 percent, even 99 percent from their peaks....At one company...a single insider collected more money from selling shares during the period than the whole company is worth now."



There was a famous dinner party held during the late 19th Century, at which the wealthy, jaded guests were amused to find their places adorned with sand pails and miniature shovels ? and invited to "dig" for diamonds, rubies, and other souvenir gems before starting in on the soup course. This bit of decadence made news because at the time, a number of America's unlucky 10-year-olds were still digging anthracite out of coal mines.



I'm sure glad those class-conscious days are over.



Copyright 2001 Newrite, Inc. All rights reserved. GLW's on WGN Radio AM 720 and wgnradio.com. Coming soon: newsjunkie.net.

On Monday, March 19, 2001, Davenport aldermen received a memo that stated, "After three years of negotiation and attempting to reach an agreement to renovate John O'Donnell Stadium and to make Minor A baseball successful in Davenport, the City of Davenport and the Quad City River Bandits have agreed that it is in the best interest of both parties to move ahead and go in separate directions.

My grandmother passed a year
ago March 27, 2000, but it seems
like last week. I am amazed at how intense the memories still are, and of course the pain of her passing. I loved her so much, and delighted in her persona.

Next Tuesday, April 3, two Davenport candidates will run for Alderman-at-Large in a special election to fill the vacancy left by Joe Seng, who went on to serve in the Iowa State Legislature. The race is between current 3rd Ward Alderman Roland Caldwell and Steve Ahrens, who is the alumni/parent relations coordinator for St.

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