March 28, 2005

Punch-Counterpunch in Moline Mayoral race

The Moline mayoral race has already turned into a spirited battle. Many pieces of slickly produced mail have hit residents mailboxes, with O'Brien outproducing Welvaert by a considerable margin so far. But today's mail contained something new.

I don't know if you could call it "rapid response" work, it's more like "fairly quick," but the Welvaert campaign got a mailing out in time to arrive along with O'Brien latest ad piece which challenges the statements in a previous O'Brien mailing.

The piece, paid for by the "Committee for Better City Government", (which most likely is a group supported by current and former Deere execs and other very wealthy residents of Moline) features a large bold headline within a box, "Pat O'Brien will tell you anything to get elected." on both sides. (Sound familiar? Ask Al Gore.)
On the other side of the 8.5 x 5.5" card is listed two claims from a recent O'Brien mailing which they contend are false.

O'Brien's previous piece stated that O'Brien had, "short-circuited a plan to create a new utility tax on gas and electric service" and Don Welvaert "did nothing to stop a new utility tax on gas and electric service." O'Brien's mailing today says Welvaert was "silent" on the measure.

The Welvaert mailing then claims, "There has never been any interest in a utility tax by Don Welvaert or any other City Council member. In fact, no ordinance has ever been proposed to create a utility tax."

It continues to quote an O'Brien mailing as saying O'Brien, "worked to block a storm water utility tax to keep our hard-earned money from going down the drain.", and replies with, "In July 2000 and before Don Welvaert joined the City Council, Alderman O'Brien chaired the Utilities Committee that recommended the Storm Water Utility to the Council and then voted in favor of it's payment structure."

"DO WE WANT A MAYOR WE CAN'T TRUST?" it then asks at the bottom.

In at least the second instance, it appears that this shadow group is using some weasel words. The fact that O'Brien was chair of a committee that recommended the "Storm Water Utility" and the fact that the committee then voted in favor of it's "payment structure" doesn't mean that O'Brien favored either. It sounds like both measures were only incremental steps, not approval of the actual storm water utility tax.

And exactly how can one vote in favor of a "Storm Water Utility"? A utility tax, maybe, but it doesn't say that. Also, being on a committee that approves a "payment structure" doesn't mean that it approved the tax.

Does this disprove O'Brien's claim that he, "worked to block a storm water utility tax"?

At any rate, I'm not familiar with the minutiae of past Moline city council goings on enough to make any judgements on the claims, but perhaps someone that is familiar, or someone from either campaign could enlighten us as to whether this is fair play or underhanded distortions. (or as some might feel, both)

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