April 11, 2005

Follow the Money

In examining campaign finance documents filed by "Citizens for Better City Government", the astro-turf group who supplied the real money and financed the attack mailings for victorious Moline mayoral candidate Don Welvaert, a few things are notable.

First, how the donors list is almost exclusively populated by wealthy current or former businessmen, business owners, or their wives, including several current and former officers of Deere & Co. and multi-millionaires.

The list of donors over $150 also includes a couple of what Welvaert would characterize as "outside interests", in that they reside in Bettendorf.

What do they care who is Mayor of Moline? Unless of course they have a financial interest at stake. Nah, that couldn't be. The same committee tried to tar O'Brien as beholding to outside interests as if it were a sin, and Welvaert even called it "scary" that O'Brien had received donations from traditionally Democratic organizations such as unions based outside Moline. So surely people living in a different town in a different state wouldn't be donating for selfish reasons. That would be REALLY hypocritical.

Also curious is the fact that the final financal report for the "Welvaert for Mayor Campaign" lists only two contributions. One is a $2000 "loan" from Don Welvaert to the Welvaert for Mayor Campaign" and the other is a $200 donation from Welvaert to the "Citizens for Better City Government." So Welvaert apparently is out nothing if he gets his $2000 loan back, and he made his $200 contribution to the CBCG organization from his campaign fund.

Roger Clawson is listed as having made an in-kind donation of printing from Printing Unlimited for $698.74 on March 31. His day before the election smear letter cost him $262.98 to the Dispatch/Argus on April 1.

The "Citizens for Better City Government"'s purpose is stated as "To identify and support candidates for local political office, primarily City of Moline, who will advocate and support good government and progressive programs to benefit the community and make it a better place in which to live or be employed." As you'll see from the donor list below, they're all VERY concerned with the well-being of employees.

It reported $28,850.00 in receipts and $23,100.00 in expenditures as follows:

To the campaign committees of,

Andria McDermott -- $1,300.00 on 2/28/2005
Kent Breecher -- $3,900.00 on 1/31/2005
Kent Breecher -- $6,500.00 on 2/28/2005
Michael Crotty -- $1,600.00 on 1/31/2005
Michael Crotty -- $1,300.00 on 2/28/2005
Welvaert Campaign -- $8,500.00 on 2/28/2005

Note that Crotty got a total of $2,900 from the Citizen's group, while his company, KVF Quad Corp. donated $1000 to the Committee on March 10.

The following are all donors above $150 as listed in campaign finance disclosure reports for transactions through March 6, 2005 for Citizens for Better City Government. Notice who's at the bottom of the list.

Chairman: Hunt Harris II, Treasurer: Richard Parsons

* Getz, Tom --- $2,000.00 -- Moline Forge
* Hank, Jr. Bernard --- $2,000.00
* Harris, II, John H. (Hunt)--- $2,000.00
* Lane, Patricia --- $2,000.00 -- Wife of Deere & Co. CEO
River Stone Group --- $2,000.00 --- formerly Consumers Sand & Gravel Co.
Frizzelle and Parsons Die Sinking Co. --- $2000.00
* Reynolds, Darrell --- $1,500.00 -- owner Erickson Chevrolet
* Becherer, Hans --- $1,000.00 -- Former CEO, Deere & Co.
Hanson, James --- $1000.00
KVF Quad Corp. --- $1000.00 -- Michael Crotty
* Clarke, Wade --- $750.00
* Robinson, Thomas --- $750.00
Kearney, John --- $600.00
Blanc, Lynne --- $500.00
John Enterprises, Ltd. --- $500.00
* Markley, H.J. --- $500.00
* Miles, Richard --- $500.00
Slover, Jr., John --- $500.00
Tunberg, J.R. --- $500.00 -- Whitey's Ice Cream
* Turner, Lori --- $500.00
* Watkins, Patricia --- $400.00
Clawson, Roger --- $300.00 -- Insurance
* Steffenson, Michael --- $300.00
* Wismer, Robert --- $300.00
* Arnell, Richard --- $275.00
Anderson, Ralph --- $250.00
* Braatelien, Newell --- $250.00
* Bracke, Thomas --- $250.00 -- Insurance
* Courtesy Chrysler --- $250.00 -- Dale Zude
England, Joseph --- $250.00
Everitt, David --- $250.00
* Frus, Ronald --- $250.00
* Gildehaus, Thomas --- $250.00
Hallene, Alan --- $250.00
Margenthaler, Donald --- $250.00
* Stowe, David --- $250.00 -- Deere & Co. officer
* Tunberg, Jon C. --- $250.00 -- Whitey's Ice Cream
Holst, David --- $200.00
* Kehoe, Daniel --- $200.00 -- car dealerships, other businesses
Reynolds, Douglas --- $200.00
* Welvaert, Don --- $200.00 -- Candidate

* = early donors on 1-31-05

The Committee also received $15,075 dollars in donations under $150 through the March 10 reporting cut-off.

As you can see, they're all just plain folks, just like they made it sound in articles in the Dispatch. And obviously, they're non-partisan. There's probably a Dem in there somewhere, though you'd have to look pretty hard.
And as they say, they just want Moline to be a good place to work. What they don't say is they want it to be a good place to work your ass off for low wages and next to no health or retirement benefits and above all, no unions!

I'd appreciate any further info, additions, or corrections on any of the names above as to what their current or former business and political affiliations are.


At 4/11/2005 10:46 AM, Anonymous Puzzler said...

In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, are you going to list the donors to Mr. O'Brien's campaign? Of course, I'm sure none of them had anything to gain by supporting their candidate. Aren't employees of the City of Moline represented by several Unions? As for low pay, I know that Moline City employees are paid more than employees with comparable positions in other QC cities.

At 4/11/2005 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dick Parsons owns the Frizelle and Parsons company and he's another guy who did same as Clawson with a nasty letter and according to the dispatch Welvaert almost forgot to report that donation.

At 4/11/2005 2:48 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Puzzler, I make no claim to be a "fair and balanced" blog here. As you surely know, I am a Democrat, a proud liberal, and do not favor Republican positions or candidates.
That said, I do try to provide balanced information if I feel it's fair.
In this case, it would be fair to examine O'Brien's donors as well.
But I am more concerned with who is behind this shadow group at the moment. I'm not going to spend the hours and hours it would take to list information on O'Brien here.

However, I can direct you to a site where you can find the information yourself.
Just go to the Illinois Campaign Disclosure website and do a search on Pat O'Brien.

Also, this "Citizens" group didn't specify that they wanted to make Moline a good place for CITY workers to work. So the fact that some of them are paid a decent wage doesn't change my opinion that the majority of the donors to "Citizens" are primarily interested in gaining skilled, reliable workers and paying them the very least amount possible and providing the very least amounts of benefits they can get away with. After all, they believe it's in their own financial interest to do so.
Unions provide better work conditions, better wages and benefits to workers. Ever see any of these millionaires speaking out for unions? Maybe moving heaven and earth to prevent or destroy unions, sure. Ever hear them clamoring for better health benefits for workers? Didn't think so.
All they want is indirect government welfare for schools and universities for custom curriculums that will provide training for their workforce needs, and then workers who will work for low wages and decreasing benefits.

At 4/11/2005 3:14 PM, Anonymous Peter Frampton said...

Again, I voice my opinion on this matter. Everyone has a right to make campaign contributions in a race like this; that is their right. What I don't understand is the intense interest in winning the Moline Mayor's office. Moline has a weak mayor system constitutionally, and the Mayor does little else except cut ribbons and break ties and listen to city staff. Yet, looking at the special interest contribution levels you would think this was a race for state rep or something.

I'm puzzled.

At 4/11/2005 3:55 PM, Blogger The Peter Files Blog of Comedy said...

I am entering this discussion as a complete newbie because the Dope visited my Blog today and my counter let me track him back, so lacking a great deal of insight on the matter let me tender this:

Perhaps there was more at stake than the powers of the office itself, but the impact of holding the office on the appearance of the strenght of the Party as a whole. Perhaps it was seen as a local keystone to a larger regional picture later on. A mayor in this case may not have a lot of actural power, but he may have a lot of photo-op power in other upcoming elections.

There is also the "auction" mentality that can come into play or eBay effect if you like, where as an election progresses, if the race is a tight one, it becomes increasingly more heated, just because it is heated, no matter how important the job actually is, the thing just steamrolls out of controll untill suddenly someone is bidding out of control on a piece of junk. Now that does not look like the case here.

Another possibility is that the candidate badly wants to move up the ladder quickly and has support of others so that he can do so, more funding than usual to "Make" that happen, whether or not that worked in this case.


At 4/11/2005 4:00 PM, Blogger The Peter Files Blog of Comedy said...

I put this in a different post because it might be seen as off-topic.

This appeared to be a pretty mild election you are all talking about. I happened to run across a political blog covering one of the most heated, small town elections I have ever heard about.

If the Dope, I hope this is the right ettiquite, will allow it, may I refer you all to
for a knock down drag out fight that I still have not convinced myself is not a hoax?

Your best bet is to go to the page, scroll down to the bottom trying not to read anything then work your way up.

It's a real killer.

Political Peter

At 4/11/2005 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...






At 4/11/2005 8:14 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Thanks for your opinion. But I wish people would send such suggestions to my e-mail address. Thanks.

And I'll continue to contribute my opinions and views as I see fit.

At 4/11/2005 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Also, this "Citizens" group didn't specify that they wanted to make Moline a good place for CITY workers to work.”

So Dope, I am curious.

Do the city employees exist to serve the taxpayers or do the taxpayers exist to serve the employees? Politicians are elected to represent the interests of constituents, ie., the people who live in the city like you and I, and not its employees. Employees have union representatives to protect and forward their interests.

You keep bringing up the unions that supported O'Brien. What could possibly give you the impression city employee unions need more representation and influence on Moline politics? When's the last time they didn't get what they wanted? In a year where we have seen cops in a public brawl at a retirement party, off-duty cops roll private vehicles on TWO occasions where alcohol was allegedly involved, and a drunk firefighter drive a fire truck to the scene of a fire, all without so much as an angry word from the council? I'm as liberal as you are, but there is such a thing as too much power, and Moline's unions have had a toe over that line for some time.

At 4/11/2005 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the last anonymous about the excessive power of public employee unions in Moline. They have a very good deal, thank you very much, and don't need a better deal.

Before we all start singing the blues for them, you should do a FOIA and find out how generously they are paid (and the incredible health and life insurance benefits).

At 4/12/2005 12:25 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Ooops. Back up a little. At no point did I specifically refer to city employee unions in my post.

I simply was mentioning the fact that these millionaires are anti-union. That's all. Their stated goal of making Moline a good place to work isn't exactly what one might think that would mean.

They'd love to break ALL unions and have people work for even less than they get now, with less protection and less security.

This has nothing to do with whether government exists for city workers or visa-versa.

Somehow or other things turned around into suggesting that I was saying municpal employees have it rough. You read something into my comments that weren't there at all.

I can't venture an opinion on whether union city employees are over-compensated, or if everyone else is just under-compensated.

Just wanted to clear that up.

At 4/12/2005 4:53 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Also, to Peter above. Thanks for visiting and your comments, but I've never visted your blog. What you are confused about is that my site showed up on your referrers list. This doesn't mean that I myself visited your blog, it simply means that someone went from this blog to yours.

At 4/12/2005 6:24 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Hello Anonymous -- Use a name ok?

Do some homework and read the Dispatch arhives. The incidents that happened involving drinking on duty and off duty by our public employees were noted and commented on by one lone councilman - O'Brien. He was the only one with the guts to say anything and ask tough questions while sitting in his council seat.

So what did he get in return? Tons of support from the mainstream employees in those departments and then he got the shaft from outgoing Chief Ethridge. Chief E was mad that anyone would question his handling of the mess and he made sure to jump into the Mayor race as soon as he was off payroll. Oh yeah, was he? Maybe not quite - he was getting big consulting pay to help hire the new chief while still getting a nice pension.

And then there is that nice little party the city financed for Chief E when he retired - for about $3000 reported by the Dispatch - when the outgoing City administrator -Iman- only got a cake.......Imagine that?

At 4/12/2005 7:43 PM, Blogger The Peter Files Blog of Comedy said...

Oops, well I am new at this. At any rate it caused me to visit your blog, which turned out to be a good thing.


Certified International Blog Repairer


At 4/12/2005 8:40 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

No problem Peter. I could have used your blog repair services when I was setting this up! Luckily, I was able to pound it into shape myself eventually.


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