September 15, 2005

Responsive Government??

Can you call it a “public hearing” if no one is listening? It appears so in the Quad-Cities, at least in East Moline and Davenport.

It may have looked like a public hearing Tuesday at East Moline City Hall when more than 100 folks crowded City Hall to address the city Plan Commission, which didn’t appear interested in what they were saying.

The stated purpose was to consider East Moline’s annexation of some unincorporated land in Rock Island County. But Mayor John Thodos and all the folks jammed in the council chambers know the annexation is for a pork slaughterhouse. Still, city attorney Bill Phares said comments on the nature of the development weren’t welcome. This hearing was only about the concept of extending East Moline’s borders.

The folks who showed up don’t have conceptual concerns about town borders. They have very real worries about living next to a meat packing plant, how those pigs will get shipped in and what happens to the waste. They’re worried about changes to the Rock River flood plain where the plant might be built.

Lord knows the East Moline area could use some good jobs since the closing of the old Case-IH plant. That’s an open and frank discussion worth having with the East Moliners and those outside city limits whose property is closest to the proposed pork plant site. But that’s not what happened Tuesday.

The plan commission shut down any discussion of what this development might really be about, heard a virtually unanimous chorus of dissent, then approved the annexation anyway.


At 9/15/2005 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's difficult in a city council to find someone who will have the gonads to vote against annexation.
Escpecially if it is pristine farmland.
The only person around here that has done it to my knowledge is Pat O'Brien. And he may have payed the price at the voting both.
His opponents labeled him anti-growth. While he made some valid points against building sprawl into our farmlands.

At 9/15/2005 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The land to be annexed is in a flood plain. If something is built there the risk of flooding low lying areas, and down stream increases. The Barstow Fire Protection District has worked to emphasize this point. Mayor Thodos, in attacking Doug Riel, the BFPD member, by saying he is "whipping up emotions" unnecasarily, is wrong for the Mayor to do. Someone needs to step up and represent the residents of Barstow. We have seen recently that building in a flood plain, is a big gamble (i.e. the big easy)

At 9/15/2005 7:43 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

I find it hard to understand why the invited the residents to the meeting and then failed to accomodate their numbers and then further did not allow them to speak.

This stinks of another Big Island disaster with - dam once again - Riverstone Group at the head of the ugly snake!!

At 9/16/2005 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was an individual who supported Mayor Thodos in the election and volunteered to help his campaign. But I have to say that I am greatly disappointed in his lack of democracy and sense of fair play in this instance.

As the dope stated, the public needs to be listened to and not intimidated, and this is an issue that deserves a fair and open debate. In the end, the results of a fair and open debate would probably favor Thodos' position, since there is a great need for development and jobs in East Moline.

But Thodos and Van Rae's actions make it appear that they wish to stifle real debate, and push through their agenda without proper public input and participation. It's one thing to follow the letter of the law and call the necessary meetings before a "rubber stamp board" that is destined to vote for approval anyway. It's quite another to follow the intent of the law and allow real and meaningful input from the public that's destined to be effected by that board's decision.

Thodos used to run for election as an Independent not a Democrat like he does now. And Dicky Van Raes has been a suck up and lap dog to city officials as long as I've had the displeasure of knowing him. So I suppose in retrospect we shouldn't be terribly surprised by their condescending attitudes to the concepts of real democracy.

But I've got to say - "Oh John Thodos we'd hoped for so much more!" And I'd ask you to remember the concepts of real Democracy you learned back in middle school government class if you'd expect to continue having the support of the people who helped your election effort this last cycle. Some of us take the concepts of democracy seriously.

At 9/16/2005 5:39 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Well anon - all I can say is that Thodos and Company are taking a page from the Mark Schwiebert playbook on this one.

The Riverstone group schmoozed the RI Mayor and Council way before anything went public and they got exactly what they wanted out of them as well. They tied it up nicely with the Riverboad Moat move and the State gaming board and that development as an "everything or nothing" deal. The RI citizens were effectively "shut up and shut out" of any meaningful commentary or time to ask or discuss anything. Scary to think that this affects a levee that holds back the Mississippi - kinda like the Gulf breach due to Katrina - could be just as bad....

The only reason Riverstone is having any trouble with the RI proposal is that they did not plan on the Corps of Engineers and IDOT having some input on the issues of their strip mining operations.

Well, again Riverstone is back shaking it up and Thodos and his group are saying "how far should we bend over for you Mr. Businessman?".

So sad - it's all about money as usual.

At 9/16/2005 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well it does look like Riverstone learned something from Big Island, which is that it pays to get out ahead of the hoi polloi and manage the comments so things don't get unpleasant.

They actually had a court reporter at this hearing! And if the accounts I read were accurate, two armed police officers. I've been to a few hearings, and those are unusual additions.

But what are the people out there going to do anyway? It's not like they can vote out the East Moline officials who obviously don't give a pig's rear end what they think or whether they get flooded out.

At 9/17/2005 7:21 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

True anon. Except that big money can win the battle and loose the war. If the people in that region get upset and it causes them to organize they have a chance.

The Big Island people are still fighting hard and may yet get somewhere in their war which is not yet over.

Yes, I agree with you on the points you make. Sadly the media around here failed to make any comparisons to the two scenes and also failed to note what you did about the Riverstone preparations which should have been pretty obvious to even a cub reporter.

Perhaps the media is really controlled by corporate interests 150% as I have feared recently.

At 9/19/2005 9:54 AM, Blogger diehard said...

Bob Imler is a yes man for Riverstone who draws a nice fat salary for basicly PR.
That PR is this unions are bad, Riverstone good. He supposedly has a Hispanic wife although no one has ever seen his pretend wife.
No wonder she lives in another state, Eeewww!!!

At 9/21/2005 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sideline people never have a clue

At 9/21/2005 2:18 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Like you?

At 9/22/2005 1:05 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Sideline people often know one thing for sure. They are about to be screwed over by someone with a bunch of money. That's what is happening here.


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