The art of persuasion, Quad City style
John Malvik of Moline, a member of the Rock Island County board, didn't like the idea of a group of small town alderman blocking the desires of the big boys, and felt the need to express himself in writing.
In a letter sent to the Silvis mayor's office but addressed to the council, Malvik decided to play the tough-guy card, characterizing his blistering letter as just the start of a pressure campaign against the Silvis alderman. How charming.
"You just gave into pressure from people that you don't even represent, and you voted down a project in another jurisdiction," Mr. Malvik wrote. "Somehow each member of your City Council has to find the courage to stand up and do what's right for our whole area. It is time to stop catering to individuals who have their own selfish motives and care not what's best for our entire community.""Supposed to be doing"??? Who told Mayor Lohse that they were supposed to approve the "incentives" for Triumph?
"He's entitled to his opinion," Ald. Bob Cervantes, 1st Ward, said after parts of the letter were read to him over the telephone. Contrary to what Mr. Malvik wrote, Ald. Cervantes said he believes there's a large group, not a small group, of dissenters who don't want the pork plant.
"They weren't happy with it," said Ald. Cervantes, who voted against the enterprise zone expansion. "They didn't want it near them. (Mr. Malvik) needs to do a little bit more studying. I don't want to get in a shouting match with this county board member. I listened to every piece of information from both sides."
After the letter was read to him over the phone, Ald. Bob Zesiger, 4th Ward, said, it was " a letter that The Dispatch would like to publish. The Dispatch doesn't publish anything that is against the plant." He wouldn't comment on his opinion of the letter.
"It's hard to comment," said Ald. Bill Fox, 2nd Ward, who voted against the zone expansion. "I don't know this man. I'd like him to come to me face-to-face and call me a 'coward.' I don't understand why one person would call me a coward for listening to our constituents."
Ald. Fox said he received letters from residents in Moline, Hampton and Davenport thanking him for voting against enterprise-zone benefits for the proposed plant.
Ald. Fox said he believes Mr. Malvik's comment about voting against possible zone incentives for a proposed Wal-Mart in Silvis was a threat.
Realtor Tom Dalton, of Ruhl & Ruhl Commercial Co., has said enterprise-zone benefits are not a requirement for Wal-Mart to locate in Silvis.
Mr. Malvik writes that the council disregarded the community as a whole, created an anti-business atmosphere and only listened to a vocal minority who oppose the hog-processing plant.
"The selfish individuals who oppose the plant would rather see Rock Island County go the way of East St. Louis than agree to a $165 million construction project that will create over 1,000 jobs, spawn other businesses, foreign trade, and improve the overall economy of the area," he wrote. "The `No' vote is a clear signal to anyone else considering bringing a business to to the Quad-Cities that Silvis is against the ideas, ideals and groups that local government should support..."
"I want this to be the first part of an organized effort by the community to change the outcome," Mr. Malvik said in an interview Tuesday. "I don't think they considered the repercussions of their decision.
"I think they have been subjected to enormous pressure from the other side," he said. Silvis "can't go forward without knowing there will be pressure on this side."
Mr. Malvick said the project meet legal criteria to be included in an enterprise zone, and in rejecting the plan Silvis disregarded experts on issues raised about the hog-processing plant.
Silvis Mayor Lyle Lohse agreed the council failed to consider the specific requirements of the enterprise zone.
"I think it points out very strongly that we didn't do what we were supposed to be doing," Mayor Lohse said. "We didn't vote on the enterprise zone because of the pressure exerted and everything else."
In a related article in the Dispatch/Argus, it was noted that East Moline Mayor Thodos is resubmitting the proposal for expanding the Enterprise Zone which gives millions of dollars in tax and fee breaks to Triumph. He said that the only change was reducing the acres to be included from 252 to 117.
Alderman Bob Cervantes was quoted as saying that if they wanted to try it again, he felt there was still 5 votes on the Silvis council to knock it down again.