April 5, 2006

Silvis independence forces Triumph to look elsewhere for handouts

From the Dispatch/Argus article:
Screams and cheers of joy erupted Tuesday night after a majority of Silvis aldermen voted against expanding an enterprise zone for Triumph Foods' proposed pork-processing plant.

Aldermen voted 7-1 not to include the proposed plant site in the Illinois Quad Cities Enterprise Zone. Ald. Gene Leibovitz, 3rd Ward, was the only one voting for it.
Since the plant site now won't be in the zone, Triumph will not be eligible for millions of dollars in sales-tax breaks on construction materials or $400,000 in waived building permit fees. If Triumph goes ahead with the project, area officials will have to find ways to offset the lost incentives.

Pork-plant opponents felt rewarded for their relentless efforts to convince aldermen to vote "no." They had voiced concerns about odor, groundwater contamination, an increase in large-scale hog farms and giving businesses tax breaks. Proponents, such as bank presidents and construction union representatives, told aldermen that Triumph would bring much-needed jobs to the area.

Her eyes tearing up in happiness, Candace Marner hugged her stepbrother, Dylann Teager, after the vote.

"I'm speechless," Ms. Marner said. "I'm thrilled. So many people busted their bones for this."

Both Ms. Marner and her stepbrother live in unincorporated Rock Island County, nine blocks away from the proposed plant site.
East Moline assistant city administrator Rich Keehner wouldn't comment late Tuesday on whether the vote would jeopardize the project. Triumph officials and East Moline Mayor John Thodos couldn't be reached for comment late Tuesday.

If a company cannot take advantage of an enterprise zone, it still can apply for other tax credits, said Andrew Ross, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the state agency that oversees enterprise zones.

East Moline already has applied for a $750,000 state grant to partially pay for a $4.4 million water line out to the proposed plant site.
Ald. Carter said Wal-Mart has expressed interest in building a store in Silvis. "Up to two weeks ago, it started to look very good," he said, adding that Wal-Mart bought property across from the Jewel-Osco store on John Deere Road. The company wants enterprise zone incentives, so city officials will have to see what happens now, he said.

Even though enterprise zone incentives are unavailable, East Moline aldermen can still vote to waive building permit fees for Triumph, Mayor Thodos said before Tuesday's meeting.
I sincerely hope they block Sprawl-Mart too. Evidently there still might be some independent businesses in the area which they've not driven out of business. I guess the East Moline/Silvis area needs some more workers who are paid so little that they can't afford health care coverage and are encouraged to go on state welfare by Wal-Mart to pick up the slack.
Wal-Mart is bad news wherever they go.

And hats off to the courageous, smart, and hard-working people who stood up to say no to a giant corporation and the politicians who feel their job is to serve as their enablers and cheerleaders.

Since the politicians didn't have spines, the people had to stand up and find some for them.

The Silvis alderman should be an example to others that it's actually possible to serve the greater interests of the people, rather than serving the the financial interests of a handful of the wealthy and chosing to serve the highest bidder.


At 4/05/2006 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I applaud Mr. Leibovitz for standing up by voting the way he said eh would.
I would think more of the Silvis aldermen if these people who were fighting were actually from Silvis.

At 4/05/2006 2:53 PM, Blogger Silvis said...

To say that politicians stand up for the highest bidders, Whom are you implying is doing this. Leibovitz. The yes voter. Are you saying he was motivated by money. I think the only money Leibovitz saw was the money going to 1000 workers that would recieve health benefits and $10.50/hr. This is not all that you are making it out to be with Lebovitz making money on it.

At 4/05/2006 5:00 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Even 1000 $10 an hour jobs should be important to us. Not all of those 1000 are going to be existing residents, so maybe the QC gains 500 employees and their families because of the plant. Maybe 1000 new residents. Then those people not only need housing, but lawyers, doctors, accountants, dentists, etc. Maybe some of them or their children would decide to go to college (WIU QC anyone?) and become doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc themselves. Not to sound sappy, but that should be the kind of thing we encourage. Since when did the QC become too good for $10 an hour jobs? I don't understand people's opposition to this plant.

The only issues for me are environmental and odors. If there are environmental problems, the company should be fined and forced to clean them up. As far as odor, if they're so confident there won't be any, make them sign an agreement to pay $1 million a year for every half mile away from the plant that the smell travels.

Why can't we try to work out the issues rather than just being against it?

At 4/05/2006 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never heard where Rep Boland stood on this issue. I would like to know this. Especially now that hes running for congress. What kind of jobs will he work for. All jobs or just higher up jobs?

At 4/05/2006 5:53 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Good points QCI,
But I think one of the primary issues involved in the Silvis vote is the matter of giving away millions in tax breaks, forgiving fees, sales tax, etc. etc. etc.

Perhaps citizens simply feel that if a gigantic corporation wants to locate here, that maybe they should have to give back to the community just like every single other business does.

And as to environmental concerns, some of the concerns are that simply building the plant will cause irreversible problems with flooding, etc.

Once it's built is a little late to be issuing fines, etc.

And also, if you believe that anti-pollution environmental damage statutes can be passed and enforced, then I hope you get to see the Easter bunny this year.

The fact of the matter is that environmental regulation has always been fairly easy for corporations to ignore, and if they're caught, they get off with a slap on the wrist. And this was BEFORE the Bush administration put corporate lobbyists in charge of environmental enforcement.

To rely on fines or punishment for environmental violations is naive I'm afraid, as the punishment, IF it's every given, is so slight as to be inconsequential to the businesss and is marked up as a cost of doing business.

Meanwhile, the damage is done and continues to be done.

Corporations are not always your friend. Just because they bring jobs to a community does not mean they're all sweetness and light.

Yes, there would be ripple effects to this plant, though it's hard to determine what sort or how large. There is also the good chance that there would be negative ripple effects, such as numerous factory hog lots locating in the area and increased burdens of social services, law enforcement, and municiple services.

And again, what about the issue of giving away the farm for this company to locate here, in essense giving away the chance to see any revenue from the plant for decades?

Moline has gone down this road as an article of faith for years. Now it has outrageously high tax rates and is still operating in the red. And all the supposed benefits from giving developers plum deals and tax abatements have yet to be seen.

It's not just growth and jobs for growth and jobs sake. That's simplistic and short-sighted.

It's what KIND of growth and at what cost to the community. I think the people of Silvis and their aldermen were able to see the forest behind the trees and made the right decision.

They didn't block the plant, just said they didn't want to go along with the "enterprise zone" scheme to hand over tax breaks and other special sops to the Triumph corporation.

Remember, Triumph ain't exactly some Mom & Pop store trying to get off the ground.

Why pay them to start a business here and give them far more incentives and breaks that any other business in the area, even if it was proportional?

If Triumph is getting say, 5 million in subsidies and tax breaks, shouldn't a struggling small business get a few thousand?

Why should an enormous corporation, who already gets huge tax breaks from the federal government, get county and local goverments to bend over the pay essentially huge bribes to get them to locate here?

How much is too much? Is it OK to give up say, $10,000 per job? $20,000? How much should local taxpayers hand over to a corporation to bribe them to bring some jobs?

How willing should the community be to look the other way while the corporation develops wetlands, adds an enormous environmental burden to the area, develops and destroys wetlands and increases flooding?

I'd like to see what the city and county leaders who support this plant would say if a small business owner walked in and asked for a few grand, that they wouldn't have to pay taxes for say, 5 years, and by the way, I'd like to have the street, street lights and sewer replaced by my business. They'd get laughed out of the office.

Once the plant is up and running, do you really think the town or county can go to the CEO and say, hey, we'd like you to hire more locals? Ha!

Once it's up and running, they'll do whatever they damn well please, and believe me, not many local politicians have the guts to oppose them in any real way.

Someone could ask them if they'd please stop dumping sewage into the river. Sure... we'll get right on it. And nothing would ever be done. Why should they? The worst that could happen is that they'd get a few thousand dollar fine, IF that. Big deal.

Once the papers are signed, it's see ya later, suckers.

At 4/05/2006 6:05 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Silvis. I didn't mean to suggest anything of the kind.

You however, reading things that weren't there, did.

I wasn't thinking of the lone yes voter when I wrote that, and regret if it appeared so.

There were many mayors, council members, and county board members who OKed this measure before Silvis even voted.

I think most people are familiar with the leading promoters of the plant among politicians. The one Silvis alderman isn't one of them.

At 4/05/2006 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oink Oink....

At 4/06/2006 4:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The East Moline Mayor looked real p*ssed last night on the news. When asked how this will affect future relations with Silvis he stated that time will tell but it was evident he planned to get even when given the chance. This guy is needs to shown the door next election!

At 4/06/2006 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Boland is for the pork plant. He signed off on millions in State incetives.

At 4/06/2006 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The paper never asked him that I saw. Glad to know he is for these kinds of jobs.

At 4/06/2006 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boland will do well with the precinct committemen. He may be for the pig plant, However he is one of the people. Not above the people.

At 4/07/2006 3:10 AM, Anonymous le biel said...

QCI - $10 * 40 hours a week * 52 weeks a year = $20,800. That's an unimpressive wage, considering:

A. What the workers would be doing
B. The fact that Triumph would import most of the workers from Mexico
C. All the attendant pollution/odor/other-result-of having-thousands-upon-thousands-of hogs-killed-every-day problems

At 4/07/2006 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know people who make less money than that in jobs you would deem decent. I live in a neighborhood with workers from Mexico and they are hard working contributors to our area. The spend time with their families and go to church. Their kids are always clean.

At 4/07/2006 11:25 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

The debate should never have to do with the nationality of any imported workers. To do so injects bigotry into things and that won't be tolerated.

The issue is workers from out of the area in general - whether they're from Mexico or Iceland doesn't matter.

At 4/07/2006 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The meeting I went to in Silvis about the plant was the most racist thing I'd ever been to.

At 4/07/2006 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tax breaks for corporations are a fact of life for the foreseeable future. Accept that fact, or accept corporations choosing other areas to build their factories.

Wages in the area are on the decline. My workplace is a union shop with skilled labor involved in heavy manufacturing. Workers start at $8.00/hour and progress to $12.00. That's less in actual (not adjusted) dollars than when I joined the company twenty years ago. Increasing jobs in the region would pressure the job market acting to raise actual wages.

Of the 1000 projected workers at Triumph, how many would be considered professional? 100? More? Front office HR workers are professional. Transportation workers are professional. I would guess the maintenance workers would be a skilled trade considering the level of automation proposed.

Talk of odor and pollution is just that: talk. No one knows anything for certain.

John Deere has their cylinder plating facility less than a quarter mile from the Mark and Mississippi River. Plating involves heavy metals and dangerous solvents, yet I've never heard of issues or concerns with that plant.

John Deere paints their combines at the Harvester works in East Moline. Painting involves solvents and smell, yet I've never heard issues with that plant. In fact, East Moline is building the Quarter within view.

To imply corporations can't or don't make good neighbors is wrong.

I wonder if the Silvis aldermen would take the Rock Island Lines back. A lot of employment left with the railroad. A lot of air, ground and noise pollution that was within sight of downtown also left.

I wonder if the Silvis aldermen would take the John Deere foundry back. Foundries are notoriously bad for the environment and it was located within sight of downtown.

I bet the aldermen would welcome both companies back. I would guess they would even offer tax breaks.

Silvis alderman blindly voted to become a bedroom community. I wonder if the people who don't live in Silvis that influenced my aldermen’s vote will help me when my taxes go through the roof.

And all signs indicate the pork plant will still be built.

As for your comments about Wal-Mart and Silvis, consider this very real possibility:

Wal-Mart has identified a location for a new store that borders Silvis, Carbon Cliff, Moline and East Moline. If Wal-Mart has identified a market, chances are they will build. Silvis votes down the enterprise zone and gets stuck with an anti-business label. Wal-Mart moves their new store to another city not a half mile away. Silvis will get stuck with all of the bad consequences without receiving any direct benefits.

And I guarantee the other communities would gladly accept Wal-Mart.

At 4/08/2006 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today the paper says the Silvis mayor may resign over this issue. What do you think?

At 4/08/2006 12:49 PM, Anonymous Silvis Sid said...

That's his decision. I dont' see why he should feel it's necessary.

Maybe he'd gotten something in return for promising to deliver the vote or maybe he felt that he'd left those who want the plant down somehow. Or maybe he feels that now, wealthy interests will make sure he doesn't get re-elected anyway.

I really don't know.

At 4/20/2006 12:12 PM, Anonymous ben_dover said...

Nobody i know wants a smelly hog plant.
We should be able to vote on this stinky issue.
BTW, i hope they choose a different area.


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