November 13, 2006

Those pesky citizens and their rights stymy East Moline sewer bond plan

It seems that a group of citizens opposed to the Triumph Pork plant have helped get far in excess of the number of signatures required to put a multi-million dollar sewer bond issue to a vote.

Of course, East Moline mayor John Thodos doesn't like that. The pesky opponents have made it harder for him and others to slip the massive project and the huge taxpayer costs asssociated with it past the public largely unnoticed. Now those same folks are educating the residents again and actually giving them a chance to have a say in all of it.

Apparently this is bad news for Thodos, who maintains that stopping the bonds now will cost the city more money.

Officials are upset with this petition drive. Why? Well, because not enough of the petition circulators live in East Moline, even though there is absolutely no requirement that they do.
The circultors want a public vote on whether East Moline should borrow $39.5 million to pay for water and sewer system improvements. The city wants to sell bonds, and increase water and sewer rates to repay them.
...
However, city officials are asking why people who don't live in East Moline are so concerned about how the city will pay for the utility improvements, which are mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Petition circulators argue that where they live doesn't matter -- and that they gathered more than 3,200 signatures from registered East Moline voters, way more than the 2,107 needed to put the issue to a public vote, said circulator Doug Riel, who lives in unincorporated Rock Island County.

Mr. Riel was adamant that he and others organized the effort because they want East Moline officials to be held accountable for not billing water and sewer rate increases on outside municipalities that aldermen approved in 1998 and 2003.

Mr. Riel said he helped a few East Moline residents collect enough signatures because they helped him in his fight against Triumph Foods' proposed pork processing plant.

"Everybody wants to say, 'This is a Doug Riel thing.' It's not a Doug Riel thing," he said.

Mayor John Thodos is convinced that accountability isn't the real reason. He said most of the people who circulated petitions are known pork-plant opponents.

"I am against the pork plant," Carole Stoner, of East Moline, said. "I won't deny it. But this particular thing cannot be connected to the hog plant. (City officials) need to be responsible."

Another circulator, Bob Zesiger of Silvis, offered a different reason. Mr. Zesiger, who is also a Silvis alderman, said he believes the borrowed money will go to Triumph.

"We're all out there because this all started with Triumph," Mr. Zesiger said. He said local business leaders don't dig into the background or look into the problems of the hog industry.

East Moline aldermen had approved selling bonds at roughly 4 percent interest, but will have to scrap those plans due to the referendum question on the February primary ballot.

Instead, the city will have to borrow money next month at a higher interest rate to pay for sewer repairs that need to be done now. That in turn means higher water and sewer rates than expected, the mayor said.

If voters approve the $39.5 million bond sale, then the city could begin borrowing money at a lower interest rate, which could mean lowering water and sewer rates, Mayor Thodos said.
By the looks of comments left on the story in the D/A, people aren't buying what Thodos is selling.

12 Comments:

At 11/13/2006 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were Thodos I would raise the rates at these little towns thats residence feel that they should pass these potitions. They all gat their water and sewer from E. Moline.

What nasty little people.
It will be good to see Dawn and Reil with a hog plant in their back yard.

Infrastructure to you Dope is not important until you don't have sewer and water anymore.

 
At 11/13/2006 2:08 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

What a particularly nasty comment. Why would you resent anyone wanting a public vote on something like this? And why would you wish them ill?

Your comment about appreciateing sewer is kind of odd as well. Not that I think about it every 5 minutes, yes, I do appreciate sewer service and I pay quite a bit for it.

The people out there by Triumph are going to get screwed one way or another, so I guess that should make you happy.

Kind of a nasty attitude though.

 
At 11/13/2006 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No not nasty at all. These people are the nasty ones. Running this dirty trick on the city. People that are not part of the city are going to cause people that live in the city to have to pay more to have the same work done. I am not a fan of public votes. I believe like our founding fathers that we do not live in a democracy, but a democratic republic. I may be against that crazzy Reil and Maynard that are against any progress out near their land, but you are against the founding fathers. I get a kick out of the charge of the smell will be bad. These same people live 3 blocks from the city dump.
WHat are they thinking!!!

 
At 11/13/2006 8:00 PM, Blogger Benton Harbor said...

I guess I don't get this whole thing. The D/A article stated: "Mr. Riel was adamant that he and others organized the effort because they want East Moline officials to be held accountable for not billing water and sewer rate increases on outside municipalities that aldermen approved in 1998 and 2003."

How will this hold officials accountable? The work on the water/sewer system is still needed regardless, from what I understand.

Granted, EM screwed up royaly by not raising rates. But the rate increases probably wouldn't have covered what is needed for the water and sewer upgrades. Pressure has been low up on the hill in EM for a couple of years or more. And, as everyone should be aware of, the EPA mandates changes and updates, but never provides money for them.

Is Mr. Reil thinking this is all tied into the Triumph deal? Possibly. But let's assume for a minute that it's not. No matter what, communities that purchase their water and sewer service from EM are going to have to pay more. Now, by putting the purchase of bonds to a vote and delaying the whole thing, everyone may be paying even more.

I guess I just don't get it.

 
At 11/14/2006 12:16 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Good points BH. It seems that it's a little "payback" for Mr. Thodos' less than upfront actions on the pork plant to me. It is hard to sort out what is involved based on the D/A article.

 
At 11/14/2006 12:18 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 14:26

I can't help thinking that your big talk and calling people "crazy" and not recognizing that East Moline is most definitely affecting what happens to people out side that town would change instantly if they were plotting a vast hog slaughtering facility in your neighborhood.

Why do I think you're peculiar ideas about the founding fathers would instantly evaporate if that were the case?

 
At 11/14/2006 12:22 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 14:26

I can't help thinking that your big talk and calling people "crazy" and not recognizing that East Moline is most definitely affecting what happens to people out side that town would change instantly if they were plotting a vast hog slaughtering facility in your neighborhood.

Why do I think you're peculiar ideas about the founding fathers would instantly evaporate if that were the case?

Expecting U.S. citizens to sit down and shut up and just take it isn't the greatest idea to rally around.

It's almost un-American to demand that.

People have the right, and almost the duty, to use all the tools available to them to participate in determining matters which directly affect their lives, livlihoods, and property.

To argue that they should just sit still and take it isn't exactly what the founding fathers had in mind.

After all, they were the original "petitioners", were they not?

That little thing called the Declaration of Independence?

 
At 11/15/2006 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to Doug Reil and Bob Zesiger (among others) for fighting to keep government working for citizens (and not corportations.)

Government needs to be accountable to the people they represent, and John Thodos seems to look at citizen involvement in government as some kind of inconvenience. That's NOT the attitide we need from our "public servants."

I supported Thodos over former Mayor Moreno, and I've called John a friend. But bringing the "empire of the pigs" to town isn't the kind of economic development supporters had in mind when we elected John.

I am to the point where I am ashamed to admit publically that I helped elect such an arrogant idiot to office, hence the anon post.

 
At 11/15/2006 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to point out to all of the pig lovers that don't want the pig factory that lead sponsor of the factory was Mike Boland and Mike Jacobs and they both won their elections. I would say that most people are for the jobs and the economics that are going to come from this factory.
Don't let Reil and Dawn ruin our city.

 
At 11/15/2006 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would remind the commenter above that both Jacobs and Boland were awful damn quiet about support of the plant. Could it be that they knew it would cut against them if they were too public about it?

I hope you like your new job on the gutting floor.

 
At 11/16/2006 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone knew about Mike Boland pushing the plant foreward with his letter to the DECO. The republicans tested this issue and found that the negatives were very regional and not very far reaching. The vast majority of people are for this plant. The vocal minority are trying to sway people against this factory because it is in their backyard.

 
At 12/05/2006 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have attended numerous meetings from the very beginning. I have sat back, listened and watched Reil and Dawn take personal shots at our city administrators and officials. They speak of accountability for the city officials, I say those two are poor representatives for our area. They are only concerned about themselves. Gathering all the signatures was foolish. They are going to cost our City and other cities more money for the work that is MANDATED by law to be completed. My question is for all the citizens of East Moline; Are Reil and Dawn going to stick around to help pay my bills that they have been instrumental in raising? The best place for those two is knee deep in manure!! That would be a priceless sight...

 

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