Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Triumph Triumphs

Its a done deal.

That's my prediction after reading that the EM council voted unanimously to continue negotiations about the pork plant. I'd even say its more of a done deal than Davenport's IOC riverfront hotel was, which is saying quite a bit. There are a number of similarities, even down to the somewhat well-organized groups in opposition: SmartRiverfront for Davenport and Progressive Action for the Common Good in East Moline. Both of the opposition groups even have vague names that disguise the fact that their sole purpose is to oppose their particular enemy project. There are also differences though. Davenport's political scene is rowdier, and the EM city council doesn't have any Keith Meyers on it. The pork plant is also not in the middle of their downtown.

Some folks would assume that I think the open-shut/done deal strategy that both these projects used is a good thing, just because I supported each of the proposed projects. This couldn't be further from the truth. SmartRiverfront.com saved Davenport money by questioning the agreement with IOC. If there had been little opposition to the hotel, think how few concessions Davenport would have been able to get in the bargaining process. Hopefully PACG can accomplish something similar in East Moline, and get their city a better deal with Triumph.

What I wish both groups could have done is run an honest campaign. SmartRiverfront did some stuff on their site that I thought bordered on propaganda, such as showing "what the hotel will block" by inserting a giant grey box into current pictures representing the hotel. Any building would be opposed if its artist's conception was a giant grey box, but fortunately that's not what IOC is going to build. Now PACG is adamant that new Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) will start springing up everywhere around here, but ignores the fact that the hogs could be trucked in from longer distances, or that our local counties might have something to say about a sudden influx of CAFOs. I don't believe in scare tactics when there are real issues to debate. Smell is a huge one. If all of EM smells like a pig farm when the plant opens, that won't be worth 1000 jobs. Pollution is another, and the quality of the new jobs is yet another good topic that EM citizens need to ask hard questions about.

East Moline's dealings with the public started out even worse than Davenport's were during the casino hotel "debate." The River Vision proposal didn't have a red box that said "We don't know anything about a proposed hotel," because our city leaders at least managed to avoid flat out lying to us. Unfortunately that can't be said for our Illinois brethren. Its not too late for EM to make this a more public, more inclusive process.

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