Yesterday I attended Alderman Hamerlinck's ward meeting out at the new library on Fairmount. I missed his previous meeting because I didn't notice the announcement of it until too late. Yesterday's meeting was a far cry from his first 2nd ward meeting that I attended in January. Around 20 people showed up for that one, while I would say over 50 were at yesterday's meeting. We had to move out of the room originally scheduled for the meeting and basically take over the children's section of the main library room. I don't know much about Lawanda Roudebush, but she has been at both of the Saturday morning meetings I've been to, and doesn't seem to mind physical labor. That gives her an extra point in my book.
Once again, my pro-downtown, pro-Malin views were extremely unpopular at the meeting, but once again I kept quiet since its not my ward. However, I suspect at least a third of the people at the meeting were from wards other than two. I did pipe up when Shawn mentioned that there were no full buildings downtown, saying that the Davenport Lofts are full, but then he added the qualifier that he meant commercial buildings. On that charge he is quite correct. The meeting was pretty much a series of Shawn relaying the last month's happenings with a consistent reaction of outrage from the people at the meeting. It sort of became a refrain to hear "but it was 5-5 and the Mayor broke the tie." People seemed quite angry at this, forgetting that the city had democratically elected all 11 people involved in those votes. Apparently they only like representative democracy if their side wins.
There was a lot of talk about how the city is spending money on things downtown when they can't really afford it, and about the Freight House project being included in the bond issue along with things the citizens have been waiting years for, such as Northwest Boulevard street repairs. One of the interesting parts of the meeting came when Shawn asked what he should do in an upcoming bond vote for renovating the Annie Wittenmyer complex. The issue was basically that he feels its a good project, but hates to do something that could raise taxes yet again. I was impressed to note that most people supported the project. My usual issue with "againsters" is that they aren't for anything, but these people didn't have that problem. Growing up a few blocks from there, I of course would like to see Annie Wittenmyer in good shape, but I'm for most things anyway...
The one thing that bothered me at the meeting was the constant disapproval of anything being done downtown. I was at most, if not all, of the RiverVision meetings, and these people must not have been. RiverVision did not cause a consensus on the hotel or casino, but the one thing people agreed on at the meetings is that we should start on the project right away. I remember one guy standing up and saying something along the lines of "let's get started" to overwhelming applause. All 10 Aldermen on the previous council voted to add the RiverVision plan to the comprehensive plan. If people in the 2nd ward are so against RiverVision, why weren't they at the meetings?
Alderman Hamerlinck definitely has the support of the anti-Malin, anti-downtown crowd, and seems to be one of the leaders of the 5 againster-types on the council. The other leader, Alderman Lynn, was also at the meeting yesterday. Many of Lynn and Hamerlinck's ideas make good sense, especially for using St. Ambrose students to do the work we often pay $50+ an hour consultants to do. The only issue there is making sure they aren't all just Lynn loyalists. George Nickolas was also at the meeting, but everything he said sounded like he was running a campaign for best alderman Davenport ever had. I would say some of Niky's supporters have switched to being Shawn supporters, so it was interesting to see him at the meeting. There were a lot more important things talked about at the meeting, but this post is already getting way too long. Maybe I'll put up a Part 2 later, or else anybody feel free to put in their observations from the meeting in the comments.