Thursday, March 12, 2009

Budget stuff, a brewery, and Snarky

Davenport Council unanimously approves budget -QCTimes
No tax or fee increases to speak of, due to some positions not being filled and of course the unpopular choice a few years back to add a stormwater fee. It sounds like next year might not be as peachy, however.

Davenport hires stimulus manager -QCTimes
This one seems fairly logical to me, depending on the guy's contract. From what it sounds like, it would be no benefits, and at-will, meaning he can be let go as soon as we get all the stimulus money we have coming, or as soon as he fails to get it for us. $250 a day isn't something to sneeze at, but it could pay off if having a "stimulus manager" is a point in our favor when competing for this money.

The Can Can: Great River Brewery Debuts Its Beers, but Bottles Aren’t on Tap
-River Cities' Reader
I've been meaning to write something about this, but the Reader has a great article about downtown Davenport's newest business. I'm still hoping to stop down and check the place out sometime soon.

And finally, Snarky has a post up about the Davenport Promise. From what she told me this doesn't mean a return to active blogging, but she clearly had a few things worth saying. Its good to have someone that takes a more middle ground route between the QCIs and Cruisers of the blog world.

13 Comments:

At 3/12/2009 10:48 AM, Blogger Robbie said...

on an unrelated note, looks like the flames are leaving the qc. there goes a great minor league sports team. so many reasons this whole thing went bad, but its a shame regardless.

 
At 3/12/2009 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snark
What great opportunity did Davenport lose?

 
At 3/12/2009 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Times’ Smear Job Is Shameful PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 10:43
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The Quad-City Times' management, most especially the disgraced editors, get to evaluate whether their decision to smear local appraiser Mark Nelson was worth what it has cost them -- the last vestige of credibility they had in the community as reliable news providers. In what it tried to pass as a news story in its print edition on Tuesday, March 3, the Times disparaged Nelson with myriad unsubstantiated claims about an alleged cover letter he sent with an appraisal that discouraged Royal Banks of Missouri from approving a loan to Amy and Amrit Gill of Restoration St. Louis for the redevelopment of the Blackhawk Hotel as a boutique hotel.

The article (if one can call it that) contained several quotes from Amy Gill, who claimed that that Nelson has made negative comments about Davenport and its downtown in his appraisal. The article reports that Gill said: "When he wrote our appraisal, he wrote about how downtown Davenport will never be redeveloped, how our bank should not invest in Davenport, and how awful the city government is."

But after a brief investigation, it was discovered that Ms. Gill had not seen the appraisal, nor had she seen the cover letter referred to in the Times' article. More importantly, neither had the Times reporter, Tory Brecht, or any of its editorial staff. Perhaps that is because said letter does not exist. Nelson attests that he did not write such a missive, and that no such document exists. In other words, reporter Brecht relied on nothing more than hearsay to publish the accusations, and was unable to corroborate a single one of Nelson's "alleged negatives" with any documentation, or even one eyewitness to said letter.

--------------------------------
UPDATE: WOC Radio interviewed Mayor Bill Gluba on the air, the morning the Times' smear article appeared. Mayor Gluba's ad hominem attacks can be heard below.

Mark Nelson was also interviewed shortly thereafter and his remarks regarding his perspective on the state of downtown development can be heard below.

Ms. Gill later admitted to not having actually seen the documents she commented on, explaining that she was going by what her banker told her. Meanwhile, her banker, in an e-mail to the River Cities' Reader on March 3, stated that the financing for the redevelopment project had been approved. "The Gills' loan with Royal Banks of Missouri was closed earlier this week, so I'm not sure what the true issue is in Davenport," wrote Mitch Baden, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Obviously the issues in Davenport reflect Mr. Nelson's position against the Davenport Promise -- a proposed entitlement program (whether corporate welfare disguised as economic development for cheap labor, or social welfare disguised as incentives to attract new residents, is just splitting hairs -- it is still a subsidy on the backs of taxpayers whether in the form of current sales taxes or future property taxes) -- that was voted on the same day, and that failed 61 percent to 39 percent.

What is the most shocking about this fiction posing as news is the Times' willingness to jeopardize not only its own reputation, but also the reputation of a 20-year-plus professional appraiser because Nelson solidly refuted the flawed data that supported the Promise. The Times deliberately attempted to undermine Nelson's expertise in risk assessment in order to discredit him as a reliable source of information on the Promise. And it was willing to do this at the expense of accuracy, verification, and truth. In other words, it has finally dropped all pretenses that its readers are of any consequence compared to its advertisers.

This era of blatant lying in the moment, rationalized by offenders' belief in the short-term memories of voters, is getting out of control. Reporter Brecht and his equally culpable Editor Steve Thomas actually justified running this article by saying that the bank would have no reason to accuse Nelson, nor would the Gills because they had no stake in the Promise. This rationale assumes that connecting the two issues (the appraisal of the Blackhawk Hotel and the Davenport Promise) even has validity. It only becomes valid in the light of the smear campaign the Times perpetrated by connecting them in the first place on the eve of the vote.

To further assume that the bank, or the Gills for that matter, have no reason to make any kind of false claim regarding the appraisal is patently irresponsible. That is why journalists investigate and verify. Reporter Brecht's fiction is so full of holes, so irresponsible -- in its complete lack of objectivity and corroboration, and an absurd reliance on hearsay no less than five people deep, not to mention the abundance of misinformation that abounds -- that to publish this anywhere outside of the editorial page reflects a gross departure from integrity to date by an already highly suspect enterprise.

 
At 3/12/2009 3:24 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Why isn't Nelson releasing the appraisal if it exonerates him?

Anyway, you guys need to stop pasting entire articles into comments. Its simple copyright infringement, and bad manners to the original authors and sources.

Just paste a link.

 
At 3/12/2009 4:18 PM, Blogger pioneer98 said...

Nelson never "solidly refuted" the data in the UpJohn report. No one has. In fact, critics of the Promise, including Nelson, still cite parts of that report that support their own position!

Yes, I agree that some of the projections in the UpJohn report seemed flawed, but I have yet to see an analysis by anyone proving the projections were flawed.

The critics simply dismissed it as "overly optimistic". What does that mean? Are they 70% too optimistic, or only 20% too optimisitc? Wouldn't that be good to know? If they had taken the time to do their own analysis that came to a different conclusion than the UpJohn one, then I would concede that they had "solidly refuted" the report. All they did was question it, though.

I don't think having the appraisal come to light will make one bit of difference. We can conclude that based on Nelson's radio interview that the appraisal is extremely negative. Probably sensational enough for the Times to try to hang their hat on it. But the Times probably screwed up enough details for Nelson & company to continue screaming their conspiracy theories, too. We'll be right back where we started.

 
At 3/13/2009 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snarky
What golden opportunity did Davenport lose? Explain please.

 
At 3/13/2009 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The appraisal is the property of the entity or person who paid for it. Nelson can not release any portion of it without the permission of his client who I presume was the bank. I have never met Mr. Nelson, but I've seen many appraisals written by many appraisers. Appraisals written to please the client are part of the reason this country is facing a mortgage meltdown. Homes were given a generous value to justify the required mortgage. Honest appraisers write objective appraisals that accurately reflect market conditions. Until we actually read the appraisal for ourselves, we can't judge.

 
At 3/13/2009 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Flames are leaving!!! YAY!

 
At 3/13/2009 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pioneer,

It is standard academic practice to cite the studies you disagree with when you refute their claims. There is a difference between accepting the evidence you distrust as positive evidence (evidence proving a new conclusion) and the situation here where folks have been using the questionable evidence in the report to show that such evidence (even if faulty) does not support the conclusions arrived at, by the Promise proponents.

Simply saying, "in fact, critics of the Promise, including Nelson, still cite parts of that report that support their own position" does not by itself support the charge of invalidity which you launch against your antagonists.

Your criticism indeed has logical flaws of its own. Your claim that "I have yet to see an analysis by anyone proving the projections were flawed," assumes that a) evidence is true unless proven to be false. (Logic 101: x = true because x = not false [x can be neither true nor false]) and b) that it is up to the opposition to disprove the unproven assumptions offered by the Promise folks.

I didn't vote against the Promise because I had strong reasons to believe it wouldn't work, but because I felt it was too big of a risk to pursue in the present economic climate without sufficient proof. This decision was, based on the facts available the only prudent one to take.

Pioneer, I would be careful about lobbing poorly thought-out criticisms at people who disagree with you. Especially when those criticisms are strongly worded attacks which call into question the intelligence of those you seek to refute. On the whole this seems to be a particularly ironic approach for you to have taken.

 
At 3/13/2009 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't vote against the Promise *not because I had strong reasons to believe it wouldn't work

 
At 3/14/2009 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Promise programs are wonderful however, there needs to be familial support. Money isn't everything. It follows the old saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

Public Education should be the gem of any civilized society. There are too many problems with public education from preschool through 12th grade right now, and those need to be fixed first.

There is this constant thought process in this country that we need to send everyone to college. I believe this is the wrong attitude. College is not a right, it's a privilege and should not be fully publicly funded. That's why it's college, and not high school. Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to attend college regardless of income, or background. It is however, absurd to push unprepared students through high school into college to boost numbers for both the school districts and colleges themselves.

When unprepared students have to take remedial courses the first year of college, it is a detriment to the entire high education process. In regular classes, unprepared students fall behind and have a higher probability of failure, and drop out. When these students are put in remedial courses, it singles them out, again inflicting a sense of "we're here, but apparently we really don't belong here"

The solution is to fix pre-K through 12th grade, churn out PREPARED students, then afford them the OPPORTUNITY to attend college, regardless of income or background.

 
At 3/14/2009 6:38 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

I don't think anyone was arguing against improving our public schools. I just don't see that the Promise prevents that from happening, or even makes it less likely. If anything, it would have made the need more obvious.

However, I must say that I came out of Central quite prepared for college, so I'm not sure if this is something that has gotten that much worse in 9 years, or is over exaggerated. After her student teaching experiences, my sister believes its gotten considerably worse.

Watching the show choir competition on Channel 22 just makes it hard for me to listen to all this crap about how Davenport schools are worthless.

 
At 3/14/2009 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snarky

What golden opportunity did the City of Davenport lose when it voted down Promise?

 

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