Monday, March 02, 2009

My last Pre-Promise, Pro-Promise Post

First, a few things that I didn't have room for in my first post. The second half of this post I'm going to lay out what I believe to be the Pros, Cons, and potential risks and rewards of the Promise.

Leftover Meeting Stuff:

At one point, the moderator asked Mark Nelson what his idea for fixing Davenport's problems were, if not the Promise. He attempted to refuse, saying that wasn't the issue, but Ridolfi insisted. I'm glad he insisted, because the group's name isn't Opt4Nothing, its Opt4Better. That implies an idea of what "better" is. Finally he came out with the usual Libertarian answer of school vouchers, performance-based teacher pay, and lower taxes. If only we give everyone the chance to all go to privately run schools, everything will be fine! I'm sorry, but if you add 100 kids whose parents would rather shoot at each other than raise their kids, any public OR private school is going to have trouble. When parents are the problem, its tough for the all-powerful market to solve the issue. This is why its important to bring in parents and their children who are so focused on learning that they're willing to move somewhere focused on education.

Also towards the end of the meeting Nelson trotted out the usual conspiracy theory where the school district and the city are trying to influence the results by letting people know when the informational meetings are. If the city autodialer called people to say "Vote for Promise" that would be a real issue. Instead, they told people about meetings where both sides had a chance to present their argument. I don't see how that's bad. Nelson also claimed that the School District sent out pro-Promise postcards, while Ken Croken said that those had been sent out by the Pro-Promise folks. I didn't get one, so I don't know where the truth lies on that one.

And now, Pros, Cons, Risks and Rewards: (I tried to put facts in the Pros and Cons and possibilities in the Risks and Rewards)

Promise Pro's:
-It isn't a new tax
-Some existing residents will have an easier time sending their kids to college
-$7500 towards buying a home in Davenport for graduates who enlist in the military
-Property tax cap for low income seniors and disabled folks
-More money for public safety frees up operating budget money to keep tax rates stable, at least in the short term
-Cannot give way more than 30% of LOST revenue
-Many potential rewards (see below)

Promise Con's:
-Money is initially taken away from capital improvement projects (CIP), especially parks
-Doesn't inherently "fix" the school system (although potentially brings it more $)
-Every detail doesn't seem to be worked out yet
-30% of LOST revenue may not fully cover quickly-rising college tuitions for long
-Many potential risks (see below)

Potential Risks:
-Could fail completely, no new money for schools or the city, less CIP money than now
-Could be so successful that too many people move here, ruining Davenport's livability
-Property taxes could rise, increasing assessments, and therefore increasing taxes on people not covered by the cap
-It could only attract people looking for freebies
-More kids could go to college, and not return

Potential Rewards:
-The School district could receive far more state money, allowing them to stop raising taxes locally (or even lower them? ...maybe too much to hope for) and/or providing funding to "fix" the school system
-The influx of new residents could entice new companies to consider locating here
-Property taxes could rise, increasing resale value
-The incentive to go to SCC for free may keep more kids local for 2 extra years
-Good PR for the city, allowing us to be known for something other than failures of the '80s
-Feared city tax increases could potentially be offset by decreasing school taxes, allowing the overall tax bill to remain stable
-It could only attract people concerned about their kids' education.
-More kids go to college!

All of these issues bring me to the fact that if this isn't working, it can be ended. Whether ended gradually and expensively, or quickly and cheaply, it could be voted away. Mark Nelson said Tuesday though that if this passes, people won't vote this benefit away. That should tell you everything right there.

Either way, don't forget to VOTE TOMORROW.


Anonymous said...

You forgot another potential risk: The nearby cities of Moline, East Moline, and Rock Island will see their school/city budgets drained as people move to Davenport for free college. The Illinois side is already hurting more than the Iowa side. Davenport Promise would be a big nail in their coffin for economic development. In fact, I'm willing to bet a large majority of Davenport's new residents would come from within the QC metro area. That is not increasing population, but rather shifting it from one location to another. There needs to be a plan which grows the whole region. Davenport Promise is a classic example of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

QuadCityImages said...

I'd be fine with the entire region doing something along these lines, if the Promise passes.

My risks and rewards were only covering Davenport, however, which I probably should have mentioned. I'd say it has a risk of drawing either potential or current residents away from Cedar Rapids, Peoria, etc, but that risk is less concerning than the potential impact to Illinois-side QCs. I'm not that worried about Bettendorf, PV, or LeClaire, because they have perfected the art of robbing Davenport for decades.

Pho3niX said...

If I lived in Rock Island County, I'd be wanting to move to Davenport anyway... less crime.

Anonymous said...

CQI when you say itd not a new tax, thats misleading. It will increase sales tax. Thats money on your utilities that will increase.

Anonymous said...

You said it yourself as quoted "I'm sorry, but if you add 100 kids whose parents would rather shoot at each other than raise their kids, any public OR private school is going to have trouble." This is exactly what our schools have now. Do you really think people are going to leave where they're living now to move here and enroll their kids in schools that have this type of environment. The best way to sell this city is to clean up the crime in our streets and SCHOOLS and focus on restoring our crumbling infrastructure and then maybe our city would be a more desirable place to live.

Anonymous said...

This flippant "Oh well, the Illinois side deserves to be trashed anyway" mentality is what kills the region as a whole from an economic standpoint. There is no synergy between the towns which constitute the Quad Cities, which is why most of them suffer. Of course, nobody from Bettendorf is going to move to Davenport. They have vastly superior schools, better maintained roads, and safer neighborhoods. Who in their right mind is going to move their children from PV or Bettendorf to Davenport? Most people in Bettendorf can afford to send their kids college anyway and don't need a public handout to do so. If Promise passses, Davenport will cement its image as a haven for low-class, lazy trash who expect other people to pay their way in life. Good luck with that label.

Adrian said...

Thanks for the tidy summary, QCI! Definitely going to vote tomorrow.

pioneer98 said...

Oh, you mean neighboring cities may have to do something to make themselves as desireable as Davenport would become if this thing passes? How can motivating our neighboring cities to improve themselves possibly be a bad thing?

Moline and Rock Island led the downtown revitalization efforts in this area. Their success has also forced Davenport to react over the years, too.

pioneer98 said...

8:01 - How many lazy people have you met that have a college degree?

Anonymous said...

Pioneer, meet QCI.

QCI, meet Pioneer.

Now pioneer, your day is complete.

Anonymous said...

One of the bests post ever. Ever. Thank you.

pioneer98 said...

If eveeryone were as "lazy" as QCI, Davenport would be an amazing place to live, 1:17.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of what the outcome of the Promise might be, all one has to do is look what an expensive college education did for Davenport's very own village idiot. After graduating an institution of higher learning, he came back to Davenport to operate a blog called Information Swimming.

Party On Garth !

pioneer98 said...

I will concede that there are probably many college graduates that have come back to Davenport that are more productive than I. I'm rooting for there to be many more, too. Hopefully we give them a warm welcome.

Anonymous said...

I believe I have made my decision. Seeing Ald Bill Goat's ugly, road mapped face and nasty teeth on TV tonight, spouting off that he is "a professor" bullcrap, I fully support The Promise. Anything The Goatman is against, I am for.

Anonymous said...

I voted against the Promise but it killed me when I saw who else was opposing it. Yerington, McGreevey, and the rest. Its always the same bunch. I feel like I made a hard decision and Im sticking to it, but it sucks to betray your own side.

Anonymous said...

What more can Davenport do to make itself hip to young professionals? Maybe we could have a couple more mall shootings and build another skybridge to connect the IMAX to the ghetto lofts downtown. That oughtta do it.

PrivatePigg said...

"Mark Nelson said Tuesday though that if this passes, people won't vote this benefit away. That should tell you everything right there."

The point being that even if the program doesn't work, a very vocal and active minority getting freebies will mobilize to keep the program going. A vocal and active minority receiving a benefit will always be more vociferous than a group 'at large' that feels like they are getting harmed by a program, simply because those few that benefit see big benefits, while the majority of those that feel they are getting screwed feel that the negative aspects are shared among a large group of people (the entire population) so it isn't worth their time to fight it. That is, if 10% are benefitting, they are going to fight long and hard for it, while the 90% that are getting screwed might not say much because, as a group, neither is affected all that much because the costs are spread across 100% of the population.

That doesn't mean it is a good or worthwhile program.

"How many lazy people have you met that have a college degree?"

Very few. I think the concern here is that "lazy" people will flock to the area looking for a freebie/handout, will not succeed (because they are lazy), and then will be here and probably will not ever leave.

Anonymous said...

Would that be the same Mark Nelson that chose to editorialize on the condition of downtown Davenport and the probability of failure for the Blackhawk Hotel project while submitting the appraisal for the property? Nelson’s scathing criticism of downtown Davenport displays an abject lack of professionalism and puts into question the reliability of his arguments of opposition to the Promise.