Way back in 2009, it seemed that everyone was clamoring for a seat in City Hall. We had ten people running for Mayor (Cohen, Pierre, Flyntz, Cordle, McFall, Taylor, Sears-Deppa, Renaut, Fox, and Shropshire), and five of the eight aldermanic wards were up for grabs.
It seemed everyone wanted to become the savior of the City in some sense. They all professed a deep seated love for the community. But most of them lost. And unfortunately, most of them have disappeared off the face of the civic minded earth.
Aside from a few brief appearances shortly after Joshua Cohen took office, all but three former candidates seemed to have completely fallen off the radar. Where are Pierre, Flyntz, Cordle, Taylor, Sears-Deppa, Renaut, Fox, Shropshire, Conley, Stiverson, and Monteith.
Only Rock Toews (unsuccessfully ran for Alderman in Ward 8), Trudy McFall (unsuccessfully ran for Mayor in the democratic primary), and Scott Bowling (unsuccessfully ran for Alderman in Ward 3) seem to have retained their sense of civic mindedness. It is a disappointment that the others (who all had wonderful ideas and can certainly bring something to the table) have gone away. Perhaps it is indicative of politics in general. Maybe they didn’t get the ball on the playground and decided to leave in a huff. I don’t know. What do you think?
Last week we caught up with Rock Toews, owner of a local business called Back Creek Books. While not securing the Ward 8 seat on the Council, Rock has been a frequent visitor and speaker at City Council meetings.
We asked Rock how he thought the new administration was doing now that we are approaching the second Cohen budget:
I commend the Mayor on having reduced the budget from about $86 million to about $75 million. However, it needs to be cut further. I do not like the explanation that lines of credit are needed because of a “cash flow” problem. In business, a line of credit might be used to bridge a cash shortage caused by investment in new potential revenue sources. There is the expectation of increased revenue as a result of this short term borrowing. In the city’s case, however, these lines of credit are simply being used to pay for daily operations. There is no investment or expectation of additional revenue as a result.
I was also happy that proposed lease with Gone to Market, LLC was withdrawn earlier this week. It is astounding to hear the Market House discussed as this challenging piece of real estate. It’s only the prime piece of property downtown, for Pete’s sake! The proposed lease would have literally given it away for the next 30 years with no real prospect of revenue for the city. This is not some blighted piece of property. Is it really so hard to make a profit there? Maybe the city should just list it with a commercial broker, several of whom could probably get it fully rented within a couple of months.
I don’t think the city should sell the Market House either, as Alderman Arnett has suggested. I like that it is a highly visible, tangible public asset managed by the city. As such it serves as something like a barometer of how the Mayor and council are managing our assets. How much more of our money are willing to give to folks who insist on making a pig’s ear out of such a silk purse?
Obviously Rock is keeping his finger on the pulse of the City. In future articles, we will speak with Trudy McFall and Scott Bowling.