The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Shey compares Mayor Halloran to Gen. U.S. Grant; small-business group OK with mayor’s ‘No’ vote

In City Hall, Mayor Kay Halloran, Pat Shey on September 10, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Council member Pat Shey drags out the history references with some regularity. And he did again Tuesday during a conversation about City Hall that turned briefly to Mayor Kay Halloran and her sometime penchant to drift off for few seconds during public meetings.

KGAN-TV Channel 2 has been beating hard on the mayor about nodding off, and Shey reported that he declined Channel 2’s offer to get excited about the mayor on camera.

On Tuesday, Shey called the mayor matter a “non-story.” He also bristled a bit about the news media and why it wasn’t doing a better job of covering the City Council and all it was discussing about sustainable development and the future.

Shey also was chiding his own council colleagues for using council meetings to speechify and blab and for not staying focused on the post-flood tasks at hand.

As for the mayor, Shey noted that the city’s still-new, council/manager government is designed to make the part-time mayor little different than the other eight part-time council mayors.

The setup is referred to as a “weak mayor” form of government. The mayor has one vote like the others. She has no veto power. The “strong mayor” form of government, which the city’s Charter Commission did not choose back in 2005, features a full-time mayor who has veto power.

It is not true now, Shey said, that “the city going to hell because the mayor nods off once in awhile” or “that Nero is fiddling while Rome burns.”

“She puts in a full day,” Shey said of the mayor. “There are eight others of us on the council. She’s said all along, ‘I’m one of nine.’ If she nods off once in awhile, is that really impacting how the body works as a whole? I don’t think it does.”

Shey said the whole matter reminded him of Abe Lincoln, who was called on to get rid of Gen. Ulysses Grant because of an issue particular to Grant. He drank some.

“Maybe I should get my other generals casks of whiskey,” Shey said Lincoln responded.

The conclusion: “It’s not impacting his performance. He gets the job done.”

The Channel 2 TV news reporting on the mayor began at last week’s council meeting.

At that meeting, Mayor Halloran cast the lone “no” vote against the council’s decision to release the final $2 million of $3 million in city funds to support a local Job & Small Business Recovery Fund.

Gary Ficken, who is president of the new Cedar Rapids Small Business Recovery group, wasn’t pleased with Halloran immediately after the vote. This is the same Ficken, owner of flood-hit Bimm Ridder Sportswear, who helped run Halloran’s mayoral campaign in 2005.

But on Tuesday, Ficken said he now understands the mayor’s vote.

She has called it symbolic. She knew the council majority was going to vote to release city funds for small business, and she wanted to issue a protest vote because the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce did not follow through and raise funds to match city funds, Halloran has said.

Both Ficken and Don Karr, owner of Affordable Plumbing and Remodeling and one of the founders of the Cedar Rapids Small Business Recovery group, both noted Tuesday that Halloran had donated $10,000 of her own money to the small business fund prior to her “no” vote last week.

  1. Well well well Mr Shey. He speaks! While I will readily admit that the beddy-by Mayor does far more for the city than you do as an alleged republcan with the taxpayers in mind, I also note that you are frequently absent for meetings. I doubt any lame U.S Grant quote can cover you on that one. Speaking of your affinity for invoking irrelevant historical quotes to cover the council’s arse, a once thought to be wise man once said, “If elected, I will never roget that I am dealing with the taxpayers money and do my best to lower property taxes.” If I recall you even it painted on your garage door as a campaign gimic. How many taxes have you increased on us royal subjects in cedar Rapids starting just a month after you took office? Exactly.

    Back to U.S. Grant. Grant never drank whiskey in his sleep. Although admittedly, I would have paid to see it. Nor did Grant ever start a side business to war profiteer err provide green flood recovery construction with a fellow general. By the way, how many ethics complaints are you sitting on anyway?

  2. Mr. Shay, Thank you for the history lesson on Grant, however I think you miss the context that Lincoln made his quip, and the career of US Grant. He was by today’s standards an alcoholic, he was a slob. However, he also used those traits to his advantage. In 1830, the Army gave him a assignment in St. Louis, likely because of his drinking and other personal issues. While there, the army then gave him a task no one could even comprehend. Create a deep water port for St. Louis. With some shovels and gun powered Grant moved the mississippi about a mile to the west, the flow of the water, and current carved a deep water port near Hall Street in downtown St. Louis. I think Lincoln saw a person with some bad habits, who was able to move the Mississippi. I do not beleive the current mayor has moved the Mississippi, I do not even think she or the council could even save a single city asset from the flood, comparing the Grant and the Mayor, gives whiskey a bad name.

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