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

Corbett gets closer to mayoral run; says City Hall doesn’t need to spend taxpayer money to build a ‘Taj Mahal’

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2009 at 12:02 am

Ron Corbett reports he is getting closer to a mayoral run, and on Thursday afternoon, he was at the ready with an opinion about the City Council’s interest in building a Community Services Center that would essentially be a new city hall.

“The city doesn’t need to use taxpayer money to build a Taj Mahal,” says Corbett, a vice president of trucking firm CRST Inc.

Corbett points to the digital age and the era of the Web and the Internet and he says more and more people are paying bills and conducting business without a need to go to a public building.

“Twenty, 30, 40 years from now, taxpayers aren’t ones who are going to get in their cars and drive down to City Hall,” Corbett says.

He also says he doesn’t like the idea of taking a parcel of land off the tax rolls for a new public building.

Instead, he wants to see what kind of life is still left in the city’s historic, flood-damaged Veterans Memorial Building, which has housed City Hall on May’s Island for more than 80 years.

“I’m a fan of sitting down with the Veterans Commission and working with them on the best use of that facility,” Corbett says.

He notes, too, that the city will be taking possession of the existing federal courthouse, down the street from the Veterans Memorial Building/City Hall, in 2012 when the new courthouse opens. That should present some different options for some departments in city government, he says.

Corbett is past Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives and he served as president of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce from 1999 to mid-2005. He resigned to join CRST Inc.

Corbett backers are thought to have conducted a recent phone survey to see whom voters might back for mayor.

The choices in the survey were Corbett; council member and attorney Brian Fagan; Gary Hinzman, executive director of the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services and former police chief; Scott Olson, a commercial Realtor who lost a close race for mayor in 2005; and Monica Vernon, a business owner and council member.

Fagan and Vernon this week both expressed strong backing for a public participation process that will take the next six to nine months to look at building a Community Services Center.

The city also is interested in seeing if the county or school district wants to consider “co-locating” services in the center.

In addition, the city is interested in building a Community Safety Training Center for police and firefighters, which also could include a new dispatch center. The city and county have long avoided joining forces in such a center, but this could be an opportunity to rethink that.

The city also is talking about reconfiguring its Public Works Facility into a Community Operations Center.

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  1. Finally, Ron Corbett rushes in to save us from ourselves. As a flood impacted businessowner and residential landlord, I’ve been in constant contact and communication with City and State officials almost daily. My observations? There actually is communication with State officials. The City? Well, on Wednesday I had lunch with a Councilperson and the talk turned to the co-location. His comment was that my information was incorrect, the City has no plans for building any new facilities. Surprise, surprise… Thursday morning’s Gazette article.

    I’m not sure what’s going on at City Hall North, but I could speculate. My speculations would be a bit more credible than the average observer due to my daily invlolement. And yet, none of this matters. What matters is this: WE HAVE SOMEONE STEPPING FORWARD TO EXHIBIT LEADERSHIP AND COMMON SENSE. FINALLY. FINALLY. FINALLY.

    Please repeat after me: “Good Morning Mayor Corbett, How Are You Today?”

  2. Great, just what the city needs another washed up republican legislator.

  3. Hmm, 1st impression, won’t vote for Corbett.In my book moving City and County back into the flood risk danger zone is not going to save money and in the end may cost important records, health risk issues. Sounds like the same, I’m important attitude hear me roar the County Supervisors have. Need to give CR council a little more time, I think a leader is emerging. Teams develop this way. No one was prepared for what we experienced.

  4. Rick – would it not be a good question to ask of Prosser, et al; if they had been lobbying the County for “weeks” to sign on to this process how could they not know the County was not going to have two members serve on a committee and fund two additional positions? The county is making this position public Friday, the 20th yet Prosser, Sandi Fowler etc went forward Wed.evening the 18th and apparenlty made no mention to City Council that a “three party” planning process was going to be short “one player”. Either Prosser is guilty of witholding critical information from the Council prior to making a policy decision or – the Council knew before Wed. evenings meeting & vote the county was off the table in terms of co-locating, and the City Council pressed forward anyway while misleading the public about the level of interest from other government groups.

  5. Let’s not forget that Corbett was instrumental in getting us this wonderful new form of mismanaged government. And former state legislator? That and a quarter will get him a cup of coffee somewhere.

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