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Archive for March 17th, 2009|Daily archive page

City, county contributing to one private-sector effort on flood recovery while private sector contributes to second effort in City Hall

In City Hall, Linn County government on March 17, 2009 at 3:34 pm

The private sector’s interest in helping with flood recovery got another boost this week.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors has agreed to contribute $20,000 to the Economic Planning and Redevelopment Corp., an upstart private-sector initiative created in Cedar Rapids to help with local flood recovery.

For one, the Linn County board’s contribution should help comfort Cedar Rapids City Private-sector help on flood recovery: City, county contributing to one business-led Council member Chuck Wieneke, who has suggested that the council take back its $50,000 grant to the EPRC if the county wasn’t willing to contribute.

Earlier, the county board had tabled the matter.

On Tuesday, Lu Barron, chairwoman of the Linn board, said Tuesday that the board first wanted to get a better feel for the EPRC’s plans and mission before it contributed to the effort. On a unanimous 5-0 vote, the board now is satisfied, Barron said.

The public support for the EPRC makes it a private-public partnership, though the push for its creation came from some local business leaders displeased with the pace of flood recovery in the city. John Smith, president/CEO of trucking firm CRST International Inc., is chairman of the four-person EPRC board.

The EPRC’s director is Doug Neumann, who also holds down a post with the Downtown District.

In the last two weeks, the EPRC’s still-new role got pushed into the background a bit as yet a second, private-sector initiative surfaced in hopes of helping City Hall better deal with the city’s flood recovery. In this second effort, which is being promoted by Rockwell Collins, local business interests have offered to pay to support a new city flood-recovery manager inside of City Hall not outside of City Hall where the EPRC is operating.

Fund-raising for the City Hall position reportedly is underway even as the city and now Linn County are spending public dollars to pay for the first private-sector initiative, the EPRC.

The EPRC’s Neumann and the EPRC board have said that the EPRC will be out chasing federal grants and private grants that the city and county are not.

“I sincerely appreciate that the county supervisors have recognized the value EPRC can have in helping find funds for flood recovery and in helping accelerate progress on the many redevelopment projects we need to revitalize this great community,” Neumann said Tuesday of the county board’s funding support.

Linn County’s Barron said the EPRC and the private-sector-supported flood coordinator inside City Hall may have efforts that overlap a bit, but she said she sees the two positions as working together.

Linn supervisor Linda Langston and Monica Vernon, Cedar Rapids council member, are on the four-member EPRC board of directors.

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Mayoral race has one announced candidate, but Gary Hinzman joins Ron Corbett with his own mayoral Web site

In City Hall on March 17, 2009 at 6:33 am

Cedar Rapids may have just Ron Corbett so far when it comes to candidates who have formally announced a campaign for mayor.

However, Gary Hinzman, director of the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services and a one-time Cedar Rapids police chief, is front and center with his own Web site, “Gary Hinzman for Mayor, A Voice for All People, A Force for Positive Change.”

Hinzman, who has not run for elective office before, has been on Corbett’s mind for a few months now as Corbett, a former state representative and, in that role, a former speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, has readied to make his own run for mayor.

Early in the year, Corbett or Corbett backers conducted a phone survey in the city to see just which names might have some traction in this year’s mayoral race. In addition to the Corbett name, the list included Scott Olson, a commercial Realtor who was narrowly defeated in the 2005 mayoral race; council members Brian Fagan and Monica Vernon; and Hinzman.

In recent weeks, Hinzman joined the other four names on that list in saying that he supported the local-option sales tax for flood relief and property-tax relief, a tax that voters easily passed on March 3.

Once Corbett jumped out and formally announced his mayoral campaign on March 9, Hinzman said recently that he would wait for a time before announcing his intentions.

Hinzman is a national leader in the field of community corrections as exemplified by his position as president of the American Parole and Probation Association.

He has been head of the six-county community corrections operation since 1989, and in that time, he has overseen the creation of a sprawling campus of correctional buildings off Sixth Street SW.

Hinzman came to the agency at a time when it needed to expand and it was facing resistance from neighbors who didn’t want correctional services in the neighborhoods. Hinzman took the center of the operation to an out-of-the-way industrial area of the city, and more recently, has returned some staff members to neighborhood centers in the city.

Hinzman’s Web site says he oversees an $18-million-plus annual budget and 250 employees.

As for Web site, candidate Corbett has one, too: Ron Corbett, “Leadership for Cedar Rapids.”

On the Corbett site, you can buy a T-shirt, coffee mug or dog shirt, sign up to get text messages or e-mails from the campaign and watch a video of Corbett’s campaign announcement speech.

Corbett is vice president for human resources at trucking firm CRST and is former president/CEO of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Kay Halloran has said she will wait until after the state legislative session this spring before announcing her City Hall plans.

The election is Nov. 3.