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

City Hall puts cost of “A Season of Progress” report and mailing at $31,444; mayoral challenger Corbett sees report as incumbents using tax dollars to respond to criticism

In City Hall on July 6, 2009 at 11:39 am

Mayoral candidate Ron Corbett says it figures.

It’s just four months from the November city election, and the City Council — six of the nine members’ seats are on the ballot — is out with a spiffy, six-page mailing called “A Season of Progress.”
City Hall puts the cost of the “one-year progress report” on the city’s flood recovery at $31,444. The sum is what it costs to write the report, design it, print it and mail it to 63,000 households, the city reports.

“Any challenger like myself, no matter what the office is, always has to go up against the power of incumbency,” says Corbett, vice president at trucking firm CRST Inc. and a former state legislator.

“When you can use taxpayer dollars to respond to challenges from someone like me and others, it certainly is that built-in advantage of being the incumbent,” Corbett continues. “… It’s a disadvantage that I have.”

Mayor Kay Halloran says Corbett is entitled to his opinion, but she says the mailing to Cedar Rapidians was an appropriate report at the one-year mark of the city’s flood recovery.

“We had certain commemorative activities to mark the one year, and the idea was to show people that we have made a significant amount of progress, and while they are clearly impatient as I am also, we aren’t standing in place,” the mayor says. “We’re marching straight ahead. Not as fast as they would want us to. Not as fast as I would want us to. But as fast the circumstance permits and FEMA money allows.”

Kathy Potts, who is challenging incumbent council member Jerry McGrane for the council’s District 3 seat, says her very first question when she saw the City Hall mailing was this: How much did it cost?

“The wasteful spending that this city continues to do is frustrating,” Potts says.

Beyond that, she says she also thinks, “There they go again, trying to convince us they are doing a wonderful job.”

Corbett says all he can do is pick apart what the six-page progress report trumpets. He singles out two items:

He notes that the report praises all the flood-damaged businesses that have reopened. But he notes that the City Council has decided to add a year to its lease on temporary quarters in a northeast Cedar Rapids office park rather than returning to the downtown. And he notes, too, that the City Hall report celebrates the demolition of 70 flood-damaged properties. With more than 1,200 more demolitions to go, Corbett says 70 homes in a year isn’t much of a victory.

The city’s new fiscal year began July 1, and the City Council’s new budget eliminates the cost of printing and mailing City Hall’s monthly four-page newsletter. Each issue has cost about $18,000 to produce and mail, the city reports.

The city will continue to produce an e-mail version of the monthly newsletter.

Corbett is the only candidate in the mayoral race at this point.

Two possible candidates, council member Monica Vernon and Linda Langston, Linn supervisor, have said they will not seek the mayor’s slot.

Council member Brian Fagan, a local attorney, is expected to run against Corbett while Mayor Halloran is not expected to seek reelection.

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  1. Sure Cr has had progress. Now let’s talk about what they’ve managed to do. they have alienated the Veterans’ by not allowing them the $30,000 it would take for temporary electric to get them back into a running building and at the same time they have tied them into a contract that will cost almost double that amount monthly for fuel to run the generators that currently provide that same electricity to the building. Also, the city gets a kick back from every purchase at Menards and they are not turning that $$ back into the divisions are that actually purchasing items for repairs. And just where is the insurance money Mr. Processor? And the money from FEMA for the veterans’ Memorial building, just where is that you little snake????

  2. Oh, and lest we forget they passed a 1% sales tax to help them purchase flooded property and now when they have their first installment of that money they are not using it to buy out property. Culture of DELAY! (lie, cheat, and steal)

  3. Once again,I have to agree with Ron,this is just a waste of money and a way for the council members,up for reelection,to get some free campaigning at taxpayers expense.If all of them are so interested about getting the downtown up and running,then why are they so intent on staying out at their temporary offices.Could it be that they are trying to hold out there until they can sneak thru their Taj Mahal.
    Will be so glad when November gets here and we vote out these high rollers before they spend more of our money on stupid mailings.

  4. i thought it was a campaign flyer so i threw it out. i may have to go dig it out of the recycler.

  5. Somebody help me. I need to know if I have the correct spelling of Yossarian. I read through about 4 paragraphs of this campaign flyer upon my return from Lake Geneva. I really can’t afford to go to Lake Geneva, but these four paragraphs made me grateful I left here for a while.

    They are so deluded. Do they really think that people buy this? Yes is the answer.

    What is coming up is the most important election in Cedar Rapids history, with widespread consequences for the future (or lack of a viable future). Please everyone, do your due diligence before you vote.

    End the culture of delay. It has cost us opportunity that will never return, and we are all going to pay for it. Let’s stop digging the hole.

    Brian – Please end this culture of delay. Per your recent sentiments – bring it on! Bring on new leadership. Do the honorable thing, help end the culture. See reality, join me in voting for young Nick Duffy, and not so young Ron Corbett. Stand up and publicallly announce your support and loyality to the new leadership. It is the only responsible and honorable thing to do.

    Pat and Kay – Resign immediately. End your recent insightful observation of the “status quo”. Please, read Shakespeare and Twain on your own time, not ours. Find a solution looking for a problem (another insightful observation, both quoted by the Gazette).

    This has Biblical precedent, and is the way we live on the Ave (16th Ave that is).

    Prune kolaches to you all.

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