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Editorial: Marinos shows class; Kuhn and Tornquist run and hide; Solberg clueless

This news story was published on January 18, 2012.
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Editorial by Matt Marquardt –

Let’s examine last night’s city council meeting; more specifically, how well the mayor and each council member served the citizens.

Mayor Eric Bookmeyer gave his state of the city address. Eric puffed out his chest and did his best Seargant Carter impersonation. Unfortunately, in his speech, Sergeant Bookmeyer looked back as much as he looked forward and took some thinly veiled cheap shots at former council members. He blamed circumstances or people who stand in his way, or that he perceives stand in his way. Is that leadership? As he laid blame, he claimed that Mason City is experiencing growth, new business, and a “river city renaissance.” He proclaimed how low the taxes are in Mason City as a great achievement. Did he forget that the former council just left office 2 weeks ago? Didn’t they lay the groundwork for all this prosperity he claims is now here? Didn’t they lay the policies and approve the budgets that brought us the low taxes? It was evident that Marsters, Nelson and Weaver really got to this guy and he blew a great chance to look to the future, forget the past and lead. His verbal sparring with Sandy Servantez after her remarks during the public forum was amateur and cheapened his presence further. In honor of the “Three D’s” you talked about in your original state of the city address, Eric, I award you one. GRADE: D

Jean Marinos was faced with two dilemmas at last night’s council meeting. The first dilemma was a vote on a possible real estate deal located near Menard’s. Her husband, Jim, had earlier addressed the council and stated that rental vacancy rates in Mason City were high; 12% or more at times. He wasn’t supportive of Mason City pursuing the deal. Marinos recused herself from the vote on this matter, showing class and realizing that she was just too closely involved personally to make an objective vote. That was a breath of fresh air. The next dilemma she faced was sitting up there listening to Scott Tornquist reach too far into the cookie jar as he put the real estate developer on the spot, forcing him to accept higher bids from Iowa contractors who would bid the housing development work. (More on that later.) Marinos offered a compromise on the deal that the developer could live with and the council accepted it. GRADE: A

Travis Hickey didn’t wear his “rookie” t-shirt last night, and he offered some decent observations. He talked about “changing the culture” and “TIF.” I think he knows what TIF is, but I’m not sure. It seems he really thinks the city’s partnership with the Pappajohn Center would spur small business development in Mason City, which shows how clueless he is when it comes to starting and running a small business. He fell in line with Bookmeyer and Trout and played by their rules; he was a good team player and voted for their agenda, but showed once again that he can’t think for himself. GRADE: C-

John Lee came prepared for the meeting and it was evident early that he did his homework. He proposed a safeguard in the city’s deal with NIACC’s Pappajohn Center to make sure the tax dollars the city gives them are used properly and only for the project in question. That shows he is interested in being a good steward of the citizens and will not frivolously toss cash around. He is aware that the city’s cash flow could be seriously affected by Governor Branstad’s proposed commercial real estate tax cuts and seems to realize that budgets will be tighter than ever in coming years, and that all dollars count. Lee did have a little trouble with his blue chair and nearly toppled over at one point though, which will cost him some style points. GRADE: A-

Janet Solberg once again sunk to new depths at the council table. She showed her total lack of brainpower when she asked the real estate developer, who wants to spend millions of dollars in Mason City, if he had thought about the “noise from Woodharbor and Menard’s” when he considered Mason City for his project. Umm, right Janet, let’s give this guy second thoughts. You will owe Sergeant Bookmeyer at least 50 push ups for that transgression. This from a person who has skipped almost every meeting covering a possible trash plant that wants to divert 250 tons of refuse into her own ward. Are you really this lost? Janet, feel free to write a retort for the Globe to publish once your are finished removing your foot from your mouth. On the Pappajohn deal with the city, your line “Bring it on!” was corny and shows you have no concept of the fact that this program won’t get used and won’t amount to much more than a check from we the taxpayers to NIACC for ten grand to make business cards and update a website and keep well-paid people employed. The lowest grade I can hand out is “F” but I am seriously looking for a new scale that can somehow quantify your failure. GRADE: F

Alex Kuhn seemed a little nervous in his first real council meeting with anything of substance on the agenda, but he tried hard and seemed to know some facts. Kuhn makes a good “private” to go with Sergeant Bookmeyer, falling neatly in line and taking his marching orders in stride. He offered no resistance nor new ideas on the Pappajohn deal, likely due to the fact that Bookmeyer wants no debate or bickering at the council table. Kuhn’s massive disappointment was his actual vote on the deal. A seasoned politician would have recused himself from that vote if he were in Kuhn’s fine leather slip-on shoes. Kuhn, who mentioned “the campaign” more than once last night, seems to have slept through ethics class the day they talked about “conflicts of interest.” See, Alex’s mom sits on the NIACC Foundation Board of Directors, and he just voted to give NIACC thousands of dollars. A clear conflict, as much or more than Jean Marinos’ conflict with the real estate deal, but she was savvy enough to know that and gracefully bow out on that one. I think Alex means well and just wanted to do as his sergeant instructed. GRADE: C

Scott Tornquist can barely contain himself these days, he is in such a hurry to implement Bookmeyer’s blueprint. At last week’s North Iowa Landfill Board meeting, where they talked about the trash plant, the newly-appointed Tornquist didn’t even introduce himself to the board but instead instantly launched into one of his robot-like diatribes that lose everyone within 15 seconds. When just a few questions were raised about the deal, he sat back in his chair and seethed, gathered himself, and with internet speed proceeded to alienate the room. Well, he was out of touch again last night. First, and most surprisingly, he flew in the face of Bookmeyer’s agenda when he put the senior housing real estate developer in the awkward position of agreeing on public television to consider higher bids from Iowa contractors. That discussion could have gone on indefinitely had Jean Marinos not stepped in and deftly made a compromise offer. How many developers now want to come to Mason City and face the scrutiny of Mason City’s version of Data from Star Trek? Talk about bad publicity. On the other hand, at least the public wasn’t shut out completely. Tornquist further demonstrated that he is completely out of touch later when he voted in favor of the city’s partnership with the Pappajohn Center. He, like Kuhn, should have recused himself from that vote due to the fact that his wife is an administrative assistant at the Pappajohn Center. That, fellow citizens, put Scott way, way too close personally and is a clear conflict of interest. Her job could depend on the securing of funds that actually provide work for the Pappajohn Center to do. No revenue usually means layoffs at most companies and even schools. I will give Scott some credit for looking out for Iowa contractors and for doing his homework, but his inability to see past his own ego and recuse himself cost him dearly. GRADE: D-

Watch some video highlights from the city council meeting:

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44 Responses to Editorial: Marinos shows class; Kuhn and Tornquist run and hide; Solberg clueless

  1. Avatar

    Carol Patnode Reply Report comment

    February 2, 2012 at 7:34 am

    This is both brilliant and SUPER FUNNY – as it brings some levity to the current state of Mason City government. Thanks much Matt!

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 22, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I think the fat bumbling idiot Sargent Schultz from Hogans Heroes would have been a better comparison than Sargent Carter. Otherwise article is right on the money.

  3. Avatar

    Jules Winnfield Reply Report comment

    January 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I sure hope the mayor pass legislation and brings back the 3 Martini Lunch!

    Extra Dry Eric?
    Like your personality!

  4. Avatar

    Publius Reply Report comment

    January 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    10th graders down in Mohawkland can deliver a better speech than our mayor who allegedly has an MBA. Someone check into that for me.

    • Avatar

      spectacle Reply Report comment

      January 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      MBA? Don’t make me laugh. Those degrees area dime a dozen.

  5. Avatar

    Taxpayer Reply Report comment

    January 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Our MAYOR wants to spend all our TIF… Before you agree, read the Des Moines Register article below???

    New development has Iowa cities’ debt piling up
    Lawmakers of both parties say tax increment financing is being abused, and they’re looking at ways to curb it.

    • Avatar

      anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      And pay special attention to the list of cities who use the most TIF. Mason City didn’t even make the cut. It not that big of an issue.

    • Avatar

      Taxpayer Reply Report comment

      January 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      Yes, but wait till they spend 100% as the Mayor suggests is what we should be doing. Listen to his speech!!!

  6. Avatar

    Emanresu Reply Report comment

    January 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    “Low property taxes” says Bookie! HOGWASH…I say B.S.!

    Thanks for a great article Matt, you tell it like it is. The Globe does not have the balls to write such a fine piece – plain & simple!

  7. Avatar

    Dan Reply Report comment

    January 19, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Again I’m not saying it’s good or bad but we need to know the direction we are headed and sunlight is the best disinfectant for everything. Let’s just put planning out in the open so citizens don’t feel they are getting hoodwinked. Information is power and we do not need to much info concentrated in the hands of too few. Let’s try to keep everything more open so our city does not get too divided.

    • Avatar

      Observer Reply Report comment

      January 20, 2012 at 6:09 am

      Dan, I am afraid that the City is, and has been divided for quite some time now, which is sad. A lot could be accomplished if there was someone to bridge that chasm.

  8. Avatar

    Dan Reply Report comment

    January 19, 2012 at 10:58 am

    MC council member Alex Kuhn was a mobile office director for Senator Harkin so am thinking he may be quite familiar with it.

  9. Avatar

    Dan Reply Report comment

    January 19, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Watchdog is right. People need to be aware of what is happening. Sustainable development and Agenda 21 are real programs, not a conspiracy theory. People need to wake up and at least be aware of these items and decide if they want this planning in their towns. Don’t just let it happen to towns, get informed and decide if it is what we really want. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier in a May 2010 article pointed out that Mason City wrote Smart Growth principles into their comprehensive plan. I found the info on the city website a long time ago, I don’t know if it is still there. The words sound nice but one needs to read the whole thing to see these principles may be ok but we need to make sure that it does not give govt too much control. The EPA gives cities free planning software to those that participate and give out awards to those they deem worthy. Some are concerned the cities may control where they think growth should happen and put in many environmental regulations and try to control too much of the city. Research it with Mason City and you will find we are already involved. EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities helps communities with the tools, partnerships, grants and other assistance. Google Senator Harkin as he appears to be a good supporter of these Sustainable Development programs.

  10. Avatar

    Herb J. Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    So glad I moved to the bottoms years ago.

  11. Avatar

    Watchdog Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 8:56 pm


    Has your city been infiltrated by United Nations policies of “Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development?”

    The passing by the City Council, unanimously approving the Micro Enterprise program Tuesday night is all the proof you need, it has.

    The last election has seen Mason City’s local government transformed into a pure Communist/Socialist government!

    “But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost, is forever.” – John Adams

    WAKE UP!

  12. Avatar

    Dan Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Got to love this site. This news source is the best thing that’s happened to Mason City in a long time.

  13. Avatar

    Larrey L Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Matt, since I was introduced and getting to know you I knew you had something special going on.

    Now I know what it is.

    You keep writing articles like this and you are going to get a Pulitzer Prize for honesty.

    Well the actual category is Local Reporting.

    Your honest approach is so refreshing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    From Texas, again I thank you for keeping us all informed!

  14. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    At least Lee asked for and accounting for the money to pappajohn. More than you can say for the rest of the council giving tax money away!!!!!!

  15. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    bookmeyer and solberg chewing gum. Class acts for people watching and think of dealing with mason city. ever see obama chewing gum while talking????Bimbos all around

    • Avatar

      Buzz Crumcutter Reply Report comment

      January 20, 2012 at 5:18 am

      I don’t think Obama can chew gum and talk at the same time.

  16. Avatar

    something Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    ANYTHINg that’s just stupid. Actually ignorant. Exactly what’s wrong with it all. Excellent work Matt and it’s up to the council to figure out what should be improved not our news media. Of course any ideas you could throw their way would certainly help becuase wow are they ever equally ignorant. Maybe your truthful article will knock some advice into them. Doubt it. It’s all about me me me for them. Again great writing Matt and called it as it truly is!

  17. Avatar

    anything Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I love the editorial, but hold on, you didnt mention how to improve the council, the issues at hand or what they should do. Since the editorial is ametuer I hope at the next council meeting that Matt is at i can sit next to him and tell him to write about what needs to be fixed instead of being Captain Obvious about each councilmember. It shows no class and a severe amount of ametuerism. But wait ill probably be banned because i spoke the truth…

    • Avatar

      Fienstein Reply Report comment

      January 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      What’s amateur is your spelling, bro. Haha, get a clue.

    • Avatar

      Kelsey Olson Reply Report comment

      January 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Anything: I read the editorial, and Mr. Marquardt clearly touches on the biggest points of the meeting. This is one of the most thoughtful and provoking stories I have read in years. The Globe Gazette could never write this, it is out of their skill set. I just don’t find your criticism valid. Thanks.

    • Avatar

      Bushpilot Reply Report comment

      January 20, 2012 at 9:16 am

      I enjoy NIT. Been watching council meetings, from the cheap seats, for years. Now that I’m drawing water from this city, It’s nice to be rightfully involved and read a different and “realistic”, working class opinion of the events, and local government. I don’t have quarrel with all the council members. There are several who were not meant to lead a population and are wreckless with other people’s money. I often times heard about Mayor Bang taking shots of vodka before each council meeting. Didn’t surpise me when i heard of his OWI on a boat. Next point; the CES project finally made it into the hands of a pratical group of older and wiser at the landfill board. And from now on, I’m refering to the NIACC / pappajohn small business decriminalization kickback. It’s such an ironic coincidence…

  18. Avatar

    steve Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I went to the council meeting last night. Bookmeyer’s speech put me to sleep. I did hear the part about his little tour starting at the stockman house and ending at the hotel. I pretty sure I read that same tour in a john skipper article a while back. I too was impressed by marinos, and lee. I think kuhn handled himself well, and showed himself to be intelligent, but can only hope he thinks for himself. in all, the meeting was boreing, not really a bad thing.

  19. Avatar

    concerned citizen Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Excellent article. You shpuld send a copy to Skipper and the City council.

  20. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Backdoors final comment should have been, And to my six pocket pals free beer after the meeting and dont worry Ill put it on the city credit card.

  21. Avatar

    John Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    He calls ’em like he seees ’em! Very good article and I agree with him on every point. Good observations and good reporting! Refreshingly honest.

  22. Avatar

    Kinkyh Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Good article Matt. As I perused the opening account, Obama immediately came to mind. Our very own little jungle joke without the tan and ears but certainly the overzealous, pompous attitude in a pursuit for his tzars! Wonder how long we’ll have those ‘low’ taxes.

  23. Avatar

    Larry Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Excellent job Matt. Now maybe people will see why they should vote. We are locked into these idiots for awhile.

  24. Avatar

    jipped Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Accurate accurate accurate. Thank you NIT ! Perfect insight. I also see NOT one of “them” can forget or shake Weaver…hahhaa his job was done then. Been waiting for that. He is so good you can’t stand it and will blame him forever…see you shouldn’t have pushed so hard finding that one woman. Now you have no excuses. Ahhhhh…. I love the smell the past at every council meeting. Good Job Weaver it worked.

  25. Avatar

    WOW Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    That’s a effin perk numbnut. Wake up Bookmeyer!

  26. Avatar

    Scruffy Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    One question…did you create this site specifically so you could stick your head further up Weavers butt or is that just a special perk???

    • Avatar

      Lol Reply Report comment

      January 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      I enjoy your halfwit retort/attack when everyone that was at the meeting is backing up what was said.

    • Avatar

      Got his back Reply Report comment

      January 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      Hey scruff a puff don’t know u but you are a real coward. Go find Marquardt he’s easy to find and ask him to his face. If you can put your joint down for that long.

    • Avatar

      Scruffy Reply Report comment

      January 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      I put my name to my comment…so how exactly am I a coward? It was a simple question…if he doesn’t wish to answer it, than that’s his business. And I’ve tried to get ahold of him and have been ignored.

      As far as me smoking pot, I haven’t touched the stuff since high school. If ur going to attempt to make a joke about me, there’s plenty of real ammo you can use. For instance I’m fat, cuz I am. Or I’m a red head, cuz I am. All I ask is put ur name to your comments.

      I look forward to hearing from y’all,
      Tyler Lundgren

  27. Avatar

    WOW Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    If that isn’t RIGHT ON I’ll pay for the gas and pj center! Jeeezos Matt you win! Spot on, off the charts examination of the worlds worst group of people ever assembled to decide for you and me! Wussies comes to mind where I’m from. Arrogant from the other end of the town I’m from. Ha They SURE CAN’T shake the best thing ever for our decisons prior can they. I don’t read the globe gazette but let me guess it will read…it was refreshing moving forward with no issues progressive night for our great future because of this group. Does the globe’s employees not care about conflicts of interest and what that tell’s us? Skipper? OMGD in honor of our beer drinkin mayor. Unreal and Unrealistic hitleresque freaks.

  28. Avatar

    Geo Clooney Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Fantastic article; the way news should be reported.

    • Avatar

      Guest Reply Report comment

      January 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      No, this isn’t how news should be reported. This is an editorial… opinion. News should be reported ala Joe Firday – “Just the facts, ma’am…”

  29. Avatar

    Taxpayer Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Matt – Great assessment & observation… THANKS

  30. Avatar

    Amanda Maklena Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Oh muh GAH! THIS is the reason I la la love this site! Awesome article…hilarious pics. Way to spice up the everyday, normally boring news. It’s articles like this that will get more of the community involved in local politics. Cheers, Matt.

  31. Avatar

    glad to be outta mason Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 11:59 am

    No wonder why people leave that sad excuse for a town

  32. Avatar

    Lawsteward Reply Report comment

    January 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

    After going to the council meeting last night, I returned home and discussed what went on at the meeting with my wife…trying to give a running account as to what happened and who said what. She asked many times…did so&so really say that and did so&so really “puff” himself up…again, and I am glad to say that I can just have her read this op-ed piece and everything I reported to her will be backed up!