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Trout, Willett, Bookmeyer pushing “welfare for the rich”


This news story was published on April 13, 2012.
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Editorial by Matt Marquardt –

Beware, Mason City taxpayers.

Mayor Eric Bookmeyer is again on the rampage with your tax dollars.  His latest scheme, exposed at last night’s council work session, is to turn our City Hall into a bank.

I call this more of his “welfare for the rich” agenda.  In the 80’s they called this “trickle down.”  The Mayor has already facilitated a plan to give tens of thousands of dollars to his rich golfing buddy.  In return, we get six $10 an hour jobs.  Can you feel the wealth dripping on you yet?

(PHOTO: Third ward council Jean Marinos tried to understand Bookmeyer’s conversion of City Hall into a bank.  See video for more.)

Continuing his plan to further line the pockets of the elite, Bookmeyer cut loose his two favorite “yes men,” Brent Trout and Brent Willet (these two men do nothing unless it is at the explicit direction of the Mayor), to sell a plan to the City Council to take your tax dollars and create a “revolving loan” available to select businesses.

City hall would in affect become a bank, except that there would be no application process to get a loan; no background check, no financial statements looked over.  People who are not bankers nor underwriters would be tasked with determining who is “deserving” of these “low interest” loans.  The dollars would be awarded on a cronyism basis… er, ah-hem, excuse me… based on some formula that is not written on paper nor disclosed to the public in any way.

That is risky business.  As one high ranking City Hall employee explained to me today, the integrity of the community will be called into question once the wrong outfit is turned down, and lawsuits will be filed.  You and I will pay to get the city out of those jams.

Trout and Willett, in a ham-handed attempt to make this sale to the council, called this scam a “tool in the tool box” for luring businesses and jobs to Mason City.  See the video of these amateur car salesmen in action.

Sorry, but the track record of these three men so far is dismal.  How many good paying jobs have they brought to Mason City, as a direct result of their own work, using their “tools?”  Selling t-shirts at a motorcycle shop for ten bucks an hour is a crappy job.  So is sorting other people’s garbage.  To Trout, Willett and Bookmeyer, these jobs are proof of some type of business acumen or skill.  I call it perpetuating poverty.  They wouldn’t know what that means, as each of them live in households pulling down well over six figures.

I, for one, want no part of lending my tax dollars to people that already easily have the means to set up shop here if they so choose.  I’m not in support of more ten dollar an hour retail jobs; Wal-Mart can always use another door greeter.

Until these three can bring something real to the table, jobs that pay a decent living wage, I’m against giving them anymore “tools” for their “toolbox” to play with.

To quote Councilman John Lee: “I don’t think we’re in the banking business.”

My quote would be, more bluntly, “Keep your mitts off my money.”

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31 Responses to Trout, Willett, Bookmeyer pushing “welfare for the rich”

  1. Former MC Resident Reply Report comment

    April 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Anyone else in favor of Marquardt for Mayor? Excellent article!

    • Martha Reply Report comment

      April 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      He probly can’t since he runs NIT but an incredible upgrade he would be. Maybe he will consider it??

      • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

        April 14, 2012 at 10:20 pm

        Flattering comments to say the least. At this time I am content growing NIT, watching and learning. Only if the situation continues to deteriorate or not improve would I consider getting involved in that way.

  2. Just My Opinion Reply Report comment

    April 14, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Matt, you’re doing all of us a huge service by writing an editorial that’s easy to understand and easy (at least for me) to agree with. Please stay on top of this and keep us informed. I have Direct TV and, while I much prefer it over cable, I’m unable to watch the council meetings. I realize I could watch them online but it’s just not the same.

    We’ll never get information like this from the Globe.

    Keep on writing! We’re listening!

  3. Watchdog Reply Report comment

    April 14, 2012 at 7:21 am

    We have a Communist/Socialist form of government running the City of Mason City. Bookmeyer and his gang won’t admit it but they are all partners of AGENDA 21.

    You all really need to study and learn what Agenda 21 is all about. It’s cunning and it is destroying our lives.

    We need immediate legislation to prohibit all levels of Government the use of tax dollars for anything other than providing for basic needs.

    Our basic needs in Mason City are providing for Police/Fire/Water/Sewer/and Streets.

    No where in our city’s code does it say they can be a banker. The loose interpretation these Agenda 21/socialists are using needs to be stopped.

    The time has come to write law that stops all of the Public/Private ventures and return America to a Free Enterprise economy. Banks should loan the money not the Tax Payers!

    • Observer Reply Report comment

      April 14, 2012 at 8:50 am

      Watchdog, I am going to have to agree with your last sentence. It follows another article about the City of Burnsville, doing the same thing.

      Sure, I want our City to attract new business. Yes, it will lead to future jobs and the community’s economy. But let’s face facts.

      Mason City is small city, has limited economic resources, and and a labor pool that still thinks blue collar, and infrastructure that would need lots of $$$ if it were to expand.

      In the mean time, there are communities in Iowa, and the whole Mid-West that have lots of cash and incentives to flash around, a labor pool that is more educated, and the infrastructure that can handle just about anything.

      Put in perspective. If we offered a company $50,000, there are towns out there who would offer $5,000,000. The playing field is not level. And if we ignore that, we set ourselves up for disappointments.

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 14, 2012 at 5:57 am

    It’s hard to even understand the mindset of the pathetic individuals running our city now. The state is in the process of removing loopholes which caused abuse to the TIF funding process and here we are attempting another cheat to the system. This is proof that when you dont vote you get the bottom of the bucket. Or in beermeyers case even if you do one can slip through.

  5. Darrell Lewis Reply Report comment

    April 14, 2012 at 2:46 am

    This proposal is well outside the intent of Iowa’s tax increment enabling legislation. Its is using monies that are rightfully the County’s and to a lessor extent the School District.

    The TIF district money is NOT and has never been a discretionary slush fund for the City to use as it wishes.

    I have long been an advocate of the proper use of TIf resources in Mason City, but this is not one.

    While it is completely proper for the City to establish a revolving loan fund; it should be done with private and city tax resources only. I would encourage the City to utilize its general fund revenues and those monies be matched on a dollar for dollar basis by private contributions.

    Morever if this fund is intended to finance small commercial, retail or service businesses it is a questionable public policy decision to do such. Mason City has plenty of capable banks to make such loans, as well as the Small Business Administration.

    This smacks of the City just trying to hoard TIF dollars rather then allowing them to go back to the County and School District.

  6. Patrick Reply Report comment

    April 14, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Hampton and other towns in Franklin County have put money into a “revolving loan fund” but it is at least managed/monitored by a county lending board. For Franklin County, it’s paid off with some smaller, stop gap funds that are paid back on short term notes. BUT, it is monitored by a lending board with some credentials.

  7. James S Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Matt- My youngest daughter worked at Harley-Davdson full time while going to NIACC. She’s now 27, works for 3M in St paul but raves that her job at Harley (“Crappy”) selling t-shirts was the best job she ever had. And you should also be aware that Harley started her at $4/hr OVER (more than $10/hr) her previous job at Target and that was over 6 years ago. Inconsiderate comment to say the most. Clean it up and lets move forward.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      April 13, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      James. You kind of make my case for me. Your daughter moved on to a job that offered a living wage. Whether the Harley job is a couple dollars an hour more than Target or Wal-Mart or some other retail store is beside the point. You can’t easily live on that wage. It might be great for a college kid (I also had a job like that in college that “paid well” compared to my peers- reading gas and electric meters) but you can’t pay a mortgage or raise a family on it.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        April 14, 2012 at 8:24 am

        Matt-I’m only addressing your comment about gas and electric meter readers. Those are probably some of the best paying jobs around, given the fact that only a high school diploma is required. I’m not saying I agree with it, that’s just how it is.
        Only ONE of the reasons utility bills are so high.

  8. Betty Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Please stop spending taxpayer’s money. Many are tired of it. It’s that simple. That seems to be a hard concept for city leaders to understand. No it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for a small group of people to decide who gets these funds. How about people that want to start up a business or expand use their own dollars?? Get some self respect. And council members could set a good example and try to restore some respect to the council after their CES antics. By the way how is CES doing? Have they located anywhere yet since it was such a fantastic deal? Haven’t seen any follow up stories on their success yet. Less central planning using our taxpayer dollars would be nice. Our state leaders have figured out that TIF funds are not always used in an appropriate way. Get a clue.

  9. Sandy Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I can’t believe what I heard last night! Mason City is not a bank!! If we give a loan and they can’t pay how do we get that money back? If the company files bankruptcy their is no way to get the money. Remember people the money they are gambling with is ours as taxpayers. Who decides who gets the money. Way to shaky for my liking, just my opinion.

  10. low wage earner Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    10.00 an hour retail job!! You’re kidding right? Every job available in Mason City is minimum wage up to 8.50 an hour. Please tell me where I can work in retail or anywhere in Mason City for 10 bucks an hour and I’m there!!!

  11. Mavis Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Great reporting, well written, easy to see through and understand. These people are all in over their head

  12. Echo Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Can anyone tell me what JOBS Mr. Willett has ever brought into Mason City or anywhere else he has worked. If he does not have a track record of recruiting good jobs then I don’t think we should give his opinions any credence.

  13. Hopeless Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    That is a well written editorial. I couldn’t agree with you more. I hear about the creation of jobs and I immediately think “minimum wage”. You can offer someone minimum wage and no benefits to perform a thankless job or they can make out better economically by getting on welfare and staying at home. These types of people want people to see everything they do as “good” instead of seeing the bigger picture. I’ve got a temporary job here that will pay someone $7.25 an hour to clean out my truck and wash it. I think I’ll go out and treat myself to dinner and cocktails with my friends tonight because I just created a new job! HA!!! This world is going to hell!

  14. carman Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    DES MOINES – Iowa House Republicans scaled-back their tax increment financing (TIF) reforms, but opponents still called them job-killers.

  15. voice of reason Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Its never hard to spend somebody elses money.

  16. Publius Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I would call Bookmeyer, Willet, Kuhn, and Trout retarded, but that would be insulting to people who are actually retarded.

  17. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Trout is more concerned about keeping his job so he sold his soul to the devil I mean drunk.

  18. Larry Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Great article and reporting Matt. Are these people nuts?? What has happened to Trout/ He used to be a man whose word was good and was honest. Now all he seems to do is play games at drunkmier’s orders. Just think how bad this idea must be if Tornquist is against it. I am still holding out hopes for Lee and hoping Hickey will follow Lee’s lead. Who the hell is this Willet guy?? Did we elect another At Large Councilman?? Does he work for the city and if so-fire him.

    • Bushpilot Reply Report comment

      April 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Willett is the executive director of the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation.

  19. Sherlock Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Is Trout actually talking about taxing the hell out of the TIF areas while they are in existance? This would be done by requesting the full usage of available Incremental value, instead of the usual smaller percentage. When the full incremental value is used… the dollars need to be made up somewhere else. That’s you and I, and yes even the rural residents. As the Tif areas expire….The funds from that area would be in the revolving fund? Use it or loose it.

    If the Tif Districts are combined…can revenue from one be used in another district.

    The TIF debate at the state level has exposed all of the questionable practices used by cities around the state. Why are the practices showing up for discussion now in Mason City? These elected officials are apparently grasping at straws, as the state legislature works toward a TIF refom. How much money, through TIF taxation are you willing to be stolen from you for the BWTT heads “Welfare for the rich” wrongheaded development programs.

    Results or get on down the road. VOTE!

  20. F. Pilgrim Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Another slam-dunk article from NIT. Wow. Thank you for bringing some light to the dark corners of this government run wild. I’m glad my wife and I pulled out some time ago if this is what is now going on. Best of luck to my former hometown. You need it.

  21. Smargle Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Is it true the chamber of crime drove away the target distribution center because their wages would be too high and somehow hurt the factories like curries, forcing them to keep up and pay higher wages?

    • 4ever49 Reply Report comment

      April 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      No.
      The city of Cedar Falls has its own utility operation and was able to offer a better package of goodies including utility rates. I also heard that the utility operation had separate funds that were available to sweeten the pot above and beyond utility rates. Cedar Falls also has cable TV and internet service to offer.
      Mason City has only water and sewer.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        April 14, 2012 at 7:33 am

        Cedar Falls also had a much larger labor pool. Target has said this was the primary reason they didn’t choose Mason City. You need 10 applicants for every job and our labor market couldn’t provide that. Cedar Falls could because of the population of the Cedar Falls/Waterloo metro. Most of their employees are students at UNI. A labor pool of 150,00 versus a labor pool of 50,000? It’s not rocket science.

  22. Dorothy Morud Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Shame on these people. Why aren’t they doing the PEOPLE’S business? Fix the north end!!!

  23. class of 58 Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    The woman seems to be having a conniption fit! Did Bookie put cat nip under his armpits or something? By the way love the video.