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Op-ed: Red scarves symbolize failure for Mason City (by Peter Children)

This news story was published on April 30, 2012.
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We’re sitting on the threshold of the fifth month of 2012. As far as we all know we currently have zero prospects on the horizon as it pertains to economic development.  All the while stories of success are all around us in the smaller towns; Osage and Charles City being chief among them. I am very happy for them.

The job creation that will result in new families moving into the region as a result along with the re-employment of once laid off workers that will also benefit our community. This is where they’ll shop for their needs, this is where they will come for entertainment and dining.  Some will even buy homes here because in the world outside rural Iowa a thirty minute commute is considered short; look how many of our residents commute each day to Winnebago.

We should all rejoice in the positive effort displayed by these smaller communities as they make our region stronger and more prosperous. But here is something that should be spotlighted; our own efforts along those same lines have failed miserably…and the fault lies at the feet of those running this town.  Do not exclude the Chamber in this assessment, these were the same people who flew to Washington D.C. to drink and dine on your dime….and lets not forget that photo displaying the “red scarf,” which by now has come to symbolize failure. If not failure what then? After 150 years in office which paid off his farm and then some; what can you point to that was a direct result of Grassely’s effort as payback for forty years of votes in his favor…or Harkin?  Where is it, I can’t find it…point it out to me.

Thinking about that red scarf, I think I figured it out; I think they must believe it was meant to give them all immunity from criticism. Like that reality show on television where someone wins immunity from expulsion.  What do the readers think? Do you think there are those who should have immunity?

Peter Children

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36 Responses to Op-ed: Red scarves symbolize failure for Mason City (by Peter Children)

  1. Kimberly Wilson Reply Report comment

    May 4, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with the owner of Hootenanny this morning at Sid’s Gas.
    This guy and his team are the attitude spark this city needs from it’s present ‘leaders’. He is so exciting to chat with and so optimistic. His “let’s just do it now’ prespective is nice to see. His extended comments to what he ran into trying to locate here, made me so mad. He told me everyone told him it wasn’t possible,that it won’t work here in Mason City, and actually smerked at him as he stayed positive in the conversation.He said to me “Kim, do whatever others tell you you can’t do, and you’ll never listen to them again”.He has a saying he places in his office that reads, ” If you think you have ALL the answers, you probably forgot the question” omg I was impressed as you can tell from my ramblings.

    I don’t always agree with Matt M, but MC lack of effort to build a stronger business community, he’s dead on…….we need help!

  2. Kimberly Wilson Reply Report comment

    May 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Mason Cities rudeness to new business is not a new story. It’s as old as the city itself. Right down to the banks that want your money, but do nothing for the community.Nothing they can’t write off anywise. What happen to this city? We have the old Sears complex 25% full,vacant front building on this same complex, and new businesses trying to locate here, I just don’t get it. The south end looks worse each new year. Lower your lease fees and welcome new something or be held accountable by the citizens of Mason City.

  3. dMarsh Reply Report comment

    May 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Looks like a pattern is starting here. Mason City is business unfriendly.Try our town-Hampton.

  4. Hootenanny Incorporated -CEO Reply Report comment

    May 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I am the CEO of Hootenanny Incorporated. We will be working out of threes towns in Iowa to bring Premium Talent to those areas. This increases hotel and restaurant intake and promotes those cities…
    A friend called me to report these posting to me. Let me begin by saying our welcome mat to Mason City was VERY limited. The only acceptions were The Event Center and Dennis Higgins (Larry/Jan), visit Mason City’s Office,G Schloemer at Southbridge and a wonderful business woman named Cindy Graves.
    We worked thru numerous realitors for rental space just to run into a huge lack of effort, laziness and flat out lies. I won’t even get into how we were treated in other areas…I will say, IF this is the same treatment other new enities are receiving, Mason City has a HUGE problem.

    Thank you for your nice comments below. Let’s take Mason City back!!

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      May 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      First of all let me apologize to you for any unwelcoming treatment you may have received in Mason City. Unfortunately a few rotten apples have spoiled the barrel here… look closely they are floating at the top.
      I would like to offer any assistance possible from NIT to further your cause here in North Iowa. If we can run a story, press release, interview or even a free ad please do not hesitate to contact our office via email at
      Best of luck and please look for the well-meaning, hard-working folks here, they do exist.

      • Hootenanny Incorporated -CEO Reply Report comment

        May 2, 2012 at 11:19 am

        Thank you Matt. I will be in touch. We don’t look for ‘freebies’, we want to support the communities we office in. North Iowa needs help. We have a few good people in place,but, we have a lot of bad ones too. The ‘old’ money in Mason City no longer exsists..people need to realize this. The lack of welcome here almost drove us to Waterloo. We want to bring North Iowa premium talent events, not over the hill performers.This area has had enough of the Pat Boone’s…

      • Hootenanny Incorporated -CEO Reply Report comment

        May 2, 2012 at 11:31 am

        promise you, NIT and Hootenanny Incorporated will have a long friendship/business relationship.It is nice to see another true player in turning Mason City back to it’s citizens.

    • Observer Reply Report comment

      May 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      What exactly does Hootnanny Inc. do? What service do they perform? You mentioned Premier Talent, does that mean we should expect to see the CSO perform in Mason City any time soon?

    • anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      I am a former Mason City resident, and I would agree that the city council and governing bodies do not always have the cities long term goals in mind when they make decisions. However, after having to read this comment two or three times to understand what is being said due to spelling errors, grammatical errors, poor punctuation, etc. I think they may be right in this case.

  5. Helen Mier Reply Report comment

    May 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    The above photo looks like a “Depends” commercial.

    Maybe whoever runs the fair grounds and hootenanny should run our town.

    Look at this picture. It says it all about our towns growth.

    Just remember: This town bailed out Curries Manf..just to have lifelong employess given a five minute notice on having no more job.

  6. DoctorG Reply Report comment

    May 1, 2012 at 11:47 am

    …I agree with Mr. Stewart. Isn’t it time to revalue what companies wants are? Isn’t it time to build a musical auditorium in MUSIC MAN CITY, shame on us! Waverly puts us to shame. Dennis Root Auditorium on the already owned MCHS grounds.Not a downtown multi million dollar civic center. Are we crazy?Who is making these decisions? The Fairgrounds is making it’s turn to profit, yes, Hootenanny will help them alot, but the turn was made by Mr. Higgins.

  7. Jeff Stewart Reply Report comment

    May 1, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Here’s the problem:
    1. Our north end corridor people don’t own businesses and have no clue how one runs.
    2. The south end corridor people-ditto
    3. The downtown assoc-ditto
    The mayor think property tax incentives help new businesses..NO, new businesses RENT…

    They are out of touch..period. Developer friends wanted to bring business here..but why fight the city to do so? So they gave up.

    The Fairgrounds is moving forward, run by Mr. Higgins and soon to be working with Hootenanny Incorporated for top promotional talent. They seen the picture and did something…cheers.

    Our leaders have NO experience in business. Only how to remodel the downtown for the 3rd time.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      I was told by several people through the years that Mason City is a very unfriendly business community. That is the reason you have the issues you have when it comes to jobs and job creation.

      • dMarsh Reply Report comment

        May 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm

        I ran into the same senerio that Hootenanny did. I decided to open in Osage. They want business.

  8. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I will admit that the above photo looks like a cast of fools and Idiots Out Wandering Around!!

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      I personally know some of these fools and idiots, and calling them fools and idiots is putting it nicely. They look ridiculous with those scarfs. Guaranteed this little trip of theirs was one big party.

  9. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I love people that work for the Chamber they smile and say hi like they are doing a favor by talking to us. I have never met so many better than me people in my life. I wonder if they go to training on how to walk, the stuck up better than me stroll. I hope my children do not grow up and act like they do I would be so disappointed in them. Thank you Mom and Dad for teaching me that everyone should be treated with respect not just the choose few.

  10. Remove Obsticles For Me Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Reggie, I can PROVE you wrong about the Chamber about being Mason City’s biggest obstacle to growth. Then couple that with our current Mayor and Council who is tied at the hip with Chamber and we have our current mess.

    In fact, if you can get the real negative people out of the way I could bring in good paying jobs with my eyes closed.

    Remove the real road block to growth which are the: Chamber of Commerce and EDC and let me put my own team in charge and I will make it happen.

    Problem is, you can’t get rid of the the above power brokers.

    • Reggie Reply Report comment

      April 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      This is the classic “Black Box” mentality. Since you have no idea how it all works, you assume its simple and anyone could do it. You could do it with your eyes close? How about with one arm tied behind your back? On one foot?

  11. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Looking back quite a bit, when Dan Culhane was working with the EDC in Mason City, he did some good things. I think (correct me if I’m worng), but I think he was instrumental in bringing Cargill here, and he worked hard to maintain businesses here. When he left Mason City I knew we would feel the loss of him not being here anymore and we have felt it.

  12. Echo Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I couldn’t agree more the chamber is a lobby group who’s main concern is their members and thats it. They are not worried about bringing good paying jobs here because that would mean raising the pay of their current employees or losing them to a company that pays better. Our city administrator and mayor bend over backwards for this special interest group maybe the council needs to step up and tell the mayor and their employee brent trout that they need to focus on all of mason city. I have nothing against special interest groups but I dont want my city administrator and mayor being displayed like lap dogs for any group.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      April 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      Echo I have heard this point from several persons. The word is that the MC Chamber and others destroyed the Target deal because the wages would have been too high… thereby forcing other local employers to “keep up” and pay higher themselves. These folks also say the Chamber and their cronies want wages kept low here for the same reason, just to make life easier for the bigger employers here. A real shame if this is true, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it is, since the chamber of commerce has no interest in fighting for the common person nor their wages.

      • Echo Reply Report comment

        April 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm

        If you dont agree with the chamber of commerce and Mayor you are labeled anti-business or you dont want Mason City to grow. I think when people try to use these hair brain tatics it shows you they have something to hide and that is why they dont want questions being raised.

  13. Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I would wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Children’s article.
    Where are the real jobs? Why no Mitas in Mason City? I guess their recruiters are just better than ours.
    Scarves don’t equal jobs, and wasteful trips to DC won’t be helping much in this day and age.
    City Hall should divorce itself with the MC Chamber; perhaps the CL Chamber would be better.

    • Echo Reply Report comment

      April 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      Matt we dont have a recruiter we just have a guy that can talk himself up alot with no results. There was alot of bragging going on about himself and his experience when he was running for office but no results. Cant blame Max anymore now its the people of this area who are hampering growth. The only constant with this no growth area has been the chamber and their anti worker and growth agenda.

    • hi Reply Report comment

      April 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm


      Valent went to Osage because A to Z Drying has been packaging their product for years and they are across the highway from the jobsite, was part of the deal.

      MITAS is in Charles City because the Winnebago Ind. building opened up when they laid off all their workers in CC and the building met their needs and is 30 minutes closer to their #1 product purchaser; John Deere. Made business sense.

      Last time we tried to bring in jobs to MC you opposed it based on speculation.

      Target, what “you heard” is not true. Certain Council members scared them off because we said we didn’t have the workforce available to fulfill needs.

      This website is so wrong on the facts it is painful….

      • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

        April 30, 2012 at 6:46 pm

        Sounds like a whole lot of excuses form a chamber stooge as to why small area towns are beating us. Then you level blame at previous council members. I think what you find painful is the lack of opportunity in Mason City for a living wage. The Chamber cares nothing for average people… I think they would like to employ us all as their personal caddies, butlers and trash sorters rather than help bring high paying jobs here. It’s harder to look down your nose at people with a decent lifestyle.

      • Reggie Reply Report comment

        April 30, 2012 at 8:03 pm

        Anytime someone disagrees with you Matt, you resort to name calling.Just because he has another opinion he is a “chamber stooge”? When are you going to grow up and act like a rational person?I too heard the same thing about why the Target Distribution Center didn’t come here.The chamber is trying to keep large employers out of Mason City? The chamber would LOVE to land a big fish.I know you and Peter don’t want to admit it BUT the previous council did Mason City NO favors as far as recruiting big companies.

        • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

          April 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

          “The chamber would love to land a big fish” … with what wage scale? The last “big fish” the chamber stooges backed involved mostly trash sorters, who in my opinion would have been gone in months, replaced with machinery. Furthermore. Is it the city council’s job to “recruit big companies?” Would you want Janet Solberg calling around selling Mason City? These people have enough trouble grasping their duties as it is, and they are not qualified to recruit anything. That goes for the mayor as well, in 2+ years he has done ZIP for Mason City accept embarrass himself at the bar scene. Currently, this city is a mess and is at the mercy of a “big company” deciding to come here on its own.

      • Reggie Reply Report comment

        April 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm

        No the CES Project was not a big fish but it was a fish. Not only the jobs, which may have vanished, but the 35 million investment in the community. Construction jobs, motel stays , restaurant usage, supplies and the list goes on and on.It was a start.

      • Echo Reply Report comment

        April 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm

        I don’t believe the chamber wants to land a big fish if they did people would quit the low paying jobs to go somewhere they could support a family. Reggie you are dreaming if you think the old council hurt us in anyway. This area has been losing good quality jobs for over 20 -30years the members of the council you blame were not elected when this started. You can see when the chamber of commerce started getting more control at city hall and dictating policy and demanding hand-outs for low wage jobs thats when area faded. Reggie you want to blame someone blame the chamber of commerce nothing but a special interest group wanting to fatten their pockets at the expense of the community

  14. carol Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Losers of the largest degree, brought nothing to this town. Getting paid to do zero. Did they enjoy their free lunch? Probably.

  15. The Problem Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 11:12 am

    The problem, as anyone with half a brain realizes, is that Mason City hasn’t exactly been pro business over the course of the last decade or so. Do people think that perspective business owners are blind to the infighting of our city council during this period? Things need time to change after a period of turmoil, and I for one am not surprised that we find ourselves here. If I owned a business it would take a hell of a tax break for me to even consider landing in a community with this much baggage.

    • jeff e Reply Report comment

      April 30, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Where have you been? That problem still exists. You buy a building in this town be ready for the code police to ruin your idea. Thats just one example.

  16. Peter L Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

    There’s nothing wrong with having social clubs, and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with having a Chamber of Commerce. However, the Chamber should serve as a fraternity/sorority meeting hall and not a publicly funded institution. The Chamber should represent a loose association of local business peoples who get together to discuss life in the business community, and seek ways to improve business life for they and their customers. At no time should the Chamber ever have garnered or required taxpayer monies to keep it going. It should be kept private.

  17. LVS Reply Report comment

    April 30, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Great article Peter-It is just what I have been asking. What is wrong here is Mason City?? Whe can’t we attract some ofthese new businesses?? We have the workforce because the towns that are getting the businesses are using our labor force. We have the same highway system and airport. Why don’t we have the busuness. All we get is some small expansions of existing business which is offset by the loss of other business such as Curries getting ready to shut down the 9th street offices and plant. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM???