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EDITORIAL: We are all paying the price for Bookmeyer and his lap dogs running this city

This news story was published on February 7, 2013.
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North Iowa Corridor Director Brent Willett

North Iowa Corridor Director Brent Willett

by Matt Marquardt –

At this time, the people of Mason City are faced with a tax hike due to the behavior and spending of our current council and Mayor Eric Bookmeyer.

Bookmeyer and his six lap dogs have issued a blank check policy to the chamber of commerce and have freely spent tens of thousands of dollars on projects like remodeling City Hall, Blue Zones, sculptures, and free handouts to businesses which created no jobs.

While the fat pigs eat from the public trough, the rest of us will likely pick up the bill, with the most needy in town suffering the most.  The United Way can’t stuff enough food into the backpacks of the children in Mason City schools at 3 o’clock… so they can have a meal before bed.

This is what happens when people with no conscience rule; people with master’s degrees in enriching themselves and their egos at the expense of the common man.

This is what happens when the public is totally disengaged, has no care for what is taking place in their own city.  The foxes now rule the hen house.

As Bookmeyer and his council march our Human Rights to the death chamber – bullying and intimidating it along the way, offering no solutions nor thought on how to save it – a favorite program of the elite continues to suck public dollars out of the bloodstream of our community with zero accountability and no proven return on investment.

Just since 2009, Mason City, Clear Lake and Cerro Gordo county have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into an outfit called the North Iowa Corridor.

Mason City has given a total of $544,000 to the North Iowa Corridor since 2009, with a tentative budgeted amount of $105,000 in this year’s budget.  This $105,000 is not on the famous “cut list” set to be discussed tonight at City Hall.  We might lose a police officer, though.

Clear Lake has given a total of about $250,000 since 2009.  It kicks in roughly $50,0000 per year according to Linda Nelson, Clear Lake’s Finance Officer.  It is an automatic 20% of their hotel/motel tax receipts.  The Corridor would get another $50,000 in this year’s budget.

Cerro Gordo County Budget Manager Heather Mathre says the county kicks in $50,000 each year to the Corridor.  That’s $250,000 since 2009.

I asked City Administrator Brent Trout and North Iowa Corridor Director Brent Willett the following questions 3 days ago and was promptly ignored:

City Administrator Brent Trout is on the North Iowa Corridor Board

City Administrator Brent Trout is on the North Iowa Corridor Board

“Can you explain the return on investment Mason City is getting from supporting this organization?  How many jobs has it brought to Mason City in the last 5 years?  Why can’t most of this work be completed privately or through City Hall, or a combination?  Outside of the non-compete agreement, what other accomplishments has the Corridor brought to Mason City in recent years?”

One would think that with over a million dollars in funding, the public would deserve answers to these questions, and one would also think that these men would love to talk about the successes of the Corridor… if they existed.

Perhaps Mr. Trout fears the Corridor Board, made up of bankers and construction company owners, one of his true bosses in Travis Hickey, his life master Eric Bookmeyer, and County Supervisor For Life Jay Urdahl.  Oh wait, Trout is on the board, too.

As for smooth-talking Corridor Director Brent Willett – who left Fairfield, Iowa in 2011 as the “Executive Director of the Fairfield Economic Development Association and Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce” – he has no accountability and no true success stories.  Willett’s crowning achievement was set to be the ill-fated trash-to-energy plant he recruited to Mason City.  That project has now been thoroughly de-bunked.

I visited the Corridor’s web site –  the first tool any organization uses to attract prospective contacts.  Aside from some reports that only a rocket scientist could decipher, and some railroad and highway maps of North Iowa, there is virtually nothing useful.

The Corridor is a clear duplication of Mason City’s newly-formed Development Services Department (see its mission here … and the Corridor’s here and determine for yourself). The city has the tools and personnel to accomplish anything the Corridor has failed to do and then some.

I suggest that the North Iowa Corridor face the same level of scrutiny our Human Rights has endured.  It is time to look at all expenditures coming out of City Hall, and I would put the Corridor at the top of the list.  It might be hard to make a case for its survival.


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48 Responses to EDITORIAL: We are all paying the price for Bookmeyer and his lap dogs running this city

  1. Anon Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Matt Marquardt
    February 7, 2013 at 5:53 pm What group? I speak for myself. Try it sometime.

    That group of crickets that echo your chirps.

    I do speak for myself. Hear any crickets dittoing me?

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      They might echo me, but I do not speak for them. If they like my ideas, so be it. By the way, you might think you speak for yourself, but your anonymous cloak shows you have something to hide. Let’s debate using our real names if you think you can handle it.

      • Reggie Reply Report comment

        February 9, 2013 at 8:42 am

        Matt why do you pull out the “your anonymous cloak shows you have something to hide” statement only for bloggers who disagree with you? You never say that to your backers.They also are anonymous so they too must have something to hide.You have the power to make everyone come out of the shadows but you are unwilling to do it because it would kill this site. Please quit using this ploy in your arguments because it makes you look like you have no control over the situation where in reality you have all the control.

        • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

          February 9, 2013 at 8:56 pm

          The only thing that can “kill” NIT is if I pull the plug.

      • Reggie Reply Report comment

        February 9, 2013 at 8:49 am

        Also if you would of stopped your comment after the first 2 sentences you would of gotten your point across and taken the high road.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        February 9, 2013 at 10:25 am

        @REGGIE-you are obviously a plant and an IDIOT. If you don’t like the articles or the post don’t read them and go away. But, you won’t do that because it is your goal to discredit N.I.T. You just can’t stand that some people know the truth and are not afraid to say so. You are probably the Fat Man’s wife anyway.

      • Anon Reply Report comment

        February 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm

        I don’t have anything to hide. I’m just not stupid enough to use my real name. There are too many nuts out in cyberspace. I won’t jeprodize my family’s safety to argue points with you or anyone. When I want to be heard I do it publicaly at council meetings. I don’t sit at a computer and tell tall tales and belittle those trying to better my community.

      • Reggie Reply Report comment

        February 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        LVS,I am NOT a plant just a avid NIT reader that would like to see a more civil tone in the discussions.This starts at the top with Matt and trickles down.The name calling does not do me or YOU justice. You seem like a passionate person that has different ideas and points of view than myself.I think that is good in a site like this as long as it doesn’t devolve into a insult contest.I am not quite sure of this TRUTH you speak of.There are many sides to every story and Matt gives you HIS version.He might be correct or maybe he might be a little slanted because of his hatred of the Mayor.There is no doubt he is a smart guy and like you passionate but sometimes intellect/careful thought should over ride passion.

        • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

          February 9, 2013 at 8:39 pm

          No hatred for anyone. I back up my stories with facts, figures and video. I go to the sources. I outwork the competition. People perceive that as hate, I call it aggressive pursuit of the truth and working hard on my business. That’s really all it is.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        February 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm

        @Reggie-well damn. Every time I think I have you figured out you throw me a curve and get civil. I do not disagree with you on everything. As I have stated before I am an Independent Conservative who has some liberal tendency’s once in awhile. I tend to be very supportive of people that need help but non supportive of people who abuse the system. I am not a believer in welfare but do not mind helping people who really need it. I am up set over the direction that I think our country is headed. As I was raised in the 40’s and 50’s I have a different outlook on how the country should be run. When I was growing up no one took charity. Everyone worked and people used to watch out for eachother. I sometimes have a difficult time with today’s approach.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      You belittle people that don’t agree with you all the time. Just because you don’t agree with their idea of bettering the community. So get off your high horse you are no better than anyone else on this site.

  2. 4ever49 Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Matt – I see you assert that the City’s newly formed Development Services Department is a clear duplication of the Corridor’s mission. That’s not the case at all.
    The new Development Services Department is just a retool of all the planning, zoning and building stuff. They are not promotional but reactive and regulatory.
    The Corridor is promotional and anything that they propose to do within the City, Clear Lake or County will have to obtain proper permitting from them.
    As to scrutiny of the Corridor vs. Human Rights how would you propose to calculate the ROI for HRC? The Corridor would be relatively easy but no so for HRC.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      I appreciate your questions. I never proposed a ROI study for the HRC. It can’t be computed. So that point is null.

      As for the Development Services Department, of course it would need further direction and the addition of a mandate to recruit business to Mason City. Since Willett has brought zero new businesses to Mason City, how can it do any worse than the EDC? Furthermore, anything Willett secures for an expanding or new business from Mason City has to go through that department anyway. What is he needed for?

      As for the ROI on the Corridor, I see pretty much nothing, zero. Willett and Trout gave credit to the EDC for every expanding business they could think of. That is insulting to the success of those businesses, which were set to expand regardless of Willett’s intervention. I read a lot about seminars and trade conferences where Willett is “networking” but where are the results? Why does he and the Corridor deserve a free pass?

  3. blog Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Actually I think that would be great. If you don’t pay taxes you are entitled to nothing. Also if you can’t pass a drug test no money. Why would anyone ever bother to get off the government programs when there is no kick to do so. There has always been those that do and those that take but unfortunately the takers are growing and the attitude is that because I have nothing the doers owe me. Abraham Lincoln said ( A man can only do what he can do. But if he does that each day he can sleep at night and do it again the next.) That doesn’t sound like he meant to stand around with your hand out. And such is the main difference between the Democratic party and the republican party.

  4. blog Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Quite a well written article sickasstupid. I would like to offer another perspective that bloating government programs create a socialist society where people become so dependent that any initiative to get out and work and be productive is lost. You can’t continually add tax increases to pay for programs without a balance of cuts. The perfect example is the out of control debt our nation is in which our children and grandchildren will have to pay for some day. That will be a real hardship on the group that pays taxes and drives the economy. My parents were blue collar and worked very hard. This was the way of life that you prospered from your own fruits of labor not standing around with your hand out taking from those that do. Free enterprise is the road to prosperity not more government intervention. And yes I took that line from Larry Kudlow. 🙂

    • sickastupd Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Then you cannot complain when things like the HRC are cut. It’s a double edged sword, blog. If you don’t want to pay taxes, you don’t get services.

  5. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Matt-If you are so smart and know better how this city or county should be run, why don’t you run for office? I don’t mean to be a smart ***, but I read these editorials and comments and if anyone thinks they can do better, then run for office.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2013 at 12:31 am

      Matt would do a great job as Mayor! My fear is we would lose NIT in the process. I would certainly support Matt in a heartbeat though.

      We could elect 5th graders to run the city and they would do a much better job then the knuckleheads we have holding the job now.

      Our current Mayor and City Council are NOT EVEN smarter than First Graders.

      • Joao Do Carmo Reply Report comment

        February 8, 2013 at 9:40 am

        Were Matt to run, he would almost have to give up NIT to avoid any accusations of bias from his detractors.

      • Polio Loco Reply Report comment

        February 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm

        He wouldn’t have to give up a thing… There’s no “Equal Time” rule when it comes to newspapers — either in print or online. Matt 4 Mayor!

  6. Watchdog Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    What’s apparent is, sicastupd is Bookmeyer. If he isn’t, then he has his nose so far up Bookmeyer’s butt that he just as well be. Attacking the Human Rights Commission is so far out line.

    The Human Rights Commission actually performs a service that is helpful to employers that want to locate here but sicastupd wouldn’t be able to understand that. For a couple of cents per thousand on your property taxes this buffoon wants to show the world Mason City doesn’t care about Human Rights. How stupid is that?

    Also standing out is the huge lack of economic development. Mr. Trout’s response to Mr. Marquardt is very telling. All the time and money Mason City has invested in economic development and infrastructure to lure employers here, we sure don’t have much to show for it.

    What sticks out is the lack of any real serious proposals to bring in larger employers. These small 10, 15, 20, ect. don’t compete for wages. This folks is all by design. Believe it or not, large employers expand all the time, just look around the country.

    Mason City is still shrinking!

    I don’t have enough time tonight to respond appropriately by presenting the actual dollar amount the taxpayers have given away in relationship to what the community gets in return.

    Mr. Trouts response is extremely weak!

  7. rukidding Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    It is clear the NICEDC is a joke and We are not getting a good return on our investment from this group and retention is not the same as job creation. This council have been a puppet for this group and the chamber now its time to work for the people paying the bill and cut off the funding unless they prove their worth to the community. Trout is the biggest joke we pay him over 150,000 a year and what does Mason City have to show for it Nothing but a high price yes man.

  8. Joe Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    WE MUST VOTE THESE BUMS OUT AND VOTE “NO” TO UPCOMING SCHOOL LEVIES!!! It’s getting where a working man can’t afford to live in this “little” town! More familes will be moving out and property taxes will go up even more.

  9. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Brent Willett makes me laugh hahahhaa.

  10. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Lots of your tax dollars floating around in 100 bills -will you be one of the few who can stuff them in your pocket ??

  11. sickastupd Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I’m a strong advocate for EDC groups – I think in this state and in this economy we need them desperately. The HRC, as much good as it may do, is not as vital to the big picture. It’s the sad truth, but the ones who lose out first are always those who can least afford it.

    Rather than attacking the council, we need to look further up the ladder to the state, to the feds, to those who are constantly cutting funding for everything.

    We are all stuck in the grip of the ones at the top, who are squeezing the life out of smaller communities by cutting state and federal aid (that could be used for budget help), by cutting worthy grants (that could easily fund the HRC) and by refusing to help the low to middle class make a decent living to BUY more stuff to CREATE demand so economic development groups become obsolete.

    If we want to be mad at somebody, we need to remember that cutting never produced anything. And it’s not just the evil poor people who benefit from government help – we ALL do. And this is a perfect example.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 9, 2013 at 1:13 am

      We are 16 trillion in debt and no one wants to cut anything. We need across the board cuts except for SSI and Medicare.

  12. Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    This editorial was posted today at 11:30 AM. At 1:30 PM I got the following email response from Brent Trout. It is copied and pasted exactly as I received it:


    I contacted Brent Willet and he provided some of the facts and figures regarding the last couple of years worth of activity.

    In 2011 & 2012 our most notable projects have been retention and expansion projects. The City has seen the expansion of Cargill ($12 million and 20 new jobs), Dimensional Group($2 million and 22 new jobs), and Assa Abloy($750,000 and 5 to 10 new jobs) with their Fire Test Facility on 12th St. NW. In 2011 and 2012 we also had the retention of Harley Davidson ($1 million and 20 retained jobs), Metalcraft building on 9th St. SW ($4.5 million and 85 retained jobs) and Orange Tree ($750,000 and 20 retained jobs). The sale of the spec building to Fed Ex and the retention of those jobs and creating the possibility for expansion. YMH/Torrance built a new building on Federal Avenue and retained all of their jobs in Mason City. We have seen new industry though in the area of the Martin Brower warehouse and distribution center. All of these projects in Mason City had involvement or were worked by the NICEDC or its predecessor the MCEDC.

    There have been projects developed in Clear Lake also by the NICEDC. The Titan Pro expansion had them investing $5 million in to the community and create 19 new jobs. They attracted Ozonics and they invested $500K in to facilities there creating 10-20 new jobs. There have also been projects in the county with the Red Power expansion which invested $5 million and created 12 new jobs.

    The projects listed above are a very positive list of projects. The economic development opportunities do not always end up coming to your community but it still requires a tremendous amount of time to pursue the effort to secure their decision to develop here. In 2012, the Corridor developed an average of 19 leads per quarter and advanced an average of 10 of those leads, meaning the Corridor generated almost 80 leads annually and develops more than half of those into at least a proposal phase. NICEDC is churning close to forty proposals of varying substance a year to companies and site selectors throughout the country on the behalf of Mason City, Clear Lake and Cerro Gordo County. Economic development is a numbers game; we have dramatically increased contact to prospective businesses and site selectors in recent years, which is evident in our lead churn figures. Those lead held potential total capital investment of $587M and 887 new jobs. NICEDC continues to work several of those projects today. The other important fact is that we are very successful at working with our existing business and industries to help them with future plans. The relationships that NICEDC builds with local industry have paid off in expansions that occur here rather than at a different facility in another city within that organization. NICEDC has completely revamped the Corridor BRE program to ensure we are in regular contact with the key job creators in the region: existing businesses who create more than 80% of the jobs in the area. In 2012, NICEDC executed a staff reorganization which not only places much more staff time emphasis on existing business issues, but also reorganized a position to ensure marketing of the region is receiving much more staff time and attention.

    The other important part of the services NICEDC provides to Mason City is the marketing of our community and available sites for the development. NICEDC staff attended four major international trade shows in 2012 in the food processing, biotechnology, metal fabrication and advanced manufacturing spaces. These trade show visits develop leads that can result in company interest in our community. These types of visits put us in front of people that might not ever have heard or considered Mason City.

    The NICEDC investment of $105,000 is a great bargain for all the services they provide. In 2013, we will turn every $1 of City of Mason City investment into $4 via participation from the other communities and our private investment campaign, same thing we did in 2012 and 2011. It is important to remember that the NICEDC raises fully half of their budget via private investment, which is an exceptionally high ratio among many other communities. The City of Mason City could create a department to do economic development but it would not have the full service provision of economic activities that the NICEDC does on a daily basis for $105,000. I feel that the combination of private and public resources in the NICEDC creates an organization that provides the best chance for us to succeed in the creation of economic development of our community.

    • Good Stuff Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      That was a more than sufficient answer to your question I would say.

      • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

        February 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm

        Of course it is sufficient – if you buy what they are selling. Three days later, taking credit for everything and anything that ever happened in North Iowa as if without the EDC none of these businesses would have grown or expanded and the jobs would have been lost. I would expect nothing less from Mr. Willett and Mr. Trout. I’m too busy right now, but soon I will examine the claims made in the above answer.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      @Matt-This is very interesting but, What I see the most is job retention for dollars spent. That makes the assumption that we were going to lose those jobs and I really do not believe that. Also, Assa Abbloy is showing a net gain of 5 to 10 people and I have it on very good authority that they are laying off at least 5 people. So, for that $750,000 what have we received?

      • John Reply Report comment

        February 8, 2013 at 3:21 am

        Dimensional graphics. 22 jobs that’s a joke that place is a joke

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        February 8, 2013 at 8:28 am

        @John-you are correct about Dimensional Group. They bought out a company from out state and those jobs may or may not come here. I think those 22 jobs would have come anyway. Also, Harley Davidson would not have cut any jobs if they had moved and we gave away 10 years of taxes on top of the money we spent. Their answers are all smoke and mirrors which is normal for anything coming from our local government under the Fat Man.

    • Anon Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      You and your group have done what for the area, what’s “your” plan? And why haven’t you and your group ran for office & won? Just asking. Thanks in advance.

      • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

        February 7, 2013 at 5:53 pm

        What group? I speak for myself. Try it sometime.

      • John Reply Report comment

        February 8, 2013 at 3:34 am

        Are you referring to Erik bookmeyer and his gang that plot and bulky others like that pathetic excuse of a person Adam Gold? That group. 22 jobs in Mason City
        I find that hard to believe they employee 22 people

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 9, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      What does “churn” mean in this context? I get so tired of people using jargon like this to inflate themselves. Plain English, please!

  13. LVS Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Matt-this article certainly hit the nail on the head. The problem is no one wants to sign up for the aggravation of trying to fight this bunch. I spoke to a ex-councilman not to long ago about him possibly running for mayor and he wanted no part of it. He would have been excellent but after years of being beat up by this bunch he had enough and I can’t blame him. I completely agree with you statements, I just don’t know what to do about the issue.

  14. ffs Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    What about you, Katie? You seem to have the citizens’ best interests at heart.

  15. blog Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    All you have to do is go back into the KIMT archives and watch the video of Bookmeyer questioning the 700 plus signatures from our citizens to bring the Library bond issue to a vote and you will have your answer. It’s his way or the highway. Spell check :).

  16. smoothy Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Oh man this city is screwed with these guys at the steering wheel, we might as let them play russian roulette with us. I know one thing Im going to the voters box when it comes time and try to get rid of this communist party. REMEMBER NOVEMBER