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Will “female and minority business enterprises” suffer if Human Rights Commission and Director cease operation?


This news story was published on March 15, 2013.
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City Hall in Mason City

City Hall in Mason City

by Matt Marquardt –

MASON CITY – The City of Mason City is currently seeking bidders for a the 2013 Street Panel and Curb Replacement Program and likely many other spring projects.

Reading through the public notice to alert bidders to this project, I came across an interesting paragraph that outlines the role and duties of the Mason City Human Rights Commission and Director as the City selects the winning bidders for its public works projects:

Prospective bidders’ or contractor’s attention is specifically called to the Mason City Human Rights Commission Specifications which mandates that female and minority business enterprises shall be afforded the maximum opportunity to participate in the performance of this project. Prospective bidders’ or contractor’s attention is also directed to the fact that the Mason City Human Rights Commission will notify firms designated as Minority, Women, and/or Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, of this project and determine if they are interested in participating as subcontractors for this project. Prospective bidders or contractors shall then be notified by the Commission of those interested parties. Determination of certification of compliance with those specifications shall be conducted by the Mason City Human Rights Director, following receipt of bids from prospective bidders or contractors.

NorthIowaToday.com has already reported that Human Rights Director Lionel Foster -although with no intention of resigning- will not be funded by the City Council in next year’s budget. NIT has also reported that the Human Rights Commission has considered dissolution once the council de-funds the agency, leaving only a part-time person to take claims and send them to Des Moines.

If the Human Rights Commission and Director are both gone, will female and minority business enterprises be at a disadvantage?

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52 Responses to Will “female and minority business enterprises” suffer if Human Rights Commission and Director cease operation?

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 22, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Public servants have their own HRC they have nothing to do with the private(honest) sector HRC.

  2. anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    They don’t have to disban unless they want to. Other cities work with a $15,000 budget and there will still be an IHRC with people who will come to Mason City if needed. It’s not the end of the world.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      March 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      $15,000 will only pay for intake of complaints and then all forwarded to DM, that is all. The bureaucracy in DM that is the IHRC will always say they can take more cases and handle any workload. then their bureaucracy can grow and they are all assured jobs. It’s all a scam to shut down local control and follow-up of complaints.

      • anonymous Reply Report comment

        March 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm

        That’s all they do with or without huge funding. The MC HRC doesn’t mediate nor make the final decision. They are the go between the complainant and the state HRC. I’ve personally known people who have utilized the MC HRC and all they did was an intake on information and give an opinion to the party as to whether or not they had a case and did some brief paperwork. They offered nothing in settling the dispute. Please truthfully explain exactly what you think the MC HRC does for a complainant. You can think what you want but intelligent people WILL look thoroughly into what HRC does in MC before they decide to be against the cut.

  3. Senior Native Reply Report comment

    March 18, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Wal-Mart, Target, Shopko, K-Mart, they all treat employees badly. They reduce employees’ hours so they don’t have to furnish health insurance, they discriminate against women, they treat people like a number, they don’t care about anyone. They are the ones who will benefit from Mason City not having a human rights commission.

    • a citizen Reply Report comment

      March 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      @Senior native – 1st) The people who work at these places do so willingly and accept the job situation. 2nd) These places are in business to make money. If you need a kind word, suggest your minister or bartender. And the fact that people still shop at these places shows tacit approval for their business methods. Reality isn’t always nice.

  4. TROLL Reply Report comment

    March 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Reggie

    March 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm
    Not it. I always use my real “fake”name when I post.Matt, it kind of sounds like an old fashion witch hunt that you are calling for. I like this site and I like Matt. I just want a more civil discourse to occur

    Good luck. The rule here is you have to pay your 2 bucks to be allowed to be a snarky here and the other rule is you have to smear all city leaders and chamber. Or else you’re OUT!
    Also the rule is you have to agree with all that paid 2 bucks too. Or LVS will kick you out.
    And if you don’t behave Matt will give a lecture.
    Thankfully I saved my 2 bucks for a better cause.

    • Reggie Reply Report comment

      March 18, 2013 at 7:42 am

      Call me an eternal optimist, I still have hope for this site. Peter has toned down,albeit only slightly, his rhetoric. Matt, Peter LVS and others don’t like the Mayor ,the city council, the chamber,the supervisors and on and on. I get that, BUT they could and should be respectful and not call names.These people are trying to do what they think is right. Are they perfect? Absolutely NOT, but who is? It is easy to take pot shots from the outside. It is MUCH harder to make decisions and have to live with them.VOTE them out but be respectful in the meantime.OK I’m going to get off my soapbox now.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        March 18, 2013 at 10:12 am

        @Reggie-that is life in the limelight. Also, who cares about your opinion. You have been on here forever (an under different names) I am convinced promoting your crap when it is obvious you are a minority on this site. You can go away now and no one will miss you.

        • Reggie Reply Report comment

          March 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

          Who cares about my opinion? Probably no one,but you should ask yourself the same question.
          I have NEVER posted under a different real fake name. It has always been the “Red” Reggie.
          You are right that I appear to be in the minority on this site but more posters are coming out of the shadows to fight the good fight.
          And just because I know you would really miss me LVS I will continue read and post on this site

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          March 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm

          @Reggie-as a lackey for the establishment and our drunken mayor (rumor says you are buddy’s) you certainly have the right to post you lies and misrepresentations and we have the right to ignore them.

        • Reggie Reply Report comment

          March 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm

          I am NOT a lackey for the establishment(actually I am quite surprised you knew what that word meant and used it correctly) BUT I would like to be the Mayor’s buddy if in fact he gets free drinks like you claim. One can never get to many free drinks.

        • reggies fan Reply Report comment

          March 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm

          I care about Reggie’s opinion. It’s the only one on here that makes sense.
          free drinks = smart frugal thinker
          I have to stay cuz I’m doing a case study at troll colledge. When the semester’s over I’ll go back under my bridge. maybe.:-)

      • anonymous Reply Report comment

        March 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm

        I hear ya. While forcing others to swallow it, they can’t handle tasting their own medicine. Thankfuly only they have to live with themselves.

  5. al duitman Reply Report comment

    March 17, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Your police chief, when we lived there, selectively enforced city codes. He also failed, in our case, to follow up a thief report, complaining it would take too much time to investigate. When we pressured him, we later learned there were a “couple” of suspect questioned and then the case was dropped.

    And don’t even mention the street department…the two higher ups belong a some kind of list!!!

  6. just me Reply Report comment

    March 16, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    The older I get the less I want to live in Mason City. The city council is all for themselves. You tell me why the 12 street bridge was not fixed at Henkels expense? If it was bookmeyers drive way or tornquist they would have not paid another dime to have it fixed. I can still hear council member hickey say it would take a lot to go after them to fix.

  7. another brick in the mall Reply Report comment

    March 16, 2013 at 10:10 am

    This is just a note for employers both public and private. When the HRC is disbanded it will make it much for difficult and cumbersome for employees to file claims. This should make it easier to rid yourselves of undesirables. Please take appropriate action.

  8. another brick in the mall Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    With employees like Mike Lashbrook, other employees need these services. It seems like Lashbrook is always on the receiving end of some lawsuit.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      March 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      I’ve come to know Chief Lashbrook over the last couple of years. He seems to do a great job. I’d think that any lawsuits would stem more from city policy or the actions of a particular officer (who may have been in the right or in the wrong in the given circumstance) than any direct actions he may have taken. If I’m wrong please explain. Thank you.

      • another brick in the mall Reply Report comment

        March 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm

        Fair enough Matt, I don’t know enough about the individual cases to comment, only that there are an unusual number of them. I saw something in the Globe about them, but it’s hard to read one line at a time while scrolling carefully, lol.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 16, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      So why make defamatory comments, when you don’t know you are talking about? Pretty much par for the course from what I have seen from another brick in the wall.

      • seriously? Reply Report comment

        March 17, 2013 at 10:58 am

        Lashbrook has been sued more than any other chief.

      • another brick in the mall Reply Report comment

        March 17, 2013 at 11:05 am

        Are you saying all the numerous cases brought against Mike Lashbrook had no merit?

  9. John Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Looks to me that if a company wanted to come here would know what wheels to greese.

  10. Just me Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    The big boys always win. Kuhn is on the council works for Henkel enough said on that tornquist lives next door to the guy from Metal Craft voted on the project enough said their. Sorry to say nothing is good coming for the council now.

  11. mynameissosueme Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    PMS?
    There’s still the IHRC to file complaints with. And if no women apply for those positiins who’s fault is that? Can you honestly provide names of women or other people who have tried to acquire those positions or jobs and been turned down or passed over? It’s a WOMAN running the airport isn’t it? People who do nothing but sit on their ass and bitch instead of being doers have no right to complain.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      March 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      Everyone, we have a bonafide troll in our midst. This is the same nameless troll who, using countless fake names, always comes to Eric Bookmeyer’s rescue anytime his name is mentioned in a story or comment, who loves to try to beat up NIT, and the same troll who criticizes everyone for any spelling or punctuation error. Now, after his red-haired step cousin Eric has been outted once again, he can barely contain himself, his fingers pulsating with rage, his brain foggy, as he types as fast as he can to save Eric the Bully. It’s really sad that this troll has no spine, no guts, must hide behind his anonymity, must use profanity, and mis-spell words to try to stay relevant in this discussion. It’s no wonder he must hide his identity, he would look like a fool and the world would know it. Keep hiding, coward, and keep injecting your garbage into this debate. Or, be a man and stand up with your real name to the scrutiny if you can.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        March 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm

        @Matt-this is the same one that I have been bitching about and everyone attacked me over. He changes names like I change my socks and I can only tell who it is by the writing style. If it is not Reggie then it is his evil twin brother.

        • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

          March 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm

          It is just some lifeless troll who is afraid of revealing himself because he has probably been to prison and he doesn’t want me to talk about it. But, it’s ok for him to come to NIT and insult me and my readers at will, in his world. It’s really OK, the world needs cowards too.

        • Reggie Reply Report comment

          March 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm

          Not it. I always use my real “fake”name when I post.Matt, it kind of sounds like an old fashion witch hunt that you are calling for. I like this site and I like Matt. I just want a more civil discourse to occur.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm

  12. Jeff Roberts Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    You mean businesses like Foster Brothers Construction that stiffed all their suppliers that last time they got a city contract. Matt didn’t you do an article about them feeling it was unfair to pay rent at NIACC after nearly two years of stiffing them to?

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      March 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      I don’t know if that is true or not, but I don’t think it is fair to lump all minority or women-owned businesses with blame due to the actions of one company.

      If you want to talk about people getting stiffed, let’s talk about that.

      I do believe one of the last major projects done in Mason City was the 12th Street NW overpass, and the work was shoddy (see pic and link) and we all got stuck with that workmanship and paying for the repairs. The Mason City council refused to hold Henkel Construction and WHKS Engineers responsible.

      http://northiowatoday.com/2012/09/20/hickey-says-12th-street-bridge-work-only-a-band-aid/

      Connect some dots here. Gary Schmit of Henkel Construction is on the EDC Board. Alex Kuhn is on the Mason City Council and works for Schmit at Henkel and refused to make Henkel help pay for the repairs. Henkel also got the bid on the new retail Harley store, a deal in which Kuhn voted in favor of and Eric Bookmeyer, another EDC board member, set up after drinks at the Mason City Country Club. I can keep going.

      • another brick in the mall Reply Report comment

        March 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm

        It’s a conflict of interest to have Henkel employee’s on boards and in councils.

        What is this, like the NYC construction mob rackets.

      • 4ever49 Reply Report comment

        March 15, 2013 at 10:25 pm

        I was under the impression that Henkel’s insurance company had to pony up when the concrete poured in cold weather apparently froze and failed to meet DOT compression tests. This would have resulted in weakened concrete which I thought was replaced.

    • another brick in the mall Reply Report comment

      March 16, 2013 at 7:56 am

      Free rent and supplies are what turns a good income.

  13. 50 MILES SOUTH Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I do not understand. lets say the HRC has already dissolved. does this mean that the state HRC will notify perspective bidders or contractors? and if they dont, could that mean that all bids are null and void?

  14. common sense man Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Nice article Matt. First of all let me state I believe it should be common sense that work done in Mason City should be done by a Mason City company, not by a out of town or certainly out of state company. I also believe that not only minority owned companys but also smaller companys should be given consideration in procurring these projects why not give a small company or start up a break and help them grown their business, which should be part of the EDC’s focus.

    Second please explain the bidding process. Does the city always take the lowest bid? Or does the city just award projects on “connections” to the city. I feel this would be a interesting research project for you. Go thru the last couple of years and see who was getting the majority of the work…I simply dont know.

    Thirdly…some projects are just too big for some smaller companys and a biggger firm can do it in a faster and less expensive way. Remember Henkel, Henningson and others employ taxpayers in this town too and its better for them to get the projects vs. somebody from Minnesota or Des Moines.

  15. Amanda Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I agree, Matt. Nice job…and, thank you.

  16. LVS Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Always been that way in Mason City. Can’t find anyone powerful enough to buck them so they always win.

    • mynameissosueme Reply Report comment

      March 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Those bching should be doers instead of whiners. The truth is in the # of people who DON’T vote in elections then cry about those who are doing something. What have you done for your city lately?

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        March 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm

        @myname-I can tell you I have not missed voting in a election in the last 20 years. How about you?

        • Don't go outside the lines Reply Report comment

          March 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm

          Voting equates to little more than “coloring for a cause”. The choices are horrible and the system is broken.

        • Anonymous Reply Report comment

          March 16, 2013 at 10:07 am

          So you are admitting this happened on your watch?

  17. Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I will start by answering this question myself. Purely my opinion here.

    First of all, saying that minorities or women would be ‘disadvantaged’ seems insulting to these business owners, so I hesitate to label them as such. I believe women and minorities have equal talent to any other class of business owner.

    With that said, I will say that woman and minority business owners may not have equal access to OPPORTUNITY here in North Iowa. Talent only takes you so far. I can tell you that women and minority business owners in Mason City will be done no favors by City Hall or the people who really run things in North Iowa once the Commission and Director are gone.

    Case-in-point:

    If you look at the so-called power structure in North Iowa, start at the North Iowa Corridor (EDC). Its board is populated by all white men in positions of power.
    http://www.northiowacorridor.com/board
    Many of the board members are bankers and construction company owners who seem to get the lion’s share of the public works projects. The EDC is publicly funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars every year from Mason City, Clear Lake and Cerro Gordo County.
    http://northiowatoday.com/2013/02/07/editorial-we-are-all-paying-the-price-for-bookmeyer-and-his-lap-dogs-running-this-city/

    Now, it is common knowledge that the EDC has failed miserably at bringing any new jobs to North Iowa, but this board would seem to have the inside track to any new business or major construction projects. Some people have called it “the good old boys club.” If you start connecting the dots between EDC board members, you will quickly see that they are unashamedly promoting each other.

    We the taxpayers are funding this special club of white men and they are reaping the rewards for belonging to the club. With the Human Rights agency destroyed, those who do not belong to this club stand no chance. I’m talking about women, minorities, or perhaps those who don’t “play by their rules” or golf at the Country Club.

    I invite you all to check out the EDC Board and start connecting dots. Who gets the public works projects? Who votes to award said projects? Who spearheads handouts to the Chamber of Commerce and retail businesses in Mason City? Who are the fattest of the fat pigs eating from the public trough? Why does no one scrutinize this group and force them to play fair? Where is the cost-matrix showing a return on investment for the tax dollars given to the EDC?

    After decades of trying, perhaps the EDC’s biggest adversary has finally been beaten… and the power further coagulates at the top.

    • 50 MILES SOUTH Reply Report comment

      March 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      I don’t know who’s on the board of the EDC. It sounds like they would be called the 1% of Mason City. If they are the same contractors submitting bids. wouldnt a conflict of interest prevent them from participating?