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Bookmeyer campaign member blows $1,750 city tax dollars on junk food

Roller City
Roller City

MASON CITY – A Mason City business owner who accepted thousands of taxpayer dollars through the Micro-Enterprise program has spent a large portion of that money on candy bars, junk food and other questionable purchases, NorthIowaToday.com has discovered.

Receipts obtained by NIT from City Hall show that Roller City owner Tyler Anderson spent $1,752.09 of Mason City taxpayer dollars on items like blue raspberry syrup, Frito BBQ chips, Kit Kats, Snickers, Milky Ways, Twix, Snappy Yellow Popcorn, wrapped lollies and much more.

Anderson – who recently announced he has joined Mayor Eric Bookmeyer’s election exploratory committee – refused comment on the matter when questioned last week by NIT.  Bookmeyer has been a major supporter of the Micro-Enterprise program. The program is described as “help” for small business owners, who may receive up to $5,000 per year in taxpayer dollars.

“Acknowledging that the City is now a ‘Blue Zone’ do you feel that purchasing candy is a proper use of Micro-Enterprise funds?” Anderson was asked by NIT Publisher Matt Marquardt.  “Also, how does the purchase of retail items like candy and t-shirts affect the long-term viability of your business?”

Bookmeyer and the Mason City Council were all asked similar questions.

Mason City Council and Mayor Eric Bookmeyer refused to answer questions about how a Mason City business was spending Micro-Enterprise funds that come from city taxpayers.
Mason City Council and Mayor Eric Bookmeyer refused to answer questions about how a Mason City business was spending Micro-Enterprise funds that come from city taxpayers.

“Understanding that you also have unanimously supported Mason City as a Blue Zone, do you believe this is a proper use of taxpayer dollars as you pursue this initiative? Do you believe enabling a business to sell junk food to kids is in the spirit of a Blue Zone?” Marquardt asked.  “Furthermore, do you truly believe that it is the role of local government to purchase retail items for a business, so that they can turn around and re-sell them at a profit? How does this influence the long-term viability/success of a small business?”

Two council members who voted in favor of the Micro-Enterprise program, Alex Kuhn and Travis Hickey, were asked about the matter in person on July 16th and they promised to respond, but never did.

Records show that in 2011, Anderson entered into a contract to buy the property at 600 2nd Street NW from Thad and Michelle Seydel and that $9,310.00 in taxes will be due in September.

In Mason City's Blue Zone, the city promotes selling junk food to children.
In Mason City’s Blue Zone, the city promotes selling junk food to children.

In addition to junk food, Anderson spent hundreds of dollars on items for re-sale like t-shirts and sweatshirts that cost about $1,585.00.  He also bought a Macmini computer that cost $641.99.

Furthermore, NIT has learned that on December 13th, 2012, Anderson spent $624.39 at a Forest City business called Accelerated Wraps (see receipt, below).  The Globe Gazette reported on January 30th, 2013 that “Accelerate Wraps president Kevin Breister moved his business to the building” in Forest City “also housing Competitive Advantage Sportswear Nov. 1 of last year.”

The Micro-Enterprise rules state that only purchases from Mason City businesses are allowed.

Roller City, according to its public Facebook page, is open a total of 8 hours per week.

Seeking clarification on how any business can be profitable while open only 8  hours each week, Marquardt asked Anderson “Is it true that Roller City is open only a total of 8 hours per week?”

Anderson again did not reply.

—————-

Micro-Enterprise dollars spent by Tyler Anderson for Roller City:

Accelerated Wraps (a Forest City business): $624.39
Macmini computer: $641.99
Sweatshirts and t-shirts: $1,585.00
Candy / junk food: $1,752.09

Roller City Hours as listed on its public Facebook page
Tue: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Emails sent to Mayor Eric Bookmeyer, Scott Tornquist, Alex Kuhn, John Lee, Travis Hickey, Jean Marinos, Janet Solberg:

 —- EMAIL #1 —-

From: Matt Marquardt <northiowatoday@gmail.com>
to:mayor@masoncity.net,
kuhnatlarge@masoncity.net,
tornquistatlarge@masoncity.net,
Council Member John Lee <WardOne@masoncity.net>,
hickeywardtwo@masoncity.net,
wardthree@masoncity.net,
solbergwardfour@masoncity.net,
Brent Trout <btrout@masoncity.net>
date: Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 12:36 PM
subject: Micro enterpise

Good afternoon,

It has come to my attention that a business participating in the Micro Enterprise program – unanimously approved/supported by you (mayor and council) – is using the funds (taxpayer dollars) to purchase candy bars and other junk food items and then re-sell them off its shelves.

Understanding that you also have unanimously supported Mason City as a Blue Zone, do you believe this is a proper use of taxpayer dollars as you purse this initiative? Do you believe enabling a business to sell junk food to kids is in the spirit of a Blue Zone?

Furthermore, do you truly believe that it is the role of local government to purchase retail items for a business, so that they can turn around and re-sell them at a profit? How does this influence the long-term viability/success of a small business?

Appreciate your answers, the public will be waiting to hear from all of you.

Matt Marquardt, NorthIowaToday.com Publisher

 —- EMAIL #2 —-

from: Matt Marquardt <northiowatoday@gmail.com>
to: mayor@masoncity.net,
kuhnatlarge@masoncity.net,
tornquistatlarge@masoncity.net,
Council Member John Lee <WardOne@masoncity.net>,
hickeywardtwo@masoncity.net,
wardthree@masoncity.net,
solbergwardfour@masoncity.net
date: Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 1:05 PM
subject: Tyler Anderson, Micro-Enterprise funds and campaign committee

Good afternoon Mr. Bookmeyer (and council),

NIT is completing an in-depth story on Tyler Anderson, a member of your election campaign committee and recipient of thousands of dollars in city taxpayer funds through the Micro-Enterprise program which you strongly endorsed.

I would like to ask you, why did you select Tyler Anderson to join your campaign committee? Did he ask to join or did you ask him? Do you believe it is possible Mr. Anderson joined your campaign because of the $5,000 in taxpayer funds he has received and will continue to receive every year as long as he is in business and the Micro-Enterprise program exists?

As I asked several days ago, I assume you are now aware that Mr. Anderson spent a very large portion of his city tax dollars through Micro-Enterprise on candy and junk food like blue raspberry syrup, Frito BBQ chips, Kit Kats, Snickers, Milky Ways, Twix, Snappy Yellow Popcorn, wrapped lollies and much more. He also purchased other retail items for re-sale like t-shirts and sweatshirts.

I would remind you, Mr. Bookmeyer (and council) that you have spent much time and undisclosed tax dollars on making Mason City a supposed healthy Blue Zone. Do you truly feel giving the money of the people of Mason city to a business to buy junk food is a wise way to spend taxpayer dollars? How does this work in a Blue Zone? Do you feel that this $5,000 was wisely spent by Mr. Anderson? Do you feel that helping a business to purchase retail items and then simply re-sell them is A) fair to other businesses selling similar items and B) has any positive long-term affect on Mr. Anderson’s business?

The people of Mason City will be expecting answers to these questions.

Matt Marquardt, NorthIowaToday.com Publisher

———————————–

Message sent from NIT Publisher Matt Marquardt to Tyler Anderson via Facebook on July 19th, 2013 at 12:40 PM and seen by Tyler Anderson at 12:47 PM:

Good afternoon Mr. Anderson. I am working on a story about you and Roller City. It has come to our attention that you have accepted Micro-Enterprise funds ($5,000) and spent a very large portion of those funds on candy bars and other junk food items. I would like to request some feedback from you for our story. Acknowledging that the City is now a “Blue Zone” do you feel that purchasing candy is a proper use of Micro-Enterprise funds? Also, how does the purchase of retail items like candy and t-shirts affect the long-term viability of your business? Also, is it true that Roller City is open only a total of 8 hours per week? Lastly, did you volunteer to join Mayor Eric Bookmeyer’s campaign committee or did he ask you to join? How were you contacted about that?

Thank you for your answers.

Matt Marquardt, NorthIowaToday.com Publisher

———————————–

Message sent from NIT Publisher Matt Marquardt to Tyler Anderson via Facebook on July 22nd, 2013 at 2:31 PM:

Mr. Anderson, I see you are affiliated with Rhythm Church in Mason City as well as Candeo Church – of which Thad Seydel is part of the leadership – and that Seydel also owns the deed to the Roller City property. I further see that Candeo Church is expanding from Ames to Cedar Falls. Do you have plans to make Roller City into a church or make it part of a religious tax-exempt organization?

———————————–

RECEIPTS FROM CITY HALL

 

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