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Thanks to Willet, Bookmeyer, other poor leaders, M.C. left off list of Iowa towns “best suited for economic expansion and continued growth”

This news story was published on March 3, 2014.
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Editorial by Matt Marquardt –

NIT – Beaten again. Left out in the cold. Bamboozled. That is what self-serving, unimaginative, sold-out leadership – and a populace asleep at the wheel – will bring.

North Iowa Commerce Center, home of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce and the North Iowa Corridor.  The true "city hall" of Mason City.

North Iowa Commerce Center, home of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce and the North Iowa Corridor. The true “city hall” of Mason City.

Thanks to our elected leaders at city hall, and their masters at the Chamber of Commerce, Mason City was not named to a list of towns in Iowa that are best suited for economic expansion and continued growth.  That list was announced today by Governer Terry Branstad.

Muscatine made it, and their JC Penney is closing. We still have ours… for now.

Burlington, Spirit Lake, Spencer, Marshalltown and Ottumwa made it too. Even Clinton made it. You know Clinton, the town where Eric Bookmeyer was arrested for public drunkenness and harassment of a public official.

Praise was lavished upon those other towns today by Governor Branstad.

Gov. Branstad, who was in Sioux City when he made the announcement, said, “We’re pleased to have this significant recognition from Site Selection, a leading publication for business executives looking to expand their operations and create jobs. This distinction is yet another sign that Iowa is working and the pro-growth economic policies our administration introduced are moving Iowa forward.”

Bookmeyer (center) and Hickey (right) along with Brent Willet have steered the Corridor nowhere over the years.

Brent Trout (left), Eric Bookmeyer (center) and Travis Hickey (right) along with Brent Willet have steered the Corridor nowhere over the years as board members.

There is good fortune in Iowa; this list proves it. Mason City is bucking that trend. It was left off that list of prosperous towns for a reason: No new jobs, no development worth mentioning. Remember we live in a place where $9.50 an hour jobs are amazing and an overachievement; our own mayor and council told us so.

To make the list, at least one of the following three criteria must be met: a capital investment of $1 million or more; creation of a minimum of 50 jobs; or the addition of at least 20,000 square feet of new floor space. Retail, government, school, medical office and hospital projects do not qualify for the rankings.

Corridor President & CEO Brent Willett looks on as hired speaker Paul Rhodes addresses a luncheon on June 18th, 2013 at the Music Man Square.  Mason City Mayor Eric Bookmeyer is seated directly in front of Rhoads (lower left).  Rhodes charges at least $20K to speak.

Corridor President & CEO Brent Willett looks on as hired speaker Paul Rhodes addresses a luncheon on June 18th, 2013 at the Music Man Square. Mason City Mayor Eric Bookmeyer is seated directly in front of Rhoads (lower left of podium). Rhodes charges at least $20,000 to speak.

Mason City couldn’t sniff any of those distinctions, despite pouring hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars into the North Iowa Corridor, run by Brent Willett.  Your city council and mayor just gave them a raise in the next budget.  You know, the 2014-2015 budget, where your taxes are shooting up 10%, along with your water and sanitation rates.

Mason City’s main agency in charge of economic development – the  Corridor – failed us all miserably since Willet took over and Eric Bookmeyer and Travis Hickey joined the board. We have nothing to show except retail shops, a call center that replaced one that left town (IC System) and businesses moving from point A to point B (Metalcraft) or staying for a king’s ransom (Harley-Davidson).

We have to face the facts, friends and neighbors of Mason City: We all have allowed this charade to go on unchallenged for years, and we are being passed by in a hurry.

Robin Anderson runs Mason City.  She is the puppetmaster of Bookmyer, Willet, the city council.

Robin Anderson runs Mason City. She is the puppetmaster of Bookmeyer, Willet, the city council.  She charges the Corrdior thousands of dollars a year in rent to share her offices with the agency.

Our city council, mayor Bookmeyer, Brent Willett at the North Iowa Corridor and Robin Anderson at the Mason City Chamber are – at best – holding us back, and – at worst – intentionally keeping away high paying jobs so their cronies who run the big employers here do not have to compete with the higher wages.

“Governor Branstad and I are pleased to see cities across Iowa receive this honor from a magazine focused on recognizing and highlighting areas where business can thrive and jobs can be created,” said Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. “Site Selection’s announcement today signals that Iowa is ready for continued growth.”

We can only pray that Mason City fits into those plans; that somehow, someday we make a list like this one… but with our current, self-serving leadership, a prayer might not be enough.

I leave you with this quote:

“Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them.”
– Paul Valery

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33 Responses to Thanks to Willet, Bookmeyer, other poor leaders, M.C. left off list of Iowa towns “best suited for economic expansion and continued growth”

  1. CJ Reply Report comment

    March 4, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    The thing about mason city.. is the higher ups (local Gov) run things. its sad but true. they pray on young people & underage drinking rather than the “clear as day” drug distributers around town. even the uneducated people could point you in the direction of the drug houses… its really not that hard but rather they want to write tons of parking & dui tickets without probable cause

  2. ventura49 Reply Report comment

    March 4, 2014 at 1:39 am

    What do people expect of Mason City and it’s “leaders”? It’s a relatively small town located several miles from the interstate–the nearest viable airport is 2 hours away-and it has a low unemployment rate. Why would a major business come here? Who would they hire? The demographics for rural midwest look like the I-80 corrider (des moines-Iowa City-etc.) will get the bulk of population growth –the I 90 corrider in Minnesota. We do have a junior college and a hospital that seem do to well and have established Mason as a regional retail hub. The people elected know how to win and I think recognize where we are at. Mason City is a great place–but it is what it is

    • Philosophus Reply Report comment

      March 4, 2014 at 6:58 am

      The people elected are self serving and know SQUAT about developing their communities and building up their citizenry. They view election to these offices as popularity contests and elite social status, not an opportunity to better their locale. They are in it for ALL THE WRONG REASONS, and you’re too stupid to see it. There is so much that can be done on so many levels to help our community rise, and these socialites aren’t doing a damn thing, because they don’t know what to do.

  3. Iowa Sucks Reply Report comment

    March 3, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    “Let’s buy a few less China-made products and use that savings to buy goods and services from local providers.”

    Where do you come up with this tripe? Let’s not spend 50 cents on a China made hammer, let’s just not buy it and use that 50 cent savings to buy a US made hammer for $39.99. You want outsiders to invest in the US don’t you?

    Ya, let’s all have a inbred mentality and spend all our money here and then encourage others to spend here as well. They can buy from US and we’ll just be selfish and think about us.

    Let’s say we buy local. Then the guy we buy from can spend HIS money in China.

    • Mediator Reply Report comment

      March 3, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      I’m sorry you don’t like my idea, but I’m not recommending pure isolationism. An alternative to buying a cheap china hammer, as you suggested, would be to borrow one from a friend or neighbor. That way you could save money and build community. Perhaps even share a bit of haggis. 😉 (it’s made from tripe, for those uninitiated)

    • Philosophus Reply Report comment

      March 3, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Sucks, you’re missing the elephant in the room: No one knows how to manufacture anything anymore…the society is dependent and weak. That’s the point of starting up manufacturing and keeping it going local and strong. Over time, as we see, more people become stupified, obese, and unable to care for themselves…EBT, WIC, Welfare…it’s all tied into not knowing how to make our own way. When the power goes out, when the trucks stop shipping, when the ships don’t come into harbor…we are weak, and helpless.

      Buying local is more than spending $40.00 on a hammer…it’s making that hammer and passing on the technology to the next generation so as to not make us weak and ignorant.

  4. really? Reply Report comment

    March 3, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    What else is new. Nothing but slugs, all they care about is their very own pockets with money in them.

    How can someone follow the words of Mark Twain and support these gangsters?

    Yes they are a version of old crime gangsters. I’m sure they have thought of going to business’ to get their cut. When that does start they will see to it more come to town.

    An NIT follower once said “ALL EMPIRES WILL FALL” quoted from another source of course. More truer words have never been said. It will be a joyous day on the streets of our town when they hit the ground.

  5. Just left the building Reply Report comment

    March 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    If I am not mistaken, and if I am incorrect please correct me, but I think Leonard Foster clearly stated at the Library for the question and answer for the voters of mason city, that all the incumbents were running on not raising taxes, but they are going to increase the total of city services to the people that live here. And taxes for the Next fiscal Year as they would have to they had raided our reserves to much. And now we can see they have. You get who you voted for and for many who you, let others vote instead of going out on election day and casting your vote. Gov Brandstad list just confirmed what every person who decided to run for city council this past election season already knew….. To bad the rich and elite of Mason City bought Bookies lies. Note to Eric your republican governor just stated your city is JUNK! Your philosophies don’t work and you are running mason city in the ground! Now it is official Hope your rich buddies love what you have done for them as you screwed the rest of us that work for 9.50 an hour to pay your tab…

  6. Mediator Reply Report comment

    March 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I think North Iowa is a great place to live. Clear Lake and Cerro Gordo County are offering capital investments to try to land some good jobs and investments here.

    Mason City has seen a lot of investment in becoming a retail hub. While that does improve our draw for local option taxes, are we spending that capital to bring higher wages elsewhere? Retail wages aren’t sustainable incomes for a city, especially if there is a glut of retail.

    As more individuals earn lower paying wages, they, in turn, can’t afford home improvements, newer cars, fancy haircuts… we are all diminished.

    The solution is, in part, to put pressure on to increase wages across the board, especially any place where the profits leave our community for corporate headquarters. If they don’t spend the profits here, do we want them?

    Let’s buy a few less China-made products and use that savings to buy goods and services from local providers. That’s a capital investment for which we can all contribute.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      March 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      @mediator-how about we try to bring in some of those good paying manufacturing jobs that have decent benefits that people can live on without going on food stamps to eat. These retail outfits just come in and pay low pay and take the profits out of state. Then we are so stupid as to give them tax breaks and forgivable loans to put our people in poverty. That has nothing to do with China. It has a lot to do with city officials who are only out to feather their own nest by screwing the taxpayers.

      • Mediator Reply Report comment

        March 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm

        Great ideas, LVS, but how do we bring these manufacturing jobs here? From where do they come? Short of giving away more money than any other city to woo them, what is your plan?

        My point is that if we can invest more of our money on companies that spend their profits locally, we’ll begin to grow our own jobs and benefits. If we demand better wages for our workers from the places which send our money (their profits) away, are we worse off if they leave? It’s a fine line to walk.

        While you say the China-produced goods don’t matter, I disagree. I’m not saying don’t buy China, I’m saying don’t buy anything China-produced that you don’t absolutely need and instead buy as much as possible from local people. Keep our money in circulation here and rewards will come.

        • former councilman Reply Report comment

          March 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm

          Not exactly manufacturing, but coveted job nonetheless: The Target Distribution Center that was all set to come to MC. Ask those who know what went down how that deal was lost.

          • Mediator

            March 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

            Is it a mistake from which we can learn? If so, please share it here. If it’s something from which we can’t learn or grow, please, let’s look forward and not backwards.

          • bodacious

            March 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm

            Seeing that I don’t know any of those people that matter, why was this Target distribution center moved away from Mason City? What is the story behind it?

          • LVS

            March 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm

            @bodacious-as I recall Target was told we didn’t have the labor force here in North Iowa to support it. Then they went to Waterloo and built it. Maybe it was Cedar Falls (same thing). It was a very bad decision by the administration as we draw labor from all over North Iowa, not just Mason City. Of course that started all of the talk that they just didn’t want good jobs in Mason City. That does make sense.

          • bodacious

            March 4, 2014 at 5:54 pm

            @LVS, thanks for the info. When did this happen?

          • LVS

            March 4, 2014 at 6:34 pm

            It didn’t happen under this bunch although the Chamber controls them all it was about 7 years ago I think.

          • LVS

            March 4, 2014 at 6:35 pm

            @bodacious-I heard it was Weaver that shot off his mouth. Don’t know that for sure though.

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          March 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

          @Mediator-come on now. I know you are smarter than that and are just looking to start a argument. How do you think all of the smaller towns around the area have done it. Do they have more to offer than we do. The one thing they do have is a city government that really wants to bring in better jobs and not hold back the working people. Would you like me to start naming the towns that have new business in them. Charles City, Osage, Clear Lake, Garner, Lake Mills, Forest City, Britt, and even Northwood and Manly. Wake up.

          • Mediator

            March 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm

            I’m not disagreeing with you LVS, nor do I understand your desire to be adversarial or question my intelligence or sleepiness.

            There have been some manufacturing jobs but, again, how do you propose we pull them in? You aren’t addressing this point.

            What actions are you attributing to the city of Mason City that is keeping business away? What actions are you touting by the communities for which you report new business activity?

            If there are things we can be doing, I’m all for them, short of just paying to get jobs. But I don’t understand why you would discount my other ideas as I would think they would work hand in hand with any other business building plans.

            Let’s hear your thoughts, please.

    • Philosophus Reply Report comment

      March 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      I’m going to agree that eliminating Chinese goods is the beginning of the solution, but I’m going to disagree with offering incentives to companies to come in. The reality is the town should be investing in their own people…and they must build it up from within. It’s not the quick and easy approach, but in the long term it is the correct solution. Willetts of the world are snake oil salesman. I doubt this deal will even go thru and Clear Lake will be left with themselves to deal with. Any group of politicians who would forsake their own citizens are worthy of getting their asses run out of town. Nothing is settled here yet. My approach is to work with each other on a realistic level…an equal level…a lateral level and educating ourselves to build our own economies. These bozos will never accept the truth of what I say, and they will continue to waste the lives of good and willing people…making enemies out of them. I am now a permanent enemy of the existing regime, and will work at every step of the way to throw these assholes out on their butts. They forsook the people, and they will one day pay for that transgression.

  7. USMCSSG Reply Report comment

    March 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Don’t know what willet gets paid but as long as he gets a check and has to do nothing to earn it I must say he is a pretty wise and savvy. As long as we keep voting these fat, lazy, drunken baboons to run our city then its our fault.

  8. JMan Reply Report comment

    March 3, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Brett Willett has failed miserably. Nothing since he has come to North Iowa. Seems nice enough just doesn’t work hard enough apparently.

  9. LVS Reply Report comment

    March 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Why would anyone want to come here with rising taxes and utility fees? Then of course we have the deserted city center that other than a few bars has nothing in it to draw anyone. We have low class, cheap looking dice that are pretending to be art in our Central Park that we spent all that money to dress up and of course we have the other “statues” that are only good for dogs to pee on and the Old Whore House that we put millions into while our streets are full of pot holes and people’s water pipes freeze all over town. This doesn’t even mention the unplowed streets. Why would anyone come here???

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Are you seriously blaming frozen pipes on Bookmeyer and Willett? I mean seriously? Clear Lake has frozen pipes too, is that Bookmeyer’s fault? My God people. As far as potholes. It is IOWA, It is WINTER! Happens every year, these folks did not magically creat potholes.

      As far as it having nothing to do with China. I believe you are wrong, we as a country and as a people buy far too many things from foreign companies, once again not Mayor Bookmeyers fault, but all of ours.

      • Plenty of memory Reply Report comment

        March 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        You once said: “I consider Eric Bookmeyer a fiend.”

        • Anonymous Reply Report comment

          March 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm

          And I corrected it, Eric Bookmeyer is a friend, no doubt about it.

          And as far as him dropping everything to take care of Robin’s pipes before someone else’s you are incorrect.

          Over the past couple of weeks, I have been in multiple Iowa towns, they all have discussed, on radio, water lines freezing and they all had potholes. Saying these issues are the current Mayor’s fault, are ridiculous

          • Ben Dover

            March 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

            Eric would clean Robin’s pipes real, real good, I think 😉

      • We need water on 17th street Reply Report comment

        March 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm

        When the water MAINS freeze …. and people go without water for weeks …. hell yes, I would blame the mayor and council for ignoring our plight. Now if Robin’s water main froze, they would fix that the same day, wouldn’t they?

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        March 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm

        @Anonymous-Nice try at diverting attention. I said nothing about blaming them for the frozen pipes but if they have 125K to give to Willet for doing nothing they could certainly give folks some help with their water bills. And as far as the pot holes, yes it is Iowa but the same deal holds, if they can give away our tax money with nothing in return then they can spend some money and fill the pot holes. Now, does that answer you Steve? And, you are not going to keep our money here when you keep letting in the retailers owned in other states and subsidizing them with our tax money. The best you will do is get some low level pay checks with no benefits. At least WalMart provides benefits for their employees. As one of the social elite I really thought you would be smarter.

        • Anonymous Reply Report comment

          March 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm

          Someone needs to ask the Council to adjust water bills. So far no one has. They have only asked Mark Rahm who does not have the legal authority to adjust them.