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Council Member John Lee: “I will no longer support any development agreement which concerns Prestage Foods of Iowa”


This news story was published on June 2, 2016.
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John Lee

John Lee

Since late February, when I was informed a major pork processing plant was interested in moving to Mason City, I have read books, journal articles, and university studies. I made phone calls, interviewing professors and other cities’ leaders. Ever since the Prestage announcement, I have met with people of Mason City in their homes, joined them for coffee, and conversed with them over lunch. I have responded to hundreds of emails and took every phone call possible. Ever since the May 3 vote, I maintained all of these tasks.

I have continually tried to educate myself on both sides and made careful consideration of the overall positive and negative impact to public services of a huge processing plant (1500+ Jobs). The monetary cost and demand to the city’s public services and surrounding areas will be greater than the tax dollars we receive from any proposed development agreement. This is not to mention the potential cost to environment and quality of life to our city and region that cannot be adequately predicted. Many of the cities who have ‘gone through the growing pains’ of such plants eventually work out all the problems after a city begins to collect all the tax dollars from these companies.

Even with these concerns, we as a city could roll the dice and negotiate a development agreement where we struggle for 10 years believing in the end we would be better off. However, I feel a development of this size and scope should only be justified by a clear majority of the people to support it. This is definitely not the case in Mason City, opinions are mixed at best. There is no doubt this plant will make people more money; however, it is the other citizens who are opposed to this plant who will have to subsidize this project with their time, energy and potential tax dollars.

As an elected official, it is my duty to do what I believe is best for our city. I do not see how dividing our community is worth it any longer. We need to move forward as a city. This is why I will no longer support any development agreement which concerns Prestage Foods of Iowa.

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35 Responses to Council Member John Lee: “I will no longer support any development agreement which concerns Prestage Foods of Iowa”

  1. Avatar

    johntravis Reply Report comment

    June 7, 2016 at 1:05 am

    Mr. Lee, you are mistaken if you think a majority of citizens did not want this deal. You listened to the loud mouthed minority not realizing that the majority was silent because they never dreamed this city council would kill the best economic deal this city has seen in decades. If this deal had been put to a city wide vote you would be surprised at the level of support. Some years ago there was a similar negative minority outcry over a bond issue to support Curries. On a city wide vote that issue passed with 90% support. This deal would have succeeded as well on a city wide vote. The lesson here is this city still does not have the council that it needs to move forward. But that can be fixed at the next election.

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 4, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Thank you.

  3. Avatar

    Mason City has fallen Reply Report comment

    June 3, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    I see Jon is about as good at making decisions for Mason city as he was as a football coach! HORRIBLE! Look at all the money our community lost because we don’t want anymore “outsiders” coming into town, whatever!

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Too Reply Report comment

      June 4, 2016 at 1:44 am

      Actually his decision making for the city and his football coaching career are about the same. John was a good football coach, just did not have the talent around him to have a successful team. He is also a good councilman, again no talent around him on the council to make a good team. He made good and correct decisions as a coach and he has made the a good and correct decision here, his no vote is by far the best thing for Mason City.

  4. Avatar

    Jon P. frasz Reply Report comment

    June 3, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Good process, excellent outcome. As a Friend of Iowa CCI and a supporter the intention to serve “the greater good, I applaud you’re comprehensive work and your Courageous stance. We fight these same battles here in Southern Minnesota, and hope for such reasonable outcomes that reflect more than just “the Love of money”.
    Keep up the good work !
    Sincerely, Jon Frasz, Nothfield,Mn..

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      June 3, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      I hope John feel the same when he will be looking for a new teaching job because he lost his due to low enrollment.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        June 3, 2016 at 6:03 pm

        I could go into a multitude of comments that would dispel your “thoughts”, but that would be a waste.

        Suffice it to say, you’re an idiot.

  5. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 3, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Thank you Mr Lee. I would like to say that you’ve gone over and beyond in your research but I cannot. This was a question of destiny, one whose importance could not be exaggerated. You recognized this and carried out the hard work that had to be done, no more, no less [- a heck of a lot more than can be said for some of your fellow council members with their knee jerk yes votes. Again, thank you!

  6. Avatar

    Jennifer Kellogg Reply Report comment

    June 3, 2016 at 4:14 am

    Thank You so very much Mr. Lee for doing all the hard work and finding the research to study on the topic so that you could effectively make a more informed decision for our community. I was immediately concerned and felt a bit betrayed by our city council when I first found out this was not the case on the first round of votes. I had assumed our city meant more to everyone than just the political bandwagon. I was a little hurt to find out we were that cheap to sell. Regardless of whether we all like each other or seven agree with one another here we are all worth far more than that. So Thank You for the effort you put into learning about this for our city. I really do appreciate it. Thank You too Mr. Khun. So far from what I saw your the only one that put in the proper research from day one. Thank You for caring about us all enough to go against your peers. That’s never an easy choice to make. Mr. Schickle I’m thankful that you voted no but I’m not real sure what else to say other than that. You seem very easily swayed one way to the other and back again. I can’t really call you out on it for I’m a lot like that myself but I can’t tell if your politically swayed or not. I don’t like the idea that you would change your vote at all. If you do I suggest it not have anything to do with Branstads preferences. Because he for sure does NOT have what’s best for this city in mind. He is only interested in what’s best for himself and his job as well as how much money he will get out of this deal. If so it better be based on provable, not imaginary, facts. As for the rest of our council and our city mayor… What the heck are you guys even doing there? Do you guys even know what you actual job is? How could you people have not done the research and had ALL the facts about every single thing BEFOREHAND?!? Why are you wasting our tax dollars on this stuff? This is a ridiculous farce and it needs to stop immediately. If you can’t hack it. Get Out! Now, shake it off. Grow up quickly, quietly, and smarten up. There’s a group of citizens that are in the process of talking right now. They have begun brainstorming ways to fix up parts of the city as well as bring more business to the city. This is what you ‘should’ have been doing all along. I suggest you all get together and get started on these ideas. Figure out a way to make this stuff work and let’s get more brainstorming going on. More people. More ideas. More prosperous times are guaranteed to follow. This town isn’t dying. It’s been growing for a long time now. Stop dissing this place. The numbers are there. You just not looking hard enough if you don’t see them. There’s also something to be said for the beauty of the place. Unfortunately the dumb stupid idiotic politics has always been a problem of this town.

    • Avatar

      Sad But True Reply Report comment

      June 3, 2016 at 10:35 am

      Jennifer, just curious how you see or define growth? Our schools have half the kids they had 30 years ago. Our population is in steady decline. We have one of the if not the lowest household incomes in the state? We have 75% of the students in our school system on free or reduced lunch? Many because the parents just refuse to work.
      There is a falling down or burned out building on every corner, and empty buildings and homes in every block!
      I am just curious where you see a growing city? In my eyes, it looks kind of sad?

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        June 3, 2016 at 10:49 am

        – 75% of the students in our school system on free or reduced lunch?

        – There is a falling down or burned out building on every corner

        – and empty buildings and homes in every block!

        can you please back these claims up? sounds like we live in different towns. i especially look forward to a link supporting your 75% claim. i know we have far too many poor kids in town but to the best of my knowledge its not anywhere near that.

        • Avatar

          Sad But True Reply Report comment

          June 3, 2016 at 11:26 am

          the 75% figure was given to me by a person that works in the lunch program? I did not doubt her.
          as far as the rest? The mall is empty! The Sear Target shopping center is empty, except for tobacco outlet shining example of trade in Mason City.
          Come in on 65 from the north, block after block of boarded up businesses and houses in disrepair. A empty shell of a cement plant. Come in on 122 from the west and drive by the empty K-mart as well as others.
          Come in on 65 S and drive by the Rosebowl shell that has been sitting burned out for several years.
          Look at N. I. Reality and look at the 300 homes for sale in Mason City? Most of have been for sale for several years
          Come in on old 106 and drive by the empty AMPI building as well as many others?
          And yes, look at out industrial park that stretches for several miles, it sits empty other that the government buildings that keep sprouting up with the help of our ever increasing tax dollars (DOT, HWY Patrol, etc
          In the last 10 years, how many homes have been built in Mason City?
          Go to a REAL GROWING city and you will see new subdivision after subdivision
          I did not care about Prestgage one way or the other, but to say Mason City is growing or headed in the right direction is at best a stretch

        • Avatar

          Sad But True Reply Report comment

          June 3, 2016 at 11:52 am

          you are correct, I should not say 75%. Can not back it up, the figure was given to me by a person that works in the lunch program. Guess she may not know? As far as the rest, where do you want to start?
          Do you want to drive in on 65 south, drive by the burned out Rosebowl that has sat there as a eyesore for years.
          Do you want to come in on 65 from the North? Drive by the empty cement plant, the blocks of boarded up businesses and houses from about 16th st to Fareway, do you want to start at the loop N of the Globe and look at several boarded up relics that have sat there for years.
          Do you want to look at the basically empty mall? Do you want to go down and look at the empty Sears shopping center?
          Do you want to look at our HUGE EMPTY industrial park? (other than the government buildings that keep sprouting up (DOT, HWY PATROL) both which take more and more of our tax dollars.
          Maybe look at the empty AMPI building, The Minnesota rubber building, the huge empty K-Mart building
          The over 300 propertys for sale in Mason City on NI Reality? Most have been for sale for many years.
          Growth? Where? I do not see it

          • Allen

            Allen

            June 3, 2016 at 12:18 pm

            Very good comeback, and, you are right. Some people are blind, and/or don’t care, to what’s really going on.

  7. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 3, 2016 at 1:00 am

    Mr Lee One of your students said it best…YOU taught him about DEMOCRACY. I think that has stayed with you and you are doing the RIGHT THING! Thank you

  8. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 3, 2016 at 12:58 am

    How could someone not agree with the MAJORITY? Redreg IT IS the majority of people do not want this. So dumb

    • Avatar

      johntravis Reply Report comment

      June 7, 2016 at 1:11 am

      Where is your proof that the majority did not want the Prestage deal?

  9. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    THANK YOU Mr John Lee

  10. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Active open minded research, to form a well balanced understanding of the situation with NO spin.

    Thank you John, for all you do. And, THANK YOU for letting Mason City know where you stand.

    This controversial issue has created division in our community. Continued debate on this issue is creating a community PTSD as citizens on both sides of the issue become firmly entrenched in their beliefs. The longer we dwell on this poisonous topic, the harder it will be for community to recover.

    IT IS TIME for all remaining council members to voice their love for community. By publically declaring NO to Prestage building a kill facility in Mason City.

    Just say, NO Mason City Council members. For the love of community.

  11. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    I appreciate your words and convictions!!!

  12. Avatar

    mint Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Thank goodness, someone who has done their homework, and won’t deny the facts.

  13. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Good decision…

  14. Avatar

    Corey Ostercamp Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Well said.

  15. Avatar

    Bob Wolfram Jr. Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Very nice informed decision. Thank you Sir

  16. Avatar

    Patrick McGarvey Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Pat McGarvey

    Mason City is blessed to have you on our City Council. Your approach to this Prestage saga is an example of open, honest
    competent and wise public service. Your students at MCHS know
    and respect your teaching and care for their future. Now the citizens
    of this community surely know you better and appreciate what a wise
    leader and gentleman you are.

  17. Avatar

    MIKE Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you Mr. Lee

  18. Avatar

    Polio Loco Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    I thought his daughter told him how to vote on this issue?

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      June 2, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      No, his daughter told him “I know you’ll do the right thing.”

  19. Allen

    Allen Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    I, am on the fence with this development. I want decent paying jobs brought to this community, if there is such a thing. But, I feel the negatives out weigh the positives on this deal. Sure, if it went through, there would be some people in this town that would come out smelling like a rose, and we all know who they are. The citizen tax payers in this town should not foot the bill and lose their quality of life, what there is of it, on the get rich scheme of the elite. Thank you John Lee for doing your homework and standing your ground, under pressure from above.

  20. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    What a weenie.

  21. Avatar

    Peter Children Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    John Lee deserves a more gratitude than could possibly offered by each and every person living in the entire North Iowa region. The cream always comes to the top…..

  22. Avatar

    Curt Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Thank You, John Lee for doing your own research and explaining your decision in an well-reasoned, intelligent statement. Yes, Mason City, let’s move on in a constructive manner and put this divisiveness behind us.

  23. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you, John Lee! You’re a great council member!

  24. Avatar

    Anonymous #3 Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Very well said, I agree with you on this one Mr. Lee.

  25. Avatar

    Reggie(Red) Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    While I appreciate your convictions, I strongly disagree with you Mr. Lee.