One Is the Loneliest Number

Anyone else out there scratching their head about the recent news that Cedar Rapids gets only one seat on the Gov. Culver’s 14-member Rebuild Iowa Commission? That’s the group Chet created to guide Iowa’s disaster recovery efforts.

Now, I don’t mean to diminish or question the credentials and talents of those who were named to the commission late last week. All are good, capable Iowans to be sure. But when the state’s second largest city is devastated by an unprecedented natural disaster, you’d think we might rate a few more seats on an important panel that could have a big impact here.

Consider the fact that there are as many members on the commission from Creston and Sioux City as there are from Cedar Rapids. Can you imagine if Des Moines had been hit as hard as Cedar Rapids, and then only one person from the capital city was appointed to the recovery commission? Wouldn’t happen. All Hell would break loose.

True, there are four members from “The Corridor,” including Jim Fausett, the longtime mayor of Coralville, Cedar Rapids attorney Caroll Reasoner, Iowa City businessman Bill Bywater and Bill Gerhard of Iowa City, president of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council.

So what’s this council do anyway? Pretty important stuff, according to the governor’s office:

The commission will report to the Office of the Governor and to the Legislature within 45 days of the first meeting. This report will include an assessment of the storms’ impact on the state – including our people, schools, businesses, and private and public infrastructure — and recommend initial steps the legislative and executive branches can take to assist in recovery.

The Commission will develop a comprehensive long-term vision for rebuilding a safer, stronger, and better Iowa. In doing so, the Commission is charged with reaching out to stakeholders at all levels of the private sector and government, and citizens of all walks of life, from all parts of the state. This innovative and inclusive process will be accompanied by recommendations for strategies to achieve that vision.

The Commission will continue to advise on the state’s ongoing recovery efforts at the federal, state and local levels, and assess progress towards meeting the rebuilding vision.

The Commission will also be empowered to create and appoint ongoing task forces focused on specific issues, and, as necessary, develop further recommendations in these areas in order to support a strategic recovery process.

 Maybe the commission will appoint a Cedar Rapids task force, or a corridor task force. Who knows? In any event, Reasoner is carrying a pretty heavy load of local needs and hopes into this thing, and I wish her well. I also wish she had some more local members by her side.


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