Mailbag — Pennies for Your Thoughts

Most of my mail this week was tied to Tuesday’s vote on the one-cent local option sales tax increase.

My Thursday column on the aftermath of the vote drew mail from both sides of the issue. Most supporters shared my hope that Cedar Rapids leaders take care to spend the money as promised.

But I also got mail from opponents, including Bruce Johnson of Cedar Rapids, who was troubled by vague promises:

It’s not that I was against passage, it’s just that I did not see business planning being defined by the city council nor Linn County Supervisors. For the Supervisors to say 90% of the funds will be spent on road projects, should they not share with us what projects WOULD NOT be accomplished should the tax not be passed? Should they not be able to define specifically what added roads/bridges projects would take place in year 1, year 2, etc with passage. Conservation projects really doesn’t tell us what will or will not get done with local-option tax passage. Same holds true with City Council when the statement is money will be spent for flood relief. If general statements like what we were given in government leaders would go in front of a private business board of directors, management would be asked to come back with better defined details for review and measurement.

We’ll all be watching to see how exactly those vague categories are transformed into actual policy.

I didn’t write about temporary flood control measures being implemented by the city, but Randy Lowenberg shared his thoughts with me on how he thinks citizens could get involved and save taxpayer money:

We are purchasing temporary flood control methods and then paying contractors to be “On Call” to install them. What happened to all of our volunteers who saved the one last well, or Mercy Hospital? I propose we enlist volunteers from each quadrant of the city, so they don’t get cut off by flood waters. Each month the volunteers would go to Kirkwood and use one of there big farm buildings to practice running the big end loaders and setting up the walls. We would have leaders in each quadrant to coordinate the activity. Pay each volunteer $1.00 per year like reserve police officers to insure them as employees. Every volunteer would have a bright lime green shirt that said “Best Builders By A Dam Site” to correspond to the old city saying “Best City By A Dam Site”. Why would we need to pay a company to do this? This is our civic duty to help in a time of need. We could save some money and build some civic pride at the same time.

Speaking of the floods, I mildly jabbed  Gov. Chet Culver for coming to Eastern Iowa to sign a proclamation making March “Flood Awareness Month 2009.” I pointed out that folks over here are already very, very aware of flooding.

I think that’s why I got an e-mail from Tina Potthoff, spokesperson for the Rebuild Iowa Office, explaining the need for awareness:

There have been some people questioning why March was selected as Flood Awareness Month…

…One of the main reasons for the month is to educate Iowans about the National Flood Insurance Program. Unlike other insurance policies, once a person purchases a flood insurance policy – there is a 30-day waiting period before it kicks in. The Iowa Insurance Division has always promoted this program in March, however it hasn’t received much attention in years past. The RIO, along with Homeland Security, the Iowa Insurance Division and the DNR are all teaming up to educate Iowans about the program as well as discuss safety precautions this month before flood season occurs.

I’m all for flood insurance. Still, we’d rather watch officials hand out checks than sign proclamations. We’ve seen enough photo ops to last a lifetime around these parts.

Also, sharp-eyed blog reader Dave Becker points out that the penny pictured above my “LOST Thoughts” post is no ordinary cent:

That’s some penny you put at the top of your 3/3 ‘LOST Thoughts’ post. 1955 Double-Dies in that kind of condition will set you back somewhere north of five grand…that’s a lot of flood recovery.

Who knew? Here it is again. Don’t spend it all in one virtual place.

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