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September 2011

Have Coralville *leaders* given us a Solyndra?

By Mike Thayer

May 26, 2010:  Pushing his green agenda and his Stimulus spending, King Obama arranged a photo-op tour of a Fremont, CA solar panel facility.

"The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra," claimed the King.

Taxpayers coughed up $535 million to Solyndra, in the name of Stimulus and green jobs.

August 31, 2011:  Solyndra abruptly fired its 1,100 employees, closed its doors and announced it would file for bankruptcy.

To paraphrase Senator Chuck Grassley, so long Solyndra, so long taxdollars.

September 27, 2011:   Pushing their "Look how swell Coralville development is going" agenda, King Hayworth and his court literally gave more than 10 million taxpayer dollars away to retailer Von Maur so they can build a new store in the Iowa River Landing, a TIF district.

“They will attract the kind of tenants we want to have here,” Hayworth said. “We will more than reap financial benefit from Von Maur because of all the other businesses we’ll be attracting.”

Promises, promises....  Taxpayers have coughed up well in excess of $164 million to develop the Iowa River Landing area.  And city leaders seem oblivious to the fact that they have now created two shopping districts in direct competition with each other, the Coral Ridge Mall and the Iowa River Landing.  Here's the kicker, a third shopping area is now being developed, it's called the 'Coral Galleria,' also courtesy of some taxpayer dollars!  Can you say, "Overkill?"  I think you can.....  Can you say, "Oversaturation?"  Yes, yes you can.

So long Von Maur, so long tax dollars....

Future Date, a short time before the expiration date of the IRL TIF:  Von Maur and other retailers in the Iowa River Landing have laid off employees, closed their doors, with some businesses filing for bankruptcy.

I could be wrong on that, it could be the Coral Ridge Mall that suffers.  We could have a Westdale Mall (Cedar Rapids) situation in the near future.  The bottom line:  It's a lose-lose situation for area taxpayers.

You heard it here first folks.

Don't doubt me.


The Kelly Hayworth thinks you’re an idiot quote:

In forcing Coralville taxpayers to cough up more than $10 million in a flat out cash give-away to retailer Von Maur, City Administrator Kelly Hayworth (He's really the Mayor for all intents and purposes) calls it an “Investment.”

Hayworth has said the Coralville resident cash give-away to Von Maur - so they can move to the taxpayer funded Iowa River Landing - that the retailer will help attract new tenants.

“They will attract the kind of tenants we want to have here,” Hayworth said. “We will more than reap financial benefit from Von Maur because of all the other businesses we’ll be attracting.”

Um, if Von Maur was all that, then why isn’t the Sycamore Mall doing much better than it is?

Coralville's so-called leadership is without honor

By Mike Thayer

Some time back in 2000 or 2001, somebody in Coralville’s *leadership* circle sat down and figured out how to manipulate the state’s Tax Increment Financing law (TIF).  They looked for a way to skirt the law so the city could use TIF revenue from Coral Ridge Mall to spur development in the Iowa River Landing. 

Question:  What kind of a person (people), sits down and plans out how to skirt the law?

The result of that skirting, that manipulation, resulted in Coralville extending the Coral Ridge TIF district along a right of way on Interstate 80 to include the Iowa River Landing.  They played a conniving connect the dots game.  AS IF the Mall and the Iowa River Landing are truly connected, as in adjacent according to the spirit of Iowa’s TIF law?


Can you say, “Manipulation?”  You bet.  Was the maneuver legal?  Technically, but in a splitting hairs, a dropped two words out of a Miranda rights reading kind of way…..  Honorable?  Absolutely not, in no way does what Coralville did back in 2002 honor the spirit and intent of TIF law. 

Such manipulation is costing taxpayers.  Not just in Coralville, but in the school district, the county, and the state as well.

What Coralville did was create a district that isn't really a congruent district, so they could take money out of an existing TIF - the Coral Ridge Mall area - and use it to develop a new area, the Iowa River Landing. 

Expanding the district as Coralville did wasn’t found to be illegal by Iowa’s Supreme Court (not without some dissent on the final ruling mind you), but clearly, there was a manipulation of the law.  Without question, Coralville violated the intent of the TIF law and the state needs to shore up its rule. 

So again, what kind of a person sits down and plans out how to skirt the law?

Think about it.  Coralville’s so-called leaders sat down and plotted how to cheat on a test.

Where’s the honor in that?

Compounding the lack of honor problem, Coralville leaders arrogantly forced Coralville taxpayers to cough up more than $10 million last week, in a literal cash give-away to retailer Von Maur so they can move from the Sycamore Mall, to the Iowa River Landing…..  The expanded TIF district.

Such cheating, maneuvering and manipulation by *leadership* doesn’t advance Coralville as a community.  There is no honor in what Kelly Hayworth, Mayor Jim Fausett and the city council have done in skirting TIF law and negotiating deals like the Von Maur move. 

Sadly, such *deals* are not anomalies or unforeseen isolated incidences for Coralville’s decision makers.  Such planning and deal making is intentional, it has become habitual, it is based in a growing arrogance.  Coralville’s rulers have spurned Iowa City, North Liberty, the county and most importantly, its own tax base.  Is Tiffin next?    



Hoekstra: Killing of American Traitor Cripples al-Qaida

The killing of home grown terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki is a huge success for the American intelligence community that will reverberate through the ranks of al-Qaida, former House Intelligence Committee ranking member Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax.TV.

Hoekstra, who is currently seeking the GOP Senate nomination for the Senate seat held by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the death of Osama bin Laden and now al-Awlaki has the leadership of al-Qaida wondering how the two were located and whether they are next.

“I think this was another huge success again for our intelligence community, for our military, they’re the ones who pulled off this successful attack against what apparently was his convoy,” Hoekstra said.

Read more on American Born Al Qaida Terrorist Killing Cripples Alqaida.
Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama's Re-Election? Vote Here Now!

Earlier caucus date riles Republicans

By Hannah Hess

IOWA CITY — Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn is riled by news that Iowans will be caucusing in January or earlier.

Florida Republicans on Friday "put a finger in the eye" of every Republican National Committee, or RNC, member, Strawn told, minutes after the Sunshine State announced it would buck the established calendar by moving its primary forward to Jan 31.

Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses were scheduled for Feb. 6, under rules adopted by the RNC in August 2010 designed to avoid the push for a so-called national primary day, and encourage candidates to travel to more states during the presidential primary process.

But a special Florida nine-member committee Friday voted 7-2 to move its state's primary to January, despite possible penalties from the RNC for breaking the rules.

"The arrogance shown by Florida's elected leadership is disappointing, but not surprising," Strawn said. "Equally troubling is to see this petulant behavior rewarded with our national convention. The consequences of Florida's intransigence must be swift and severe, including the refusal by the RNC to credential or seat any member of Florida's presidential primary date commission at the 2012 RNC convention in Tampa."

Caucuses could be held this year

Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina soon are expected to be pushing their presidential nominating contests forward to maintain their influential status as early deciders. CNN reported that the four early states could face penalties by moving their caucuses and primaries.

But Strawn said Iowa won't face any penalties.

"Technically, because Iowa isn't selecting delegates at the time of the caucuses, it would not face a penalty," agreed former Iowa GOP Chairman Brian Kennedy, a member of the RNC that set the more staggered calendar.

Iowa's new caucus date has not been set, but could be scheduled for later this year. Strawn said that following tradition, the final date will be announced once New Hampshire sets the date of its first-in-the-nation primary.

New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner said Friday that he can't rule out the possibility that the state will hold its presidential primary in December to preserve his state's status. In reaction to Florida, Gardner on Friday bumped up the filing period for presidential candidates to Oct. 17-28.

Kennedy, who spent two years working with the committee to draft the calendar that now has been thrown into chaos, condemned the imminent changes. He said Florida set in motion a "domino effect" that would benefit the candidates with the most resources.

Florida's decision "hurts the voters too, because they don't have as much of an opportunity to get to know the candidates," said Kennedy, who also leads the steering committee for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign.

For the Republican presidential candidates, an accelerated nominating calendar means less time to get their message to caucus-goers.

"Any candidate that wants to be successful and be our nominee, they need to be on the ground here in Iowa looking our voters in the eye and allowing Iowans to ask the tough questions," Strawn said.

What candidates had to say

Former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has committed to visiting all 99 counties in Iowa before the caucuses.

"What I believe is going on is somebody in Florida is shilling for Mitt Romney, and probably Rick Perry," Santorum told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Thursday. "They want to shorten the playing field now that these guys are ahead .... by moving up the calendar, you help the favorites."

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Thursday said in Des Moines that front-loading the nominating calendar will put a greater importance on media buys, because the candidates can't be everywhere at the same time.

"If you have proportional representation in the first six weeks, you can have potentially a wide-open convention," Gingrich said. "This could be the first time in well over 60 years ... that you won't know going into the convention who the nominee is going to be."

But Gingrich called it "plain fact" that Iowa will be the first caucus in the nation, and New Hampshire will have the first primary.

"No one's going to get ahead of either one of them. Period," Gingrich said. "When they occur, I don't know. I will be here campaigning in Iowa whenever Iowans tell me to come."

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has put an intense focus on retail politics in Iowa, hoping that a win in the caucuses could launch her on a path to victory. Uncertainty about the calendar doesn't faze the campaign, said Bachmann spokesman Eric Woolson.

"No matter what the date is, you have a commitment to win, and you have a commitment to contacting the activists, scheduling the events, doing the sorts of organizational work that you need to do to win — no matter what the date," Woolson said.

Wavering on the national calendar poses a challenge for the campaign of former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain.

Cain, who has been absent from Iowa since the Aug. 13 Ames Straw Poll, wants to spend more time in the state, confirmed Iowa Campaign Director Larry Tuel, but "given that amount of uncertainty (about the date), it's hard to put a schedule together."

For Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, "flexibility" about the date of the caucuses has been a constant factor in the campaign, said Iowa Campaign Chairman Drew Ivers.

Ivers described the contentious battle riling party chairmen nationwide as "the normal drama." He said Paul continues running a focused, grassroots campaign for the precinct caucuses, registering supporters at sign-ups during his town hall appearances.

"With this much notice in advance, it will not be a major hurdle," Ivers said.

The race for 2012 is Paul's third bid for the White House. He campaigned in 1988 as a libertarian and in 2008 as a Republican.

Democrats present united front

Last time around, Iowans caucused on Jan. 3 — the earliest date in history. In addition to concerns about butting up against the holiday season, planners worried that football fans would be glued to their couches for the Orange Bowl game.

Only Republicans will have a competitive caucus this year, since President Barack Obama's re-election campaign is the only game in town for Democrats. But both parties have an interest in presenting a united front as the nation's first nominating contest.

"We join the Iowa Republican Party in our commitment to Iowa's first-in-the-nation status," said Iowa Democratic Party Press Secretary Megan Jacobs.

Iowa Democrats could "take some certain pleasure about Republican disarray in this scheduling," said Drake University political scientist Dennis Goldford, during a recent conversation on Iowa Public Radio.

"On the other hand," Goldford said, "the parties have tended to work together to support the tradition of the Iowa caucuses kicking off the whole nominating season, so Iowa Democrats do have a vested interest in keeping Iowa first."

So Long, Solyndra, So Long Stimulus Dollars

Senator Chuck Grassley

Chuck_grassley When President Obama signed the economic stimulus package into law on February 17, 2009, many of us braced ourselves for waste, fraud or abuse.  It’s impossible to send hundreds of billions of tax dollars to thousands of entities across the country without at least some of the money being stolen, misused or just invested badly.  

The now-defunct solar energy company Solyndra is the latest example of stimulus money wasted and likely gone forever.  The company received a $528 million stimulus loan from the Energy Department in a much-highlighted “green” jobs initiative.  Now the company is bankrupt, and it seems unlikely, if not impossible, that the taxpayers will ever recoup their investment.  

This week, I asked the top watchdog of stimulus money whether the office received any indications of problems regarding Solyndra and whether the watchdog office plans to take any action going forward to try to account for the $528 million in stimulus funds awarded to the company.  

The stimulus oversight office should do everything it can to fill in the knowledge gaps regarding what happened to the taxpayers’ money.  An accounting of where the money went should help the government learn from its many mistakes with this project specifically and with stimulus money in general.

This isn’t the first cautionary tale regarding stimulus money and not the first project I’ve questioned.  

A government audit called into question $27.4 million in stimulus money spent by the Philadelphia Housing Authority.  Also, the home weatherization program for low-income residents has been the subject of well-documented problems in several states.  Illinois had substandard work performed by contractors. West Virginia's program had not only poor workmanship, but also nepotism and billing errors. The federal agencies that write the checks have an obligation to make sure the money is spent as intended and as Solyndra shows us, to do homework and withhold the check if the project doesn’t seem like a good investment in the first place.

Proposed: Property tax bills should be itemized

By Mike Thayer

In light of the city of Coralville literally GIVING more than 10 million taxpayer dollars to retailer Von Maur this week, I propose that effective immediately, property tax bills be itemized, showing how much of your bill is going to the county, how much is going to the school district, how much you are paying the city you live in and so on....

Why don't you see an itemized bill now?  Because it would scare the crap out of you.

Attention Lawyers: Looking for legal advice on filing injunction, RE: Coralville/Von Maur deal

The Coralville/Von Maur deal stinks, every way you look at it.

So all you lawyers out there, here's a chance to give back to your community, here's a chance to do some pro bono work and keep big government in check.  The case may even take on national interest.

What Coralville *leadership* continues to do, is unprecedented and I think, unauthorized.  It's definitely not proper.

Call me, Mike Thayer, at 319-621-1779 for additional information.