Tag Archives: cedar rapids

Railroading a Corridor of Hegemony


Railroading a Corridor of

Hegemony

a Corridor of Hegemony

a Corridor of Hegemony

Berlin to Baghdad

Cedar Rapids to Iowa City“The railway from Berlin-Vienna-Constantinople led through Belgrade, Nish and Sofia. The control of Servia, as of Bulgaria, was, therefore, essential to Germany for carrying out the Hamburg to Baghdad project, the very core of Pan-Germanism.”

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/de-berlin-baghdad-3.htm

“But what about that idea of a Cedar Rapids-Iowa City rail line? It would give the thousands of people who commute daily on Interstate 380 another option and possibly ease congestion on the crowded roadway.

It also would provide a boost to public transportation, the environmental movement and the Creative Corridor initiative calling for more regionalism.”

http://thegazette.com/2013/07/07/eastern-iowa-commuter-rail-proposal-on-slow-track/

Studies and just a cursory observation show that restoring passenger rail service between Cedar Rapids currently makes no economic sense. Still, those crying for a Corridor Empire and their Forth Estate friends dredge up once more what should be a non issue.”Unified government in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City Corridor has been discussed at various times, most recently by Pat Baird, former president and CEO of AEGON USA (now Transamerica).

Baird, who facilitated a November meeting of  Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and the Iowa City Area Development Group investors, said unified regional government models should be explored. The backers met to discuss issues involving the two economic-development groups working better together.”

http://thegazette.com/2013/01/20/economic-development-population-spurred-by-unified-government/

The Counts and no counts of Cedar Rapids Downtown District royalty have made no secret of their plans. An empire of “regionalism” with Cedar Rapids Downtown District as its imperial capital is what they hope to command.
A money losing Lionel layout is not wasteful. Money pursuing their imperial ambitions is never wasted, as long as it is not theirs.Empty trains and even more are what the great mass of unwashed taxpayers must pay for. One stop shopping for all their Tax Increment Funding treasure hunts and assorted tax abatement ordinances demands a larger empire to exploit.

Be prepared to confront the Cedar Rapids Downtown Districts race for new colonies. If not, be prepared to be tied to the tracks.

Mt. Trashmore Trail do you use it?


Mt. Trashmore Trail

I’ve been thinking about checking out local trails and rating them but I haven’t figured out DSCN9488a rating system or whether or not people would even be interested.
On June 1, 2013 the Cedar River flooded. One trail that was underwater was the trail along the dump also known as Mt. Trashmore. I saw a video last week that had me sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time here’s the video!

Riding the Mt. Trashmore Trail while it is underwater is dangerous. Thankfully, this man knows this trail and how rivers work but I wouldn’t suggest doing anything like he did to anyone. I enjoyed the video.

Checking the water line at Mt. Trashmore

Get up to 5 new .COMs, $5.99 per year for the 1st year! I wanted to see just how high the water got and so my friend, Jim Pate, and I went down there to get some footage of the flood line and the Mt. Trashmore Trail on June 12, 2013.

Mt. Trashmore review

We saw a lot of people using the trail and knew that they smelled the same things we did. The Mt. Trashmore Trail has got to be the most vile smells of all smells in Cedar Rapids, Iowa next to the ADM plant. The Mt. Trashmore Trail is not a trail that I would suggest to anyone, especially a newcomer. I just wonder if you use the trail and if so, why?


The City of Cedar Rapids, IA, Did Not Ensure a Competitive Procurement Process and Did Not Properly Execute Its CDBG Disaster Recovery-Funded Contracts


information

Lisa Kuzela

PRESS RELEASE —-

From Lisa Kuzela to Cedar Rapids to local media –

Attached is the May 6, 2013 HUD Office of Inspector General Report.

It states “The State did not monitor the City’s voluntary property acquisition program in accordance with its approved Disaster Recovery action plans. Its monitoring checklists did not include all of its procurement requirements, such as cost reasonableness and all required contract provisions.”

In other words, the City of Cedar Rapids has done whatever they wanted, and the State turned a blind eye. Could it possibly have something to do with the local relationships at the state level?

I don’t care to know why you didn’t cover this huge issue; I just want our local news media to start informing the public on what is really going on in this town.

Once the fraud and illegalities crash in on our town, our local media will be viewed as accomplices to this corruption. Many of us have told you over and over, but the media chose to ignore the facts.

Worse, our newspaper continues to take even proof of wrongdoings by our city and spin it into something positive. Case in point: the October 2012 HUD OID Report.

Rick Smith reported statements of deceit by Mayor Ron Corbett. He included Corbett as stating “there is no fraud.” The report never even eluded to such, but by including the Mayor as stating so, Smith led the public to believe everything is fine.

Office of Inspector General

Office of Inspector General

Smith further misled the public by not including something as simple and informative as the subject title of the report:

The City of Cedar Rapids, IA, Did Not Ensure a Competitive Procurement Process and Did Not Properly Execute Its CDBG Disaster Recovery-Funded Contracts.”

The question is: are you going to continue to ignore? Are you going to continue your denial and worse – chastise those of us speaking out with the truth as “naysayers?”

OR are you going to do what they taught you in journalism school and report the news?

This is only the beginning!

(This must be why Karr, Swore, Shields and Corbett bullied me at the May 14th, 2013 council meeting. They were angry at me about this Report that came out several days earlier.)

Please please consider donating to this cause. http://www.gofundme.com/disasterrecoveryreform

You can donate anonymously, if you’d prefer.

The funds pay for public information from the City and State who have increasingly set up roadblocks for me by increasing costs (by increasing the estimated amount of time it takes them to get me the information.)  I do not pay myself out of this account. But, public information is not free and funds are running low.

Please help me continue these investigations! You can pay online or drop by my home or mail to:

Disaster Recovery Reform
c/o Lisa Kuzela
341 Carter Street NW
Cedar Rapids, IA  52405

 

 


Exciting Times in Cedar Rapids Downtown District


Exciting Times in Cedar Rapids Downtown District

The_Gazette_Riots Early Sunday Morning “Brawl” Becomes Tuesday’s News

Story Created: Jun 4, 2013 at 8:43 AM CDT (Tuesday)

Story Updated: Jun 4, 2013 at 11:45 AM CDT
Police were called to The Vault, 208 Second Ave. SE, at 1:44 a.m. Sunday for a large disturbance. Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said responding officers encountered several large fights – involving more than 100 people in total – going on and one man on the ground who appeared to be injured. Police said the ongoing brawl made it difficult to get to the injured man.

http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/Downtown-Cedar-Rapids-Fight-Involved-100-People-Five-Arrested-210070451.html

“I think it sends a nice statement to our community that we want to be a vibrant and lively town. Nobody wants to live in a drab, boring town. They want to have some life in a town. And I think that complex (the Downtown District’s multimillion of taxpayer’s dollars hotel/convention complex) is helping, along with other investments that we made, create that life and vibrancy.’” CRST Special Projects Manager and Mayor of Cedar Rapids Ron Corbett.

http://thegazette.com/2013/06/02/window-to-our-city/

It was truly an exciting weekend for Cedar Rapids Downtown District. The repeatedly failed hotel taxpayer’s purchased and the if you rebuild it pray they come events center were open for business. The Downtown District located dominant local media swelled with pride. It was evident when pulp hit front porches on Sunday morning.

Unlike the huzzahs for the patched up hotel, another bit of Downtown excitement was not foretold in a press release.

Nearly 100 people were fighting in the streets early Sunday morning within blocks of the hotel and “Your 24 Hour News Source.” Yes, the news never sleeps.

All those out of town guests asleep in their pricey, nearby hotel rooms may not have known what they missed. Unless a freight train rumbling by yards away, or sirens woke them, they learned nothing from local media as they packed their bags and left town.

It is doubtful many guests hung around until nearly noon Tuesday to hear the history of Sunday’s Gettysburg on the Cedar. Unless the out of town tourists live within the Cedar Rapids media market, they will probably never what they missed.

What a shame.

You all come back now, hear.

titans


Flood Watch 2013


Flood Watch 2013

We had a flash flood the day before yesterday and a flood similar to the flood of 1993 that is to crest tomorrow, June 2, 2013.  I have lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa most of my life and one thing that stays the same during each of these floods and that is the water has to have somewhere to go.  A few feet could make all the difference in the world for people who went through and continue to have water problems since the 2008 flood.

Flooding in Cedar Rapids

I don’t think we would have the sewer problems we have if the city would just work with the DNR to dredge the riverIf the city council worked as hard for flood protection as they have to acquire and demolish homes and businesses we would be so much better than we were before the flood of 2008. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Flash Flooding in Cedar Rapids


Flash Flooding In Cedar Rapids

First Avenue Bridge

1st Avenue Bridge

Do you live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa? If so, do you live in a flood zone? Was your home impacted by the 1993 floods? How about the 2008 floods?
Yesterday, May 30, 2013 a fast moving storm caused some flash flooding in Cedar Rapids. The city is frantically working  to prevent flooding, or so they claim.

Current Flood Warning

There is currently a  flood warning in effect.  KCRG reported last night that “several homes on 1st Street NW will be impacted”. Problem with that statement is there is only one home on 1st Street NW and “the basement is still dry.” The storm and flash flooding certainly impacted drivers though!

Flood Lessons

Like the city, homeowners also learned valuable lessons from the 2008 flood. Always trust your instincts and have a plan. I will be watching the river and updating my findings.  Flash flooding and river flooding are different types of flooding. The river rising is a drawn out event and predictable but flash floods happen quickly without much notice.  Both are potentially dangerous. If flood water is already starting to come up through your basement drain you might want to consider disconnecting your furnace and moving it to higher ground. If you don’t know how to do that call for help.
I
am no expert on the city but living on 1st Street NW as rebuilt homes were demolished after the 2008 flood I have a unique perspective on how things operate around here. I do not blame the city workers for doing things backwards because they are only following orders. I hope that a city worker who understands the frustrations of the people who live in the core neighborhoods will step up and run for city council.
We have got to get this city back to operating without any agendas but to equally serve and provide essential services to it’s citizens.
Everyone I’ve spoken to agrees that the city should have focused on flood protection before buying and selling Real Estate. Flood protection should have been the city’s first priority since the 2008 flood but it hasn’t been. Nope, instead of focusing on the real issues the Cedar Rapids City Council squabbled with people all over the city over buyouts in the name of flood protection while giving downtown players “sweetheart deals” for riverside property on the east side.

When we voted for the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) it was supposed to help rebuild flood impacted property and flood protection. FEMA did not require we move the Public Library and spend millions of our disaster dollars to acquire and remodel the event center three blocks from the river the city council did.  FEMA did not require properties be bought out the city did. Remember the buyout program was a voluntary property acquisition after the 2008 flood.

 


Freedom of Information Doesn’t Mean Free Information


Freedom of Information isn’t Free

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
May 26, 2013
How much did taxpayers pay to rebuild, purchase and demolish those buildings on 1st Avenue and 1st Street SW in Cedar Rapids, Iowa? Too much! But, the only way that the people who paid for it can find out about it is by obtaining public information.

How many people think that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) means free information? You would think that freedom of information would mean free information but it doesn’t; it only means you’re free to ask for the information and pay for said information.

That’s right, if you want any real information you will have to pay for it!

The equivalency of the Federal’s FOIA is the State of Iowa and City of Cedar Rapids’ “Open Records” law and ordinance, respectively.

But, just how “open” are these records?

information

Lisa Kuzela

Lisa Kuzela:

Lisa Kuzela was the Vice Chair of the Local Option Sales Tax Oversight Committee (L.O.S.T.) when she asked for pertinent public information regarding where some of the funds from the L.O.S.T. account had been appropriated.

Kuzela asked for a list of the homes purchased with the L.O.S.T. funds and was told that it would “cost her $110 for six hours of time to compile the data”.

They then used the excuse that it was a “privacy issue,” even though the same requested information for properties purchased with FEMA and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds had already been publicly listed. So, why not make available those purchased with L.O.S.T?  There was never any justification for their excuses.

Don’t take my word for it go check it out yourself!
Click here for information about The City of Cedar Rapids Greenway Area Address List.
Click here for information about The City of Cedar Rapids Construction Area Address List.


Assistant City Manager, Sandi Fowler, discusses Fees for Public Information

Kuzela is often charged for information requests from the City. On top of the research hourly fees, she is charged for scans – yes, scans! She is charged twenty-five cents per page to scan even though there is no ink or paper!

This clearly violates Iowa’s Open Records Law, State Code 22.3(2): “The fee for the copying service as determined by the lawful custodian shall not exceed the actual cost of providing the service. Actual costs shall include only those expenses directly attributable to supervising the examination of and making and providing copies of public records. ”

Kuzela states “when I pointed this out to the City, they said that the reason they have to charge the same for a scan as a hard copy is that the machine counts the scan the same as a copy. I told them I’ve never heard of such a thing and no one should have to pay for something when there’s no expense for it. However, I’ve gone along with this absurdity and been paying $0.25 per scanned page so I could get the information.”

If a citizen cares enough to request information they should not be charged for it if they are not requesting a hard copy of said information!

Kuzela goes on to say that within the past week, “they suddenly claim that the documents are off-site, so if I want the information, I have to pay them the time to go to another location to retrieve the documents at $20 per hour. This is over and above their hourly fee for the time it takes to scan (even though we have automatic feeders, now). This, too, is in addition to $0.25 per page to scan.”

What is wrong with the efficiency of our city if this information isn’t readily available – especially in the day of digital? Who are these people working for if they can charge taxpayers for public information – especially at a higher cost simply because they haven’t been well-organized in storing it?!

Aren’t we already paying them to do their job, and isn’t this part of their job? This all just sounds absurd to me!

But, it even gets worse!

Kuzela explains that “even though they’re emailing me the information (and therefore no supervising of staff is necessary while I review the information), they are now also saying that I have to pay a fee for ‘supervising the examination.’ So, does that mean I have to pay for an employee to supervise another? They haven’t responded to this question.”

I’m simply not buying that in this day and age when everything is digital that they don’t have this information scanned already and easily accessible! It’s obvious that the goal here is not to help the taxpayers get information, so they can oversee how their money’s being spent, but to prevent it. The City continually comes up with different excuses to make it as costly as possible in order to deter Kuzela from obtaining public information.

Click here for a link to Lisa Kuzela’s fundraising page.
50% off Hosting for your Website at GoDaddy.com!

50% off Hosting for your Website at GoDaddy.com!


KCRG Investigates after Block by Block House is Demolished


English: Cedar Rapids, City Hall, photographed...

English: Cedar Rapids, City Hall, photographed by User:Iowahwyman on June 17, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The city has bought and torn down rebuilt houses for nearly five years.  I’ve investigated this myself since 2011! The only answers I’ve ever been given for this is that the “owners applied for the buyout” and that it is for the “city’s preferred flood plan“.  Just because the city has a plan doesn’t mean that it has to make sense.
Chris Earl’s investigative report generated more questions than answers for me.
Is it only newsworthy if a Mathew 25 aka Block by Block house is rebuilt and demolished?  How many other rebuilt houses were bought by the city with our tax dollars to be torn down?  I know of two other properties that were rebuilt, occupied, bought by the city and torn down. They weren’t houses that Block by Block rebuilt but it was only a matter of time before they went after Block by Block houses.  The houses that were rebuilt, occupied, and sold to the city by landlords never made the news!  The question I have is why did they sell out?  Were they offered an incentive?  Did they sell out because they’d never be able to get that kind of return on the market?  107% isn’t a bad deal is it? I don’t blame the landlords for wanting to sell out, especially if there was an incentive.  $2.49 .COM at GoDaddy.com! Expires 5/14/13
Chris Earl does a fair job in his reporting but I wish that the report would have focused more on the city taking federal money to tear down rebuilt houses than Mathew 25.  I am more interested in the people who lived in those rebuilt homes. Where are they now?  Were they given money to move?  Are they happy? Would they have stayed if they were given a chance to purchase the house?  Couldn’t these houses could have been sold through the cities “Roots Program“.
The city has done a lot of negotiating with the federal government to get their money to tear down rebuilt houses but when it comes to anyone in the city trying to save a rebuilt house from demolition there is no negotiating with the city.  Once the city agrees to take that federal money the laws dictate that the house must be demolished.  After 1100 homes have gone to the landfill you would think that the city would be satisfied but they’re not.  The will continue to take our tax money to demolish rebuilt homes until they are stopped! Who will stop them?

 


FEMA From Evacuation to Eviction


I am excited to report that the garage I’ve complained about to the city, my family, friends, and neighbors on the 1400 block of 4th Street NW is finally gone. It will no longer serve as a convenient dumping ground and I will never have to wake up to the sound of demolition again. The demolitions are done around me!  The only remaining structures are blocks away from my house and I hope that I don’t have to hear them.
You would think I would be happy that this is almost over and that these rotting structures will finally be gone and I am. But I am still very unhappy about what happened to the west bank and I wonder how many people felt like they went from evacuation to eviction?
50% of Hosting for your Website at GoDaddy.com!Before the flood we were undergoing intense inspections by the city because our community was approved for Weed and Seed money from the Community Capacity Development Office out of the Department of Justice. My neighbors and I were working hard to have everything perfect for the city inspectors but then flood came on June 11, 2008.  Our final inspection was supposed to happen on June 17, 2008 but it never did and we were denied volunteers from the Weed and Seed program by Bruce Vandersanden, program coordinator at the Sixth Judicial Department of Correctional Services.  I was on the Weed and Seed Committee as a representative from my neighborhood association when I complained to Gary Hinzman about the houses that have been denied all help at an unrelated board meeting where he told Bruce to “make it right”, but that never happened.  In fact, in front of a room full of people Bruce told me that “it wasn’t ever going to happen”.

Operation Weed and Seed is a joint federal, state and local coordinated law enforcement and community initiative that aims to prevent, control and reduce violent crime, drug abuse and gang activity in targeted high-crime neighborhoods across the country. The Weed and Seed strategy recognizes the importance of integrating law enforcement with social services and the private sector on federal, state and local levels to maximize the impact of existing programs and resources.”
Sponsored by the United States Department of Justice and under the local leadership of the United States Attorney, the strategy involves a two-pronged approach. First, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in “weeding out” criminals who participate in violent crime, gang activity, drug use and drug trafficking in targeted neighborhoods. Second, “seeding” brings a variety of human services to the area, restoring it through social and economic revitalization.”

The city lied to all of us about flood protection, they lied to us about the buyouts, and they continue to lie to us about being bound by FEMA.  The city applied for the buyout program. The buyout program was voluntary . If we were truly in danger FEMA would have declared our city unsafe and there would have been an “involuntary buyout”. FEMA did not destroy our city- city officials destroyed our city and used FEMA money to do it! In a Gazette article labeled: Property owners refuse to leave Cedar Rapids flood plain dated August 16, 2009 it said: “They plan to use $27 million in federal money to buy out property owners and create a city park or wilderness trail along the river. A levee built by the Army Corps of Engineers will separate remaining neighborhoods from the greenway and provide protection from another surge.” They also claim in the same article that: “The city has said it won’t use eminent domain to force the property owners off their land. But the Army Corps of Engineers could designate the properties as risks to the flood-protection system and force the owners to sell for pre-flood assessed values plus improvements. Fournier said that would be a last resort.”

Evacuation to Eviction

Evacuation to Eviction

What the Gazette didn’t report at that time was that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) did not approve any flood protection for the west bank because it didn’t meet the required guidelines. There is no property left on the west bank of the Cedar River therefore it does not meet the monetary specifications that are required for the USACOE to approve flood protection. The specifications  include a cost to benefit ratio. Because the neighborhood was flattened there is no property value to protect therefore, no flood protection.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers also told me directly and on record (in a questionnaire) that they were not interested in buying our home now or ever. At a different United States Corps of Engineers meeting the  I attended I informed one of the men from the United States Army Corps of Engineers that we were told by the city and news outlets that they needed our houses out of the way so that they could implement flood protection for the west bank. I was told by this man that this was not only wrong but it’s illegal. He said “saying that qualifies as coercion in a voluntary property acquisition” by FEMA.
Another thing that the Gazette failed to report is that “eminent domain” can “never” be declared because it was a “voluntary property acquisition”. Question number seven on the “Corridor Recovery” site clearly states this as a fact:
7. Is the City going to force me to sell my property?
No. This is was a voluntary property acquisition process. When using FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, the City cannot use eminent domain to acquire properties.
The five year anniversary of the flood is coming up and that is a huge milestone for some of us. There is a small group of us in the greed-way that stuck it out and decided that the city’s buyout offer was not only ridiculous but it is a farce! Who in their right mind would want to take a $66,000.00 loss because of one flood?  The city offered us $14,000.00 for our property and $0 for the house! This was the first flood my house has ever been through and we have flood insurance why would we sell out?  The National Flood Insurance Program which is also known as FEMA and anyone who received money from the National Flood Insurance Program or FEMA was required by the City of Cedar Rapids to “pay back” any and all FEMA money they received in the buyout. Meaning a lot of people took losses.
If you’ve never heard of the term Disaster Capitalism I suggest you look it up. In a neighborhood meeting Chuck Swore was confronted by Mike Augustine who asked him where all the money was coming from for all these projects because the city seemed to be spending federal tax money like it was free money.

That's a Smart Move! Economy Hosting for $1.99/mo.In summarizing his statement Chuck Swore said  that we’d probably be alright without FEMA  but since the money was there and available to the city, “they used it as if it were free money”.  FEMA money for communities is not meant to be used in the way it was used in our community. Those of us who dealt with FEMA and the city were told “not to expect FEMA to “make people whole” yet, everything was ripped down to make way for new and supposedly with FEMAs blessing. Communities that have been hit by disasters of their own have called on Cedar Rapids to ask for recovery advice and that’s not good. Communities impacted by disasters would be better served if they were required to follow the Property Acquisition Handbook provided on FEMAs website. Had FEMA handed these guides out to victims in Cedar Rapids when they were in town it would have saved America millions and millions of dollars.
Houses that were rebuilt and lived in after the flood continue to find their way to the dump while the city complains that there isn’t enough affordable housing. If there isn’t enough affordable housing then why are renters being relocated so that the affordable housing we do have can be demolished? What is going on around here?

We must demand reform or FEMA will systematically allow a few people to exploit them while destroying everything in it’s path!


Should the City of Cedar Rapids Fine People who feed Geese?



Please answer this poll!

Snapshot - 2

KCRG Story click here