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May 15, 2005

Davenport taxpayers beware

Leaving aside for the moment the issue of riverfront aesthetics, the proposed agreement between Davenport and the Isle of Capri, if approved as is, would be a raw deal for the city's taxpayers.

The rawest elements:

-- The city would rebate 50 percent of property taxes on the new hotel, up to $7 million, to IOC. That is, half the benefit to the city's coffers disappears instantly.

-- When the new hotel is completed, the city would take the Black Hawk Hotel off IOC's hands for $1. That's no bargain. The Black Hawk needs "millions and millions" in renovation work before it could become a viable hotel again, the Isle's Nancy Donovan said back in December at a public presentation of the Isle's plans.

What's Davenport to do that white elephant? Finding someone to take it off the city's hands is going to be pretty much impossible. Whatever patronage is provided by gamblers will disappear when the new hotel is built, leaving the Black Hawk's prospects even more dim than they are now.

Count it as a sure thing that the city will be asked to sink millions into whatever plan finally surfaces to do something with the Black Hawk; this is one of the hidden costs in the IOC deal.

The notion that the city will eventually get back all its investment in the IOC deal and then some is based on the assumption that more and more people will come to downtown Davenport to gamble. Again, I'll say that's pie-in-the-sky stuff given developments in the big picture. Four new casinos are to open in Iowa; a new gambling complex is planned on the Illinois side of the river, at the Interstate 280 bridge; IOC is to build a big addition, including a convention center, at its Bettendorf site.

Given all that, a huge increase in traffic to a downtown Davenport casino, even one with an attached hotel, seems pretty unlikely to me.

Are Davenport council members really going to see this as a good deal for their constituents?

Posted by jcb at May 15, 2005 04:05 PM


I would appreciate knowing how each alderman plans to vote. Is this information available somewhere?

Posted by: Anonymous at May 16, 2005 11:22 AM

I'd guess several aldermen don't know how they're going to vote. You should ask your own.
There's a list of aldermen and ward maps on the Davenport website.

Posted by: John Beydler at May 16, 2005 12:22 PM

Is there a list of council members' email addresses somewhere? I see photos and all but no phone numbers or email addresses.

I'm afraid to send a snail-mail letter; they're in such a rush it probably wouldn't get to them in time!

Posted by: Anonymous at May 17, 2005 08:25 AM

If there are email addresses for aldermen on the city's website, I can't find them. I did email Jennifer Nahra, the public information officer for the city yesterday, and asked if email addresses were available. Haven't heard from her.

Posted by: John Beydler at May 17, 2005 10:38 AM

I now have a list of city council email addresses, delivered via fax. They follow, and should work if I didn't make a typing mistake inputing info from fax.

Mayor Charles Brooke
First Ward Ald. Roxanna Moritz
Second Ward Ald. Donna Bushek
Third Ward Ald. Keith Meyer
Forth Ward Ald. Ray Ambrose -- no email on record
Fifth Ward Ald. Bill Lynn
Sixth Ward Ald. Bob McGivern
Seventh Ward Ald. Barney Barnhill -- no email on record
Eighth Ward Ald. Tom Engelmann -- no email on record
Ald. at Large Steve Ahrens
Ald. at Large Jamie Howard

I'm sure they're all eager to hear what you think.

Posted by: John Beydler at May 19, 2005 12:59 PM