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April 06, 2006

Taking fruitless swings at The Swing

So Kevin Krause and the others who own the Quad City Swing are about to get a letter from Davenport telling them to pay up or they'll find locks on the doors to beautifully redone John O'Donnell Stadium.

When the alderpeople starting talking Wednesday about slapping the locks on right now, their lawyer, Mary Thee, warned them off. She had the lease between the Swing and the city requires 20 days written notice of default before the padlocks could be hauled out, and she said she'd get the notice in the mail.

That didn't stop Alderperson Bill Lynn (Fifth Ward) from making a motion to lock the stadium until the money in dispute --some $415,000 -- is paid. The vote was 5-5, so Mayor Ed Winborn got to break the tie. He went with the keep-it-open-for-now half of the council.

The alderpeople also were frustrated in an attempt to use the ball club's liquor license as a wedge to get the $415,000. Ms. Thee said refusing to renew the license would have not practical affect, since the Swing would appeal and would be able to operate as usual during the court proceedings, which of course could take a couple of centuries.

Alderperson-at-large Ian Frink suggested delaying the whole question for two council cycles -- two weeks give or take -- and use the time to talk with the Swing people and set up some payment schedule. He also urged that the next three months be spent "aggressively pursuing naming rights" to the stadium. His motion passed 7-3.

So ... we're going to try to talk Krause et al. into paying up, on an agreed schedule. If that doesn't work out by the time the council revisits the issue in a couple of weeks, well, who knows. Ms. Thee's letter to the club will put some real teeth into a threat to padlock the stadium, and it could happen. Most everyone on the council seems extremely frustrated with Krause.

Frink did point out that the money in dispute isn't the rent payment. It's bucks the city put up to cover cost overruns and fees on the $13.5 stadium re-build a couple of years back. The $150,000 a year rent payment is coming in.

The rent payment is part of what Lynn denounced as a "sweetheart deal" for Krause. He said the Swing should be paying that much per month instead of per year. Don't know about the right rent figure, but the Swing group did get a great deal from the city. Seems the least they could do is keep up their end of it.

Another part of the ``sweetheart'' deal apparently is that the lease has no penalty clause in it, not even interest on unpaid obligations. As Lynn and others pointed out, there's not incentive to pay promptly is there's no penalty for being late. There was considerable grousing about the lease not containing a seemingly routine penalty clause. Does seem odd.

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The alderpeople got a tough question during the public comment portion of the meeting. A Davenporter who's CEO of a local bank&trust outfit said he'd gotten one of those speeding-ticket-by-mail notices that our our camera speeding traps send out. Problem was, the plate in the picture snapped by speed-cam was an Illinois plate. He said the police were very cooperative in telling him not to worry about it. His question: "Do you realize you're paying some company somewhere who can't tell the difference between an Iowa and Illinois license plate?"

Good question, not that the answer he didn't get is liable to make any difference. The speed cams and their tickets-by-mail are your basic money-making scheme. So how much of the take is going to the company that can't the difference between Iowa and Illinois plates?

Maybe our contract with then needs a penalty clause, too. How about they pay us $1,000 everytime they screw up something that basic?

Or, even better, how 'bout we just junk the copless speed traps?

Posted by jcb at April 6, 2006 10:24 AM

Comments

So you're one of "those" people who believe it ain't speeding unless the fuzz pulls you over and hands you the ticket. I'm one of "those" people who can't believe how many people drive waaaaay over the speed limit everywhere. . . including in front of elementary schools and down residential streets. Don't want to get a ticket (automated or otherwise), take your foot off the gas pedal. Should the police be the only area of government/business that doesn't use technology to improve productivity. I say, use more technology for speed limit enforcement and spend the "extra" hours on more important pursuits.

Ahhh, Spring, baseball and financial squabbling over John O'Donnell. . .

Posted by: greg at April 6, 2006 07:45 PM