A lone white pelican plies the Mississippi River just upstream from Lock & Dam 15, Davenport.

Users – including one person lying down and one person standing on the transparent "oculus" feature – of the new Interstate 74 Bridge recreation trail wave to the passing Mississippi Belle Riverboat below.

Emails reveal Y officials asked if Bettendorf had fitness center appraised; city says it didn't seek an independent appraisal to avoid the expense

One of the first questions YMCA of the Mississippi Valley officials asked about a possible deal to buy the Bettendorf Life Fitness Center was if the city had done a real estate appraisal to determine the market value of the 72,000-square-foot facility and its 3-acre site along Middle Road.

"No, there has not," was the email response from Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn.

That exchange occurred in mid-December 2021, according to emails obtained by Bettendorf.com under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the city. Over the ensuing nine months, the city has not sought an appraisal to determine the current market value of the facility.

Under state law, an appraisal is not required if the city conducts a public hearing on the sale of public property. That public hearing on the sale of the life fitness center for $1.4 million – the county's assessed value which has changed little over the past four years – is scheduled for the city council's Oct. 4 meeting.

City officials in response to questions about the emails obtained by bettendorf.com said using the county's assessed value saved the city from spending money on an appraisal. But by not having a real estate appraiser estimate the actual market value of property, the city could be giving away far more taxpayer dollars than the cost of an appraisal.

‘Why’ questions permeate 2 care center deaths

There was a news update over the weekend about two elderly Iowans who wandered away from different care centers last winter and froze to death.

There is no question the deaths were horrible tragedies. There is no question they resulted from carelessness and a needless lack of attention by employees of the centers.

There are important questions that need to be asked, though. Why was one death a regrettable accident but the other death was a crime? And why, if Iowa treats the one death as a crime, is the blame not shared by others who could have stepped in and prevented the death?

Environmentaling

We often hear from agvocacy and the various agribigness players (oftentimes one in the same) that farmers are/were the first environmentalists.

Although reasonable people can disagree on what exactly an environmentalist is, I certainly accept the idea that a farmer can be an environmentalist.

But to say the profession and the industry in general is committed to environmental outcomes is about like saying the mafia is committed to customer service.

The new normal obviously is to imagine what you want the truth to be, then just say it, no matter how outrageous the lie or the exaggeration. And this goes double for agriculture.

Waterpark/ice rink estimate doesn't include engineering/design costs nor possible bond and interest expenses

The $18.7-million estimate for the proposed Bettendorf waterpark/ice rink project doesn't include $1.3 million in engineering and design costs nor bonding fees or interest expenses should the city need to issue bonds to finance construction of the facility.

The disclosure of additional costs came during questioning of City Administrator Decker Ploehn at the council's Monday night committee-of-the-whole meeting.

The project has been touted as being funded equally with $6 million from the city, and like amounts from the Scott County Family Y and private donors.

Fitness center to be sold for $1.4 million; no appraisal planned of city recreational facility

Bettendorf city officials plan to sell the Life Fitness Center for $1.4 million without obtaining a property appraisal to determine its current market value.

Instead, the price tag for the 62,000-square-foot building along one of the city's busiest streets, Middle Road, was taken from the most recent assessed value of the property by the Scott County Assessor's Office.

The $1.4 million assessed value has changed little over the past four years.

Bettendorf city officials look to offload fitness center to "save taxpayers" $250,000, but $1.7 million annual tax subsidy of Family Museum not on table

Bettendorf city officials say they want to offload the Life Fitness Center to the Scott County Y to "save taxpayers" $250,000 a year.

But just a few blocks north and west of the fitness center sits the city's Family Museum that required six times that amount – nearly $1.7 million – in tax dollars last year to meet payroll.

Don’t claim you support law enforcement if you work to demonize the FBI and IRS

Iowa Capital Dispatch
August 15, 2022

This may come as news to Sen. Chuck Grassley and many of his fellow Republicans: The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a law enforcement agency. So is the Internal Revenue Service.

Most people already think of the FBI as an elite policing agency. But the IRS also investigates crime beyond tax evasion and fraud. Organized crime, drug trafficking, illegal gaming, money laundering and public corruption are just a few examples.

Republicans, including Grassley, claim to be champions of law enforcement and horrified by violence in America.

In fact, at a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, most Republican senators entirely ignored or barely mentioned the actual focus of the hearing. Instead, they put on a show of how worried they are about violence and threats against police, judges, anti-abortion institutions and residents of certain cities that happen to be run by Democrats.

Lee Enterprises digital revenue reaches 51 percent, but company loses $269,000 in third quarter

For the first time, online revenue during the third quarter exceeded print income at Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of the Quad City Times and Daily Dispatch/Argus newspapers and online news sites.

Despite the continued growth of online revenue, the company lost 5 cents per share ($269,000) for the three-month period ended June 26. A year earlier, Lee reported third quarter earnings of 56 cents per share, or $3.23 million.

Lee Enterprises digital revenues grow, but overall revenues and earnings drop in second quarter

Despite gains from its digital operations, Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of 77 media properties including the Quad City Times and the Argus/Dispatch – saw overall revenues and earnings fall during the second quarter compared with a year ago.

Lee reported Thursday (5/5) it lost $6.7 million ($1.26 per share) during the second quarter ended March 27. That compares with a loss of $608,000 ($.20 cents per share) for the same period a year ago.

Cricket Hollow Zoo owners face fines or jail after Iowa Supreme Court rejects contempt appeal

A tangled and contentious five-year legal odyssey involving the owners of eastern Iowa’s shuttered Cricket Hollow Zoo may finally be near an end.

The Iowa Supreme Court this week rejected zoo owners Pamela and Thomas Sellner’s efforts to set aside a judge’s finding that they were in contempt for having refused a court order to surrender the animals at their roadside attraction in Manchester.

The contempt ruling calls for the Sellners to pay $70,000 in fines. If payments are not made toward the fine, the Sellners will have to serve a one-day jail sentence for each animal that was not recovered from their zoo, for a total of 140 days.

Court records indicate no payments have been made on the fine.

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