Time to look at unpacking news from 2019

Christmas gifts don’t always have to come wrapped in a package with some ribbon and a bow, but because it’s the end of the year, I thought it might be a good time to tie some things up that have been banging around in my head.

The issue most in my thoughts is a “Thank You” to former Mayor Brad Randolph.

VANDENBERG

Relationships between the media and local leaders can be dicey at times. Even to the point where they can shut down all together, and it’s difficult for everyone when that happens

But I found Randolph to carry a passion for the city, its people, and making sure they are informed. Many nights it was a text exchange or an email that I was looking for some comments, and despite running his own business, coaching his daughters’ teams, and serving in many volunteer capacities outside of the mayor’s chair, he always returned my message. Whether it was via text or phone, he always reached out to make sure I had what I needed before publishing.

For those of you outside the media world, that is not common, but much appreciated.

We’ve been doing it for four years, he’s been doing it as an elected official for 14.

Politics can be a love/hate relationship with your constituency, and I saw the mayor on both sides. Going all in on what he believed was best, and sometimes putting up a tough front to those who questioned his motives.

But this man gave up a night to come help me get a drone (more of a toy) out of a tree in the dark on the bluff. There was nothing to gain there other than one guy helping another.

It’s my opinion that we haven’t seen the last of Brad on the political landscape, but I know more than most in this community that life throws knuckle balls, curve balls, and the occasional oofus ball, at us. Its intent is to keep us off balance and we dodge and cut and push through life.

Whether Randolph pursues something more is completely a decision for him and his family, but based on the body of work, we could do a heck of a lot worse than this man representing our best interests at the state or even federal level.

Don’t think his name isn’t on radars in Des Moines and Washington.

And to councilman Chris Greenwald, you were entertaining and at times overboard, but we should take you at your word that your decisions and processing of city issues was done with the city’s interests at heart. We all have different takes on what makes a city tick, and it’s those differences that we must rely on to get us to the right place. Thank you for your service.

Incoming Mayor Matt Mohrfeld, and councilpersons Rebecca Bowker and Tyler Miller. It is our hope that you continue the open channels of communication that were prevalent with your predecessors. That communication and open discussion of city issues is paramount to discourse that will take us down the right path.

There’s very little we believe is outside the purveyance of the public eye. Very little. You’re governed by Iowa and federal code on what can take place “behind closed doors” so please be mindful of that going forward.

If you’r eholding a meeting in whatever format, panels, exploratories, forums, etc., and the media wasn’t asked to be a part of that, ask yourself why and see if your answers passes the test.

A couple other nuggets for our readers to unwrap over the holidays… keep an eye on news about an education center in the county that would increase the focus on career educational training. Lots going on behind the scenes on that topic.

Keep an eye on what’s going on with area school districts. Central Lee construction is set to start in June and last about 16 months. Fort Madison may put a vote on the ballot in March to add a levy to the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy Fund. This could amount to more than a dollar per $1,000 assessed valuation on property in the district, but officials are saying under current budget projections, it won’t increase the overall district tax levy.

With taxpayers barely defeating multiple general obligation bonds to build a new elementary, it’s time to start fixing the buildings they want us to keep. A community committee is in the works to help deal with those issues.

City Manager David Varley has been filling in as the City Public Works Director since the departure of Larry Driscoll a couple months ago. With the projected constraints on the city budget, it will be interesting to see how that unfolds. Hand in hand with that item is possibly a new franchise tax to help beef up city coffers. Several meetings with city officials and business leaders have already taken place over that topic.

It’s going to be an exciting end, or start, to the new decade, however you perceive it, but we’ll be there to help keep you informed.

Oh…and is it just me or has there been a marked decrease in the number of bald eagles usually seen this time of year in the area. I saw one in a tree on the way to West Point but didn’t have time to stop to take a photo… But that’s Beside the Point.

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