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Four-plus years ago, three large sculpted dice in Central Park caused a stir.

Created by Craig Snyder of Plymouth, Minn., the oversized red cubes with white dots were among objects de art featured in Mason City’s Sculptures on Parade program.

Critics felt dice were most associated with gambling and didn’t represent family or community values.

The dice stayed in the park for nearly a year before being removed as part of the program’s normal rotation.

Given recent events, I’d suggest the city purchase the sculpture and place it in the south parking lot of Southbridge Mall.

The Mason City Council rolled the figurative dice big-time last month in choosing G8 Development to undertake a downtown hotel project.

For those unaware (and where have you been?), the hotel is part of a $38 million project to also include a conference center, ice arena/multipurpose center and performance pavilion.

G8 Development worked with the city for some time on a different iteration of the project but was dropped after failing to meet multiple deadlines.

Philip Chodur with G8 sued the city, claiming the deadlines were unrealistic and imposed after the fact.

The company has a history of similar issues with other cities and has never completed a project of this nature.

When the G8 dust settled, city leaders revived and reimagined the project in cooperation with a new developer, Gatehouse Mason City (with at least some support from Gatehouse Capital).

Elements of the new project required public approval, which 75 percent of voters provided during the city election.

Things appeared to be progressing smoothly until final details negotiated between the city and Gatehouse included changes sufficient to require the project be opened for bids.

G8 came forward — literally minutes before a deadline — with a proposal that was deemed competitive, triggering a bid-off.

And when the dust settled a second time, the city was once again dealing with G8.

G8’s plan does offer several advantages to the city including lower cost, lower risk and more local involvement.

The $38 million question: can a developer with no proven track record of hotel building but a well-established track record of contentious dealings here and elsewhere deliver on what’s been promised?

At stake are up to $10 million in state funding along with the futures of Music Man Square, Southbridge Mall, the North Iowa Bulls and the Mason City Youth Hockey Club, among others.

The Mason City Council was apparently willing to take the gamble. Let’s hope it pays off for all concerned.


As Donald Trump was steamrolling on his improbable run to the presidency, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham opined his fellow Republicans had gone “bats--- crazy.”

Graham’s assessment looks more accurate daily, as evidenced most recently by the tax “reform” plan passed without Democratic support.

Although House and Senate versions vary slightly, both cut taxes by nearly $1.5 trillion while the national debt is over $21 trillion and rising.

Remember when Republicans were fiscally conservative, believed in balanced budgets and bashed deficit spending?

Now that they’re charge, however, they’re convinced tax cuts will produce economic growth sufficient to pay for themselves and then some.

“I not only don’t think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue neutral,” said Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap.”

Forget that most non-partisan analysts disagree: damn the deficits and full speed ahead!

While excessive taxation can stifle growth, it is far from the only limiting factor on the economy.

Geopolitical instability, global economic fluctuations, international competition, changing trade polices, waning consumer and/or investor confidence, etc. can negatively impact the U.S. economy regardless of government policy.

So McConnell, et al essentially have Uncle Sam maxing out his credit card and planning to pay it off with a raise he may or may not receive.

Washington D.C. is a long way off, but I can smell the guano from here.

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Tim Ackarman, a regular columnist for the Globe Gazette, lives in Miller.


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