The electorate has spoken. The Renaissance secured 75 percent of a near record 40 percent voter turnout for an off year election and won the day. Five thousand, seven hundred of the total registered voters in Mason City went to the polls. A majority voice was unheard.
Enough "Yes" votes to get this huge ball rolling, but is it enough to keep it from being fumbled? As the celebrating continued, we are handed an unanticipated cow pie from Mr. "G8" Chodur; a bidding war between two developers, neither of whom by any account can complete the deal.
Assertive vigilance is the phrase of the day from here on out, for this mammoth agenda. We have said "Yes", but are still "cat's cradled" with Kohan, Rachie, Gatehouse, and Chodur. I bank on that Mayor-elect Shickel, the seated councilmen, our councilmen-elect, our sitting county commissioners and all you high powered advocates who committed their support, money, and publicly buttressed this vote now have a strategy in place to closely oversee and leash our "project partners." Be it known, there is no arete to be had in this developer collective.
I propose that since we have what seems to be plenty of time, a public post-vetting must be undertaken of each "developer partner." As a private citizen of the United States, having spent the better part of two decades as a manager in the U.S. Treasury Department's Investigative Division, I have been doing some deep background on our "partner players." I am not done, but there is plenty that has been found to date, all painting a picture that will be necessary for Mason City to critique in order to stay one-step ahead of Kohan, Rachie, Gatehouse and Chodur.
One thing that struck me from the Vote Yes initiative: nearly all of the Vote Yes citizens I talked to, and there were many, act as if Kohan, Rachie Gatehouse and Chodur are interested in this project to do Mason City a favor. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They are here and will be here to make themselves a tidy profit, period.
That being understood, my grandmother taught me how to "read the room." Her way of saying, once you understand the motivations of people, their actions become transparent and even predictable.
Watch the actions of these snake-oil salesmen, and you will not find Mason City's best interest at the top of any of their lists.
You may find the first half of this column to seem somewhat vehement. I prefer to view it as a prescient and premonitory. When our government thinks they are moving prodigiously, the rest of us see inertness. Therefore, any timely, observant alert can only help in keeping Mason City out of harm's way.
I am behind all parts of this project. The citizens have spoken and now comes the hard part: pulling it off to our advantage even after the recent snakebite of Chodur. With the experience we are going to gain working through this deal, I believe there are other projects we can take on to promote Mason City as the go-to destination for quality of life, industrial location and expansion, cultural events and activities.
Stalking assertively more annual events of all types that draw in a growing sum of visitors with similar interests every year.
Revitalizing existing assets in dire need of repair or repurpose, energizing and expanding our volunteerism base to actively aid in this accomplishment.
It is not government that accomplishes incredible things. The citizens through ideas, volunteerism, donations and tenacious spit and vinegar map the way and pound the last nail.
What government does is spend money.
Periodically, in this space, I intend to float some monumental and momentum continuing "presentations for action" with nontraditional yet viable ideas for all of you to say "Why Not?" instead of "Why?" It matters not if a developer is ever chosen.
Mason City should be synonymous with "The City of Reinvention."
J.W. Sayles is a retired university professor and U.S. Treasury agent and also a veteran of the Vietnam War. He lives in Mason City.