From the massive flooding of the Cedar and Des Moines Rivers in 2008, to the deadly tornadoes that leveled Parkersburg and the Boys Scout camp in Western Iowa, Governor Chet Culver has had to deal with a number of natural disasters. Once again, Culver must deal with another devastating flood, this time on the Maquoketa and Wapsipinicon rivers in Eastern Iowa.
Unlike his management of the state’s budget during his first three years as governor, Culver has been commended for his ability to lead his state during the time of adversity. The biggest difference between Culver’s handling of the 2008 disasters and the floods he is currently dealing with is that he is up for re-election this year.
With the increased scrutiny that a re-election brings, Culver’s handling of the state’s most recent disasters could determine whether or not the first term governor can turn his polling numbers around.
Yesterday while in Davenport, Culver used the recent flooding to justify his controversial I-Jobs initiative, which has been under attack recently. At a press conference at the Modern Woodmen baseball stadium in Davenport, Culver told reporters, “We’re now dealing with a new normal. We are now dealing with constant flood-related issues. It wasn’t just 2008 where we saw these record flood levels.” For the sake of all Iowans, let’s hope that major flooding isn’t the “new normal.”
With the stadium as the backdrop of his press conference, Culver talked about the effectiveness of his I-Jobs initiative. The stadium was awarded a $1 million I-Jobs grant that will pay 50% of the cost to erect a flood protection system around the structure. Culver believes that the state needs to do “a lot more” projects like the one in Davenport at other locations around the state.
The Davenport baseball stadium is a gem. Located right on the Mississippi River, baseball fans are treated to extraordinary views of the river, Davenport’s skyline, and the Centennial Bridge. In addition to the stunning views, the ballpark features modern amenities of some major league stadiums thanks to a recently completed a $13 million renovation.
Modern Woodmen Park is as nice of a minor league stadium that you can find anywhere in the country, but tax dollars are responsible for at least half of the renovations that were made in 2004. Those renovations included things like new seating, additional skyboxes, as well as $1.5 million for floodwall to keep the stadium dry.
One of the reasons the 2004 renovations were approved was because of the promise that the stadium would be protected from future floods. Apparently, the existing floodwall isn’t enough, as Culver awarded the stadium another $1 million in taxpayer funds for the same purpose.
So the question that needs to be asked is, is there anything that can be done to prevent a structure from flooding that sits just inches away from the largest river in the nation? The natural follow up to the first question is, how much taxpayer money should be spent on flood prevention for the facility?
It’s natural to want to protect treasured landmarks like 80 year-old baseball stadium from flooding, but it’s impossible to prevent it from flooding, and it’s a waste of money to keep spending money to try to do it.
Culver’s use of a baseball stadium to justify the existence of his I-Jobs debacle shows just how out of touch he is. As people are dealing with levees breaking and untamed rivers ripping through their communities and their homes, Culver is out there using a baseball stadium to illustrate that I-Jobs is working.
Maybe instead of bragging about spending millions of dollars to keep a baseball stadium dry, Culver could have used the recent floods as an opportunity to highlight projects that would have been flooded if it hadn’t been for I-Jobs. The problem for Culver is that there are not many projects that he can point to that would fit that category.
The new normal for Iowans isn’t regular flooding. It’s the disastrous leadership of Governor Culver. Luckily, Iowans can make a change for the better this November.
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