Disaster-palooza

Disaster-palooza

Excuse me while I take a breather for a minute …

We’re not even 90 days into 2020 and I think we’ve set a record for “bad news” in Riverdale.

The thing that people love most about living in Riverdale always seemed (to me, at least) to be that other than an awesome fireworks show, the occasional Eagle Scout project and astoundingly good hose-fighting team of firemen, not much happened here.

And people liked it that way.

Sure, we had our occasional kerfuffle or two. And we had a newspaper editor claim that we’d TIF a stop sign if we could get away with it (we can’t and we didn’t … although the editor actually apologized for that statement when we met with him and his boss). But, for the most part, Riverdale lived up to its reputation for living under the radar by making sure not much happened here.

If ALCOA (and now Arconic) was a “quiet neighbor” … we were a “quiet city.”

Then “Hello, 2020!”

We’ve had to deal with the tragedy of violent gun violence, the loss of a young firefighter taken before her time, the confusion of gaining and then losing a city administrator, the back-and-forth of an on-again/off-again/now on-again threat of flooding, the palpable fear (and consequences) of an international pandemic, and now (as of Friday), a flash flood that put water into people’s basements and mud into our streets and intersections.

Was it something I said?

All kidding aside, I do want to say a few things to make sure you know the City Council, our staff and volunteers and I are all in this with you.

Riverdale faces a unique situation. In our 60-year history, we have never tried to do so much in such a short amount of time. And now, with all of these “disasters” thrown at us in one way, shape or form, we’re more determined than ever to make progress and share that progress with you. 

As many of you know, I am self-employed. Last week, my clients (many of whom are outside the QC area) told me they were having to “go dark” for a while. Maybe as much as 90 days. In the span of a week, I lost all my clients.

Figures. Doesn’t it?

Well, the silver lining to that situation is the fact that now I have some more time to work on city-related issues and projects. And with an occasional “lifeline” call to friend-of-the-city, Lisa Kotter, and the patience and persistence of volunteers and Council Member, I think we can make some big strides even while the rest of the world is operating under a self-imposed exile.

If you don’t know what we’re up to, I suggest you check out the agenda of a City Council meeting. It’s sure to be packed with Resolutions (formal actions taken by the City Council) but, more importantly, you’ll see more than a page of “discussion items.” These are the things we’re working on. The things the Council is considering. And nearly every item has some memo or other piece of correspondence that provides more detail.

You’ll find all of those memos and back-up information in the City Council Packets linked to the page for each, corresponding Council Meeting. You’ll probably find even more information about those projects (as they develop and mature) on this website.

Take your time. Check out the over 260 pages of updates, articles and galleries celebrating life in Riverdale over the last three years. 

It’s not a disaster. It’s our destiny in the making.

Take care. Stay healthy. And live strong. We’ll get through all of this together.

Mike

Meeting Notice: Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting is set for Sunday (March22nd) at 2pm.

Meeting Notice: Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting is set for Sunday (March22nd) at 2pm.

The monthly Mayor’s Town Hall meeting is set for (March 22nd) at 2pm.

The agenda for the meeting follows:

MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING
Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive
Meeting To Be Held Online via GoToMeeting
Citizens can attend online or via phone.

DATE:    Sunday March 22, 2020
TIME:    2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

THE MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING IS A PUBLIC INTAKE SESSION FOR THE MAYOR, RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE AND ANY OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES. THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETING IS TO INFORM RESIDENTS, ANSWER QUESTIONS AND TO GATHER INPUT ABOUT CITY ISSUES AFFECTING THE RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE.

Agenda:

1. Welcome

2. Current Issues:

A. FY 21 Budget Q&A (for a detailed budget breakdown, click here)

B. Future public meetings while dealing with COVID-19

3. Comments/Questions from the Public

4. Adjourn

An official version of the agenda can be viewed on the public notice bulletin boards in the City or in staff offices at City Hall during regular business hours.

Please come with your thoughts, comments and fresh ideas!

See you then!

Attending the Meeting Online

To attend the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting on Sun, Mar 22, 2020 (from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM), just join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smart phone by clicking on the button or this link. You can access the meeting by using the access code: 722-789-837

Not comfortable joining online? You can dial into the meeting with your phone, just call: (872) 240-3412 and use the access code (722-789-837) when prompted.

Please Note: It’s highly recommended you get the GoToMeeting app and install it on your computer before the meeting starts so you’ll be ready when we begin.

Just go to: https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/722789837 to download the app.

Looking for something to do while you’re at home? Complete your online census form, today!

Looking for something to do while you’re at home? Complete your online census form, today!

Looking for something to do while you wait out the coronavirus pandemic at home?

Well, those census surveys aren’t going to fill themselves out. In fact, that friendly census-taker you were expecting to show up at your door to help you isn’t going to be stopping by in the foreseeable future, either.

According to this news release from the US Census Bureau, field operations have been suspended for the next two weeks (until April 1) – and, I believe, that suspension is likely to be extended until concerns over “community spread” are addressed. But even though the door-to-door operation has been delayed, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to make sure Riverdale gets fully counted this census year.

As of March 18th, over eleven million Americans had already completed the census online – and you can do the same.  According to the bureau:

The public is strongly encouraged to respond to the 2020 Census online using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and can also respond by phone or mail. Everyone should respond to the 2020 Census as soon as they receive their invitation — and when they’re finished, they can make sure their friends, families and social networks know about the importance of responding.

It has never been easier to respond to the census, and the 2020 Census will count everyone accurately. We recognize that many people plan to access the 2020 Census through other response modes, such as phone or paper, which is why the 2020 Census has such a nimble design.

It’s vitally important to the City (and to the State of Iowa) that everyone participate in this year’s census. The answers you give today will affect federal and state funding for Riverdale for the next ten years – and we need all the help we can get.

Even if you can only help from home.

Please take the survey today.

How do we handle a global pandemic?

How do we handle a global pandemic?

To many people, it may seem like the media frenzy surrounding the outbreak of Coronavirus is overblown and causing undue panic. And while there is a greater sense of urgency about this outbreak of a new virus, I’d like to share with you why I think it’s valid for us all to be concerned and take some rather simple actions now that could keep things from spiraling out of control.

What’s all the fuss?

COVID-19 (known commonly as the coronavirus) is more than just “a bad flu” – in fact, with a mortality rate of 1-2% of those infected, COVID-19 has the potential of killing 10x to 20x the rate of the regular flu. And because no one has ever had this virus before, no one is yet immune to the disease.

The World Health Organization projects that 40-70% of the world’s population will be infected with COVID-19 by the time a vaccine is finally developed. That’s a pretty staggering statistic – and it might lead some people to think there’s nothing that can be done. That’s where panic can seize hold and exaggerate the problems we’re already facing in terms of community health and economic vitality.

You see, there are things we can do to slow the spread of the disease. While we may end up with half of the people on the planet becoming infected, we’ll be able to take care of those most significantly afflicted if we succeed in “flattening the curve” of infections. That means slowing the spread of the disease enough to avoid overloading our hospitals so there are enough ICU beds and ventilators to go around.

What can we do about it?

Whether you believe the scientist and health officials’ warnings or you believe it’s all just media hype – taking the following steps will help protect the most vulnerable ones in our society:

• Because of delays in the availability of testing, we assume that the virus is already here. Do not attend social gatherings or events if you cannot maintain a 6-foot space between you and others. Businesses, organizations and families should cancel or postpone social gatherings/community events of 250 people or more now. This is to prevent transmission from person-to-person, it applies to all of us and all kinds of gatherings. The size of permissible events will drop steeply as cases are identified and local transmission is established in the metro area.

• If you develop COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), you must call ahead to your medical provider or walk-in clinic. You must not go to an office, clinic or walk-in without giving them the chance to protect their staff and other patients if you are infected.

• Avoid non-essential travel. If you must travel locally, regionally or beyond, know if the virus is spreading at your destination. This will reduce your risk of becoming infected and allow you to defer travel if your destination is experiencing sustained person-to-person transmission. State and local health departments at your destination will know and their web sites will contain the information.

• The need for primary and secondary school closures is being assessed. We completely understand the impacts of these closings — the need for childcare, disruptions of programs like school lunch and many other things. Fortunately, we are entering spring break and have time to think about this in consultation with key stakeholders.

• Stay home if you are sick. Contact your provider by phone or online for advice. Protect the people you live with using the commonsense steps below.

• Take these measures to protect yourself and others. Most are common sense and, maybe more important, good manners.

• Clean your hands often. Soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds are best. This is important especially after you touch surfaces like doorknobs and railings that might be contaminated by the coughs and sneezes of others. This removes and kills the virus. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers work but are second best to soap and water.

• Keep your unwashed hands away from your face and eyes where the virus gets in.

• Avoid close contact with other people, especially if they have signs of a cold or flu. If you don’t come into contact with the virus, you won’t get sick. Best evidence tells us that about 6 feet of separation will be effective.

• Again, stay home if you’re sick — don’t risk giving the virus to others.

Cover coughs and sneezes, preferably using your elbow or disposable tissues, not your hands.

• Clean surfaces that may be contaminated using standard household disinfectants. They work.

• Make sure you have the medical supplies you need for self-care.

• Don’t panic — it doesn’t help. If we work together we will weather this.

• Access reliable information from public health experts, especially your state and local health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Avoid spreading misinformation from unreliable sources in broadcast and social media and the internet.

You’ll find even more recommendations and a clear-eyed assessment of the situation locally from Dr. Louis Katz, the medical director of the Scott County Health Department.

What are we doing about it?

Finally, there are steps even the City of Riverdale can take to help forestall the spread of COVID-19 in the Quad Cities. Although no cases have been reported yet, it is inevitable coronavirus will appear here. Thankfully, community leaders have formed a task force of elected officials, city/county professionals and health experts (including our local healthcare organizations, both private and public) to address this very fluid situation.

Last Friday, I was in attendance at the press conference held by the COVID-19 Coalition. As a result of that press conference and several other meetings held in both Scott County and Rock Island County, we will also be participating in daily briefing calls of elected officials to make sure we’re aware of the latest news concerning public health and the spread of this virus.

Meetings will be held this week with public health officials and school superintendents in Iowa to discuss school closure plans following spring break week. We’ll share that news as soon as we become aware of it. Look for announcements on the City’s website and the Riverdale Residents Facebook Page.  

Elected officials will also be reviewing plans for public events at our next City Council meeting (on March 24) to determine if any of them need to be delayed or cancelled. Most notably, the first event we’ll need to discuss will be the Egg Hunt in Peggy’s Park scheduled for April 4th.

Meeting Notice: Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting is set for Sunday (March22nd) at 2pm.

Meeting Notice: Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting set for Sunday, February 23 at 2pm

The monthly Mayor’s Town Hall meeting is set for (February 23rd) at 2pm in Community Room at City Hall.

The agenda for the meeting follows:

MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING
Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive
Community Room

DATE:    Sunday February 23, 2020
TIME:    2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

THE MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING IS A PUBLIC INTAKE SESSION FOR THE MAYOR, RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE AND ANY OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES. THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETING IS TO INFORM RESIDENTS, ANSWER QUESTIONS AND TO GATHER INPUT ABOUT CITY ISSUES AFFECTING THE RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE.

 

Agenda:

Welcome

Current Issues:

  1. Woods Estates Progress Report
  2. Fiber Optic Install/MetroNet Presentation
  3. FY 21 Budget Status Report
  4. Discussion of 02/25 Max Levy Hearing

Comments/Questions from the Public

Adjourn

An official version of the agenda can be viewed on the public notice bulletin boards in the City or in staff offices at City Hall during regular business hours.

Please come with your thoughts, comments and fresh ideas!

See you then!

On the clock: What’s next when it comes to re-staffing City Hall?

On the clock: What’s next when it comes to re-staffing City Hall?

Some people might call it bad luck. Others might call it dodging a bullet.

It is what it is.

The way events have played out over the last seven to ten days, the City of Riverdale now finds itself back to where it was around Thanksgiving, facing the departure of its head of staff (Interim City Administrator, Lisa Kotter) and evaluating its options for the future. The main difference now, though, is that City leaders have gone through a goal-setting process and reached consensus on some over-arching priorities for our community.

I feel confident in saying that we’re all headed the same, general direction. And while we might have differing points of view on the best way to get there, everyone is listening to each other and to the residents, with the intent of finding the solution that works best.

We’re also further down the budgeting road which helps bring some important issues (like available funds, tax rates, valuations, etc.) into greater focus. That also helps with the decision-making process by eliminating ideas that are not economically feasible.

Side Note: If you have time available at 2pm on Sunday, February 23, please be sure to come to our town hall meeting where I’ll provide an update on our budgeting process in advance of our Max Levy Public Hearing (scheduled on Tuesday, February 25).

Questions About Tuesday’s Closed Session

The City Council went into closed session at Tuesday’s meeting and there were questions as to whether or not that was appropriate.

Although the original intent was to go into closed session to discuss the finer points of an employment agreement with Lisa Kotter (to be our full-time, City Administrator for 24-30 months), it was also to discuss the additional plans for staffing including changing job descriptions and evaluating personnel. The second objective for the session still had to take place (which it did) although no action could be taken in closed session, the Council did agree on a general plan to move forward so we could have a more substantive, public discussion as part of the City Council meeting on February 25th.

We also discussed an offer made by a person known to the City Council to serve as Riverdale’s City Administrator. He requested we not make his name public.

The Plan Forward

The consensus of the City Council was that there were a number of additional options open to the City and that taking the time necessary to find the right staff person/staff personnel at identified wage levels determined during the closed session was the preferred path forward. The Council seemed okay with taking this course, even if it might result in lowering expectations for staff performance in the short-term and pushing some of the objectives outlined during the City’s goal-setting meeting.

Council members are supposed to send me their thoughts on staffing, wages and related items/issues by the end of the day on Friday. I will compile the information and send a summary memo to members of the City Council along with some recommended actions. Depending on how similar the recommendations are between all the Council Members, I may prepare some action items for public discussion as part of our next meeting.

If there are any ideas that are significantly different from what other Council Members are suggesting, I’ll take time to discuss those ideas with the Council Member who offered them in a one-on-one meeting.

The over-all goal, though, is to clearly set some expectations and guidelines for searching and selecting one or two key staff people who will serve the City of Riverdale in a full-time capacity. Our research into this process (including discussions with consultants who specialize in this kind of thing) indicate a typical timeline for a search is 90 days (3 months). Sometimes the search takes less time. Sometimes it takes more.

It is what it is.

And it will be what it will be.

February 25 set as date for “max levy” public hearing for FY 21 property taxes

February 25 set as date for “max levy” public hearing for FY 21 property taxes

(Update: 01-29-20) The Riverdale City Council approved the notice of the “max levy” public hearing as part of its regularly scheduled meeting on February 25, 2020. For those who want to learn more about the structure of the City’s tax levy, current status of the FY 21 budget and process used to review and approve both, a public information session will be held as part of the regularly scheduled Town Hall meeting on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 2pm in the Community Room at City Hall.

=  =  =   

(Original Story: 01-25-20) A public hearing required under a new Iowa law, to establish a “ceiling” on the upcoming property tax levy for the coming year, will likely be held on February 25th (pending final approval from the City Council at its meeting on January 28th).

“The State of Iowa has established a new process for cities to follow for budgeting,” explained Interim City Administrator, Lisa Kotter. “Riverdale, just like the other 720+ cities in the State of Iowa, is required to hold a public hearing to inform residents of the maximum possible tax levy that may be issued for the coming fiscal year. Following that public hearing, the City will then have to schedule a second public hearing in March to review the budget and present the actual tax levy for the coming year (which will have to be equal to or lower than the “max levy” presented at the first hearing).”

In order to accommodate the second public hearing and additional notice period required (a period of up to 20 days), the State gave all of its cities a 16-day extension for filing budgets with their respective counties (from March 15th to March 31st).

“The public hearing for the “maximum levy” will be held as part of the regular City Council meeting set for February 25th at 7pm in Council Chambers,” explained Administrator Kotter. She noted the actual public hearing date still needs to be approved by the Council at Tuesday’s meeting (January 28th), but did not foresee any problems with gaining the needed okays.

Possible Sticker Shock

The administrator cautioned about reading too much into the initial information provided to the City Council to enable them to set a date for the “max levy” public hearing.

“If you’re just thumbing through the paperwork for our next City Council meeting, you’ll see the resolution for the “max levy” hearing includes a worksheet with a huge increase in the levy (up over 100%).” Administrator Kotter continued, “As the mayor and I work on putting the budget together, we do not expect the levy to be at that level when the budget is presented to the Council in March – but that number shows you what the tax rate would be if we increased the Regular General levy from where we are ($4.35823/thousand) to the maximum allowed by law ($8.10/thousand) and added in additional tax revenue to cover benefits related to staffing.”

The way the deadlines work with the State of Iowa, the decision was made to present a “worst-case scenario” for the “max levy” public hearing and stay focused on crafting a responsible, 0-based budget for FY21 (in accordance with a proposal presented by the mayor as part of the Council’s January 5th planning work session).

“The City of Riverdale is on solid ground financially,” said Administrator Kotter. “But while we won’t be anywhere near a “worst-case scenario” with our budget, by presenting it at the public hearing and having a conversation with Council Members and residents as part of that meeting, we leave all of our options open and can be more responsive as we work out the final budget in the weeks that follow.”

Next Steps

Once the date for the public hearing is approved by the City Council, the City will place an ad in the local paper and continue working on the FY21 budget in order to be able to provide as much information as possible on the status of the budget at the February 25th meeting. Two public intake meetings have already been held and the City Council has established some desired action items for the coming year as part of its goal-setting session on January 5th – all information needed to formulate a budget for the coming fiscal year.

The mayor and administrator still plan to facilitate at least one more public meeting with citizens interested in a more in-depth review and discussion of the budget while it’s being created for presentation to the City Council in March. The date for that meeting will be announced on-line, via social media and email and notices will be posted in public spaces at some point in the near future.

 

Meeting Notice: Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting is set for Sunday (March22nd) at 2pm.

Meeting Notice: Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting (01-26-20)

 

The monthly Mayor’s Town Hall meeting is set for this coming Sunday (January 26th) at 2pm in Community Room at City Hall.

The agenda for the meeting follows:

MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING
Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive
Community Room

 

DATE:    Sunday January 26, 2018
TIME:    2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

THE MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING IS A PUBLIC INTAKE SESSION FOR THE MAYOR, RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE AND ANY OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES. THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETING IS TO INFORM RESIDENTS, ANSWER QUESTIONS AND TO GATHER INPUT ABOUT CITY ISSUES AFFECTING THE RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE.

Agenda:

Welcome

Current Issues:

  1. Woods Estates Progress Report
  2. Havens Acres/MRT
  3. Capital Projects
  4. FY21 Budget and Max Levy Hearings
  5. Fireworks

Comments/Questions from the Public

Adjourn

 

An official version of the agenda can be viewed on the public notice bulletin boards in the City or in staff offices at City Hall during regular business hours.

Please come with your thoughts, comments and fresh ideas!

See you then!

After violence occurs in our community, what’s next?

After violence occurs in our community, what’s next?

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

And that’s no comment on this weekend’s fatal shooting of one Riverdale resident by another. That matter, the first murder in our community that I know of, is in the capable hands of the Scott County Sheriff’s department. There’s also plenty of news coverage (KWQC-TV   |  WQAD-TV  |  Quad-City Times), so there’s no need here to go into the details surrounding the chain of events.

But a recent comment on one of the City’s news stories summed up the feeling of concern I’ve heard from a number of residents:

“It saddens me to hear about the shooting-murder in Riverdale. The only shooting i remember was my dad shot and killed a rabid skunk in Rex Concannon’s driveway when dad was town marshal! We are truly living in the end days, of no respect for life! God help us all!”

– Dennis Speth

So, what can be done to address the fear and concern in our community that serves as a kind of “emotional hangover” from the event itself?

Things we can do to make Riverdale a more secure community

We’ve come a long way from the days when running the stop sign at the top of Manor Drive, chasing teenagers out of our parks after dark or dispatching the occasional rabid skunk were our most pressing problems. Riverdale is in the unusual position of being a very small city in the middle of a relatively large metropolitan community.

It can be the best of both worlds … and sometimes, the worst of both.

Challenges facing law enforcement and public safety officials are different when you talk about large communities and small towns. And somehow, Riverdale needs to manage a path between the two.

But in my research, the answers I’ve found all seem to point to finding ways for citizens to engage more directly with law enforcement and with each other as a key to creating a safer community. In Riverdale, we rely on the Scott County Sheriff’s office to provide support when crimes occur. Bettendorf PD may be available to respond to an urgent request (as they did last weekend), but Riverdale is in the jurisdiction of the county sheriff.

If fire or a medical emergency occurs in our city, we have a great, volunteer fire department that is able to respond. But in many cases, they’ll show up along with the Bettendorf Fire Department since the two departments work so closely together (it often works the same way for Bettendorf fires).

So how do we engage with these professionals (and highly skilled volunteers)? When it comes to finding ways to help communities connect with their public safety personnel, some of the ideas I’ve discovered include:

•  Increasing the effectiveness of neighborhood watch programs by capitalizing on activities that naturally occur in the community – like piggybacking on existing community walking groups or establishing a “Dog Walker Watch” program.

•  Establish a “Coffee with a Cop” program to help individual officers connect with members of the community.

•  Hold a “Coffee, Cars and Cops” annual car show featuring new and classic public safety vehicles.

Another key factor is finding more ways for neighbors to know their neighbors and be aware when tough domestic situations arise. By knowing and responding to a neighbor in need, it’s possible we (as a community) could be helping reduce the possibility of that situation spiraling into violence. It’s not a guaranteed answer, but an act of kindness, compassion and love never hurts.

Finally, knowing what kinds of resources are available to residents in need of financial, legal or mental help assistance is key. I’m working on pulling together information from the county and other resources at the City’s disposal who might be able to provide assistance in each of these areas and hope to add that information to this website in the coming months.

That being said, any thoughts or advice you might be able to share are more than welcome. Please leave your comments below.

Thanks to you all.

Change in public interaction planned for future Council Meetings

Change in public interaction planned for future Council Meetings

The last three City Council meetings have been tough.

Lots of good questions. A number of resolutions passed. Progress made on several projects. Even a bit of emotion on sensitive topics.

But they’ve also been exhausting.

Each of the last three meetings has exceeded three hours in length. And that’s not a good thing.

I like to meet and discuss issues with people and to work until the work is done. But once a meeting gets into its third hour, something changes. People get impatient, decision-making gets rushed, words are said that are best left unsaid and the structure starts to break down.

I thought, after the first two meetings, that we would be able to work through the meetings more quickly – but our third meeting was the longest one of all. And for the first time in a long time, people were getting angry.

Don’t get the idea that I don’t like conflict. Quite the contrary. I work in a creative field that requires people to be passionate about their ideas and to argue for them (and against others). That kind of conflict can be great when it comes to synthesizing new ideas from the options available.

But anger gets in the way of all that.

And the kind of anger that was on display at our last meeting came from a place of fatigue and frustration as well as a result of passion for one project or another. There’s something good that can be mined from that – but one part of it, the fatigue, is a problem that needs to be managed another way.

That’s why I listened to what members of the City Council, some audience members and those with experience in other city administrations had to say and have modified the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. I hope the modified agenda will still encourage public interaction/discourse, as well as streamline the reporting and discussions so we can accomplish the same amount of business in less time.

Change in Public Input Opportunities

When I first joined Riverdale as its mayor, I wanted to find a way to encourage greater discourse between the City Council and its residents. That’s why I’ve always asked residents for the topics they wanted to discuss and attempted to involve them in conversations on those topics at the appropriate time within the agenda.

That’s now going to change (a little).

After we go through the consent and regular agendas (making modifications where needed), I’ll ask those present if they wish to address the Council on any matter on the agenda. Depending on the number of people who wish to speak, I’ll set a time limit for each speaker (every speaker will have the same amount of time) and set the order. Speakers will introduce themselves and the topic they wish to speak about (for the record) and can then make their statement. I will keep time.

A couple of things to know about how I intend to keep time:

1. I’ll let you know when you’re coming to the end of your available time;

2. I’ll let you finish your thought when your time expires; and

3. If you’re just repeating what other people have said before you, I’ll ask if you have anything new or further to add – and if you don’t, you’ll be asked to sit down.

The next section of the agenda is intended to be for informational purposes. These are activity reports and project updates. Members of the Council are allowed to ask questions for more clarity, if required.

The next section of the agenda focuses on Council actions: ordinances, resolutions and motions. For each action, someone (either me – as mayor – or a city staff person) will provide a little background on the action first (what is the action, why is it proposed, how much will it cost, when will it be done). A motion and a second are then required to consider the action by the City Council. The Council will then deliberate and take a decision (i.e. accept, reject or table).

After all the actions have been taken by the Council, we move on to the discussion phase of the meeting. The Council discusses a variety of issues by department with some input from staff or other subject experts who may be invited to provide additional background information. We will work to identify a “next step”on each issue for future consideration/action by the City Council.

Following my wrap-up/summary (the REPORT FROM THE MAYOR), we open the meeting up to more public input. This is an opportunity for those present to offer their thoughts, observations, etc. on the business conducted at the meeting and to raise any other issues they would like the City Council to discuss in a future meeting. The time available for this portion of the meeting will be set by me, as the mayor, and will then be equally divided among all residents who desire to speak to the City Council.

A special note about “Closed/Executive Sessions”

You’ll note that on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting (11/26), the City Council is planning on going into a “Closed Session.” These sessions are held in accordance with the State of Iowa’s Open Meetings Laws and are available to City Councils when discussing legal strategy and/or personnel matters (when requested by the subject of the discussion). No action is taken in these closed sessions and the minutes from these sessions are not available for public review.

I look forward to seeing you at our next City Council Meeting. Hopefully, we’ll have you home in time to watch the 10pm news.

Meeting Notice: Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting is set for Sunday (March22nd) at 2pm.

Meeting Notice: Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting (11-24-19)

There will be a town hall meeting in the Community Room at City Hall on Sunday, November 24 at 2pm. While the meeting is informational in nature and serves as an open forum, there are usually a few items on the agenda the mayor wishes to address. Please come with an open mind and questions for city representatives and your neighbors.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS THE LAST TOWN HALL MEETING OF THE YEAR.

The agenda for the meeting follows:

MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING
Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive
Council Chambers Room

DATE:    Sunday November 24, 2018
TIME:    2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

WORK SESSION FOR THE MAYOR, COUNCIL, RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE AND ANY OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES.

THE PURPOSE OF THE WORK SESSION IS TO INFORM AND TO HEAR INPUT FOR FUTURE ACTIVITIES OF RIVERDALE

Agenda:

  1. Welcome and Introductions:
  2. General Discussion:
    • Snow Removal/Management
    • Fiber Optic Service Update
    • Woods Estate Update
    • Budget Intake Sessions
    • Havens Acres/MRT Status Update
    • Other Capital Projects Scheduled for 2020
    • Christmas Tree Lighting
    • City Calendar
    • Website Enhancements
  3. Open Discussion
  4. Adjourn

If you can’t make it, but have a topic or two you think needs to be discussed, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

See you then!

The value of volunteerism.

The value of volunteerism.

I lost a friend of mine last week.

The man the Quad Cities (and a good number of folks who live outside the region) knew as “Happy Joe” passed away last week. The world is a little less fun without Joe’s bright personality, humor and unbridled passion to help people of all ages and abilities as a result.

I knew Joe most of my life. And I feel fortunate to be friends with a number of his children and employees. For a while, I even helped advertise “Happy Joe’s” and tell its story that connected food and fun in a truly unique way.

But probably the most meaningful interaction (and enjoyable adventure) I had with Joe started in 2012, when I was asked to help the Whitty family launch the Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation – an organization focused on building on Joe’s life-long passion for including and cherishing kids of all ages who have special needs. This foundation was (and continues to be), without question, a true and pure reflection of what drove Joe all of those years he was at the helm of Happy Joe’s and, later in life, working with his kids and long-time employees to continue building the business as an advisor and “top advocate” of the Happy Joe’s brand.

And while I’m not here to shill for the foundation, I am here to promote what its success represents – the good things that can come from just one individual dedicated time and effort in pursuit of a cause that’s bigger than them.

I’ve been blessed in my life to spend time working for a variety of organizations, like the Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation, that I feel make a difference in the lives of people. Whether it’s the Pleasant Valley Schools Foundation, the Boy Scouts of America or my church – I’ve always been happy to contribute my time and talent to further the mission of those organizations.

In a similar vein, I’ve had the honor of serving as the mayor of Riverdale for the past two years. Sure, there’s a stipend that goes with the job, but I was never interested in serving because of the money, anyway. I was asked to run and did so without having any prior experience on the City Council or in an elected position. It took some time to get up to speed on the job and I’ve managed to shake a few things up along the way.

But in my view, Riverdale was in need of a wake-up call. Plans needed to be created. Processes need to be documented. The status quo needed a shake-up. And while we managed to accomplish all of those things, there’s still a lot of work to do.

There’s much more needed here than volunteering to come to a couple of meetings a month. And although it seems like progress is slow, it is coming.

Whether or not I’ll continue in that position depends on Tuesday’s vote. But know this, it’s been an honor and my pleasure to work with members of the City Council, to get to know my neighbors and to begin the process of taking Riverdale to the next level of responsive and responsible governance.

Win or lose, I’m committed to doing what I can to help Riverdale get there. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to continue pushing forward as Riverdale’s mayor through 2021. But the event I don’t get re-elected, I’ve promised to help my opponent get up to speed on the wide variety of issues and opportunities facing our City. Similarly, my opponent has promised to stay involved with the City if I win – which is essential if we hope to build a community culture of pitching in and making a difference in the quality of life we enjoy here in Riverdale.

It all starts again on Tuesday. Please be sure to vote. Take part in our democratic process and voice your interest in our community’s future.

Because no matter how the vote turns out, Riverdale wins.