If…

I was asked to share the following message which does a nice job of outlining just some of the reasons Tipton needs to take its sights off airport expansion and instead focus on projects that will benefit the WHOLE community. All it takes is the right leadership. It’s Election Day, Tipton. Get out and VOTE!

“IF we didn’t have a functional airport which will last for decades, IF we didn’t have to use eminent domain to get century farmland from people who don’t want to sell, IF our streets and sewers were in good condition, IF we didn’t have too much debt, IF there weren’t many projects which would bring more people to Tipton than a new airport–like the Hardacre in operation, like a park for children on the west side of town, like hiking and biking trails around Tipton, like affordable housing, THEN we could consider a new airport. Until THEN we need to say NO to an airport and say YES to Tim Malott to get Tipton’s problems solved. VOTE on Tuesday February 23, 8-12pm. VOTE for Tipton.”

-Larry Hodgden

Click here to learn more about Candidate Tim Malott

 

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Get to know Tim Malott

I’d like to begin by saying that the following is an independent endorsement of Tim Malott. Mr. Malott has not aligned himself with any particular group in town, as his intent is to take all views into consideration should he be elected to the Tipton City Council. He has not reached out to myself or anyone involved with airport opposition seeking endorsement, nor has he approved this message.

With that in mind, I do hope that the voters of Tipton will turn out tomorrow, February 23, and select Tim Malott to serve as your Council At-Large representative. As most of you know, the seat which was vacated by the resignation of David Fry several months ago, is currently filled by appointee Leanne Boots. Mrs. Boots served on the Council previously, and it has been argued by some that she should continue in this role because she is caring, intelligent, and has prior Council experience. I am confident that Mrs. Boots possesses all of these qualities. However, during her previous tenure she was also very much involved in the push to expand Mathews Memorial Airport, a project opposed by many in this community and which threatens to force local farmers to give up their land. As the Council currently sits, there are two members in support of continuation of this project (Spear and Anderson) and two who have said they would oppose the pursuit of land acquisition through eminent domain (McNeill and Leeper.) The fifth Council seat could likely provide a swing vote in how the City proceeds with this project. Given Mrs. Boots’ history and involvement with support for expansion it does not seem that she would represent the priorities of the many in the community who do not wish for this project to continue.

Tim Malott also seems to be a caring, dedicated and intelligent person with a proven record of leadership. He recently addressed the Council and asked for a shift in focus from pursuit of airport funding to that which would fix our streets, complete with a plan to make this happen. This shows that he is a man willing to take initiative and given the concerns of the greater public, the right person at the right time for Tipton City Council.

All airport issues aside, one cannot help but be impressed by Mr. Malott’s resume. Following are notes from his September 30 introduction at the Tipton Candidates forum followed by a link to a video recording from the February 11 Candidates forum, and another link to video of his address to the Council, mentioned above.

Please take this opportunity to learn more about Tim Malott and see for yourself why he could be a tremendous asset to this community. And regardless of your decision, please do get out and vote on February 23. If we truly want an inclusive community that values the beliefs and best interests of all, people need to continue to engage themselves, to speak out and make their feelings known.

Summary of Tim Malott Introductory Statements, September 30, 2015 Candidates Forum:

 

Candidates Introduction

Mr. Malott began by saying that he had moved to Tipton in 2008, but before telling what brought him here wished to discuss his qualifications. He had gone to college after high school, but says he wasn’t any good at it so he joined the Army. He was enlisted from 1974 to 1998 serving from the Vietnam Era all the way through the Persian Gulf.

Upon leaving the Army Mr. Malott went to work as a supervisor for what he called “a little company in Kenosha, Wisconsin.” That company, he revealed a moment later, was Ocean Spray. In his time there he improved his team and doubled output, and within two years was offered a job as an Operations Manager for Pepsi. His success continued as he oversaw bottle production for two years, running the finances and tripling output.

When the Ball Corporation bought his bottling division Mr. Malott was transferred to Ames and asked to institute the same improvements. He ran a plant with 35 employees, making twelve million bottles and averaging 130 semi loads a day. He says nothing was approved without his say, and that he believes in lean manufacturing and putting profits back to the people.

Mr. Malott retired in 2008, which brought him back to telling why he chose to come to Tipton. He says he has 3 kids and six grandkids and he and his family had made thirteen moves in 39 years. He first examined schools, and notes that Tipton has a great school system which gave his youngest daughter the opportunity to play golf and be in the band. He also looked at public safety, and says Tipton is very fortunate to have a high quality fire department, EMS and police force.

The third item he looked at was infrastructure. Mr. Malott feels Tipton needs some work here. He says that while in the Army he taught automotive engineering in Europe, and while that differs from structural engineering he does understand engineering concepts. He says Tipton needs to look at its streets, and he has gotten a good perspective having now walked thirty eight miles of the city streets putting flyers on doors. Beyond that, he says he does like the amenities such as stores and the aquatic center that Tipton offers.

The fourth thing Mr. Malott looked at when considering Tipton was government, and he feels he is qualified to contribute there. He is the Director of Emergency Management 9-1-1 for Cedar County and in six years has overseen many upgrades and looked to the future by creating a state of the art operation. Cedar County, he says, was the first in Iowa to provide text to 9-1-1 for every major carrier and first to be Next Gen IP ready. This cost two million dollars to implement, but by doing so in six phases and relying on grants has not cost residents a penny on their annual taxes. Mr. Malott frequently goes to the Capitol to fight for residents of Tipton and Cedar County, and has been a spokesman for the State in front of the House and Senate. He feels he understands budgetary items and under his guidance Cedar County 9-1-1 and Emergency Management has a surplus and has never missed a payment, despite one hundred thousand dollars every year in improvements.

Mr. Malott asks voters on November 3 to make him Tipton’s voice because he is willing to listen, think outside the box, and find ways to move the community forward. He says he has proven his ability to do so; evidenced first by his choice to come to Tipton as he felt it would be an excellent place to live, and second through his work with the current Council, City Manager, County Supervisors and area Mayors. He understands, he says, how to work as a team and will seek to meet financial needs through grants to bring the cost of living down while improving Tipton at the same time.

CLICK HERE for video of the February 1 Tipton City Council Meeting, courtesy of the City of Tipton YouTube channel. Watch the first ten minutes to see Tim Malott address the Council on the need and options to prioritize street repairs instead of the airport…
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CLICK HERE to watch the February 11 Candidates Forum featuring Leanne Boots and Tim Malott. Courtesy of themaninblk1’s YouTube channel.
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Stand Up, Speak Out, or Stop Complaining

Following is a letter that Larry Hodgden submitted for publication in the February 17 issue of the Tipton Conservative, and also shared with permission to be posted here. Larry has devoted a great deal of personal time and energy to track local spending and raise awareness of serious issues facing Tipton, including the proposed airport expansion. For playing this important community watchdog role, Larry has also come under increased personal attack from those who wish to change the narrative; attempting to divert the focus from these issues and instead resort to ridiculous accusations that Larry and anyone who agrees with him are in some way trying to destroy this community. Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth, and reading between the lines one starts to understand that such propaganda is really an attempt to turn this from a debate on Tipton’s direction to an “us v.s. them” affair. It’s a juvenile tactic- trying to persuade people to vote along social lines instead of acknowledging the real issues at hand. It’s as if those who feel entitled to local control are suddenly trying to rally against anyone with the audacity to question that authority.

Fortunately, we have a lot of intelligent people in this town and I think most can see right through this. Tipton voters are smart enough, and strong enough, to consider both sides and make their decisions from there. Some might agree with how things have been run, and many more have already shown that they don’t. The important thing to realize is that watchdogs are crucial to a healthy community- to keep the public informed and to encourage civic engagement when important topics threaten to slip under the radar. As I’ve stated before, you don’t have to agree with everything that Larry says, but you should damn sure appreciate the fact that he’s willing to stand up and exercise his right to say it…

 

Stand Up, Speak Out or Stop Complaining

Little wonder that residents are too intimidated to come to city council meetings and speak out regarding their problems or concerns about city operations. Anyone reading this newspaper since the November election would have to think twice, maybe three times, before deciding whether they would like to have their name drug through the mud simply for standing up for what they believe.

Does anyone really believe, that by standing up and speaking out against a new airport we don’t need, by opposing the use of eminent domain which would take land from people who don’t want to sell, by speaking out for residents tired of dodging potholes in our neglected streets, by standing up for residents tired of sewer backups and raw sewage in the streets, by asking on behalf of residents who wondered why our police chief was driving a city car to his home in Buchanan and then finding out we were paying him $275 per month to live in Lisbon, by questioning the large buildup of public debt in the last 10 years while our infrastructure deteriorated, it means I don’t care about Tipton?

For daring to suggest these RADICAL ideas and sharing them with the public, I, along with others, have been subjected to relentless personal attacks, particularly after the election when the “powers that be” became very angry about the outcome. These attacks, some by people who have no real understanding of the issues involved, are a blatant attempt to divert the focus of the election from the serious issues facing Tipton.

The issues in this election are as clear now as they were for the six months before the November election. They are: stop the plans for a new airport, eliminate unnecessary spending, focus on fixing our streets and sewers and reduce our large debt load. This will not happen without new leadership on our council which the voters of Tipton began in November. Now let’s complete the change needed.

If you attended the library forum, or if you know the work that Tim Malott has done for EMA/911 and the county, you will want him on the city council to help get Tipton back on track. His success in writing and receiving grants for the county will bode well for fixing our infrastructure. His forward thinking and positive approach to Tipton’s future and REAL needs will serve us well. Tim Malott is NOT aligned with the group that has brought these issues to the public’s attention. He is an independent voice who will listen to everyone and act in the best interest of ALL the residents of Tipton.

If you couldn’t attend the forum, you can read his responses to the questions in this paper. You can also meet Tim at 6pm, Wednesday evening, in the courthouse and ask him about his vision for Tipton. Then go VOTE for TIPTON’S SAKE.

Larry Hodgden
Tipton, Iowa

Note: The meeting mentioned in Larry’s final paragraphed has now passed. The Special Election vote for Tipton City Council At-Large is Tuesday, February 23, from noon to eight pm at the Cedar County Courthouse.

Click here to view Josh Meier’s February 17 letter
Click here to view Larry Martens February 17 letter

A Different Theory

Following is a letter I submitted to The Tipton Conservative for publication in its February 17, 2016 issue. It was written in response to some of the outlandish accusations that have been made toward those who have stood up to stop the airport expansion and fought for change in our community. There are some who continue to use such tactics as a means of sidestepping the serious issues at hand; and instead resort to finger pointing, squabbling and the tiresome notion that airport opponents simply want to complain and “tear Tipton down.” This of course couldn’t be further from the truth.

Furthermore, rather than acknowledge that hundreds of residents have expressed opposition to the airport project and the way other matters have been handled (a frustration that became abundantly clear with the results of the November 2015 election) these people have instead concluded that voters have been misled by a small group of “agitators.” Again, this is ridiculous. Tipton voters deserve a little more credit than that. How presumptuous does one have to be to draw such a conclusion anyhow? Assuming that just because the majority view differs from your own that voters have somehow been deceived?

Ultimately this boils down to little more than a spin campaign trying to shame, vilify and marginalize the efforts of citizens who are concerned with what they see taking place and care enough to stand up for their beliefs. It’s a thinly veiled attempt not to concede what really happened- an unwanted project and a Council’s failure to gauge the pulse of its constituency led people to vote for change.

 

 

A Different Theory

These certainly are trying times for Tipton, and while theories abound about agitators and destructive agendas, I would respectfully like to offer a more pragmatic explanation as to what has brought us here.

There can be little doubt that the push to expand Mathews Memorial Airport is a primary source of our divisiveness. Believe what you will about speculated benefits and what constitutes progress, the fact is there are local families who would be hurt by this project. I know, because my family is one of them. We, along with our neighbors, face loss of cropland, disruption to livestock, flooding, noise and light pollution that will forever alter the place that for generations we’ve called home. This is a point that conveniently goes without mention by most who claim that airport opponents simply want to tear Tipton down, but the greater public has come to realize what is at stake.

I took the opportunity last summer to sit in on occasion with those on the Courthouse Square. I wanted to get involved, to be there to represent my family and the rural perspective. We’d spoken several times before the Council to that point, but it clearly had little impact. I hoped the citizens would at least be willing to listen. However, as it turned out, I didn’t need to say much at all. Nor did the so-called “movement leaders” who have been wrongly accused of employing snake oil salesman-like tactics to allegedly manipulate voters. Instead, it was the public that did most of the talking. Just like us, they were eager to be heard. They had weighed the issue carefully and decided that an airport expansion would not reflect their values if it meant taking land from family farmers. They couldn’t understand the lack of priorities with more vital infrastructure in need of repair. Over the months hundreds of Tipton residents approached us, vented their frustration with City leadership, and said they wanted change.

In the meantime the then city government dug in its heels. There was another airport hearing with majority opposition but the Council declared that plans would move on. People requested a public vote on the project, as should have been done in the first place, but again they wouldn’t allow it. With every turn the Council seemed to commit further to the attitude that they knew best and would continue calling the shots. There were simultaneous pleas for patience and progress with expectations of adherence to the status quo. Even after the November election, when it became clear that people wanted more say, the outgoing Council decided to appoint Fry’s vacancy instead of giving the public a choice.

Now with a special election ahead there is outrage from some, but the reason we’re on this course shouldn’t be so perplexing. People want representatives who will listen. They want representatives who will reflect their values. They have the right to elect these officials and should never be deprived of such. Tipton residents are smart enough to realize that experience may provide benefit to a Council in transition, but they also deserve the confidence of selecting a Councilperson who will fight for their beliefs. This is not the result of some nefarious plot; it’s the democratic process at play.

Fortunately, Tipton voters will get that chance and I applaud those who have stood up for this right, even in the face of accusation and ridicule. I hope the many of you who have expressed displeasure with how the airport plans and other matters have been handled will seize this opportunity, and vote for Tim Malott.

Sincerely,

Josh Meier

Tipton

These tactics are unfortunately nothing new. I touched on the same in a blog post back in December. Click here to read more

Click here to read Larry Hodgden’s February 17 letter
Click here to read Larry Martens’February 17 letter

Concerned Property Owner

The following was written by Larry Martens, who owns and lives on one of the farms the City of Tipton is threatening to take by eminent domain if its Airport Expansion project is allowed to continue. He has been through this before, when Mathews Memorial Airport was first built, and knows it does not end well for the farmers.

Larry submitted this letter to The Tipton Conservative for publication in the February 17, 2016 issue, and also provided a copy to be shared here.

Concerned property owner

I’ve been involved with the Tipton Airport since it’s beginning. I live right above it and see everything that goes on. The then city council wanted, demanded and got a large portion of our farm. We had the choice to sell or go into eminent domain. We sold and they got what they wanted. Funny, they never lived up to their promises in the deal.

The threat of taking my neighbors land and mine are a daily worry. The thought that the past five city council members had the power to decide our future without Tipton residents choice in the matter is unbelievable. Again sell or face eminent domain. No ground has been purchased and the new council has the same power except some of the members will not pursue the issue.

Over the years I’ve seen less and less use of the airport except for several local pilots that love to just fly. There used to be many pilots in training coming from many areas doing touch and goes. That’s rare to see that now and less and less crop dusters in the summer. Company planes flying in are becoming fewer as time passes. Don’t see the drug planes coming in late at night like years ago or else I’m a heavy sleeper.

The increased debt load that would be created by the airport expansion placed on Tipton residents doesn’t appear to fit the program of the much needed infrastructure improvements in the city of Tipton and sure doesn’t fit into my or my neighbors future plans.

Think carefully when voting on Feb. 23 for the council at-large representative. Listen to their ideas,
the outcome could cost you lots of money for years to come whether you are a owner or renter.

Larry Martens
Tipton

Click here to read Josh Meier’s February 17 Letter
Click here to read Larry Hodgden’s February 17 Letter

Ridiculous

I returned the other night from a family trip to Ireland. While away I was aware of some ongoing chatter and back and forth on our Airport Facebook page but instead of allow it to detract from this much needed vacation, I chose to ignore it. Home again now, I reluctantly took a peek at last weeks Op-ed piece and Letters to the Editor, then again checked the same in this week’s edition of The Tipton Conservative. As anyone who is following this saga will know, tensions are boiling over. There is animosity over the election results, venomous accusations are being directed at individuals, and we who oppose this airport project have been classified as a group of liars.

I would like to take this opportunity to briefly address a few of these matters. First of all, regarding the spread of misinformation, I would ask you all to view the “About” page on this blog (click here.) There you will find a summary of our argument. It was written a couple of months ago when this page was launched, but is consistent with what I have been telling people all along. I hold a degree in journalism and with this a firm belief in presenting a factual story that allows people to draw their own well-informed conclusions. I also place very high value on personal integrity and have no interest in being conniving or deceitful. If anyone feels that I am mistaken in the information that is being presented, please let me know and I’ll be happy to discuss it. If you want to call me a liar based simply on my perspective and opinions of the airport project differing from yours, I’d ask that you think twice before spewing further vitriol. We all must stand for what we believe is right, and I’m just as entitled to my voice as you.

Furthermore, it seems necessary to once again reiterate that the fight against Tipton’s proposed airport project is not being orchestrated by one man. For example, I (Josh Meier) run this blog and the Tipton Against Airport Expansion Facebook page, and while I do so in representing my family, neighbors, and local residents who have voiced opposition, I don’t take directive as a member of some clandestine network determined to undermine local government. As I wrote in a Letter to the Editor some weeks back-

“This… echoes a misguided sentiment that has been tossed around by others as of late, especially in regard to airport opposition. That being that the level of discontent in town is nothing more than the result of one man’s crusade, or at best the rumblings of those local crazies who hang out under the canopy on the Courthouse Square. There are hundreds of people in this community who have expressed their disapproval and frustration with what they see taking place. Each has a reason born of his or her own individual values and convictions. Some of us are fighting to defend the land and livelihoods that we hold dear. Others just aren’t buying claims that a new airport will attract business or in any way benefit those being told to fund it. Still more point out that the current facility is at no risk of closing and serves its purpose well, even while truly vital infrastructure is crumbling all around.

Continued efforts to marginalize public outcry as the simple musings of an insignificant fringe group are disingenuous, petty and insulting. There are a lot of people who are upset in this community, and just as many reasons for being so. Healthy cities rely on citizenry with the backbone to speak out when they see others acting in ways deemed to belie the greater public good. Tipton deserves leadership that is willing to acknowledge and engage this; not elected officials who are dismissive of interests that don’t align with their own.”

Once again, HUNDREDS of people have expressed opposition to airport expansion. Nearly everyone I have spoken to in casual discussion on the subject over the past few years has stated that they feel this project is unnecessary and foolish. “Ridiculous” is the term most commonly used. I think a lot of this drama could have been avoided had the City allowed airport plans to be taken to a public vote from the start. They did not, however, and that has caused a rift in the community. This is a contentious topic that many people feel strongly about. This is Iowa, and Tipton has a strong agricultural heritage. When plans are set to take land away from local family farmers there is bound to be outrage. The fact that there is strong, significant opposition to this project shouldn’t come as a surprise. The singling out and blaming of individuals, however, no matter how polarizing, remains disingenuous and insincere.

On a personal note, and to be entirely honest, this squabbling has grown tiresome. I work a 40+ hour a week job. I also have my own photography business and do freelance photo and writing work on the side, which demands another 40-60 hours a week of my attention. The airport issue is the absolute last thing I want to continually spend my time and energy on. I love Tipton and have no desire to see this community figuratively torn down, and assure you all that this fight is not for personal amusement or nefarious agenda. My efforts are spurred by the desire to protect the land, livelihood and lifestyle of my family and neighbors and to offer a platform for those in the community who feel there are better uses for their tax dollars. I feel the issue needs to be kept in the public eye, and these pages are a means of doing so. The airport project will adversely impact my family’s lives. End of story. I am not doing this for entertainment.

Finally, there are watchdogs at every level of government. Sometimes it’s the press, sometimes interest groups, and sometimes private citizens. Our democracy depends on it. You don’t always have to agree with what they say or be concerned over every alarm they sound, but you should at least respect the role they play. Larry Hodgden is one of several people who act as a watchdog for Tipton. He is many things; diligent, devoted, perhaps even outspoken at times. What he is not, however, is a puppet master. He is simply a concerned citizen willing to stand up and fight for his neighbors and his beliefs. He has the courage to stand for his convictions in the face of constant ridicule. And for that, he should not be vilified.

More to come…

Scott Meumann

Following is a summary of personal introductions and comments on the issue of airport expansion from the September 30 “Meet the Candidates” forum in Tipton. This is not a comprehensive view of the candidates or their stance on any given matter; only a run-down of what was said that night. When additional information concerning the candidates position on the Airport Expansion project can be derived from past comments or actions, that will also be noted.

Scott Meumann- Challenger, Tipton At-Large

Candidates Introduction

Mr. Meumann introduced himself as a Tipton resident and homeowner of sixteen years. He grew up in Davenport, and says his experiences as a youth in an urban setting make him marvel and appreciate the quality of life this small town has to offer. He comes from a long line of small business owners and was raised to understand how working with tight budgets and creativity is sometimes needed to make the most of your money.

As a young adult Mr. Meumann worked in retail management at his parents sporting goods store before deciding he wanted to venture off and see the world. He joined the Navy and served from 1983 to 1987. After his service, he returned to Iowa and took employment in the manufacturing industry.

Mr. Meumann has now worked in Industrial Maintenance for General Mills for 25 years. He notes that the company has all the services of a small city, including electrical generation, sanitation and water. His division takes care of thousands of motors and pumps, and has miles of piping and wiring. With such extensive experience he feels qualified to deal with matters of infrastructure, including specialized tasks that require the hire of outside contractors. Mr. Meumann sits on a ten member board that determines how to proceed with large projects.

Even in dealing with large budget entities, Mr. Meumann has come to understand that it’s the little costs that add up. He feels that with his background, sensibility and perspective he can be a true asset to the City of Tipton.

Mr. Meumann has been married to his wife Deb for fifteen years and takes great pride in having helped to raise her daughter McKenzie, who he describes as the apple of his eye. She has gone off to enjoy a successful life in New York City, and after watching McKenzie grow and coming to know many wonderful people in Tipton, he says he just marvels at everything. He wants to keep this community moving forward.

Mr. Meumann considers himself a fiscal conservative, something he attributes to his small business background, and feels he can offer much to the City of Tipton as an elected official.

About Airport Expansion

Mr. Meumann was the only candidate to be directly asked an airport related question. Someone had heard that he was very knowledgeable about airports and planes, and asked him to elaborate.

Mr. Meumann said that he has a private pilot’s license and served in the aviation wing in the Navy. He said this interest has led him to do a lot of research on our local airport, and feels that what everyone needs to realize is that it’s not in danger of closing. The FAA trust fund that provides the funding the City is pursuing has existed since the 1970’s and has a sixteen billion dollar budget. Mr. Meumann stresses that he is definitely not an aviation hater, that he loves planes and even has a framed picture of a P38 Lightning in his house; but his research has convinced him that Tipton’s airport is not at risk. He feels that we have time to stretch things out and look at it in a slower fashion, and can reapply for the same funding later if needed.

Mr. Meumann says that he is of the mindset that Tipton needs to concentrate on higher priority issues such as the dead motor in the power plant and figuring out what needs to be done with the sewers. He feels we can put the airport on hold without suffering any losses, and therefore Tipton needs to step back and look at spending money on matters of greater, more pressing, importance.

Link to Pam Spear

Link to Tim Malott

Link to “Meet the Candidates” Forum Summary Overview Page

Link to Tipton Ward Map