A meeting this week of opponents of a proposed Davenport-owned casino that ended with shouted accusations could be the first open sign of a jagged rift between City Hall and the business community over the issue.

Emails sent to a specific audience are reaching a larger audience and are growing into strings of incriminations and angry statements that have been simmering under the surface for months. Letters to the editor have expressed opposition, but not the anger Wednesday’s meeting at a Davenport eatery brought into the open.

Don Decker, a member of the Riverboat Development Authority, organized the meeting at Pepperjack’s Restaurant and Lounge. Decker is opposed to the city’s proposed acquisition of the Rhythm City casino for

$46 million. The city council approved a purchase term sheet in October, but a final purchase agreement remains under negotiation.

Mayor Bill Gluba, trying to be heard, was shouted down amid insults and accusations as he tried to defend the casino purchase and the potential financial gains the city could receive from a city-owned casino.

On Thursday, Gluba said he regretted his part of the shouting match. But he said if the city’s business community wants to be heard, they should meet and be heard somewhere with “a little more decorum rather than in a bar.”

Alderman Bill Boom, 3rd Ward, attended the meeting for a short time but left over concerns that a quorum of the city council was present, which would constitute an illegal meeting of the council. He said didn’t like the tone of the meeting from reports he received afterward.

“To me, this was mob action that was designed and calculated to be that way,” he said. “It was all intended to try and make the city look foolish.”

The meeting didn’t help either side, said John Gardner, who spoke at length against the casino acquisition.

“If you looked around that crowd last night, there were a number of people with significant positions in the business community,” he said. “I think it is an indication of the feeling people have with this issue. I think we can do much better with a thoughtful discussion.”

He has recommended people attend city council meetings and also contact aldermen via email or telephone.

“They shouldn’t take a higher premium on someone who stands before the council,” he said. “They should evaluate the quality of the input.”

A more measured tone on both sides is needed, said Steve Spring, a certified public accountant who attended both the Pepperjack’s meeting and Wednesday’s council meeting. He also has met with Gluba individually. He said a meeting between both sides where some of the emotion is removed would be beneficial.

“We are trying to repair that rift and bring everyone back on the same page,” he said. “I’m a fan of the mayor. He’s an energetic mayor. I’m also a fan of Don Decker. He has put his all into this.

“I’m a fan of both of these guys. I would like to see them work together.”

The vitriol of the opposition leaves City Administrator Craig Malin scratching his head. He briefly attended the Pepperjack’s meeting but left over concerns of an illegal meeting. In his absence, he was the topic of personal attacks.

He calls the purchase of the Rhythm City “a no-brainer” but says making it land-based is more difficult because of finances that are still being discussed. Gluba tried to reiterate that to the business people at the Pepperjack’s meeting.

“What is lost in the shouting is that we haven’t decided to buy a casino,” Malin said. “It is the vilification for trying that I can’t fathom.”

(15) comments

longjohn412

Let's see ... A minority group of Old White Males sets up an ambush of Officials elected by the Majority

It doesn't take a genius to figure out which political party is behind this nonsense ....

JS824

Let's see...A bunch of spend happy, arrogant politicians want to spend tens of millions of dollars on a risky investment, and don't want the citizens of the city to have any say in the matter.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out which political party is behind this nonsense....

JS824

By the way usually only 15-20% of the population turns out to vote in this city, so I wouldn't say the majority elected anyone. I guarantee you there will be a lot more showing up to vote next election, then you will see what the majority thinks.

HROTer

The decision to hold this meeting in a bar was a poor decision.
The decision by some of the "heavy hitters" to buy alcohol for attendees was worse.

Both "sides" of this issue have some good points that need to be hashed out. There IS certainly risk. But there is also significant OPPORTUNITY.

I also am flummoxed why some people have decided to not even listen or allow the City to continue exploring ways to make it a success. I would think business owners would be interested in a tool that would direct more funds to both the RDA and city coffers. Maybe they should start volunteering to help make sure it's done right than try to kill the baby in the crib.

And I do think it's fair to ask why two Bettendorf residents - Decker and Gardner - are so worried about Davenport taxpayers. It is interesting that the Isle in Bettendorf is likely to lose market share if a Davenport land-based casino on the interstate is successful. Pardon my skepticism for wondering if maybe that's a reason those "heavy hitters" are so interested in killing the project at any cost.

gccrawford

A location for the next meeting fitting the city governments status should be a house of joy.
That is in keeping with their theme of controlling vice...

KingJoe

Bill Bloom, "To me, this was mob action that was designed and calculated to be that way,”

John Gardner, “If you looked around that crowd last night, there were a number of people with significant positions in the business community,”

Watch the tone from the city. This is about all they have left. They will attempt to discredit and remove individuals that are in the way. Decker is top of the list. First attempt will be to try and show the RDA held an Illegal meeting. Then try to get him removed.

The PR has been so badly botched by the City, (sorry no one at the city actually does PR), by the Chamber (city pays Chamber 100k a year for this professional service...trouble is the chamber employs no one with those credentials) that all the city has left is to attack individuals. The biggest problem with that approach is as John says above, that room was full of some pretty heavy hitters.
Word on the street is the next target will be Ingenus. Malin has to put enough doubt in the council to change the developer for downtown back to Restoration St. Louis. So watch out for Kurt writing stories on the principles of Ingenus. The after 5 drinking crowd has been really entertaining the last few weeks.

esadnwo

It won't be long and we'll have on-line gambling. It's coming sooner than later. Anybody think that may have an effect on all the casino's in the area? The city council and mayor are really reaching on this 46 million dollar hunk of junk, then 100 million more etc. It's got a feeling of shadiness to it.

riverdog

“They shouldn’t take a higher premium on someone who stands before the council,” he said. “They should evaluate the quality of the input.”

The above is John Gardner's (Former Quad City Times -Davenport One administrator) statement, which in effect is saying lets get this discussion back behind closed door where the discussions have always been.

That is assuming the Times reporter got the statement right.

iadude

Gambling boats are rapidly becoming history. They could not sell this thing even after sending out over 200 proposals to prospects. So why not offer them $1 for the boat and turn it into a museum?

1of3

They are not buying the boat! They are buying the license.

TruthOnlyBeTold
TruthOnlyBeTold

Actually, I believe they would be buying both the license and the boat. Or, in simpler terms they would be buying a casino business.

Here is a link to a picture of the business that would be purchased for $46M.

http://qctimes.com/rhythm-city-casino/image_fb6b2b1d-8fed-559d-8a37-2cbc9dbf10f8.html


And here is a link to pictures of Trump Plaza, which was recently purchased for less than half that amount at $20M in Atlantic City, NJ

http://www.trumpplaza.com/photos-en.html

Is the above an apples to apples comparison? Nope, not in the least. It's more like comparing a rotten tomato to a diamond in the rough....you can decide which deal is the diamond in the rough and which is the rotten tomato.

TruthOnlyBeTold
TruthOnlyBeTold

I am still wondering how the casino license and boat are worth $46M. In February, Trump Plaza, located in Atlantic City, NJ was sold for $20M. It cost $210M to build in 1984. It seems to me, that Davenport city leaders are willing to pay way too much for what they are getting. I realize that Atlantic City gambling revenues are down but so are revenues for the current casino license that Davenport wants to buy, which maybe, just maybe that is why no private casino operator wanted to buy the boat and license to begin with. Casino's in Nevada lost $1.2B in 2012. I'll admit I'm no gambling revenue prediction expert, but this seems like a trend to me that does not bode well for Davenport investing $46M for just the business, then borrow even more for all the infrastructure and other expenses. The $46M does not even include any actual land!

Take a look at what was bought in Atlantic City for $20M via the link below and then think about what the citizens of Davenport are getting for $46M.

http://www.trumpplaza.com/photos-en.html

http://money.msn.com/now/post.aspx?post=f511b143-c33f-442c-9e47-744bdbf726de

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/jan/23/major-nevada-casinos-lose-12-billion-2012/

JS824

It's not worth 46 mil. The IOC knows it has the upper hand, and has the city of Davenport by the balls. They are going to turn around and use that 46 mil to re invest in the Bettendorf casino which will be direct competition to Davenport. So not only are we getting screwed on buying the license, we are directly paying to upgrade our main competition in the area. Brilliant.

cruzrlady09
cruzrlady09

Interesting. People from the business community - who actually understand
what is involved to operate successfully - have questions, and Mayor Gluba
and Mr. Malin are offended. Neither Gluba or Malin have offered to make
a substantial investment of their OWN money, and yet they are all to willing
to gamble with taxpayer money. Not unlike Washington DC, spend, spend,
spend, and the taxpayer will "clean up the mess." This casino is a bad idea,
Davenport residents do not have a voice, and if the only way for Gluba, Malin
and our "representative" aldermen will listen is shouting, it's time they wake up! Get
rid of the boat, invest in roads, infrastructure, and repurpose downtown into
a beautiful destination (see LeClaire) by emphasizing our most precious
asset, the Mississippi River. Then turn your attention to the Davenport
community as a whole - court industries with well paying jobs, beautify
areas that have been neglected and forgotten, with incentives for people
to invest in homes in those areas. This casino is polarizing, and generating
bad publicity and ill will accomplishes nothing. If I did not already live in
Davenport, I would not consider moving here knowing that I could be held
financially responsible for the decisions of a small and indifferent group of
politicians.

happy2bhere

No doubt a land based casino will out perform a dilapidated boat. What I have not deciphered upon reviewing the City of Davenport web site, is what is the worst case scenario, as tax payers dollars are at risk. I also believe the casino should be downtown, to further enhance and revitalize the central city. I doubt there will ever be any development next to the proposed interstate location, in the middle of no where. While the interstate casino might generate more gambling revenue, it will do nothing to stimulate additional investment in the community, as would the downtown location.

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