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Rock Island business owner says city is harassing him
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Rock Island business owner says city is harassing him

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Jerry Schreiner wants the city of Rock Island to stop harassing him. 

Schreiner, the owner of Vander Vending, 500 16th St., Rock Island, confronted city council members Monday night, saying he feels harassed by the city over parking issues and stacks of pallets and tires on his property. 

Schreiner said he was told that Alderman Dylan Parker, Ward 5, had generated the complaints against him. 

"I would like to find out why Rock Island is so inhospitable to businesses here," Schreiner said. "I am personally going to single out you, Mr. Parker, because I've been told by the workers that you keep complaining about our property. I've invested $200,000 into that property. It was an abandoned building when I bought it."

Schreiner said last week he discovered city workers on his property, loading pallets into the back of a garbage truck that he had paid $45 deposits on each — pallets that belong to Pepsi and other vendors.

"I happened to stop by your house the other day," Schreiner said to Parker. "And I thought, this guy doesn't own a lawnmower. Why is he picking on me? What's going on here? I'm trying to bring jobs to the area; I've invested in the area, and I've got you complaining about some pallets outside. 

"You've complained about my workers parking in the area, so I moved them all away," Schreiner said. "I had one who kept parking there after I told them not to and I was fined $650. And now you're after me about some pallets outside? I happened to drive around Rock Island and I see pallets here, debris there. Is it something personal because the Rock Island (Republican headquarters) is in the front of the building? Because that's what I'm feeling; I understand your personal politics."

Schreiner told council members he has plans to build a new facility to be located across the river in Iowa due to the alleged harassment. 

Parker apologized to Schreiner if he feels he's being harassed. Parker said he often brings a number of ordinance and city code violations to the attention of City Manager Randy Tweet regarding area businesses and residences. 

"I'm not familiar with the pallet issue," Parker said. "I haven't contacted city staff about your business since last year when employees were parking on the grass, which is prohibited by city code. I don't know what the pallet issue is about. I apologize if you feel you've been harassed. I try my best to mow my lawn. 

"Everybody has to have some leniency and we do give leniency. I believe city staff gave you weeks of time to try to address your code violations. I apologize."

Mayor Mike Thoms asked Schreiner to reconsider constructing or purchasing a new building in Iowa. Thoms encouraged Schreiner to meet with himself, Tweet or Economic Development Manager Tarah Sipes and see if there are options in the city of Rock Island that would work for him. Schreiner said he will consider Thoms' offer, saying he loves Illinois. 

Schreiner said Tuesday that he bought the building nearly four years ago, and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new roof, furnaces, LED lighting, renovations and remodeling. He was even recognized with a "Paintbrush Award" from the city. 

But problems with the city started about eight months ago when he began receiving warning letters about Vander Vending employees parking on the grass at the business. The issue eventually ended up in court, where Schreiner was assessed a $650 fine. 

"They charged me $25 a day, with the threat that it could be $500 day," Schreiner said. "We own 50 trucks; I've moved most of them to my facility in Muscatine. I checked prices, it wasn't feasible to blacktop the lot. I've gotten notices about removing the tires and pallets, but I don't see everything. The city is coming by all the time. It's my land, I've put close to 20 tons of gravel on (the lot). 

"You try to do everything right and a simple thing like a worker parking their car there. We are trying to grow the business and it makes it difficult."

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