DES MOINES, Iowa -- "You`re saying you want to do what`s in the best interest of us? Well, then you must think we`re all stupid because we`ve all made a decision, and we've decided that we are opposed to this bill. We want to keep Des Moines Water Works as it is," said Jess Mazour of Brattleboro Avenue, as she addressed the Des Moines City Council.
The room was full of people who are opposed to HF484 and SF456. "If you are opposed to dismantling Des Moines Water Works, would you stand up? Hold those signs high in the air. Do you represent these people? I haven`t heard a single person testify in favor of this. We want to remind you that you represent us," said Mazour.
About 20 people got up one after the other to speak out and raise concerns about the controversial legislation. "I`m still concerned about the Council`s motivation to take control of Des Moines Water Works. If it is to use revenue from the utility to fund city government, it stands to reason that water rates will increase, because more money would be needed than just the operating expenses," said Linda Warren of Garden Avenue.
There were heated moments during the two and a half hour long meeting, and things even got personal, as those who spoke out against the legislation insulted the City Council Members and City Officials (who support the legislation) by name. But Council Members pushed back at the angry comments, saying there's lots of misinformation out there in the public on this issue. "That is what has been going on during this debate, there has been a lot of information out there that has not been accurate and I would say it`s even scare tactics," said Ward III Council Member Christine Hensley.
Council Members Hensley, Coleman, Gatto, and Westergaard are of the opinion that it's better for the City to have a seat at the table and work with state lawmakers, so as to have input and influence on the legislation that's being considered, instead of just opposing it outright and not having any say in the matter or the ability to make any changes.
Council Members Skip Moore and Bill Gray have a different point of view; they both oppose the legislation strongly. It was Skip Moore who put the item on the agenda in the first place, as he wanted the Council Members to vote and to make clear where everyone stood on HF484 and SF456.