Thursday, March 31, 2005

Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain

The Daily Iowan has an update about the Rainforest's lack of fundraising:
Talk about when Coralville's indoor rain forest will break ground is circulating as fundraising remains stalled, leaving city councilors wondering if the $90 million still needed to build the project will ever be found.

Councilor John Lundell said he still supports the environmental project but has concerns about funding.

"It's not an easy project; it's unique," he said. "I hope they will raise enough funds, but I wouldn't bet the farm, because it comes down to resources."

David Oman, the executive director of the Iowa Environmental Project, said he is employing all of his fundraising efforts to secure more money.

"We are in discussions with several corporations, foundations, and individuals, most of them outside of Iowa, for the remaining dollars to finance the full project," he said.

Under the current proposal, the $180 million environmental project is aimed at educating the public about living in harmony with nature, and it is expected to include a 4.5 acre indoor tropical rain forest and a 1 million gallon aquarium.

The bulk of the $90 million already raised comes from a $50 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Another $10 million came from Des Moines businessman Ted Townsend, who is also a key financier for the project Great Ape Trust of Iowa, currently under construction in Des Moines.

Since those crucial funds were promised last year, fundraising has lagged, and councilors said they have not been provided with updates.

"It's been quite some time since an update from them; it's been several months," said Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett. "But every council member is 100 percent behind the project."

Oman said he expects "groundbreaking of some sort" to happen this year, though a clear timetable doesn't exist.
Oman hasn't been able to dig up any money in the past 5 1/2 years, but this blog has been telling you that for a while. All the newspapers in Iowa and the Coralville City Council need to buy a clue.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

PorkForest Baloney


Sandra L. Hudson of Iowa City, a member of the Porkforest's Community Advisory Council, tries to go to bat for the project in this morning's Iowa City Press-Citizen:
I had thought The Environmental Project was just one more walk-through conservatory. I discovered that the primary intent is scientific research and science education with universal access to learning. The multi-faceted technologies used for the academies will permit you and me to each experience cognitive growth even though our scientific backgrounds may be quite different. The cutting-edge educational approach incorporates formal, informal and interactive learning. Global real-time knowledge sharing will take place.

What a poseur.

Here's something even funnier that I don't buy:
I had thought it ludicrous that Congress and the Department of Energy would pork barrel $50 million for a rain forest.
That was January 22, 2004 when the $50 million was announced.

By May 21, 2004, Sandra L. Hudson was already part of a 26-member committee. From the Cedar Rapids Gazette via NewsBank in a story by Zack Kucharski (reproduced here):
A 26-member committee has been formed to gather community input and define some of the projects included in the proposed $180 million indoor rain forest.

The committee will concentrate on education, research, arts, communications, and tourism and business, said Nancy Quellhorst, the vice president of the Iowa Environmental/Education Project.
Sandra L. Hudson is telling me that in the course of four months she changed her opinion from that of a pork project to that of a vital necessity for Iowa's educational and scientific future?


Update: I mistakenly identified Sandra Hudson as Sandra Wilson due to a copying error. It's since been corrected. Thanks to those who fact-checked my ass. I love you all.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Letter in the Press-Citizen

Barb Vakulskas of Iowa City had a great letter to the Press-Citizen:
The idea of using the land in Coralville that has been earmarked for the "rain forest project" for a different purpose certainly should tweak the interest of Coralville residents ("Coun-cilors in the dark on rain for-est progress," March 12). This project has served to make Iowa the laughing- stock of the country yet again -- this on the heels of our governor really believing that he was "in the running" for vice president followed by our secretary of state dragging his partisan feet on declaring the 2004 presidential race for Presi-dent Bush.

Iowa doesn't need any more of this type of publicity. Please, residents of our beautiful state, join me in writing to Sens. Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin, and tell them to release the promised government funds for this joke of a project and let another state become a laughingstock for a change.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Show Me The Money

The Iowa City Press-Citizen has an editorial regarding a Coralville City Council member's concern over the lack of details from the PorkForest con artists. Unfortunately, the staff editorial doesn't hold anybody's feet to the fire:
That city councilors put off requiring a timeline -- which Councilman Tom Gill requested four months ago -- certainly was understandable. While giving project leaders more time to search for sponsors and dollars, councilors needed to focus on the next step of their city rejuvenation project, the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.
Oman's been saying the same lines for 5 1/2 years. How much longer is the media going to continue to be wimps about these liars and scammers?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Tourism? No, Try Education Then.

KCRG has a report press release on Ted Stilwill, the former director of the Iowa Department of Education, who is now a yes-man shill for the Townsend/Oman con game.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Can This Relationship Be Saved?

In the beginning, Coral was very attracted to Rain. She was a quiet girl, but looking to break out of her shell. Rain seemed like her dream date. An attractive, new-age kind of guy, Rain was creative, fun and full of new and original ideas. They’d talk for hours over coffee about life, his vision, his dreams. Coral was completely smitten.

Things started to get serious, and they began to plan a life together. Coral was caught up in his dreams, dazzled by the idea of a marriage to this incredible, articulate, romantic man who seemed so exciting compared to her practical, everyday life.

Coral’s friends were a bit more skeptical. They pointed out how all his cool ideas weren’t exactly practical. And it’s not like he had a job, in fact, he knew that Coral had substantial savings, and he seemed to be content to live off her instead of being a real partner in the relationship. The kind of guy that was really, truly, going to make it with his band someday, but wanted you to pay the bills in the meantime.

Coral wouldn’t listen. She decided to go for it and move in with Rain. At first, things seemed wonderful. Coral would go to work during the day, leaving Rain free to work on his dreams. At night, over dinner, Coral and Rain would have long, intimate, wine-soaked talks about their plans, the vision of their life together. With the money Coral had saved, Rain would take business trips to the coast. He’d call her from his hotel and describe the meeting with designers in New York or California. As he talked, she could feel his excitement. They always seemed just on the verge of realizing their dreams.

As time went on, Rain seemed to become more distant. His phone calls became increasingly sporadic, and Coral often wondered who he was with and where he was going. Not wanting to seem jealous, at first she refrained from questioning him. She didn't want him to think she were insecure, or worse, a nag. After a while, when it seemed things weren't going to change, she would throw out vague hints, subtle questions about his day. Rain didn't respond well. He seemed vague, evasive. More seriously, the money that Coral had earned still funded the trips, Rain never seemed ready to get a job, settle down, and get married. Coral started to question whether Rain truly loved her, wheter he'd ever be ready to settle down.

Coral pushed her doubts to the back of her mind because she wanted to make the relationship work. When Rain came home between trips, he was still the same free spirit, bursting with creative ideas. She’d come away from the conversations revitalized and determined to stay with this incredible man.

Eventually, it got to the point where Rain was almost never home. When Coral would ask when he was coming back, he’d get angry, calling her jealous and manipulative. He'd accuse her of being uptight, wanting to stifle his dreams and sentence him to a boring, middle class, paper-pushing existence. He’d apologize, of course. He'd call her loving names and reassure her that everything was going to be fine. But with time, his apologies started to sound hollow, thin.

One day, Coral had enough. She decided to have it out with him, to ask him to commit one way or another to their relationship. They were going out to dinner and she had “the talk,” gave him an ultimatum and a time frame. If he wanted to get married, it was time to stop living in a dream world and start working to make their plans a reality. It didn’t go well. While he insisted he still loved her and wanted to get married, Rain refused to set a wedding date, wouldn’t discuss any plans to get a job, and generally seemed annoyed at her for trying to tie him down.

When Rain left the next morning for another prolonged round of meetings, Coral started going out more with her friends. Over a beer, she'd complain about Rain’s attitude and refusal to commit. Some of them took the chance to remind her that they’d told her this would happen from the beginning. Regardless, they all told her she was going to have to leave Rain. They encouraged her to find a new man who would settle down and make her happy. Coral couldn’t help but crying a little over the dreams she’d had about their exciting life together. Her friends listened to her cry, bought her a few shots, but generally told her to screw it, she was better off without him. Coral wants to meet one more time, to make one last-ditch effort to save the relationship before she tells him goodbye for good. Rain agrees, saying everything that he's done has been for Coral, to make her happy.

The Verdict: Many people go through a relationship with a person like Rain, someone who seems to be exciting, a little dangerous. But ultimately, marriage with Rain would lead to nothing but heartache. Coral is a smart girl, and if she listens to that voice inside, she'll figure out that Rain just isn't right for her. She'll understand that she can't change him, make him over into the man of her dreams. She’ll meet someone new, someone exciting, who is willing to make a commitment and settle down to build a life together.

Coralville: Porkforest Leaders AWOL

This is hardly a big surprise (from the Iowa City Press-Citizen):
If the business partnership between Coralville and the rain forest project were a dating relationship, the couple's conversation would have grown stale, and they wouldn't be able to remember their last deep discussion.

Those are the sentiments of Councilor John Lundell, and he's calling for city and The Environmental Project leaders to sit down and have a "heart-to-heart" -- getting a full update on the project's progress and finances. Lundell tried to recall the last time the council received a detailed update from the project.

"I don't remember at all how long it's been," Lundell said. "So that tells you something."
Yeah, where's David Oman? He's been saying the same lines for over 5 1/2 years concerning private investors.

It's long past put up or shut up time. I think Oman is little more than a politically-connected (Republican) con artist. A modern day Professor Harold Hill when it comes to this rainforest project.

And these amateurs running Coralville's city government are a bunch of pathetic losers and wimps. They need to get a friggin clue that they're being taken for a ride by a bunch of outsiders. No other city in Iowa wanted the rainforest!!! Doesn't that give the Coralville city council some leverage? Coralville should call Oman's bluff, and if Oman continues to plead for more time they should simply reject the rainforest and consider redeveloping the parcel with something else.