Iowa Public Television

 

Michael Gartner on Innovations and Incentives

posted on June 1, 2004

FROM THE STUDIOS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS "IMAGINE IOWA: A CONVERSATION WITH DAVID YEPSEN." THIS EVENING'S GUEST IS MICHAEL GARTNER, CHAIRMAN OF THE VISION IOWA BOARD. HERE IS "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: HELLO, I'M DAVID YEPSEN. WELCOME TO THIS, THE SECOND OF OUR SERIES OF PROGRAMS, TO "IMAGINE IOWA." TONIGHT OUR FOCUS WILL FALL ON INNOVATIONS AND INCENTIVES THAT MAY HELP LOCAL GOVERNMENTS OPERATE MORE EFFECTIVELY. IN RECENT TIMES ONE OF THE MORE PROMINENT INCENTIVES ENCOURAGING GOVERNMENTS TO COOPERATE HAS BEEN VISION IOWA GRANTS. THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE THAT HELPS FOSTER COOPERATION. OVER A MORE EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME, A SECTION OF THE IOWA CODE HAS BEEN PROVIDING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS WITH A TOOL TO LEVERAGE MORE FROM THEIR LIMITED RESOURCES. ENACTED IN 1965 BY THE IOWA LEGISLATURE, THE SO-CALLED 28-E SECTION OF IOWA'S CODE GIVES AUTHORITY TO GOVERNMENTS AND AGENCIES AT VARIOUS LEVELS TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS WITH ONE ANOTHER. AS JEANNIE CAMPBELL EXPLAINS, SINCE 1965 MORE THAN 11,000 28-Es HAVE BEEN PUT TO USE.

Campbell: FOR EXAMPLE, THROUGH SUCH AN AGREEMENT, THE CITY OF INDIANOLA AND WARREN COUNTY SHARE A DISPATCH OPERATION FOR FIRE, EMERGENCY, AND LAW ENFORCEMENT SERVICES. THE CITY AND COUNTY AND THE INDIANOLA SCHOOL DISTRICT ALSO SHARE A FUEL TERMINAL. THE ARRANGEMENTS PROVIDE BETTER SERVICE AT A LOWER COST. TIM ZISOFF IS THE CITY MANAGER OF INDIANOLA.

Zisoff: 28-Es ARE A GREAT TOOL THAT CITIES AND COUNTIES CAN USE TO PARTNER TOGETHER TO WORK TOGETHER. AND IT'S NOT ONLY CITY AND COUNTY BUT IT'S CITY AND SCHOOL, IT'S CITY AND PRIVATE ORGANIZATION, IT COULD BE CITY AND CITY. THERE'S ANY NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS THAT ARE JUST VERY, VERY FLEXIBLE, AND THEY WORK EXTREMELY WELL.

Campbell: A SIDE BENEFIT OF SUCH AGREEMENTS IS THAT IT ENCOURAGES STANDARDIZATION. GOVERNMENTS ARE MORE LIKELY TO CONSULT WITH ONE ANOTHER BEFORE ACQUIRING SOFTWARE OR DEVELOPING REAL ESTATE CODES. LIKE IOWA SCHOOLS, THERE IS GROWING FINANCIAL AND LEGISLATIVE PRESSURE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO CONSOLIDATE. CONSOLIDATION ADVOCATES FREQUENTLY CITE IOWA'S 99 COUNTIES AS RIGHT FOR MERGER. BUT SOME ADVOCATES OF THE FUSION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS SUGGEST COUNTIES MAY NOT BE THE BEST TARGET. FORMER STATE AUDITOR AND FORMER MAYOR OF SHELDAHL RICHARD JOHNSON MAINTAINS THAT A MORE EFFECTIVE MERGER MIGHT BE BETWEEN CITIES AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT.

Johnson: IN MANY CASES, SOME OF THEIR OFFICES, EVEN PARTICULARLY IN THE PUBLIC SAFETY AREA, THEY'RE CO-LOCATING MANY OF THE SHERIFF OFFICES WITH THE CITY POLICE OFFICES ANYWAY, SO YOU JUST EXPAND THAT A LITTLE BIT MORE AND MERGE MORE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE TWO.

Campbell: TO ENCOURAGE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO SEEK AND IMPLEMENT EFFICIENCIES, OBSERVERS LIKE JOHNSON SUGGEST INCENTIVES ARE NEEDED. HE POINTS TO THE STATE'S VISION IOWA AND COMMUNITY ATTRACTION AND TOURISM, OR CAT, FUNDS AS EFFECTIVE INSTRUMENTS OF CIVIC STIMULUS. THE PROGRAMS OFFER COMMUNITIES GRANTS FOR LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS, BUT THE ADMINISTRATORS OF VISION IOWA REQUIRE THAT APPLICANTS RAISE AT LEAST HALF OF THE PROJECTS' COST FROM THEIR OWN SOURCES. TO DATE, VISION IOWA HAS AWARDED MORE THAN $211 MILLION TO TEN PROJECTS THAT CARRY A TOTAL COST OF MORE THAN $900 MILLION. THE CAT PROGRAM HAS INVESTED $41 MILLION IN 119 PROJECTS WORTH MORE THAN $290 MILLION. COMBINED, VISION IOWA AND CAT HAVE FINANCED ABOUT 21 PERCENT OF THE COST OF THE PROJECTS. THE PROCESS, REASON THE ADMINISTRATORS, NOT ONLY STRETCHES THE PROGRAMS' DOLLARS BUT IT ALSO MAKES THE PROPOSAL STRONGER, THE PROJECTS MORE VIABLE, AND THE EXPERIENCE MAKES THE COMMUNITIES' LEADERSHIP MORE ABLE TO MAINTAIN THE MOMENTUM OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.

Zisoff: WHEN YOU'RE GOING THROUGH IT, I HAVE TO SAY IT MAKES YOU WONDER IF IT'S WORTH IT AT THE TIME, BUT WHEN YOU'VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL, THEN, YES, IT'S BEEN A GOOD PROCESS, A GOOD EXPERIENCE.

Yepsen: ONE OF THE REASONS MANY LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS HAVE WONDERED IF THE GRANTS ARE WORTH IT SITS ACROSS THE TABLE FROM ME. MICHAEL GARTNER IS THE MAN MANY CREDIT OR CURSE FOR THE APPLICATION PROCESS THAT CHALLENGES COMMUNITIES SEEKING VISION IOWA GRANTS. WELCOME, MICHAEL GARTNER.

Gartner: THANK YOU, DAVID. NICE TO BE WITH YOU.

Yepsen: IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE, I WANT OUR VIEWERS TO KNOW I ONCE WORKED FOR YOU. WE NEVER CURSED YOU, THOUGH, DID WE, MIKE?

Gartner: WELL, YOU WERE EMPLOYED BY ME; I'M NOT SURE YOU WORKED FOR ME.

Yepsen: MR. GARTNER, WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO IN IOWA TO MAKE A BETTER FUTURE FOR OURSELVES?

Gartner: JUST THINK, YOU KNOW, AND BE IMAGINATIVE AND WORK TOGETHER. I'VE LEARNED -- I THOUGHT I KNEW A LOT ABOUT IOWA UNTIL FOUR YEARS AGO WHEN THE GOVERNOR ASKED ME TO TAKE THIS JOB. AND I'VE LEARNED AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT AND THE MAIN THING -- PROBABLY "THE" MAIN THING I'VE LEARNED IS THAT YOUR TOWN DOESN'T HAVE TO HAVE A COURTHOUSE, IT DOESN'T HAVE TO HAVE A BIG RIVER, IT DOESN'T HAVE TO HAVE AN INTERSTATE HIGHWAY, IT DOESN'T HAVE TO HAVE A COLLEGE TO BE A SUCCESSFUL TOWN. IT'S GOT TO HAVE GOOD LEADERSHIP: POLITICAL LEADERSHIP, BUSINESS LEADERSHIP, SOCIAL LEADERSHIP. AND IF IT HAS THAT AND THE PEOPLE COME TOGETHER, ANYTHING -- ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED. THE OTHER THING I'VE LEARNED IS THAT, WHICH I THINK I KNEW BEFORE I CAME IN, IS THAT PROCESS IS EVERYTHING, PROCESS IS EVERYTHING. WHETHER YOU'RE HANDING OUT VISION IOWA GRANTS OR WHETHER YOU'RE TRYING TO RUN A POLICE DEPARTMENT, OR WHATEVER, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS. AND THEN YOU GET THE PARTNERSHIPS, THE PROCESS, THE PARTNERSHIPS, AND THE PLAN, AND I MEAN ANY TOWN CAN DO ANYTHING.

Yepsen: WHAT'S THE ROLE OF RECREATION AND TOURISM IN ALL OF THIS?

Gartner: RECREATION AND TOURISM -- IN VISION IOWA OR IN IOWA AS A WHOLE?

Yepsen: EITHER ONE.

Gartner: WELL, IN IOWA AS A WHOLE, IT'S SORT OF, YOU KNOW, WE DON'T HAVE OCEANS AND WE DON'T HAVE MOUNTAINS. WHAT DO WE HAVE? WE'VE GOT CLEAN AIR, CLEAN GOVERNMENT, AND CLEAN POLITICS. WE'VE GOT WONDERFUL LAND. AND, YOU KNOW, ANYTIME YOU RUN A BUSINESS OR ANYTHING AND YOU DO A RESEARCH STUDY, THE FIRST THING THEY TELL YOU IS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR ASSETS. OUR ASSETS ARE: AN ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL STATE; IT'S NOT CROWDED; THERE'S A LOT OF NATURAL RESOURCES THAT CAN BE PUT TO USE FOR THE PEOPLE. JUST GO NORTH OF AMES AND LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL NEW PARK WHERE THE OLD QUARRY USED TO BE. IT'S NOW A WETLAND. VISION IOWA, THE CAT PROGRAM PUT A MILLION, MILLION AND A HALF DOLLARS INTO IT. IT'S ABOUT A $7.5 MILLION DEAL OR 8. AND IT'S JUST SPECTACULAR. IT'S GOING TO CHANGE THE NATURE OF LIFE IN AMES, PLUS IT'S GOING TO ASSURE QUALITY WATER FOR THE CITY'S WATER SYSTEM FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

Yepsen: GIVE US A STATUS REPORT ON THE VISION IOWA AND CAT PROGRAMS. HOW MUCH MORE IS THERE TO BE DONE?

Gartner: HOW MUCH MORE MONEY IS THERE, OR HOW MUCH MORE IS THERE TO BE DONE?

Yepsen: HOW MANY MORE PROJECTS?

Gartner: WELL, THE LEGISLATURE JUST RE-FUNDED THE CAT PROGRAM AT 12 MILLION A YEAR FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS, I GUESS. SO THERE'S $72 MILLION THERE. THERE'S $14 MILLION LEFT IN THE VISION IOWA PROGRAM, SO THERE'S, YOU KNOW, $80-, $90-, $100 MILLION OUT THERE THAT WE'LL TRY TO DISTRIBUTE WISELY AND BE PRUDENT AND DEMANDING AND STRETCH IT AS FAR AS WE CAN GO. THE REASON VISION IOWA HAS WORKED, BESIDES ALL THE PARTNERSHIPS IT'S FORGED, IS WE'VE DEMANDED THAT IN EVERY PROJECT THERE BE A COMBINATION OF STATE MONEY, CITY MONEY, COUNTY MONEY, AND PRIVATE MONEY. IF WE CAN GET SCHOOLS AND NATIONAL GUARD AND OTHERS, THAT'S GREAT TOO BECAUSE THEN YOU GET COMMUNITY BUY-IN. THE OTHER THING WE'VE SAID IS IF YOU DON'T GET EVERYTHING YOU ASKED FROM US, YOU'VE STILL GOT TO DO THE ENTIRE PROJECT AND WE'LL HELP YOU FIND THE SHORTFALL. WE'LL LOOK AT YOUR AUDITS. WE'VE FOUND THAT THERE'S ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF MONEY IN THIS STATE, PUBLIC MONEY AND PRIVATE MONEY. THESE TOWN-OWNED UTILITIES ARE JUST LOADED, I MEAN LOADED, YOU KNOW, WHETHER IT'S THE WATER COMPANY OR THE ELECTRIC COMPANY OR THE GAS COMPANY. THERE'S A LOT OF MONEY AT THE LANDFILLS THAT COULD BE -- THAT COULD BE TAPPED. AND THEN, OF COURSE, THERE'S THE GAMBLING MONEY.

Yepsen: HOW MANY PROJECTS ARE ON YOUR PLATE? I ONCE HEARD A FIGURE THAT THERE WAS A BILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF IDEAS FLOATING AROUND OUT THERE. IS THAT STILL TRUE?

Gartner: OH, YOU KNOW, WHO KNOWS WHAT THE VALUE OF THE IDEA? IT'S VERY HARD TO PUT A VALUE ON THESE. THE VISION IOWA -- THE TEN LARGE GRANTS WE'VE GIVEN OUT SO FAR ARE SOMEWHERE OVER $200 MILLION, AND WE CAN PRETTY WELL DOCUMENT THAT THAT'S LED TO $2 BILLION IN INVESTMENT AROUND THE STATE. THE SMALLER GRANTS, THE GRANTS THEMSELVES AVERAGE 15 TO 16 PERCENT OF THE COST OF THE PROJECT, AND THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE ANY ANCILLARY DEVELOPMENT GOING ON AROUND IT. SO THERE'S ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF PROJECTS GOING ON. WE'RE NOW, SINCE THE LEGISLATURE PASSED THE NEW BILL A FEW WEEKS AGO, WE'RE BEING INUNDATED AGAIN WITH REQUESTS. THEY'RE GOOD. THEY'RE IMAGINATIVE. THEY'RE CREATIVE. PEOPLE ARE DIGGING DEEP INTO THEIR OWN -- INTO THEIR OWN POCKETS, MUNICIPAL POCKETS AND PRIVATE POCKETS, TO COME UP WITH THE FINANCING. IT'S EXCITING. I THINK IT'S CHANGED THE FACE OF THE STATE.

Yepsen: HOW MUCH MORE MONEY DO YOU NEED? I MEAN WE'RE GOING INTO A CAMPAIGN FOR THE LEGISLATURE NOW. HOW MUCH MORE MONEY SHOULD THE LEGISLATURE NEXT YEAR APPROPRIATE TO THESE TWO PROGRAMS?

Gartner: WELL, I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THEM SEPARATE THE TWO PROGRAMS AGAIN. THE REASON VISION IOWA WORKED IS VILSACK WAS VERY SMART IN THE WAY HE SET IT UP. THERE WAS ONE FUND FOR THE BIG CITIES AND ONE FOR THE SMALLER CITIES.

Yepsen: THE CAT PROGRAM.

Gartner: THE CAT PROGRAM. SO DIDN'T HAVE DES MOINES COMPETING AGAINST SWALEDALE OR DUBUQUE COMPETING AGAINST STRAWBERRY POINT. NOW THE CURRENT BILL, THE LEGISLATURE ALL OF A SUDDEN DECIDED THEY DIDN'T WANT TO BOND ANYMORE. SO THERE'S JUST THIS ONE FUND NOW. SO DAVENPORT WANTS ANOTHER PROJECT. DES MOINES, SIOUX CITY, THEY'LL BE COMPETING AGAINST THE SHELDAHLS AND THE SLATERS AND PLACES LIKE THAT AROUND THE STATE, AND I THINK THAT'S GOING TO BE VERY DIFFICULT. BEFORE VISION IOWA WAS SET UP, THE CAT PROGRAM EXISTED FOR ONE YEAR. SO I WENT BACK AND I LOOKED TO SEE WHO GOT THE MOST MONEY. AND LIKE 75 PERCENT WENT TO THE BIG CITIES, PRIMARILY DUBUQUE AND CEDAR RAPIDS, A LITTLE BIT TO DAVENPORT AND A LITTLE BIT TO DES MOINES. SO I THINK THAT EVEN THOUGH THE NEW BILL IS THE CAT PROGRAM DESIGNED FOR -- DESIGNED PRIMARY FOR SMALLER -- FOR SMALLER TOWNS, THAT A BIG CITY CAN COME IN AND TAKE A BIG PIECE OF IT. AND IN THE END, IF WE'RE NOT VERY, VERY CAREFUL AND IF WE DON'T DO OUR JOB VERY, VERY DILIGENTLY ON THE BOARD, IT WILL BE THE SMALL TOWNS THAT KIND OF GET THE SHORT END OF THE STICK IN IT; WHEREAS, IT'S REALLY PASSED FOR THEM.

Yepsen: WELL, THAT WAS THE THINKING THE LEGISLATURE HAD AND THE CRITICISM THAT'S MADE OF THE PROGRAM IS THAT A LOT OF THIS MONEY HAS GONE TO BIG PROJECTS, WHICH IS UNDERSTANDABLE BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE.

Gartner: THE VISION IOWA MONEY IS SUPPOSED TO GO TO BIG PROJECTS, AND THE CAT MONEY, THEN, IS LEFT FOR THE SMALLER PROJECTS. AND THAT'S WHY -- THAT'S WHY YOU'VE GOT THIS BEAUTIFUL DOWNTOWN PELLA -- THAT'S CAT MONEY -- OR MEREDITH WILLSON SQUARE IN MASON CITY OR THE SWIMMING POOL SLIDES AROUND OR THIS GREAT TRAIL AROUND OSKALOOSA OR THE NORTH SCOTT COUNTY LIBRARY AND NEW TOWN SQUARES AND STREETSCAPES. THAT ALL CAME FROM THE CAT PROGRAM.

Yepsen: SO YOU THINK THE LEGISLATURE NEXT YEAR SHOULD SEPARATE THE TWO PROGRAMS AND MAKE IT CLEAR.

Gartner: WELL, THE LEGISLATORS HAVE REMINDED ME ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION THAT I'M NOT IN THE LEGISLATURE AND THEY ARE, SO I'M ALWAYS VERY CAREFUL TO SAY WHAT THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO AND SHOULDN'T DO. I MEAN I KNOW YOU MAKE A CAREER OUT OF IT, BUT IF I WERE IN THE LEGISLATURE, I WOULD VOTE TO HAVE SEPARATE FUNDS AND TO BOND TO SUPPORT, AND THERE'S NO BETTER TIME TO SELL BONDS.

Yepsen: TALK ABOUT THAT ISSUE OF PUBLIC DEBT. IOWANS ARE INCREDIBLY FRUGAL. WE HAVE A PAY-AS-YOU-GO ETHIC. I LOOKED IT UP ONE TIME. IOWA'S PER CAPITA LEVELS OF PUBLIC DEBT RANK ABOUT 48TH IN THE COUNTRY.

Gartner: THAT'S RIGHT.

Yepsen: WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO TO CONVINCE IOWANS THAT BORROWING MONEY IS A GOOD IDEA?

Gartner: I MEAN I DON'T KNOW, DAVID. I MEAN THE FUNNY THING IS SOME OF THE LEGISLATORS WHO ARE MOST AGAINST BORROWING DEBT, I'M SURE THEY HAVE MORTGAGES ON THEIR HOUSES. MAYBE THEY'RE BUYING THEIR CAR ON PAYMENT; THEY JUST DON'T THINK THE STATE OUGHT TO DO THAT. AND YET THAT'S HOW YOU CAN INVEST IN BIG PROJECTS. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, PICK UP THE AUDIT FROM SIOUX COUNTY, I THINK IT IS. IT'S A POCKET-SIZE AUDIT. AND ON THE FRONT IT SAYS, "SIOUX COUNTY," IT SAYS, "NO BONDED DEBT SINCE 1938," OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. I MEAN THEY'RE VERY, VERY PROUD OF IT. AND IOWA HAS A VERY CONSERVATIVE LIMIT ON WHAT YOU CAN BOND ANYWAY. YOU CAN ONLY BOND 5 PERCENT OF YOUR ASSESSED VALUATION. VERY FEW PLACES ARE NEAR -- CORALVILLE IS NEAR THEIR LIMIT BUT VERY FEW PLACES ARE NEAR THEIR LIMIT. SO THERE'S THIS GREAT UNTAPPED AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT YOU CAN SPEND AND BUILD, AND THAT'S AN INVESTMENT. THAT'S AN INVESTMENT. AND THAT COMES BACK MANY FOLD, BUT THERE'S KIND OF A MIND-SET HERE THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE AGAINST IT.

Yepsen: IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT PAY-AS-YOU-GO MEANS WE HAVEN'T GONE?

Gartner: YOU JUST SAID THAT, DAVID. THAT'S VERY CLEVER AND EVERYTHING, BUT YOU SAID IT. I THINK YOU COULD INTERPRET IT THAT WAY. YOU KNOW, BUSINESSES BORROW MONEY AND INVEST. HOMEOWNERS BORROW MONEY AND INVEST. FARMERS BORROW MONEY ALL THE TIME AND INVEST. I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS KIND OF -- WHY SO MANY MUNICIPAL PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF BORROWING MONEY TO INVEST.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU SAY, MR. GARTNER, TO THE CRITICS OF THIS WHO SAY THIS IS JUST NOT AN APPROPRIATE THING FOR GOVERNMENT TO BE DOING? GOVERNMENTS IN IOWA, WE HAVE POLICE PROTECTION, WE EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN, BUT BUILDING RECREATIONAL FACILITIES JUST IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE THING FOR GOVERNMENT TO BE DOING.

Gartner: WELL, I GUESS IT COMES DOWN TO WHAT YOU THINK THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE. I THINK THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE TO DO WHAT OTHERS DON'T DO AND CAN'T DO. AND THERE WAS NOBODY -- NO PRIVATE PERSON WAS GOING TO BUILD A BIG WETLAND UP NORTH OF AMES. NO PRIVATE PERSON WAS GOING TO PUT A CANAL THROUGH DOWNTOWN PELLA TO ATTRACT TOURISTS. AND SO, YOU KNOW, THERE'S SOME THINGS THAT WE CAN'T DO, AND THEY GO BEYOND ESSENTIAL PUBLIC SERVICES LIKE POLICE AND FIRE AND STREETS. RECREATION IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR LIFE. TOURISM IS AN IMPORTANT ECONOMICALLY TO THE STATE, AND WHAT WE WANT TO DO IS WE WANT PEOPLE TO MOVE HERE AND WE WANT PEOPLE TO STAY HERE AND YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEM, WHETHER IT'S -- WHETHER IT'S TRAILS OR WHETHER IT'S ARENAS OR WHETHER IT'S SWIMMING POOLS OR WHETHER IT'S WETLANDS, WHETHER IT'S MOVIE THEATERS. GO UP TO GLADBROOK. GLADBROOK IS A GREAT LITTLE TOWN, AND THERE'S A GUY UP THERE WHO BUILDS THINGS OUT OF MATCHSTICKS. YOU'VE PROBABLY SEEN THEM AT THE STATE FAIR. SO THE TOWN THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, IT WOULD BE NICE IF WE HAD THESE HERE. WHEN I SAY THINGS, I'M TALKING ABOUT HUGE THINGS LIKE REPLICAS OF THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL OF TERRACE HILL THAT ARE BIGGER THAN THIS TABLE. SO THEY GOT TOGETHER AND THEY ALSO SAID WE DON'T HAVE A MOVIE THEATER IN TOWN. SO THEY GOT TOGETHER AND THEY PUT UP A BUILDING. HALF OF IT IS THIS MUSEUM THAT'S FULL OF THESE SPECTACULAR THINGS THAT THIS GUY BUILDS AND THE OTHER IS A LOCAL MOVIE THEATER. I THINK IT COSTS A DOLLAR TO GO TO A MOVIE, AND IT'S JUST GREAT. IT'S JUST ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. AND THEY RAISED AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY TO DO IT, BUT THEY WERE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE STATE.

Yepsen: MR. GARTNER, THERE WILL BE A LOT OF PEOPLE WATCHING THIS PROGRAM TONIGHT WHO WILL SAY, "GEE, I WISH WE COULD DO SOMETHING IN OUR COMMUNITY." THEY'LL LOOK AT A GLADBROOK, FOR EXAMPLE, AND SAY, "WE COULD DO SOMETHING HERE IN MY TOWN." WHAT SHOULD A COMMUNITY LEADER DO? WHAT IS THE JUMPING OFF POINT IN A COMMUNITY TO START DOING SOME OF THESE THINGS WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT?

Gartner: FIRST OF ALL, A LOT OF IT IS JUST SITTING DOWN AND TALKING WITH EACH OTHER SAYING: WHAT DOES OUR COMMUNITY NEED; WHAT WOULD MAKE US A BETTER COMMUNITY; WHAT CAN WE DO TOGETHER; HOW CAN WE WORK TOGETHER? THE SINGLE GREATEST THING VISION IOWA HAS DONE IS IT'S GOTTEN CITIES AND COUNTIES TO WORK TOGETHER. I REMEMBER I WAS TALKING TO THE MAYOR OF A LARGE CITY AND TO THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, AND THOSE GUYS DIDN'T LIKE EACH OTHER. AND I SAID, "LOOK, YOU KNOW, I'M NOT ASKING YOU TO GO OUT TO DINNER WITH EACH OTHER, BUT YOU'VE GOT TO WORK TOGETHER." AND THEY DID AND BUILT A WONDERFUL THING, AND NOW THEY'RE CONTINUING TO WORK TOGETHER ON OTHER PROJECTS THAT DON'T EVEN INVOLVE STATE FUNDS. I GOT A LETTER FROM A MAYOR OF A TOWN IN NORTHERN IOWA ABOUT THREE WEEKS AGO. HE SAID, "THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE MONEY." AND IT WAS A SMALL PROJECT WE DID. HE SAID, "WE NOW KNOW WE CAN DO ANYTHING. HERE'S WHAT WE'RE DOING NEXT. AND WE'RE NOT EVEN ASKING FOR ANY MONEY, BUT HERE'S WHAT WE CAN DO." SO YOU HAVE TO SIT DOWN, HAVE LIKE A TOWN MEETING: WHAT CAN WE DO; WHAT IS NEEDED; WHAT CAN WE DO? AND REALLY VISION IOWA IS JUST A MECHANISM FOR BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER. THE MONEY ISN'T WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN VISION IOWA. IT'S PERSUADING OR CONVINCING TOWNS THAT LEADERSHIP EXISTS IN THOSE TOWNS AND THAT THEY CAN DO ANYTHING AND KIND OF REINSTILLING THE PRIDE. THE GREATEST VISION ABOUT VISION IOWA WAS THE VISION THAT THE GOVERNOR HAD IN SETTING IT UP THE WAY HE DID, I THINK, AND THE LEGISLATURE IN PASSING IT IN A BIPARTISAN WAY.

Yepsen: SO THE REAL IMPACT OF YOUR PROGRAM AREN'T THE THINGS YOU'RE BUILDING, IT'S GETTING PEOPLE TO WORK TOGETHER.

Gartner: I BELIEVE -- I BELIEVE THAT'S AN EQUAL IMPACT WITH THE ARENAS AND THE CONVENTION CENTERS AND THE TRAILS AND EVERYTHING, YES.

Yepsen: CAN ALL IOWA COMMUNITIES SURVIVE? WE HAVE 950 OF THEM, 99 COUNTIES. DO YOU THINK THERE'S A FUTURE FOR ALL OF THEM, OR IS IT JUST DEMOGRAPHICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE A FUTURE FOR EVERY GLADBROOK IN THE STATE?

Gartner: YOU KNOW WHAT I THINK, DAVID? I THINK YOU CAN'T LOOK AT A COMMUNITY AS A COMMUNITY. I THINK YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT A REGION. LET'S TAKE STORY COUNTY. I WORKED IN AMES FOR QUITE A FEW YEARS, AND I FINALLY CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE COMMUNITY IS THE COUNTY, AND THE COUNTY HAS CERTAIN VITAL CENTERS WITHIN IT. THERE WAS THE GOVERNMENT CENTER THAT WAS IN NEVADA. THERE WAS THE MAIN EDUCATION CENTER THAT WAS IN AMES. THERE WAS A SHOPPING AND RETIREMENT CENTER THAT WAS IN STORY CITY. THERE WAS A RECREATION CENTER THAT WAS OUT IN THE COUNTY. AND I THINK YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT IOWA AT LEAST ON A COUNTYWIDE BASIS AND PROBABLY EVEN ON A LARGER -- A REGIONAL THING. I WAS VERY INTERESTED IN WHAT RICHARD JOHNSON SAID IN THE CLIP YOU SHOWED ME BEFORE THIS. RICHARD IS A VERY, VERY SMART GUY AND HE SORT OF HAS COME TO LOOK AT IT THAT WAY I THINK AS WELL. IF YOU JUST LOOK -- IF YOU SAY EVERY TOWN HAS TO HAVE ITS SCHOOL, EVERY TOWN HAS TO HAVE ITS HOSPITAL, EVERY TOWN HAS TO HAVE ITS OWN POLICE DEPARTMENT, EVERY TOWN HAS TO HAVE ITS OWN VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT, EVERY TOWN HAS TO HAVE ITS OWN STREET MAINTENANCE PEOPLE, THE ANSWER IS NO. BUT IF YOU SAY EVERY TOWN CAN EXIST, THERE CAN BE HOUSES, THERE CAN BE SHOPS, THE SCHOOL MIGHT BE HERE, THE HOSPITAL MIGHT BE THERE, THEN YOU CAN SAY WE CAN EXIST AS A COMMUNITY, WE CAN THRIVE AS A COMMUNITY IF YOU REDEFINE THE COMMUNITY.

Yepsen: ARE THERE PLACES IN IOWA THAT YOU SEE ARE DOING THAT?

Gartner: I THINK YOU SEE IT MORE AND MORE. YOU'RE STARTING TO SEE SOME SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT WILL SHARE SUPERINTENDENTS, AND SO -- SORT OF CREEPING CONSOLIDATION, AND YET THE TOWNS KEEP THEIR SCHOOLS BUT THEY'RE CUTTING THEIR OVERHEAD. I THINK SLATER AND SHELDAHL ARE ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT -- ARE ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT A MERGER. SHELDAHL IS IN THREE COUNTIES, YOU KNOW. I THINK PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO -- ARE STARTING TO THINK THAT WAY. DOWN IN SOUTHWEST IOWA, SHENANDOAH AND CLARINDA ARE WORKING TOGETHER WITH PAGE COUNTY AND WORKING TOGETHER ON THIS GREAT NEW RESERVOIR WHICH IS GOING TO SAVE SOUTHWEST IOWA FROM A WATER STANDPOINT AND PROVIDE WONDERFUL RECREATION FOR PEOPLE IN A VERY WIDE RANGE DOWN THERE, FROM OMAHA DOWN TO KANSAS CITY. THEY'RE WORKING -- THEY'RE WORKING TOGETHER.

Yepsen: THOSE ARE JUST -- EXCUSE ME.

Gartner: GO AHEAD.

Yepsen: THOSE ARE JUST A FEW EXAMPLES. I MEAN WE'VE GOT 950 TOWNS, 99 COUNTIES, 370 SCHOOL DISTRICTS. I MEAN FOR ALL THE VALUE THE 28-E AGREEMENTS HAVE SINCE -- HAVE DONE FOR THE STATE SINCE 1965, THOSE LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT STILL EXIST.

Gartner: WELL, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SHOULD WE GO IN AND TOTALLY REDRAW WHAT KIND OF GOVERNMENT WE SHOULD HAVE IN THE STATE, MAYBE THE ANSWER IS YES, BUT YOU CAN'T JUST SIT DOWN AND DO THAT IN AN AFTERNOON. YOU KNOW, MAYBE EACH COUNTY DOESN'T NEED AN AUDITOR AND A TREASURER AND A SHERIFF. MAYBE COUNTIES CAN GET TOGETHER AND ELECT, KIND OF, JOINT ADMINISTRATORS. IT DOESN'T MEAN THE COURTHOUSE HAS TO BE TORN DOWN.

Yepsen: I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT AN IDEA THAT WAS ADVANCED A COUPLE YEARS AGO BY A GROUP CALLED THE IOWA CHAMBER ALLIANCE, WHICH IS A GROUP OF THE LARGEST CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE IN THE STATE. AND WHAT THEY SUGGESTED WAS THAT THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE REQUIRE PEOPLE IN EVERY COUNTY TO HAVE A CHARTER COMMISSION, TO GET TOGETHER AND MEET AND DECIDE WHAT KIND OF GOVERNMENT THEY WANT, TO LOOK AT WHAT THEY HAVE, AND WITHIN A COUPLE YEARS COME UP WITH A PROPOSAL TO PRESENT TO VOTERS. THEY WOULDN'T HAVE TO CHANGE A THING, BUT THEY WOULD HAVE THE DISCUSSION OF WHAT SORT OF GOVERNMENT DO WE WANT FOR GREENE COUNTY, FOR EXAMPLE, AND THEN PUT IT TO A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT IDEA?

Gartner: I DON'T KNOW THAT YOU CAN REQUIRE PEOPLE TO DO THINGS LIKE THAT. THEN IT JUST BECOMES THE GOVERNMENT TELLING ME WHAT I HAVE TO DO. I THINK YOU CAN ENCOURAGE PEOPLE AND I THINK YOU CAN SET UP LEGISLATION THAT WOULD ENABLE THEM TO DO THAT IF THEY WANTED TO DO IT, AND THEN YOU SHOW BY EXAMPLE. I MEAN ONE REASON VISION IOWA WORKS IS WE'VE SHOWN BY EXAMPLE. EARLY ON THERE WAS A LOT OF SKEPTICISM. EVERYONE SAYS, OH, ALL THE MONEY IS GOING TO GO TO AN ARENA IN DOWNTOWN DES MOINES AND THE RAIN FOREST AND THAT'S WHAT IT WAS THERE FOR, AND WE SAID NO. AND WE LEVERAGED AND WE BROADENED PROJECTS AND WE FORCED, SORT OF, THINKING -- WE HAD A BIG CARROT THERE, YOU KNOW. WE HAD THE CHECKBOOK. BUT I THINK -- I DON'T THINK YOU CAN FORCE PEOPLE TO REVAMP CERTAIN THINGS, BUT I THINK YOU CAN ENCOURAGE THEM TO. YOU CAN PROVIDE INCENTIVES TO, WHETHER IT'S A FINANCIAL INCENTIVE OR SOME KIND OF A TAX INCENTIVE OR JUST COMMON-SENSE INCENTIVE. YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT A BAD IDEA BUT I'M NOT SURE YOU CAN MANDATE IT.

Yepsen: ISN'T THIS ISSUE OF THE SURVIVAL OF COMMUNITIES ALMOST A DARWINIAN THING, THAT IF YOU DON'T ADAPT AS A COMMUNITY, YOU WILL DIE?

Gartner: WELL, I THINK THAT ANOTHER WAY OF PUTTING IT IS IF YOU DON'T CONTROL CHANGE, CHANGE WILL CONTROL YOU AND, THEREFORE, YOU'VE GOT TO BE THINKING ALL THE TIME HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO. BUT I DON'T THINK IT HAS TO DO WITH THE SIZE OF THE COMMUNITY, DAVID. THERE ARE SOME BIG CITIES IN THIS STATE THAT ARE IN LOUSY SHAPE BECAUSE OF BAD LEADERSHIP. AND THERE ARE SOME SMALL TOWNS IN THIS STATE THAT HAVE SPECTACULAR LEADERSHIP, YOU KNOW. AND WE'VE DEALT WITH THEM ALL. AND YOU JUST -- YOU CANNOT MAKE A BROAD STATEMENT THAT ENCOMPASSES EVERYTHING EXCEPT THAT LEADERSHIP IS WHAT COUNTS, HARD WORK IS WHAT COUNTS, PARTNERSHIPS, ALLIANCES, AND PROCESS. AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES -- THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT WORK. YOU KNOW, YOU CAN GO AROUND AND -- YOU KNOW AND ANYBODY THAT GOES AROUND THE STATE, YOU KNOW WHAT THE GOOD TOWNS ARE AND WHAT THE BAD TOWNS ARE. YOU KNOW THAT YOU CAN GO DOWN IN SHENANDOAH, WHICH SHOULDN'T BE A GOOD TOWN, BUT WHICH IS A SPECTACULAR TOWN BECAUSE THERE'S GOOD POLITICAL LEADERSHIP DOWN THERE. THERE'S NOT AN EMPTY STORE ON MAIN STREET. THERE'S NOT -- THERE'S A GOOD INDUSTRIAL BASE. THERE'S STRONG COMMERCIAL. THERE'S STRONG SCHOOLS, STRONG CHURCHES. THERE WAS NO THEATER THERE. THE CITY WENT OUT, FOUND A GUY, AND THEY BUILT THREE MOVIE SCREENS DOWNTOWN. THERE'S A LITTLE BUTTERFLY FARM RIGHT ON THE EDGE OF TOWN. THIS IS GREAT STUFF. IT'S INTERESTING. PEOPLE COME THERE. YOU CAN'T FIND A PARKING PLACE IN SHENANDOAH ON A SATURDAY OR A SUNDAY.

Yepsen: WE'VE ONLY GOT A MINUTE LEFT, MR. GARTNER, AND I WANT TO FOCUS THIS ON SOLUTIONS -- THESE INTERVIEWS ON SOLUTIONS. AN INDIVIDUAL WATCHING THIS TALK THIS EVENING, WHAT CAN THEY DO IN THEIR COMMUNITY? MAYBE SOMEBODY WHO ISN'T REALLY EVEN A COMMUNITY LEADER, WHAT CAN INDIVIDUALS DO TO MAKE A BETTER COMMUNITY?

Gartner: THINK, GET TOGETHER, START TALKING ABOUT WHAT WOULD MAKE THIS COMMUNITY BETTER. YOU KNOW, YOU NEVER KNOW WHO THE LEADER IS IN A COMMUNITY. YOU NEVER KNOW WHO THE SMART PERSON IS IN A COMMUNITY TILL EVERYBODY GETS TOGETHER, AND LEADERSHIP EMERGES. IT JUST SORT OF BUBBLES UP -- IT JUST SORT OF BUBBLES UP TO THE TOP. AND WE SEE THESE TOWNS COME IN AND, YOU KNOW -- IN ONE IT MIGHT BE THE DRUGGIST. IN ANOTHER IT MIGHT BE THE CITY MANAGER. IN ANOTHER IT MIGHT BE A COUNCILMAN. IN ANOTHER IT MIGHT BE A SUPERVISOR. IT MIGHT BE A TEACHER OR A DOCTOR OR A HOUSEWIFE. BUT LEADERSHIP -- LEADERSHIP EMERGES AND BUBBLES UP, AND ONCE THE LEADERSHIP IS THERE, YOU JUST MARCH FORWARD.

Yepsen: LAST QUESTION; IT'S A TOUGH ONE. IS THERE GOING TO BE A CUBS/RED SOX WORLD SERIES THIS YEAR?

Gartner: I WAS GOING TO QUALIFY IT, HOPING YOU WEREN'T GOING TO SAY THIS YEAR.

Yepsen: MAYBE SOMEDAY.

Gartner: OF COURSE THERE'S GOING TO BE A CUBS WORLD SERIES -- A CUBS/RED SOX WORLD SERIES, AND THE CUBS ARE GOING TO WIN IN SEVEN GAMES.

Yepsen: YOU WANNA BET? I'VE GOT TO LEAVE IT THERE, MIKE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Gartner: THANK YOU, DAVID.

Yepsen: TONIGHT'S PROGRAM IS THE SECOND OF IPTV'S WEEK-LONG SERIES EXAMINING WHAT MAY LIE AHEAD FOR IOWA. HOW TO GET THERE IS THE TOPIC ON THE TABLE IN OUR FINAL PRESENTATION THIS FRIDAY EVENING. TODD MUNDT IS HOST AND MODERATOR OF A SPECIAL LIVE BROADCAST HERE IN THE IPTV STUDIOS. TODD WILL DISCUSS THE FUTURE WITH A PANEL OF NOTABLES, INCLUDING OUR GUEST THIS EVENING, MICHAEL GARTNER, AND FORMER GOVERNOR TERRY BRANSTAD. THAT'S FRIDAY EVENING AT 6:30. NOW, TOMORROW EVENING WE SHIFT GEARS A BIT AND EXPLORE THE INDUSTRY WITH WHICH IOWA IS MOST IDENTIFIED, AGRICULTURE. AT THE TABLE WILL BE FRED KIRSCHENMANN, DIRECTOR OF THE LEOPOLD CENTER FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE. DR. KIRSCHENMANN HAS HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE AS A FARMER, AND HE'S A NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED LEADER ON A HOST OF ISSUES CONFRONTING RURAL AMERICA. FRED KIRSCHENMANN OUR GUEST TOMORROW EVENING AT 6:30. I HOPE YOU'LL BE JOINING US AT THAT TIME. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF "THE DES MOINES REGISTER." THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.


Tags: future innovation Iowa