116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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We know you can mix up a mean executive order, governor.
But how about cutting us a little executive slack?
It's clear you feel strongly about project labor agreements. You banned public PLAs on your first day back. I thought that order was a little broad (OK, I called it a remarkable overreach), but, let's agree to disagree.
You have legitimate concerns that PLAs raise project costs. You're not much of a fan of organized labor, I get that.
Still, I think you should reconsider making Cedar Rapids' event center project the target of your first blow against PLAs. I just don't think it's a good fit.
With federal bucks and federal labor rules governing the project, the argument that a PLA will raise labor costs in this case doesn't ring true. The state's portion of the project, a $15 million I-JOBS grant, is capped. No matter how much the project costs, the state's share is set in stone.
The PLA in this case was signed before you became governor. The I-JOBS grant was awarded long before that. Executive orders can be potent, but I'm not sure they can erase history.
I understand you're motivated to stand firm. But I also know leaders here were motivated by a strong desire to make sure local workers got jobs on local public works projects.
The city wants to make sure at least half of the workers building its convention complex are from around here. There will still be competitive bidding on the project - it's just that an out-of-state company, for example, won't be able to win the bid and bring all of its workers in from elsewhere.
Leaders, both in the city and Linn County, both Republicans and Democrats, didn't want to see out-of-state-workers roll into town and roll out with our economic impact in their pockets. And PLAs are the only legal way to make sure that didn't happen. In the wake of a catastrophic flood and in the middle of a sour economy, it seems reasonable.
I know, governor, that you're determined to exert your authority. But it will be a shame if that means state and local tax dollars flow to Chicago or Minneapolis. On the bright side, this dispute may keep many lawyers well fed.
Basically, we had local leaders trying to do what's best for local people. And it's those leaders who will be on the hook if PLAs blow up the cost of these projects. Let them do their job. We'll hold them accountable. You were elected to be governor of Iowa, not mayor of Cedar Rapids. Trust me, you're better off.
Give it some thought. And tell you what: You cut us that slack and you can keep that pension.
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