John Lewis Community Services (JLCS) paints a picture of Taylor Heights neighbors as bad-faith mediators. (See "Cobblestone Terrace Negotiations Die," River Cities' Reader Issue 460, January 21-27, 2004.) Nothing could be farther from the truth. From the beginning of this debate, the neighborhood made it quite clear in several public forums that it opposed Cobblestone Terrace because it called for new construction of several long-term rental units. For the neighbors, zero rental units was the right number for the proposed site and the current conditions of our neighborhood.

Nevertheless, to honor Mayor Brooke's request, Taylor Heights agreed to mediate with JLCS. If the project could be revised, perhaps the neighbors could live with it - not fully agree with it, not love it, but not take such a big risk with it. Moreover, gaining trust in John Lewis was very important to the neighbors because JLCS kept us in the dark about its plans for seven months until they needed our re-zoning support.

Regrettably, while mediation talks were still ongoing, John Lewis chose to go behind the neighbors' backs and submit a proposal to Des Moines funders long before the mediation group reached a full compromise. John Lewis proved once more that it is not a trustworthy neighbor.

We fully support the Taylor Heights neighbors who represented us during mediation; they ultimately withdrew from a process reduced to a joke by John Lewis.

Cobblestone Terrace is a flawed project - inadequately researched, poorly located, disappointingly developed. And given the recent problems with Courtland Apartments, it will very probably be unsuccessfully managed as well. In this regard, John Lewis is a bad neighbor; and like all bad neighbors, we wish they would just move away.

Gary and Linda VanHese

Don't Count on John Lewis

The Taylor Height Neighborhood Coalition is opposing the John Lewis Cobblestone project, and a lot has been made about the issue of trust. Is it really that important to trust a developer who wants to permanently change your neighborhood? You bet it is.

Early on John Lewis tried to scare neighbors into accepting Cobblestone by telling us, "You never know who might want to develop this land, and at least you know who we are." Well, we've gotten to know you all right, JLCS, and I don't like what I see. When we asked hard questions, you were very slow to answer them, if you bothered at all. I already know John Lewis will squirm away from responsibility if neighbors start having problems with Cobblestone tenants.

The question of trust is also very important to renters who would be moving into Cobblestone. Renters will be asked to depend on financial support promised by JLCS in order to buy their first home. Will JLCS turn over the money when tenants are ready to move out? Will JLCS really provide all the classes and qualified staff they are promising? Renters, don't count on it.

Cindy Kludy

Was Bush AWOL?

The subject of whether or not President Bush served faithfully in the National Guard was raised in May of 2000 by the Boston Globe. The claim that he didn't was later proved false in a story printed in the New York Times later that same year. Bush was present when he was supposed to be and was given an honorable discharge. Why are the Democratic candidates, with the help of the Boston Globe, bringing it up once again?

It is my belief that President George W. Bush is a man of great character and principle who is once again serving his country with honor and distinction, this time from the White House. While in the National Guard he was one of the top pilots (a hard level to reach if you're AWOL, don't you think?). Now he is serving as one of the best presidents this country has ever had.

My question now is: Why are the Democratic candidates resorting to trumped-up stories? Possibly because they're desperate?

Lori Owens

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