[EDITOR’S NOTEThe following is a Letter to the Editor, submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff:]

Dear Des Moines City Councilmember Harris,

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to address the concerns you recently expressed regarding the proposed public safety Levy Lid Lift for our city of Des Moines. While I respect your perspectives and commend your commitment to fiscal discipline, I believe there are several critical aspects of the public safety Levy Lid Lift that need further discussion to ensure we’re all moving forward with the community’s best interests at heart.

Firstly, I understand your concerns regarding the use of one-time funds for recurring expenses and the potential implications for our city’s financial health. It is indeed not an ideal situation, but it has been a necessary measure due to the chronic underfunding our public safety departments have faced. The proposed public safety Levy Lid Lift aims to rectify this by establishing a sustainable and dedicated funding stream, ensuring that our police and public safety services are equipped to meet current and future challenges effectively.

Moreover, transparency and accountability are paramount in the utilization of the Levy funds. To address these concerns, I agree with the proposed creation of a Special Revenue Fund dedicated to managing the proceeds from the Levy. This fund will ensure that every dollar is meticulously tracked and allocated exclusively for enhancing public safety, supported by regular reporting and auditing processes to uphold transparency.

The commitment to public safety must be our foremost priority, not only as a matter of civic responsibility but as the foundation of community trust and economic stability. Safe communities attract businesses, foster tourism, and improve the quality of life for all residents. This Levy Lid Lift is a critical step towards strengthening our public safety infrastructure, which in turn supports broader community well-being and growth.

I also recognize the importance of strategic communication and community engagement in this process. It is crucial that we all work together to ensure that the residents of Des Moines are fully informed and can make educated decisions regarding the Public Safety Levy Lid Lift. To this end, I am committed to improving our outreach and ensuring that the community’s voice is heard and respected in this debate.

Councilmember Harris, your vote and support in this matter are invaluable. I earnestly request that you reconsider your position on the Levy Lift, considering the long-term benefits it will bring to our community. Let us collaborate to ensure that Des Moines remains a safe, vibrant, and prosperous city for all who call it home.

Thank you for considering this perspective. I am open to discussing this matter further and exploring how we can address your concerns collaboratively. Please feel free to suggest a time that works for you to continue this conversation.

Looking forward to your response.

Warm regards,
Bettina Carey

Transcript of Des Moines City Council Member JC Harris taken from DM City Council Meeting, April 25, 2024:

“During this process, I said that we all seem to want this, but for different reasons, and it sounded like a good thing to say at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I started to think it was one of the stupider things I’ve said recently.

For some context, I proposed this like literally my first day in office, and I fully acknowledge that in the broad strokes it’s the right policy. We needed more officers then, we need them now. In fact, we haven’t been fully staffed basically during any year that I’ve lived here. But we would call ourselves fully staffed. As you’ve just heard, by the Department’s own definition, we haven’t. If you tell people that you’re fully staffed, they will complain when the expectations you’ve helped create go unmet. So there’s that communication piece that people just you know about and the lack of coherent message.

There was a presentation to the Citizens’ Advisory Committee yesterday; it should never be the case that the Citizens’ Advisory Committee gets that kind of detailed briefing before the council. I also wanted a finance committee from day one, and partly again to manage expectations because the fact is we’ve also used one-time money to pay for salaries in the past every year since I’ve lived here. And even though we created a policy forbidding it 10 years ago, including ARPA, some of us sincerely disagree with all these concerns. This is simply a necessary response to the unforeseeable, well if this is really unforeseeable, of course, my concerns are not valid and there’s no need to change the way we do business, so I concluded that we want this matters because it’s tough to properly message something if you don’t even agree on the message, and I think you’ve heard a bit of that here tonight.

Well, here’s my message: voters don’t owe us this money, and I think we’ve forgotten that even with the right policy it’s our job to convince and do so with complete humility, and thus this should have been fully baked with a coherent all-hands-on-deck message after the second meeting with the finance committee. I really hope this process would be a bold step in that direction in terms of communication, transparency, and public safety, but it’s been five meetings. We’ve run out of time and I think you can hear them my concerns which seem as reasonable to me in 2019 is now are not addressed. Because I was here for the last levy lift, and it did not go to plan even then. As it reads today feels as tone-deaf and patronizing as last year‘s vote.

And, I really want to support this, but sadly until we have the proper guard rails and message in place, my vote will be no, and nothing pains me more but at some point, we must have fiscal discipline. I know that the public considers public safety their highest priority, but under state law my highest priority must be fiscal discipline.”

– Des Moines City Councilmember JC Harris

EDITOR’S NOTEDo you have something you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to scott@southkingmedia.com and, pending review and verification that you’re a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must use their full names and cite sources – as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes).

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4 replies on “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Addressing concerns and seeking support for the Public Safety Levy Lid Lift”

  1. Ms. Carrey,

    As much as I enjoy talking to residents, seeing my name ‘in print’, and reading a machine transcript of my comments, a couple of things and then I must leave this.

    The time to write this letter was before the vote was taken.

    Good news! I voted for you to be on the ‘Pro’ Committee. Go get ’em!

    Perhaps even more good news? The vote was 4-3. So potentially, you have two more Letters To The Editor you can write should you choose to do so. 😉

    However, and speaking only for myself: Although I reserve the right to comment on the topic as any individual may, I do not wish to further even the appearance of contributing to, or being a proxy for, either side of the campaign. As I wrote, the vote was taken.

    Regardless, I do encourage the public to watch the City Council Meeting–and hear the entire discussion–as a first step towards being an informed voter in August.




  2. Dear Council Member Harris,

    Thank you for your insights and for your support in appointing me to the ‘Pro’ Committee for the Public Safety Levy Lid Lift. Your endorsement is greatly appreciated as we strive to make a meaningful impact on our community’s safety through this campaign.

    While I understand your intention behind maintaining a stance of neutrality after the vote, it is crucial for council members to actively support council decisions to the public, especially on critical issues like the Levy Lid Lift. And, moreover there’s no law that prohibits any council member from backing the Levy Lid Lift. In fact, council member engagement is vital to ensure the successful implementation of measures that the council collectively deems important for the community’s safety and well-being.

    As elected officials, council member’s responsibility extends beyond the dais; it involves advocating for and defending the policies that have been voted on and are believed by a majority will benefit our community, regardless of individual voting positions. Inaction on matters already decided upon by the council not only hinders potential success but also denies us the credibility of contributing to or critiquing the outcome based on its merits or lack thereof.

    Therefore, I encourage you, and all council members, to actively communicate and advocate for the Public Safety Levy Lid Lift. Our community relies on our leadership to champion initiatives that enhance their quality of life. Let’s use our collective influence to ensure the public is well-informed and motivated to participate in this crucial decision.

    Thank you once again for your encouragement and for facilitating a platform where I can contribute effectively. I look forward to working collaboratively to ensure our community’s needs are met and that every resident feels heard and protected.

    Warm regards,

    Bettina Carey

  3. Absolutely! I’m eager to collaborate with everyone on the Des Moines Citizens Advisory Committee!

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