While I was absent from my post for a spell, Rick Smith reported on the $82,590 raised by the Fix the Streets Committee for its campaign to extend the local-option sales for street projects in Cedar Rapids. Much of the money came from contractors, engineers and other firms that turn asphalt and concrete into cash. They, obviously, see the tax as potential business stimulus.
But I also was fascinated by the committee’s spending. For one thing, of the $82,000 raised, only $23,000 had been spent as of Oct. 21. I assume the plan is to deploy those bucks on some sort of late turnout push.
And of the $23,000 spent, $21,000 went to Davenport-based Victory Enterprises. Victory Enterprises is run by Steve Grubbs, a former state lawmaker, Republican Party of Iowa chairman and one-time candidate for U.S. Senate. Grubbs served at the Statehouse with Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, who is pushing hard for the sales tax extension.
The biggest chunk of that money, $6,000, went for polling. That’s the polling Fix the Streets cited earlier this fall, showing broad support for the tax measure. It’s also the polling the mayor pointed to in a meeting with our editorial board showing that 60-percent-plus say the city is headed in the right direction.
Then there’s $5,000 for something called “grassroots work.” I’m not totally fluent in consultant, so you tell me.
But much of the rest was spent on an online offensive, including $1,500 to produce a 2:38 YouTube video (pictured and linked above), $2,500 for YouTube promotion and $3,500 for Facebook promotion. The committee also spent $2,500 for online advertising with The Gazette.
Unless there’s a posting I’m missing someplace with incredible traffic, that’s not exactly a viral hit. If you watch it, you might understand why. Let’s just say I don’t think Martin Scorcese was involved in the project. Although, if there were an Oscar for best narrator exuding kindly common sense, it could score a nomination.
The Fix the Streets Cedar Rapids Facebook page has 938 likes, as of this morning. Much better than the page of a local columnist I know. But the Fix the Streets page hasn’t been updated since Oct. 17.
Maybe, if this is another super-close tax vote, even modest efforts to persuade will make a difference. We’ll see what that final push looks like. One week to go.
UPDATE — Victory Enterprises’ Steve Grubbs says I’ve understated the popularity of Fix the Streets’ video:
“The YouTube video for Fix the Streets had close to 10,000 views before we made a change to it, and re-uploaded. Once we did that, the counter reset,” Grubbs said in an email.
The fix, he said, was minor, “nothing substantive.”
The reset counter now stands at 1,910, up 23 views from Tuesday. Thanks, no doubt, to the massive buzz generated by this post.
So, by Grubbs count, that’s nearly 12,000 views. Or just 8.468, 000 views behind the Ohio State University Marching Band.