The Three Amigos drawn together by Jacobs' WIU "Task Force"
In a heart-warming show of unity, at least to the point of appearing in the same general area with no objects thrown and being in general agreement on an issue, all three Illinois state legislators from the area attended the press conference announcing the formation of a "task-force" to accelerate the planning, financing, and development of the Western Illinois University riverfront campus in Moline.
State Senator Mike Jacobs is spear-heading the "task force" and said he will be appointing members within the next two weeks and the panel should begin making recommendations within 30 days. Jacobs' stated goal is to have students attending the campus by the fall of 2006.
A primary focus of the group will be to find ways around the glacial pace and uncertainty of funding from the state by "... find[ing] money for the campus from traditional and non-traditional sources..."
(what are "non-traditional" sources of money? Counterfeiting? Bake sales? Extortion?)
State Reps. Mike Boland and Pat Verschoore back Sen. Jacobs in his effort.This could prove a very good tack to take for the success of the WIU project. It's certainly shrewd of Jacobs to get out in front on this, and he deserves some credit from taking the risk.
"I think this is a great jump start ahead," Rep. Boland said.
Between $10 million and $15 million is needed to start constructing the new buildings. The campus will be completed in three phases, beginning with refurbishing the Tech Center.
Rep. Verschoore said he is confident Gov. Blagojevich will maintain a $2.4 million appropriation for the campus.
However, Rep. Verschoore added, "I'd like to get more money than that. We don't want to let the state of Illinois off the hook. We want them to be part of it."
"Blue Ribbon" panels are a dime a dozen, and are the oldest trick in the book for appearing to be doing something when you have no earthly idea what to do.
But Jacobs is to be commended for both setting and publicizing goals. In addition to setting a deadline for the panel to issue recommendations, he also laid out a specific goal for what he expects and when he expects it. It's refreshing to see a politician stake himself to some concrete goals.
And though I'm fairly sure we won't see the Mikes holding hands at a future press conference, at least the attempt to pull in the same direction appears to be being made. We'll have to stay tuned. But if all involved are more dedicated to success than to getting credit, this could be a watershed moment in local politics.