Can you call it a “public hearing” if no one is listening? It appears so in the Quad-Cities, at least in East Moline and Davenport.
It may have looked like a public hearing Tuesday at East Moline City Hall when more than 100 folks crowded City Hall to address the city Plan Commission, which didn’t appear interested in what they were saying.
The stated purpose was to consider East Moline’s annexation of some unincorporated land in Rock Island County. But Mayor John Thodos and all the folks jammed in the council chambers know the annexation is for a pork slaughterhouse. Still, city attorney Bill Phares said comments on the nature of the development weren’t welcome. This hearing was only about the concept of extending East Moline’s borders.
The folks who showed up don’t have conceptual concerns about town borders. They have very real worries about living next to a meat packing plant, how those pigs will get shipped in and what happens to the waste. They’re worried about changes to the Rock River flood plain where the plant might be built.
Lord knows the East Moline area could use some good jobs since the closing of the old Case-IH plant. That’s an open and frank discussion worth having with the East Moliners and those outside city limits whose property is closest to the proposed pork plant site. But that’s not what happened Tuesday.
The plan commission shut down any discussion of what this development might really be about, heard a virtually unanimous chorus of dissent, then approved the annexation anyway.