Calling a liar a liar
Hat's off to Barb Ickes and the QC Times.
If not for the lies, we could honestly celebrate. Most of us can understand the need for a little secrecy. But nobody appreciates an all-out lie fest.
East Moline is getting a pork-processing plant and some of the first new Quad-City jobs to come along in a very long time. Any big hog operation is going to carry some baggage, but this one has extra.
For months now, Mayor John Thodos has denied that he knew anything about a Triumph Foods pork plant, even though he’s been “aggressively” working to get it here. In fact, Illinois Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, practically gave Thodos all the credit for single-handedly wooing Triumph to the Quad-Cities and sewing up the development deal.
Lots of people will wonder how that can be. After all, just a month ago Thodos was still denying any knowledge of a development on the land where Triumph plans to build.
He hasn’t always been so dodgy.
When somebody leaked the pork plant story to me back in June, I called the mayor for confirmation. He said he could neither confirm nor deny the information.
"I don’t want these people to get skittish," he said. "I don’t want to jeopardize anything."
Knowing what we know now, the mayor’s initial response seems entirely reasonable. The deal was at least six months from being done.
But Thodos got cocky. When well over 100 people jammed City Hall two months ago because they wanted to know the city’s plans for several hundred acres of land it was looking to annex, Thodos shut them down.
The residents were told they had no right to talk about any potential development. The annexation hearing wasn’t the time or the place, they were told. And the mayor repeated the deceit: He knew nothing about any pork plant.
Then he stepped outside another boundary, publicly criticizing a resident of tiny Barstow who was chosen to represent dozens of others who were worried that a pork plant could cause them serious problems.
"It’s his job to whip up fear," Thodos said of Doug Riel. "Doug is trying to muddy it up as much as he can."
Rich. Very rich.
Consider this: Thodos is the mayor of a city that is on the verge of a huge development involving millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money. Yet he publicly denied any knowledge of the project. Then he criticized a resident for “trying to muddy up” the situation?
If it was Riel’s job "to whip up fear," what do you suppose Thodos believed his job to be — covering up what he knows about the spending of his constituents’ money?
There should be no doubt the mayor tried to cover up this deal for as long as he could. He even called an editor at this newspaper and asked that a story about the new pork plant be killed. Naturally, the editor made no such promise.
Thodos no longer can deny Triumph Foods’ plans. But his efforts to keep them quiet are sure to inject a potentially terrific development with public skepticism and confusion.
No one expects a politician to lie about good news.