April 30, 2005

Feeling the pinch at the pump? Bush oil buddies laughing all the way to the bank

Bush's buddies and prime backers are making suckers of us all. The Enron corporate model is alive and well.
Profits amaze even analysts
With oil prices, 'It's like they're printing money'
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - Pumped up by persistently high energy prices, the oil industry maintained its streak of massive — and growing — quarterly profits this week, aggravating motorists and amazing financial analysts.

"I have been following this industry for 18 years and I have never seen anything like this," Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit said Friday. "It's like they're printing money."

The results of the world's four largest oil companies illustrate just how well the industry has fared lately.

Since the end of 2003, Royal Dutch-Shell Group of Companies, BP Group, Exxon Mobil and ChevronTexaco have earned a combined $97 billion, including $23.8 billion during the first three months of this year.

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April 29, 2005

Bush S.S. plan explained, and it ain't pretty

Get informed. Noted economist Brad DeLong explains Bush's scheme to fix Social Security with clarity and insight. Go read.

Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources blunder loses thousands in federal funds

A state audit Thursday said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources may have lost out on nearly $59,000 in federal funds for flooding cleanup because it didn't properly account for its time.

Auditor General William Holland's report said the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated Illinois would be eligible for $123,000 for repairing wildlife areas near Alton after Mississippi River flooding in 2002.

But Holland said DNR didn't use a required accounting system so could only account for $64,000 in expenses.

He says this was just one example of the problem. Not documenting billable expenses could jeopardize federal grant funding, which totaled $29 million to DNR last year, Holland said.

The reimbursement was for cleanup and repair of Mississippi River levees at about eight natural and waterfowl areas near Pere Marquette State Park, DNR spokeswoman Gayle Simpson said.

DNR officials acknowledged the agency did not consistently use the accounting program but disagreed that it lost any federal funds. They said the review did not take into account state funds required to be spent or how the federal government determined its estimate.

Powerful donor group decides what gets done in QCs.

The Dispatch/Argus has a revealing article about the "Quad Cities Contributor's Council", a group which pulls together all the deep pocket donors in the area to decide which projects get funding and which do not. Unsurprisingly, it's head is Hunt Harris III.
For more than a decade, just about every big bricks-and-mortar project in the Quad-Cities has been scrutinized by a handful of people connected to the deep pockets capable of getting it done.

Outside the circle of major donors involved with the Quad City Contributors Council, few people understand what the group does and why.

Niabi Zoo, which on Wednesday announced a nearly $3 million capital campaign, is just one example of the many nonprofit groups that seek the council's blessing before beginning to raise money for a particular project.

The council's endorsement helped build the Quad City Botanical Center in Rock Island, bring an IMAX Theater to the Putnam Museum in Davenport and pave the way for Hampton's Heritage Center. The botanical center is about to return to the council with its $4 million children's garden proposal, executive director Cheryl Carney said.

Perhaps the most expensive area project approved by the council is the $48.6 million Figge Art Museum, set to open in July.

The Quad City Contributors Council formed in the early 1990s as The Mark of the Quad Cities in Moline was nearing completion, president Hunt Harris said. He is president of Isabel Bloom Holdings Inc. and oversees the $4.4 million Hunt and Diane Harris Family Foundation.

Current members of the Quad City Contributors Council:

- Michael Bauer, president of Quad City Bank and Trust

- Richard Bittner, Bechtel Trusts

- Gene Blanc, chairman and CEO of Midland Information Resources Corp.

- Linda Bowers, co-owner of Lingui Systems Inc.

- Jim Collins, community relations director for Deere & Co.

- Alan Egly, executive director of the Doris and Victor Day Foundation

- Tom Getz, president of Moline Forge Inc.

- Hunt Harris, of the Hunt and Diane Harris Family Foundation and president of Isabel Bloom Holdings Inc.

- Pete McLaughlin, president of McLaughlin Oldsmobile Cadillac

- Marc Parise, president and CEO of First Midwest Bank

- Thomas Robinson, president and CEO of Southeast National Bank

- Clyde Schoeck, president of Modern Woodmen of America

- John Stavnes, president of Wells Fargo Bank

- Tim Wilkinson, vice president of communications at Alcoa

These are the folks who decide what gets done and what doesn't for the rest of us, and until this piece, not only these people, but the existence of the group itself was effectively unknown to the public.
Perhaps they're the only people with great wealth left in the Quad Cities.

Read the rest of the article here.

Rock Island county continues to expand web services

Rock Island County officials hope to duplicate the success they've seen from putting assessments online, when property tax information is added to the county Web site next month.

The county recorded 11,000 hits in March to the supervisor of assessments page on the Rock Island County Web site, www.rockislandcounty.org. Of those, 6,500 were initial hits looking up multiple properties, supervisor of assessments Larry Wilson said.

"It is pretty exciting what we have to offer today," county board chairman Jim Bohnsack said.

Knowledge of the Web site was only through word of mouth. Mr. Wilson's employees have been telling title companies, attorney's offices and real estate agents about the Web site when they call, so the early popularity is encouraging, he said.

The county plans to put property tax information from the treasurer's office online May 13, when tax bills are mailed. Information available will include who the tax bill is mailed to, annual amount due, and when payments are made.

Mr. Wilson said the number of calls to the assessor's office has dropped since the information went online. He sees the number of hits as phone calls his staff didn't have to field.

"Now I can re-focus my staff and be more effective for the township assessors," he said.

The information is popular with people and companies involved in real estate transactions, Mr. Wilson said.

The project, spearheaded by Mr. Wilson and Web programmer Sue Adams, took about six months. Privacy issues were considered when determining how visitors to the Web site would be able to search for parcel information.

The information only is searched by parcel number or address so names couldn't be entered, protecting people who don't want their addresses known, like judges and police officers, Ms. Adams said. Property tax information can be found the same way.

The Dope has been aware of this service for some time. Needless to say, it's of interest to find out what your properties are assessed at, as well as neighboring properties.

Jacobs, Verschoore draft bill to patch glitch in Casino move

Local legislators have the draft of a bill that would allow the state gaming board to approve the Casino Rock Island moving, and could send it to committee as soon as next week.

State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, and Attorney General Lisa Madigan's staff wasted little time moving forward with the bill following a meeting Monday in Chicago.

The legislators and others met with the Attorney General after the release of a letter with an informal opinion that the gaming board didn't have the ability to grant permission for a casino to move.

The bill would allow any casino to move within five miles of its current docking location as long as it has the licensed municipality's permission, Rep. Verschoore said.

The legislators argued that the legislative intent of previous amendments gives the gaming board the power to approve casinos' relocation requests. They agreed to push a bill that would add the needed language for casinos to relocate.

"On first blush, it is simply amazing that a few word changes give us the authority we need," Sen. Jacobs said. "If her requirement is for us to jump over one more hurdle, we will jump over one more hurdle."

Whether one supports the move or not, and there are many valid arguments against it, the powers that be seem intent on making it happen. We'll see if amending a few words of a bill will prove to remove the last roadblock to the relocation plans.

Big Al's back

The Nation does a cover story on Al Gore and his efforts to launch a progressive news network, which has somehow morphed into a youth cable channel "Currents".

What began as an effort to challenge Rupert Murdoch and the right-wing domination of the corporate media has transformed into a business proposition to lure a youth audience with lofty rhetoric, new technology and pop-culture content. Gore and Hyatt didn't have TV experience, so they ceded creative control to industry people who did. Along the way, "democratizing" the media--their buzzword from the get-go, which they described as giving space to ordinary young people--became more important than politics or elevating television's dismal content. What emerges on August 1, Current's launch date, could re-semble an interactive grad-school version of MTV.

Al also recently gave a speech to an Moveon.org audience covered on C-Span where he expounded on a range of issues including the current controversy over Republican efforts to change senate rules to effectively alter traditional checks and balances and fill the courts with radical right wingers, otherwise known as the "nuclear option."

April 28, 2005

No friendly smiles in any aisles

This story won't likely do much towards improving the public image of lawyers.

One property owner is holding hostage the $15 million project to build a new Hy-Vee grocery, city officials contend.

Ald. Evie White, 5th Ward, and Mayor Mark Schwiebert singled out Rock Island attorney Joel Deutsch as responsible for delaying construction on a 61,500-square-foot store behind the existing Hy-Vee on 18th Avenue.

Des Moines-based Hy-Vee Inc. expected to start on the expansion last fall. It acquired several neighboring properties to make room for the larger store. Those were to be torn down, so the new store could be built while the other remained open.

C.T. Investments sued Embassy Corp. last June, saying Embassy breached an option agreement between the two, according to Rock Island County court records. Mr. Deutsch is Embassy's president.

The agreement, signed Oct. 22, 2003, gave C.T. Investments the "exclusive option" in the next four months to buy a 12-unit apartment building immediately south of Hy-Vee, at 1836 29½ St., for $575,000.

The agreement allowed the real estate company to extend the option for another three months, which it did in February 2004. An agent hand-delivered a letter to Mr. Deutsch at his downtown Rock Island law office May 14, 2004, saying C.T. Investments exercised its option to buy the property.

Days later, Mr. Deutsch informed the company's president, Chris Thomason, the option agreement expired through a technicality. C.T. Investments didn't use certified return receipt mail as the agreement specified, Mr. Deutsch said.

The case was argued in early March and awaits a decision from Circuit Judge Joseph Beatty. C.T. Investments asked the court to force Embassy to sell the property to it at the previously agreed price of $575,000.

"He's holding the entire city hostage," Ald. White said of Mr. Deutsch during Monday's city council meeting. "I'm livid with this man."

She admitted she doesn't know Mr. Deutsch personally, but said if she encountered him, "I'd probably kick him in the shins."

Mayor Schwiebert in his remarks accused Mr. Deutsch of trying to get more money for the property.

Blago's Cost-cutting Cred Crushed by CMS Corruption Concerns

It's a huge mess. Governor Blagojevich must think he's in a nightmare version of the movie "Groundhog Day", as money scandals threaten to erupt with almost monotonous regularity. Yet another revelation of his donors and those connected to his organization grabbing for money with both hands and feet and likely their teeth has come to light, this one threatening to widen and really develop legs.

The state Auditor General has issued an audit of the Gov's showpiece agency, the Central Management Services, or CMS, which he created to aggregate power over state agencies under his control with the stated aim to increase efficiency and eliminate waste in state government. It was touted as saving the state huge amounts of money.

Now the revelations contained in the audit are blowing this premise to bits and will severely damage the cost cutting, reformer image that Blagojevich has been carefully cultivating. For you irony fans out there, the audit reveals that many of the firms hired by CMS to identify waste and realize savings were themselves padding their contracts and submitting inflated and dubious expense claims amounting to hundred of thousands of dollars which were then paid by the state.

The laundry list of wrongdoing or at least dubious dealings contained in the auditor's report is long. It's already evolving into a battle royale in Springfield between CMS officials and the Auditor General and promises to get worse before it gets better.

Auditor Gen. William Holland asked the state's top lawyer Tuesday to investigate $546,650 in expenses, ranging from wining and dining state officials to parking at a Chicago Bulls game, paid for by taxpayers through Gov. Rod Blagojevich's showcase plan to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

The expenses were but one chapter in Holland's scathing audit of Blagojevich's Department of Central Management Services. Holland said it raised so many questions about the integrity of how state contracts are awarded and managed that Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan should look into his findings.

"We are reviewing it closely," Madigan spokeswoman Melissa Merz said.

Holland also complained that the department had not provided documentation to back up its claims of saving taxpayers up to $600 million and suggested that taxpayers could actually be losing money because the Blagojevich initiatives are so hard to quantify.

"This is worse than just sloppy," Holland said.

Officials for the department, which Blagojevich has used to centralize his control over the state government bureaucracy, denied any improprieties in awarding contracts and accused the auditor general of a "deliberately inflammatory" review.

The release of the audit may become a major political embarrassment to Blagojevich, who pledged to reform the way the state does business and to hold a lid on state sales and income tax rates by cutting costs.

The audit also brought to the surface an exchange of caustic rhetoric between Holland and Central Management Services officials, creating another feud in a Statehouse buffeted by frequent battles between the Democratic governor and lawmakers, including those in his own party.

The issues of alleged waste and mismanagement highlighted by Holland involved $69 million the department awarded in contracts to firms charged with finding ways to cut spending.

April 26, 2005

Moline grads inducted into "Hall of Honor"

Iowa Sen. Maggie Neir Tinsman and Moline philanthropist Hunt Harris will be two of six honorees inducted into the Moline High School Hall of Honor at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 15, in the school auditorium, 3600 Avenue of the Cities.

The public is invited to the ceremony and reception afterward.

The Hall of Honor recognizes Moline High School graduates who have achieved distinction in public, professional and community services and serve as a positive influence.

Honorees are:

-Sen. Tinsman, who graduated from Moline High School in 1954. She has served on the Iowa State Legislature for more than 15 years and was honored for her volunteer efforts for the American Lung Association and Iowa Council of Economic Education.

- Mr. Harris, an area philanthropist and entrepreneur, graduated in 1967. He has improved education and serves as a national volunteer for Junior Achievement and the United Way.

-Dr. Reinhardt Bodenbender, Class of 1950, was a doctor in Moline and a naval doctor. He now is a national leader for the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

-Benedict Zobrist, Class of 1939, directed the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Mo. He also arranged President Truman's funeral and had a major role in opening some of the president's significant documents.

- Honorees in memoriam are Judge Dan McNeal, a 1916 graduate, and Richard "Dick" Sargent, who graduated in 1929.

A leading attorney, Mr. McNeal compiled the Illinois 14th Judicial District under the new constitution which provided standards for the current judicial system. The honored jurist and military leader also was chief legal officer to establish the post-war German judicial system.

Mr. Sargent, an artist, created more than 40 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. While touring with the USO during the Korean War, he also sketched portraits of soldiers for families back home.

Does anyone recall about a year ago how John F. Baker, a Medal of Honor winner (and whiner) from Moline made a big fuss over how he was not in this "Hall of Honor" at Moline High School?

It seems Mr. Baker was incensed that they hadn't inducted him. There was a tiny problem however. Baker never graduated. But that didn't stop him from loudly whining about this honor he evidently felt was due him. It seems odd for a guy who won the Congressional Medal of Honor to be raising hell because it's so incredibly important to him to get into his High School's "Hall of Honor".

When Bush's going AWOL from the "Champagne Squadron" of the Texas Air National Guard story reappeared, Baker appeared as the top signatory to a list of medal of honor winners in total support of chickenhawk Bush and who derided John Kerry's heroic service in the military.

Both the city of Moline and Moline High School had honored Baker when he returned from Vietnam, and since he'd dropped out, the school awarded him an honorary degree. But this wasn't enough for Baker, and after complaining long and long, they finally gave him what he wanted and inducted the only non-graduate and only military figure into the hall last year.

Two development issues to be decided by Moline Council tonight

During the regular council meeting, aldermen will vote on a development agreement with Autumn Trails LLC to facilitate the redevelopment of the former Bethany Home property at 220 11th Ave.

The $8.1 million project would include the a 25-unit assisted living center and construction of 32 to 34 condominiums for people 55 and older.

Autumn Trails is requesting assistance from the city in the form of an incremental property tax rebate of up to $1.2 million.

Aldermen also will vote on spending $22,377 to buy decorative lights for the Centre Alley Courtyard from Republic Electric.

The courtyard will be located on 15th Street in the alley between 4th and 5th Avenues. The outdoor beer garden will feature decorative lighting and fencing and a stage area for live music.

The lighting is just one aspect of a $500,000 project that is a public-private partnership between the city and the surrounding business owners.
These are two laudable projects. But hurry, don't be the last one on your block to have your project or business improvement financed by the city.

"Gilligan" hopes to get off the island

It's already becoming a joke.
Brian Gilliland's friends call him "Gilligan" -- a name he says will appear on the ballot as he runs for U.S. Congress to try to unseat the current captain ... err... U.S. Rep. Lane Evans D-Rock Island in 2006.

"The time is right for change in our district," Mr. Gilliland said. Mr. Evans "hasn't been doing his job recently. We've lost too many jobs. I can bring fresh ideas to the job.

"We've been on an island of shrinking opportunities, left to fend for ourselves. We've been stranded on this island for way too long."

Mr. Gilliland is the second Republican to announce a Congressional run against Mr. Evans.
Methinks that "Gilligan" has aborbed a few too many blows to the head with the Skippers cap.
Mr. Gilliland said his recent dealings with Aledo as he tried to start a subdivision fueled his Congressional ambitions. The city wouldn't budge with certain infrastructure ordinances and has made his effort to start building a little harder.
Now there's a rock solid reason to run for office. Personal profit! At least he's upfront about it. After all, if there's one problem facing our area that everyone can agree on, it's the lack of government welfare for businessmen. Businessmen such as "Gilligan" shouldn't be required to follow laws, rules, ordinances, zoneing laws and such crap.
Sheesh. Somehow I think that like his TV alter-ego, this "Gilligan" is never going to get off the island.

(and since when is Lane Evans referred to as "Mr. Evans"? Shouldn't it be "Rep. Evans" or "Congressman Evans"?)

Lisa Madigan stands by ruling, backhands local pols

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has dealt (no pun intended) a blow to long-standing plans to relocate Casino Rock Island to a new location south of Rock Island.
Despite a personal meeting with Sen. Mike Jacobs and his dad Denny, Rep. Pat Verschoore, and Rock Island Mayor Mark Schweibert, she upheld a legal opinion issued by a deputy which maintains that the state gambling board does not have the authority to rule on whether such a move is permissible.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan refused to rescind an informal opinion written by a senior deputy attorney that says the Illinois Gaming Board doesn't have the power to allow the move.

However, a representative said her office would assist in writing a bill to clear up ambiguities in the Gaming Act over casinos moving.

State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, and State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, were disappointed in the outcome of the 90-minute meeting and will head back to Chicago to forge legislation that clears up the matter.

"It wasn't what we wanted," Rep. Verschoore said. "We still feel the language gives them the ability to move within their jurisdiction. They want the project to move forward, but they want all the i's dotted and the t's crossed," he said of the Attorney General's office.

The point was raised in the meeting that two casino boats -- in Joliet and Peoria -- already have moved under 2003 legislation that amended the state Gaming Act.

"The precedent allowed this in the past," Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert said. "Frankly, we feel a little discriminated against since the gaming board administrator gave preliminary approval to acquire the site and begin site work."

The legislators are concerned about the opinion's impact on financing the $90 million project that would create 400 to 500 construction jobs at the new site near the intersection of Interstate 280 and Illinois 94.

The parties at Monday's meeting agreed the intent of previous legislation was to allow gaming boats to move within the jurisdiction that was licensed. But the Attorney General and her staff believe the law is ambiguous as to who has final approval, according to those at the meeting.

"We did everything within our power to convince the Attorney General that the advisory opinion (by her office) was wrong," said Sen. Jacobs, who wants a bill that clears up the Gaming Act's language to allow casinos to move within the boundaries of the jurisdiction that issued the license.

He's unsure if he can move the bill trough both houses without amendments, and he's worried about an anti-gaming attitude that pervades the house as well as whether Gov. Rod Blagojevich would sign such a bill.

"Before the meeting, we had no clear-cut path," Sen. Jacobs said. "Now we have a path, but it's full of rocks and goes up over a hill. There is some upside. We do have a plan and a direction we are now traveling, and Lisa Madigan said she would be helpful to us on that."

Rep. Verschoore has a sunnier outlook on passing legislation. "We feel confident we will get something done," he said. "This is too big a project to fall through the cracks. I think the governor will sign on if we pass the legislation."

A letter from a senior deputy attorney, considered an informal opinion, to State Rep. Don Moffit, R-Gilson, was released April 18, five days before the Illinois Gaming Board was scheduled to meet.

The Casino Rock Island's move wasn't discussed in open session at Friday's Gaming Board meeting.

Sen. Jacobs wondered if the Attorney General's opinion is connected with the possibility of gaming in the Chicago area. Last year, the Capri Casino Inc. was chosen to run a casino boat in suburban Rosemont, but the gaming board stalled action.

"I don't think you can ever miss that point," Sen. Jacobs said. "We have spoken openly that a Chicago casino would be great. We could be caught up in that. We could be caught up in that 10th license. I think that is a much more likely conclusion.

"No one wants to talk about the underbelly of it all," he said, adding that after a year of waiting and just days before approval, "all of a sudden this letter popped out of no where."

Mayor Schwiebert thinks it's more likely an overly technical interpretation of the law, though he did call the timing "a little strange."

He said a plan by the East St. Louis casino to move about 300 yards to accommodate an expansion, also requires gaming board approval and is being held up.

Casino moves were "allowed in other locations," Mayor Scwiebert said. "It is not being allowed in these two communities.

"It really isn't the same thing as relocating from East Dubuque to the Chicago area," he said. "This is the same workforce, the same jurisdiction, the same administration."

This represents a real blow to not only the Casino Rock Island, but to the trio of legislators who set out to get it straightened out. It now appears that what appeared to be a last minute glitch will turn out to be a real threat to the entire project.

April 25, 2005

Hey kids! The Quad Cities are on the GROW!!!

Mark you calendars and clear your schedules. Soon you'll be able to find out how YOU TOO can do your part to make the Quad City region a thriving, up-to-date, modern, "happenin'" place to live and work. Yet more consultants are to unveil our regional path to salvation.
Everyone in the community is responsible for economic development, and everyone can find out next month how they can play a part in the success of Illinois Quad-Cities.

As part of the Unified Growth Strategy, on May 23 the Illinois Quad-City Chamber of Commerce will unveil "Blueprint 2010: A Regional Strategy for Unified Growth." The five-year economic development action plan is designed to sustain and grow the area.

The recommendations and community priorities will be released at the 5 p.m. event to be held at The Mark of the Quad Cities.

The chamber hired AngelouEconomics and Next Generation Consulting last year to study the Illinois Quad-Cities. The study has been supported by local businesses, government, and community leaders from Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties.

The study has looked at the community from the point of view of a business as well as from the point of view of workers.

Those results have helped to create the final action plan which focuses on five areas: business climate and entrepreneurship; workforce and education; sites and infrastructure; marketing and economic development; and quality of life.

"We are very excited about the findings," said chamber president and CEO Rick Baker.

The recommendations from both AngelouEconomics and Next Generation Consulting can change the way we operate as a community, he added.

"We want the community to know we are very interested in implementing the plan. It will not sit on a shelf," he said. "... It is best if we are able to create our own future rather than rely on outside forces to create our future."
Of course, the chamber has predictably relied on just such outsiders to tell them what our future should look like. They hired not one, but two expensive consultant outfits to tell them what needs to be done. (Hell, the fact that AngelouEconomics has no space in their name shows that they MUST be cutting edge. And however many thousands they were paid, they earned it just for coming up with the title of the report.)

April 23, 2005


Oh my. Yet another Republican displays their true colors. Just what sort of vision for the future do they have?
Is it just me, or is their constant drone that government is the enemy while they themselves control government and will resort to anything up to and including murder* to gain power more than a bit insane?

And isn't it more than a bit disturbing that Republicans around the country routinely make the most outrageous, ignorant, irresponsible, and vicious statements, statements much worse than this one, without any apparent fear of backlash or censure? (Delay recntly saying that judges who don't rule the way he likes should be made to "answer" for it someday, or Bush's Sec. of Education referring to teacher's unions as "terrorist organizations", to name just a couple that come to mind.

Iowa Senate Republican Assistant Leader calls police officers, teachers, and others "bottom-feeders"

On April 20, 2005, Senate Republican Assistant Leader Mark Zieman specified a list of public employees which he referred to as "bottom-feeders" during Senate debate.

At issue was a Republican effort to change House File 729, a bill updating the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS).
Transcripts and audio files of the statement available through the link above.

* I refer to the 1998 case of Byron "Low Tax" Looper, the Tennesee Republican who murdered Tommy Burks, his opponent in a state senate race. (Looper actually had his middle name legally changed to "Low Tax" so it would appear on the ballot.)
More here and here.

April 22, 2005

Local pols rush to snuff snafu on Casino relocation

It's got to be frustrating being a legislator. While regular readers of The Inside Dope realize that I don't exactly place politicians on a pedestal, this story illustrates the headaches that often emerge out of nowhere to threaten to undo a lot of work and thwart their plans.

This particular bugaboo appeared after a downstate Republican, Rep. Don Moffit of Gilson, requested an opinion from an assistant state A.G. as to whether current legislation gives the state gaming board authority to authorize Casino Rock Island's proposed move.

The assistant A.G. responded with an "informal" opinion that argued that the board indeed may not have the required authority.

The informal opinion upholds an opinion issued by then-Attorney General Jim Ryan in 2001, saying the gaming board doesn't have the authority to approve the casino's move. Since then, new legislation has been passed that appeared to allow the move, but the latest opinion rejects that notion.

Sen. Jacobs argued that legislation passed in 2002 and 2003 allows the move. Denny Jacobs, Sen. Jacobs' father, helped write those bills while he was state senator and will also attend Monday's meeting.

"These two bills passed clearly gives the state authority to move the casino within a confined body of water within a community," Sen. Jacobs said. "After all, in the past, they allowed the Peoria boat to move to East Peoria and allowed Joliet's Harris [sic] boat to move without giving up their licenses."
This seemingly minor incident has got local pols pretty excited. They initially wanted an appointment with an assistant state A.G., but now they're clamoring for an appointment with Attorney General Lisa Madigan herself.

Sen. Mike Jacobs, with dad Denny riding shotgun, Rep. Pat Verschoore, and Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert will all attend the meeting.

Even though the legislators argue that this opinion is invalid since it was an "informal", "unofficial" opinion given to a minor legislator who is neither a member of either party's leadership or a committee chair, it poses the real danger that it could adversely impact financing for the relocation of Casino Rock Island unless clarified.

Groups and lobbyists favoring the relocation of Casino Rock Island are also chiming in.
They [state legislators] will also be joined by gaming lobbyists. County board chairman Jim Bohnsack sent the Attorney General's Office a letter of support for the casino project. Tri-City Building Trades Council executive director Rory Washburn has also sent a letter of support and urged individual unions to do the same.
(Kudos again to both the Dispatch reporter who apparently can hear the word "Harrah's" in conjunction with a casino and think it's "Harris", and the editor for either missing it or not once wondering if maybe it should be "Harrah's".)

> MORE <

Bowman leaves city of Moline to join "Renew Moline" development group

Apparently, the recent title change from "assistant city administrator for economic development" to "economic development director" that city officals gave him wasn't enough to keep Moline economic development honcho Jim Bowman in place. Bowman has decided to get his checks from private investors group "Renew Moline", rather than the city. Since the majority of Bowman's work has involved working with (and one could argue, for) the group's purposes anyway, it's a distinction without a difference for him to be officially employed by "Renew".

Economic development director Jim Bowman will leave the city of Moline on May 13 to become executive director of Renew Moline.

Renew is a non-profit private organization that focuses on development within the downtown area. It has worked with the city to facilitate many projects since it was launched more than 10 years ago, including the John Deere Commons, John Deere Pavilion, Bass Street Landing and the Radisson Hotel.

The public-private partnership between the city and Renew Moline has been marked with successes over the years, and Mr. Bowman says that prosperous relationship will continue.

"I get the opportunity to step into a very successful organization and a successful model, one that is proven, one that can only be built upon. My goal is to continue the effort that Renew Moline and the city of Moline have worked hard to accomplish," he said.

Mr. Bowman has been in charge of the city's economic development programs since February 2004, spearheading several projects, including the new parking garage, the technology corridor, and the downtown Main Street initiative.

Bowman follows the now well traveled career path of so many public officials. He puts in his time in government, then cashes in by working for the well-heeled interest groups that he formerly dealt with in his government position.

It's all about the Benjamins, and one has a hard time faulting anyone for going where the cash is. But the practice is so prevalent at higher levels of government, it's a little disconcerting to see it making it's way down to the municipal level.

So apparently the moving force in Moline government that has managed to develop many high-end projects, the majority of them related to Deere & Co., in downtown Moline is going to work for a private consortium of business interests who want to see Moline developed according to their vision and benefit.

Trying to revitalize a downtown area with strikes against it such as Moline's is not easy. But while there's certainly been a barge-load of money pumped into the downtown area, it is certainly debatable whether the effort as a whole has been more than marginally successful. The only businesses which have seemed to be able to hang on are the most heavily capitalized, such as national chains and other businesses with large amounts of cash behind them.
Small to medium size business start-ups have been routine failures in the area, and that is a glaring problem.

But it appears that now Bowman won't have to worry about the small fish, as he'll now represent the big boys who will be paying in part for his backward connections within city government.

We wish him well, and hope that perhaps he might influence his new employers to start thinking outside of the existing downtown Moline development box.


that the YOU have spent on the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq to date.
It's more than the country has, and in order to come up with the money, we've had to borrow enormous amounts from China and other countries, who now have us over a barrel, while plunging the country into such a staggering deficit that it is seriously threatening the stability of our entire economy.

And the bill will be due and payable, and every one of us, and our children, and our children's children, will all be paying for it for their entire lives.

Three hundred billion dollars. Keep that number in mind next time you hear about a Social Security shortfall, or communities struggling to make their budgets, or having to cut programs and teachers just to keep schools open, or cutting back environmental protections, or when you hear about seniors and others suffering or dying due to being unable to afford health care and drug costs, or any number of REAL problems facing millions of Americans today, problems that exist and are rapidly worsening almost daily in this country.

The things that money could accomplish for the public and national good are simply astounding. Yet those positive and humanitarian goals are not our priority.

Those on the right, and many on the left, bitch and moan and complain about social services or welfare for the poor. Yet you don't hear a peep out of them while the country, under completely false pretenses, spends this unimaginable amount of money, money that the country has to borrow from China and others, against a non-existent threat to the U.S. (Not to mention the death, wounding, and psychological damage done to thousands of our troops, and it's affect on their families forever.)

Only a handful of Americans were courageous enough to stand up and loudly protest this hopelessly misguided war when it became apparent that Bush and his thugs were hell-bent on getting their war on. And those that did were derided and dismissed as some sort of fringe "hippies" or "peace-niks".

How utterly sad and staggeringly unfortunate that the majority of us in this country appear to be little more than "sheeple", told that to dissent from war, no matter how blatantly flimsy and illogical the rationale, is somehow being a bad citizen, and meekly accepting that premise. It's appalling how easily led we as a people are as long as the elites cynically appeal to ignorant and blind patriotism.

Slapping a chincy patriotic ribbon magnet (made in China) is cheap. Wars are not.

April 21, 2005

River Cities Reader notices Jacobs

As predicted by a commenter a couple days ago, the current issue of the River Cities Reader contains an article on the panel put together to jump-start the construction of the WIU riverfront campus project in Moline. The piece contains quotes from Sen. Jacobs as well as the chair of the committee, Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, and WIU officials.
“The government is not really in the business of building things, and private entrepreneurs are,” [Jacobs] continued, “so I’m going to call on them to help us build this project.”
That's true. From what I see, the government is in the business of financing the building of things. Private entrepreneurs are in the business of doing the work and then reaping the profits, evidently. Not a bad gig if you can get it. The hardest part is actually getting the state to pay you what they said they would and when they said they would.

Seems like if businesses are out of work, the state is more than happy to get them some. But if you or I are out of a job, we're just welfare loafers who should have what little benefits that are still available cut short.

The only hinky thing about such private/public deals is that it's hard to imagine that private concerns are going to pony up millions without getting one hell of a benefit in return. There's nothing wrong with say, Deere coughing up some money and getting the engineering courses they need in return. That not only benefits Deere, but it benefits the students and school as well.

I can't wait to find out who the donors are and what they expect in return, that is IF that quid pro quo is ever made public. What those benefits are is what makes the difference between a great civic achievement and borderline corrupt sweet-heart corporate welfare.

April 20, 2005

Jim Jeffords, I-VT, retires

In a loss for the Senate and the Dems, Sen. Jim Jeffords, Independent of Vermont, is announcing his retirement. His wife is fighting cancer, and he acknowledged that there is some problems with his own health at age 70.
This is a loss of a moderate voice in the Senate, and of a man who withstood furious venom and hatred from right wingers when he courageously switched from a Republican to an Independent after Bush's first election, thereby denying the Republicans a majority in the Senate for their frequent party line votes.
Jeffords will be missed.

April 19, 2005

Woo hoo! Vilsack raises Iowa interstate speed limit

In a victory for everyone that finds themselves traveling I-80 anywhere in Iowa, which has got to be one of the most stupifyingly dull stretches of road in the known universe, and other Iowa highways, governor Tom Vilsack has signed into law a measure raising the speed limit on rural interstate highways from 65 to 70 mph.

The measure also doubles the existing fines and court costs for speeding tickets, but only in areas where the posted limit is in excess of 55 mph. For driving 10 mph over the limit, the fine would go from $43 to $82. The law is expected to bring in about $7 million to fund courts and $600,000 for the state’s general fund. And cops will no longer give wiggle room on speed.
Vilsack said he is directing the Iowa State Patrol to enforce the new limit strictly rather than the current, unofficial practice of allowing drivers to go 5 to 7 mph over the limit before ticketing.

“The posted speed limit is the limit,” he said.
Until now, most motorists traveled around 75 mph, risking a $43 fine, but rarely getting pulled over. Now for driving that fast, they'll be targeted for being pulled over and pay $82.

So in essence, this measure will result in more tickets issued and more revenue, and will actually slow highway traffic from an average of 75 to 70 mph. Not bad from the state's standpoint.

In my opinion a system like the Autobahn in Germany would be the ideal.
Many sections, particularly those with dangerous curves, in urban areas, or with unusually constant heavy traffic, may feature speed limits ranging from 80 to 120 km/h (50-75 mph). In construction zones, the limit may be as low as 60 km/h (37 mph). Also, some sections now feature nighttime and wet-weather speed restrictions, and trucks are always regulated (see table below). Still, much of the Autobahn is unlimited, but there is a recommended limit of 130 km/h (81 mph). This recommendation is generally seen for what it is-- an attempt by the government to cover itself without having to upset millions of Porsche and BMW owners/voters. However, if you exceed the recommended limit and are involved in an accident, you could be responsible for some of the damage costs even if you are not at fault.

The Iowa law is at least a teeny-tiny step in the right direction, even though it effectively makes it more risky to travel 75 mph and not get pinched.

Moline, Milan asked to cough up money for further archaeological study

In yet another of the constant stream of cases where developers expect municipalities to pay most of the costs involved with building for-profit projects, the developers of "Bluffs at Case Creek", a housing and commmercial development to be built in both Moline and Milan in an area off of Knoxville Road are asking for, and will likely receive, over $12,000 each from both Moline and Milan to cover the costs of a second stage archaeological study at the site.
Indian artifacts were found in the initial study, and state law mandates further investigation.
The cost of the second stage study, which will be done by the University of Iowa, ironically enough, is expected to cost over $36,000 which the developer wants to split three ways between themselves and the cities involved.

Milan has already agreed to provide the sewer service to the project, while Moline will provide water service.

Any readers want to pony up some cash for a developement? We can get the city to buy the land, pay for any environmental clean up or remediation and archaological studies, pay for the huge costs of building roads, sewer, and water service, exempt us from taxes for decades, pay for the costs to promote, publicize, and attract purchasers, and even cough up closing costs for buyers!

Bottom line? We'll only have to pay for a fraction of the costs of the development, and then sit back and collect all the profits tax-free for years!!!

C'mon, let's not be the last one's on our block to get in on this gravy train!

In another related story, Milan's Village administrator Steve Seiver met with Sen. Mike Jacobs and Rep. Pat Verschoore Monday to discuss issues with the project. Seiver is concerned with the costs associated with preserving priceless historical artifacts and apparently wants Jacobs and Verschoore to intervene in the matter.
Mr. Seiver met with the legislators, he said, because each time a study is completed, more work is requested. "As we do each one of these, the rules keep changing a little bit," he said.

Milan is to provide sewer service for the development, and has a permit pending with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Both legislators agreed to set up a meeting soon with Milan, Moline and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to discuss the project.
So, we have our public servents called in to try to limit or eliminate the effort to preserve these artifacts. Evidently, perserving history is a bit too pricey for the developer, Milan, and Moline's tastes, and they want these politicians to do something about it. We'll have to see what actions, if any, they take.

See? Even if we hit a snag like this with our project, we can call on politicians to intervene and fix it so we don't have to follow the law. That way we can be further assured that our costs are next to nothing and our profits are guaranteed.

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Henry Hyde to resign about 8 years too late

81 year old Rep. Henry Hyde, who's "youthful indescretions" when he was in his mid-40's with a married woman causing the break-up of the woman's marriage wasn't enough to prevent him from an almost comically pius performance as head of the house impeachment managers during the appalling Clinton impeachment effort, is finally stepping down. In an announcement on his web site yesterday he said he will not seek another term.

One only wishes he would have gotten out before embarrassing himself with his insanely over-the-top performance during the impeachment effort, in which he plead for the senate to impeach Clinton by imploring them to do it "for the children" and during which he delivered a truly bizarre speech which referred to almost every military conflict in U.S. history and then suggested that if they didn't throw Clinton out, all those thousands of service men and women would have died in vain. "The flag is falling", Hyde actually said.

And all this when he wrecked a marriage while in his fourties by carrying on an affair with a married woman. Thus he insured that out of 17 terms and 32 years in office, he'll be remembered for all time as a rank hypocrite who shamed himself in an effort at a misguided politically motivated coup.

Yep, another "family values" Republican who was so incredibly shocked and concerned with Clinton lying about sex that he was willing to actively push for a constitutional crisis and effectively depose a twice elected president.

He was also a very committed opponent to abortion who was responsible for eliminating federal funding of abortions.

Don't let the door hit you in the backside on your way out, Henry.

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April 18, 2005


For you early-birds out there, this is a reminder that C-Span's Washington Journal will be featuring a preview tour of the new Lincoln Museum in Springfield by Presidential historian Richard Norton Smith. The show begins at 6 a.m. and runs until around 9 a.m. It should prove to be an interesting look at what will no doubt prove to be a huge attraction. (despite the fact that the monkey in a man suit has seen fit to sully the opening with his presense.)

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Alive since '05... 1905

Mrytle Appel has seen a lot. After all, she's 100 years old. When she was born in 1905, the Russian revolution broke out when two hundred thousand Russian workers marched on Tsar Nicholas II's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and were fired upon by Czarist troops who killed hunreds, and an obscure physisist living in Switzerland published his theory of relativity and etched the name Albert Einstein in history. The Japanese completely defeated the Russian Navy in the Battle of the Straits of Tsushima. The Russian fleet was defeated by a fleet led by Japanese Admiral Tojo. The Japanese sunk almost the entire Russian fleet. An agreement was reached in Portsmouth under the aegis of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Norway's Parliament voted to declare the dissolution of the Union with Sweden, and in Daytona Beach, a car first broke 100 mph.

She was born and raised on a farm near Stockton, Ill where she was a homemaker. Her husband William died in 1975, and in 1981 she moved to Milan to be near her son who was stationed at the Rock Island Arsenal.

Former state Sen. Denny Jacobs, current state Sen. Mike Jacobs, Rock Island County Clerk Dick Leibovitz and government representatives from Silvis and East Moline showed up to wish Ms. Appel a happy birthday.
It's not really a party until the Jacobs' show up.

Dispatch/Argus Photo: Dan Videtich

Myrtle Appel, bottom left, and her great-granddaughter, Tonya Dennison of Milan, look over a copy of Ms. Appel's birth certificate which was presented to her at her 100th birthday party at Forest Hill Nursing Home in East Moline Sunday afternoon. Looking on in the background, from left, are East Moline Mayor Pro-Tem Crotis Teague; Illinois Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline; and Rock Island County Clerk Dick Leibovitz.

We got priorities

R.I. schools forced to consider deep slashes in elective curriculum subjects. But thank God Paris Hilton doesn't have to pay any inheritance tax.
Art classes are on the chopping block this year, just as home economics classes were last year.
The pendulum in Rock Island is swinging and slicing away at electives at Washington Junior High because of budget cuts and a lack of money from the state.

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Mike Boland to attend Black Hawk College Dems meeting

A helpful e-mailer has passed along the following info.

Mike Boland is scheduled to appear at a Black Hawk College Democrats meeting Wednesday, April 20th at 2pm in Building 2. He will likely be seeking to recruit volunteer "interns". All interested persons are encouraged to attend.

April 17, 2005

Show some respect, people

Via Atrios


Personally, I'm getting a little tired of all this making fun of conservatives. When you think about it, they deserve a lot of respect.

First, they have to believe whatever the Bush administration or lesser congressional-type republicans tells them to believe. Yea sure, I know, that sounds like something any idiot could do, but those beliefs often change from day to day and often end up diametrically opposed to what they were the day before. It takes an incredibly agile mind to constantly change core values and beliefs without ever acknowledging the contradictions.

Next, they have to disbelieve absolutely whatever a certain other class of people believe. This includes democrats, independents, moderates, the educated, the scientists, the French, and just about everyone else in the world.

Then to top it all off, every piece of art or entertainment must conform to the daily beliefs, whatever they are, or it must be boycotted, burned, or banished (not stashed under the mattress, no, no, no).

And finally, they have to disbelieve, and disbelieve passionately, easily observable reality. Those people being tortured, they're not feeling any pain. South Park? Karl Rove couldn't have written it any better.

It's not easy being that fucking stupid. It really takes a lot of work. Show some respect, people.
The list of idiotic and illogical things these poor conservatives have to believe is long.
For instance, the notion that all the increased attacks and killings of our troops in Iraq is really a sign of success, since if they're killing our troops over there, the won't be coming over here and say, attacking Ottumwa, IA.
Or the fact that Bush is a great and convincing speaker. Or that Social Security is on the verge of "going broke", or that there was ever any WMD's in Iraq, or that multi-multi-millionaires need to have the inheratance tax eliminated permanently. If not, many poor families will loose their family farms, businesses, etc. (even though the measure only affects a miniscule fraction of the population with estates worth several million dollars and the fact that the tax revenue lost by repealing the tax would fund up to 3/4 of the future Social Security shortfall) and that the very wealthiest in our country are the ones that are truly in need of help, not us... well, the list goes on and on. Feel free to contribute some more examples of how these poor folks have to somehow believe things that anyone with two eyes and a functioning brain would know to be false.


President Bush plans to attend next week's dedication of the state's new Abraham Lincoln museum.

The White House announced Friday that Bush will tour the museum and make remarks at the opening ceremony on Tuesday.

Richard Norton Smith, director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, said Bush's presence confirms its status as "a project of national scope."

"He is a Lincoln fan. I know that for a fact," Smith added. "I think it's something that has really grown on him during his presidency. I think a lot of presidents sooner or later find themselves turning to Lincoln and identifying with Lincoln."

Bush and his wife also may want to see the facility to get ideas for a Bush library after the president leaves office, Smith said.

The Bush II library could be housed in a broom closet. This White House is the most secretive in history, and Bush Jr. has already made sure that his papers from his Texas governorship were spirited away and hidden in his daddy's library where they're held in total secrecy. He also made a special effort early in his first term to amend laws governing presidential papers in such a way as to ensure that almost none would be available to scholars and historians. The way he changed the law, a former president can simply object to any of their papers being released, and, in a new twist designed to allow Jr. to sheild his Dad and cronies, he also added the provision that CURRENT presidents can object to any former president's papers being released, even if the former president has no objection! So, say, if Clinton wanted to release documents, Bush Jr. could object and no one would would be able to access them.

Aside from Mao-like glowing larger-than-life portraits and other attempts to deify this clown, there would be little else in a Bush Jr. library. Certainly nothing of interest to presidential scholars. This administration is determined that no records of their often shameless actions will ever see the light of day, whether 20 years from now, or 200.

And of course,Bush has no business stepping foot anywhere near anything to do with Lincoln. But it's no surprise that in his megalomania, he couldn't resist a chance to appear in Springfield and try to have some Lincoln aura rub off on him. I'm sure in Bush's mind, he regards himself as every bit the historical equal to Lincoln.

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April 16, 2005

Bush economic policies come home to roost; Dow takes biggest plunge in two years

U.S. stocks tumbled, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its biggest drop in almost two years, in a selloff sparked by International Business Machines Corp.'s disappointing earnings report.

Benchmark indexes had their steepest weekly declines since at least August, led by companies such as General Motors Corp. and Alcoa Inc., as well as IBM.

"The significance of IBM is more than just technology -- in the eyes of the market, it's indicative of the slowing economy," said Christopher Sheldon, who helps manage $76 billion as director of investment strategy at Mellon Private Wealth Management in Boston.

Losses circled the globe amid renewed concern that demand in the world's largest economy may be waning. An improved profit outlook from General Electric Co. and better-than-expected earnings from Citigroup Inc. failed to boost the U.S. market.

The Dow average slid 191.24, or 1.9 percent, to 10,087.51, its worst one-day performance since May 2003. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 19.43, or 1.7 percent, to 1142.62, its largest drop since September 2003. The Nasdaq Composite Index slumped 38.56, or 2 percent, to 1908.15.

On the New York Stock Exchange, almost seven stocks fell for every one that gained, the broadest retreat in at least nine months. Some 2.2 billion shares changed hands on the Big Board, making it the second-busiest trading day this year.

Former D'Port mayor Kathy Kirschbaaum dead at 73

Kathy Kirschbaum, the first woman elected mayor in Davenport and in Iowa and a champion of the city's bike paths, died Thursday at age 73 at Crest Health Care, Davenport.

Arrangements are pending at Runge Mortuary, Davenport.

Kathy Kirschbaum became Davenport's first woman alderman in 1967 and went on to serve four years as the city's first woman mayor, from 1972 to 1976. She also was an Iowa delegate to them 1972 Democratic National Convention.

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April 15, 2005

R.I. Alderman Brooks arrested for altercation...again

Rock Island 1st Ward Ald. Terry Michael Alan Brooks won't be charged following an arrest early Friday morning in connection with a domestic battery.

Ald. Brooks, 44, of 1115 8th St., was arrested by Rock Island police after an incident that occurred about 11:30 p.m. Thursday in the 1500 block of 11th Street.

Sgt. Roy Melton, of the Rock Island police, said Ald. Brooks got into a confrontation with a family member -- a 39-year-old female. He said there was enough probable cause at the time for Ald. Brooks to be arrested.

He wouldn't elaborate on the details of the incident.

The alderman was taken to the Rock Island County Jail about 1 a.m. Friday. He was held over night, and was released Friday afternoon after making his initial appearance in court.

No one from the Rock Island County State's Attorney's office would explain Friday why Ald. Brooks was not charged.

It was the third time in eight years Ald. Brooks was arrested in connection with domestic battery.

He was charged with misdemeanor counts of domestic battery in 2000 and 1997.

In the 2000 case, Ald. Brooks and Dameion F. Watkins of Rock Island were each arrested and charged for an altercation they had in the 1200 block of 12th Street.

The misdemeanor charges against both Ms. Watkins and Ald. Brooks were later dismissed.

The misdemeanor charge in the 1997 case was filed after an incident in which Ald. Brooks was accused of striking his then 15-year-old stepdaughter. He was found innocent at trial.

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A prime candidate for Bush's cannon fodder

Read this poor deluded high school student's thoughs and weep.

After watching a movie shown in my English class at United Township High School about the war in Iraq, I decided to write my true feelings about the situation. The movie made me so mad. It showed pictures of the twin towers being attacked and many people dying. It also showed the war and the people who have died so far.

The movie made me want to join the military and go after justice. The cowards who attacked us need to pay dearly for what they have done.

I believe that when we catch everyone who planned or helped the terrorists in any way they should all get a bullet. Better yet, I think we should take everyone who was involved with the attack on New York City and hang them right on Ground Zero; that way everyone will see the people responsible being punished severely. It would also show a very important point -- you cannot escape justice.

I am truly grateful for everything that the military has done. I am thankful for every one of the American soldiers that have died protecting me. They are all truly saints. I am also thankful for the soldiers still fighting for the United States' freedom as well as my own. I also know that they won't quit until justice is achieved.

Overall, I am thankful for George W. Bush who has the guts to stand up and fight instead of someone like John Kerry who just wanted to talk it over. Thank you George W. Bush and the entire military for protecting me and the United States of America, and for making sure that 9/11's attackers are punished and for making sure that there isn't another attack. Thank you all truly.

Casey W. Meier is a student at United Township High School.

There's so much wrong with young Casey's logic that I wouldn't know where to begin. He's just another person laboring under so many false beliefs and so much false bravado that it's difficult to read. And for many like him, such delusion has meant death or living the rest of their lives without arms, legs, or eyesight or with other less noticiable scars, both physical and psychological.

While Cook County declines in population, suburban sprawl continues, Kendall second fastest growing county in U.S.

Urban sprawl is sprawling farther and farther from Chicago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.

Cheaper housing has drawn people out beyond Chicago's five collar counties, helping to make Kendall County -- about 50 miles west of Chicago -- the second fastest growing county in the nation last year. The population jumped 8.3 percent to 72,548 from 67,018 in 2003.

The only county in the country to outpace Kendall last year was Flagler County on Florida's east coast where the population grew 10.1 percent to 69,005 from 62,696 in 2003, according to the census data.

In Kendall County, there are no signs the growth is slowing.

"There could be a slowdown if you run out of land that can be developed, but I don't see that happening," Powers said. "I think that all developable land will be consumed only by 2020."

Still, Powers knows one factor that could cut into the growth: rising gas prices. Commuters may decide that what they spend on gasoline cancels out what they save in lower taxes and cheaper housing prices, he said.

Behind Kendall, the next fastest growing Illinois county on the national census list was Will, one of the Chicago collar counties. The community southwest of Chicago saw its population climb 4.8 percent to 613,849 in 2004 up from 585,482 the year before.

Other Illinois counties that collar the collar counties saw population bumps too. Boone County, which borders Wisconsin, had a 4.1 percent bump in population to 48,490; Grundy, about 55 miles southwest of Chicago, saw a 3.8 percent rise to 41,069 people; Kankakee saw a modest 0.9 percent increase to 107,188; and DeKalb's rose 2 percent to 95,503.

While some Illinois counties are enjoying growth, 39 out of the state's 102 counties saw some decline in population between 2003 and 2004.

Cook County lost more people between 2000 and 2004 than any county in the nation, according to estimates released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

The new figures--based on administrative records and estimates for births, deaths and net migration--show the county lost nearly 49,000 people, or 0.9 percent, since the last official count in April 2000.

The largest-loser designation can partly be attributed to its massive size because raw numbers were used for the rankings. Still, among the nation's 10 largest counties, Cook County, with 5.3 million residents, was the only to record a population loss during the four-year period.

Warren County led the state in percent of population lost, falling 2.5 percent last year to 17,796 from 18,252. Following Warren in most population lost are Edwards, Scott, Alexander, Greene, and Knox, with a loss of 1 percent.

Behind Kendall, other counties in Illinois with the largest growth were Will, Boone, Grundy, Kane, McHenry, Monroe, and DeKalb, all of whom had growth over 2 percent.

Rock Island county's population has held steady, with a loss of only 41 residents,less than a tenth of a percent.
Whiteside's grew by 59 or 0.1 percent.
Mercer's grew by 43 or 0.3 percent.
Henry county's population declined by 194 or -0.4 percent
and Carroll county lost 42 or -0.3 percent.

Fundies sue Blago for right to refuse to dispense contraceptive pills

A conservative legal group filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of two Downstate pharmacists against Gov. Rod Blagojevich, challenging his emergency rule earlier this month requiring all pharmacists in Illinois to quickly dispense birth control and emergency contraception pills.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a group founded by Pat Robertson, said the order would require the pharmacists to violate their religious beliefs if they are forced to dispense prescriptions for emergency contraception, including the morning-after pill.

The suit, filed on behalf of pharmacists Peggy Pace and John Menges, both of Edwardsville, seeks an injunction on Blagojevich's emergency rule, which requires pharmacies that sell contraceptives to fill such prescriptions promptly. The governor issued the order after a pharmacist at a Loop Osco pharmacy refused to fill two prescriptions for the morning-after pill.

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Developer walks after Port Byron board doesn't buckle

Developers of a proposed subdivision in Port Byron walked out of a village board meeting after the board voted to table agreement on a TIF or tax increment financing district until after newly elected board members are seated.

The village had already agreed on tax kick-backs to the developer for many items including marketing and lot-closing costs, but had not agreed on how much tax payers should fork over to the developers for land aquisition.

This is appalling. Businessmen, who always extoll the virtues of the market and how hard they work to compete, walking out indignant after the taxpayers of an area won't give them even more subsidies and protections from any losses on the deal.
How in the world is it assumed that taxpayers should foot the bill for marketing a private development and coughing up money for closing costs of buyers and sellers?

In these situations, it's assumed that the value to the community would come from increased tax revenues from development, but under TIF districts, any increase in tax revenues would have been handed back to the developers to subsidize a huge part of their costs. How is this considered advantageous to anyone other than these developers and their investors?

Is it to be assumed that the economy is so horrible that without huge amounts of welfare to businesses, there simply would be NO development whatsoever? It's hard to imagine that is the case, and if it is, then the economy is really in worse shape than people realize. Either way it stinks.

Even though the Port Byron board had a perfectly legitimate reason for postponing approval, it's refreshing, and unusual, to see business interests bailing on a project because they couldn't extort as much as they'd hoped from local government.

Perhaps this was a gambit to try to force the issue. One hopes that Port Byron sticks to it's guns. If this group couldn't make it without such heavy subsidies, and couldn't wait a matter of weeks for a decision, then one wonders if you'd want them around anyway. Apparently they plan to move on to find some other suckers.

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WIU "Blue Ribbon" panel on the case

The so-called "Blue Ribbon" committee formed with impetus from Sen. Mike Jacobs to accelerate the development of Western Illinois University's Moline riverfront campus is already on the job. (The term "Blue Ribbon takes on new meaning since the ultra-expensive restaurant of the same name in Moline has become the hang-out of choice for certain politicos after their former hang-out, the equally high-priced "Five", went out of business.)

Sub-committees of the panel include Finance and Legal, Political and Community Affairs, and Construction and Operations, which has already met this week.

The panel is to present their recommendations by mid-May of this year.
It would take until 2008 to open the new campus in Moline, WIU officials said earlier this year. The project also still needs an estimated $15 million for construction.

The recommendations will be presented to state state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline; Illinois State Rep., Pat Verschoore, D-Milan; Rep. Mike Boland, D-East Moline, and Western Illinois University president Alvin Goldfarb.

"We need to sprint, not walk," Sen. Jacobs said in a statement. "WIU's expansion on the Moline riverfront is critical to our area's economy and quality of life."
Sub-committee members are:

Construction and Operations Sub-Committee:

Todd Raufeisen, Chair, Raufeisen Development Company
Jerry Taylor, Dispatch/Argus
Bill Brewer, WIU
Rory Washburn, Tri-City Building Trades
Jeanne Clerc, WIU
Mike Thoms, Thoms Proestler Company
Jim Collins, Deere & Co.

Finance and Legal Sub-Committee:

Deb Peterson, Chair, Trinity Regional Health System
Ted Johnson, Quad City Bank and Trust
Lew Steinbrecher, city of Moline
Matt Stern, Stern Beverage
Harvey Levin, Califf and Harper, P.C.
Jackie Thompson, WIU
Pete Benson, Lane and Waterman

Political and Community Affairs Sub-Committee:

Bob Imler, Chair, RiverStone Group
Jeff Terronez, Rock Island County state's attorney
Ken Schloemer, QCREDA
Roger Clawson, State Farm Insurance
Carolyn Ehlert, Deere & Co.
Jeff Nelson, MetroLINK
Dave Steelman, WIU
Joe Moreno, city of East Moline

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Activist Tom Higgins to be featured speaker at Quad City Progressive Action forum

Tom Higgins knows how to get things started, and he will offer his expertise and views to grassroots organizers on Saturday.

Mr. Higgins' expertise has taken him to the Iowa state house, the White House and a new bio-technology company. He will be the keynote speaker Saturday at a community forum and summit for Quad City Progressive Action for the Common Good at Augustana College.

Mr. Higgins organized Vietnam War protests, founded a drug-abuse treatment program in the Quad-Cities in the early 1970s, and was elected to three terms in the Iowa General Assembly.

President Jimmy Carter selected him to be a senior executive at the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare. He also was deputy secretary of the Cabinet.

In the early 1980s, he headed west, where he was head of Health and Human Services Department in Portland, Ore. He has since worked in health care since the mid-1980s.

He calls the Quad-Cities one of the most fertile areas he has ever seen for grassroots organization.

"This is a broad-based group of citizens trying to organize around issues they have in common," he said of Progressive Action for the Common Good. "I think my happy task is to talk about the principles that under gird some of this."

The fairly new progressive coalition tackles issues ranging from Social Security to health care, to education to the Davenport riverfront. It requires appreciating several types of thinking, he said.

"I think people have to be motivated and inspired by ideas," he said. "Like in international affairs, you have to be willing to work in alliances with a conviction to get things accomplished."

Saturday's forum also will feature workshops on a number of social issues, including health care, poverty and housing, women's issues, and reclaiming faith and values from a progressive point of view.

Registration for the forum and summit starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Wallenburg Auditorium at Austustana College. Speakers start at 9 a.m. and run until noon.

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GOP soirée trots out potential candidates

Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, was the featured speaker at the Rock Island County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner Thursday night at The Mark of the Quad Cities.

LaHood, who lived briefly in East Moline and worked for former 17th District congressman Tom Railsback, said he'd decide in July whether he will challenge Rod Blagojevich for the governorship.

His complaints centered on loss of businesses in the state and the loss of doctors in southern Illinois.

Republican dairy mogul James Oberweis has already officially declared his candidacy for the Illinois Governor's seat. Oberweiss lost the Republican primary to Jack Ryan. After Ryan dropped out of the race over the revelation of a kinkitation situation, state Republican leaders passed over Oberweiss in favor of lunatic Allen Keyes. Oberweis spent $3.01 million of his own money in his losing bid in the Senate primary. He said he would again be spending his own money on the gubernatorial campaign, but declined to estimate how much.

Oberweiss milk and dairy products are available at Jewel and other stores. They come in glass bottles and are nearly twice the price of regular milk. Unless you want to support Republican causes and his campaign, I'd think twice before purchasing his products.

State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett and former State Board of Education chairman Ron Gidwitz have all indicated their interest in becoming Governor of Illinois. State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger of Elgin has also been mentioned.

Republicans hoping to unseat Lane Evans in the 17th District were trotted out as well. Brian "Gilligan" Gilliland, 43, of Aledo, Jim Mowen of Rock Island, and Andrea Zinga of Coal Valley, all spoke at the catered affair.

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IL lege upholds our treasured right to be stupid

The Illinois Legislature has struck down a proposed bill that would have made it illegal to ride in the back of a pick-up truck. It failed in the Senate 23-33.

It's hard to know which side to come down on with this issue, as it pits personal freedom to do reckless and dangerous things against the role of government in protecting people from doing them.

But one question does arise. Why does government outlaw and/or tax certain risky or unhealthy behaviors and not others? Why should smokers and drinkers be taxed up the yazoo, all drivers be required to wear seat-belts, motorcycle riders required to wear a helmet, boaters be required to have floatation devices in their boats, yet people that risk serious injury by allowing people to ride in the bed of a pick-up are out of bounds?

As with many things, in certain situations, riding in the back of a truck is not all that dangerous, but in others, it's completely reckless and irresponsible. If you're allowing kids to ride sitting in the back of a truck while you drive at a moderate speed for a relatively short distance, that's one thing, but going down a bumpy rural road or highway at 60 mph with kids standing up in the bed of a truck is inexcusable.

I suppose laws against endangerment might take up the slack here, and allow individual cases where injury occurs to be judged on a case-by-case basis.

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The beauty of rural life

Bishop Hill forgets that they needed to elect a mayor. Ooops.

BISHOP HILL -- No one realized it in time for the April 5 election, but Don Talbot's term as mayor is expiring.

The mayor's seat was supposed to have been on the ballot earlier this month, outgoing village clerk Marcia Carleson told the village board Wednesday.

The State Board of Elections recently brought the oversight to the attention of Henry County officials.

The mayor wasn't at the meeting, but Trustee Wayne Ericson said the mayor thought he had a four-year term. He was appointed to the job in November 2001, replacing Laura Wendel, who resigned to spend more time with her family.

Ms. Carleson said to solve the mixup, it was recommended the board appoint Mayor Talbot to another two-year term, ending in the spring of 2007 -- which trustees did.

Not one person in town government noticed this. The state board of elections had to point it out. The mayor had the length of his term mixed up. A solution was proposed, and they immediately took care of it.

If this had happened around here, (not that it would), they'd fight over it for months. The mayor would be characterized as an incompetent buffoon. (well actually, the mayor would NEVER be honest enough to admit they thought their term was four years rather than two) And there would be much gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair over simply extending the mayor's term to solve the problem.
Rural life certainly has it's advantages.

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April 14, 2005

Iowa lege considering big pay boost, Republican leader flip-flops

Iowa lawmakers would give themselves a hefty pay raise and more money for expenses under a proposal being considered in the Iowa House.

The pay hike, starting in 2007, is part of a bill establishing salaries for state workers proposed by Gov. Tom Vilsack.

Iowa House Speaker Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, [file under names that match occupations] has been a vocal critic of the salary hikes negotiated for state workers in recent years, but is backing a pay raise for himself and fellow legislators.

Rank and file lawmakers would see their annual salaries boosted from $21,381 to $25,000, an increase of 16.9 percent. Legislative leaders would get an even bigger pay hike. Their annual salaries would jump to $37,500 from $32,974, a 13.7 percent increase.

The money lawmakers are paid for food and lodging during the legislative session would rise from $86 a day to $105. They also would be paid $300 a month in expenses, up from $200.

Let's face it, these guys and gals work their asses off. But unfortunately, 80% of the time it's for themselves or their party colleagues, not for the public good.

So shouldn't they get paid more money for their very hard work in raising more money so that they can give more state money to those who gave them money to get re-elected so they can continue to get paid more money to raise more money to get elected so they can give away more state money to those who give them money, etc.?
What a glorious system.

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Dean investing $500,000 in state parties as beginning of "SHOW UP" effort

Dean Fulfills Pledge to Provide Personnel, Funds to all 50 State Parties: Effort Begins With MO, ND, NC, & WV

Little Rock, AR — Speaking before the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC) today, Gov. Howard Dean announced that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) invest nearly half a million dollars to strengthen the state Democratic Parties in Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The announcement comes as the ASDC meets for the first time since Gov. Dean was elected Chairman of the Democratic Party.

The $465,000 investment was agreed upon while working with the state parties on their specific needs, and will fund a variety of positions and programs. The investment marks the beginning of a broader effort to make the Democratic Party competitive in all 50 states by strengthening state Democratic Parties.

"This is just the beginning," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Governor Howard Dean during the announcement, "today we are launching our plan, but as our team continues to work with the state parties we will announce additional investments in the weeks ahead. We have to show up if we're going to win, and we have to rebuild and empower our state parties."

This effort is part of Dean and the DNC's "SHOW UP" project where they intend to not conceed any state in future elections, and to funnel funds, support, and organization to all 50 states.

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Life during Bush time

This is ridiculous, not to mention a pretty chilling indication of how things have changed under the Bush regime.

The Secret Service sent agents to investigate a college art gallery exhibit of mock postage stamps, one depicting President Bush with a gun pointed at his head, to guarantee "this is nothing more than artwork with a political statement," a spokesman said Tuesday.

The exhibit, called "Axis of Evil: The Secret History of Sin," opened last week at Columbia College's Glass Curtain Gallery in Chicago.

The 47 artists designed fake postage stamps addressing issues such as the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, racism, and the war in Iraq. None of the artists is tied to the college.

Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur said Tuesday that the inquiry started after a call from a Chicago resident.

Mazur would not say whether the inquiry had been completed or with whom the Secret Service had spoken, but he said no artwork had been confiscated.

"We need to ensure, as best we can, that this is nothing more than artwork with a political statement," Mazur said.

In a related aside, it is reported that during the Moline Little League kick-off meeting at Moline High School last night, a video was shown to the audience extolling the virtues of Little League. The video was approximately 10 minutes long, and featured clips of a speech by Kevin Kostner for a few minutes, and the remaining 3/4 of the video was composed of video of George Bush making witty quips at a podium while talking about his experience in Little League for several minutes. The video then evolved into childhood shots of him in a baseball uniform and further focus on what a great guy he is and how he embodies all the great virtues of Little League.

Parents and children can't even attend an organizing event for Little League without being subjected to Bush propaganda? A little clip of the President, sure. That's no problem other than having to stomach it for a minute or two, but seven minutes out of a 10 minute video? Amazing. The Bush cult is alive and well. And it's sickening.

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Shamsie development still facing opposition

The city's plan commission wants developer Mike Shamsie to provide more answers to the property owners around his proposed housing development before it will sign off on the plan.

The commission Tuesday tabled action on approving the plat for Ashton Place, a $10 million, 50 single-family home project on 12 acres south of East Moline's 23rd Avenue and west of 19th Street, in unincorporated Rock Island County. Mr. Shamsie would like to sell the homes at $150,000 to $175,000 each. Mr. Shamsie has asked that the property to be annexed into East Moline and rezoned.

Several property owners voiced concerns over drainage through the property, septic and sewer line access, and specific plans for a retaining wall along the north edge of the property.

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A tip of the hat to local talent

ABC's real “Desperate Housewives” might have taken a pass at posing in Playboy magazine, but it didn't stop Playboy from finding some "Real Desperate Housewives," including a woman from Clinton, Iowa.

Kathy Sander, 37, was one of 12 women selected to appear in the magazine's "Real Desperate Housewives" feature, appearing in the May 2005 issue.

She appears in two pictures, one wearing an apron. [What's she wearing in the other? A smile?] The mother of two tells the magazine she's never seen the television show but understands what it's like to be a desperate housewife because she believes her neighbors are just too nosy.

In fact, she suspects they know what brand of toilet paper she uses, she said.

The adult publication began a nationwide search in November for curvaceous homemakers willing to pose nude for the pictorial and fielded about 1,000 submissions from across the country.

"Desperate Housewives" took network television by storm when it opened to an audience of 21.6 million in viewers when it first aired in early October.

The show airs on ABC on Sunday nights. Playboy made a $9.5 million offer for the cast to pose nude, but the offer was turned down.

A big Inside Dope thumbs up to Ms. Sander for being a fine representative of the many desperate housewives in the area.

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I wouldn'da did what I did, if I hadn'da been high.

Taking a page out of the politicians scandal control handbook, a Bettendorf man has entered a plea of "I don't recall."...
A district court judge allowed a Bettendorf man to enter a plea Wednesday to an assault charge because he didn't remember nearly beating his ex-wife to death.

Judge David Sivright Jr. allowed Randy Lee Harms, 44, to make an "Alfred Plea" -- a plea to serve his best interests without admitting guilt -- on a charge of willful injury causing serious injury. [does this have something to do with Batman's butler?]

Mr. Harms said he was on a "368-day binge," sleeping three hours a week and staying awake on crack cocaine, when he went to confront his ex-wife Sept. 20, 2004, at her home in Bettendorf. He wanted answers to lies about the past, he said. [well, at least he can say that he made it three days past the coveted year-long bender mark.]

"I was down and out, an alcoholic and drug addict," Mr. Harms said in court. "I don't remember how I got there or what happened next. I only remember going in the door and going out of the door. She was laying in a pool of blood, and I ran."

He didn't remember the details. He said he believed police when they told him he went into her home, beat her with his fists and hit her on the head with a glass ashtray.

Assistant Scott County Attorney Bob Weinberg said if the case went to trial, intoxication wouldn't work as a defense.

"We have proof from the ex-wife that he said he was going to kill her several times," he said, adding the woman's injuries were serious.

In order for Judge Sivright to accept the plea agreement, which dropped an attempted murder charge, he needed proof. Usually, defendants admit to committing their crimes.

"How do I get a factual basis for this if he doesn't remember?" the judge asked rhetorically.

"I must have did it," Mr. Harms replied.

The judge accepted the plea because Mr. Harms didn't deny the fight, although he couldn't recall what happened.

Mr. Harms, who had been free on $13,000 bond since November, was placed in the Scott County Jail until his May 12 sentencing.
Perhaps some of our legal eagles can explain this "Alfred" plea and what exactly went on here. How will this differ as far as sentencing compared to if he had been found guilty at trial?

Two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong.

A district court judge said a Davenport man, claiming to be Jesus and John the Baptist at his arrest, was a "completely different person" at his sentencing Wednesday.

Judge Mary Howes said Russell L. Palmer, 45, 3544 Kimberly Downs Road, did not remember the incidents for which he had been jailed since January.

Judge Howes sentenced him to 30 days in jail on one count of assaulting a healthcare worker and one count of assault with injury on a peace officer. A third assault on an officer charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Mr. Palmer was released from Scott County Jail Wednesday because he had already served more than enough time since his arrest Jan. 2.

Mr. Palmer was arrested an incident at Cheddar's Restaurant, 1221 E. Kimberly Road, Davenport.

Police found a man sitting in the bar lounge, exposing himself and yelling he was Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, according to an affidavit filed in Scott County District Court.

Mr. Palmer underwent a psychological evaluation at the Iowa Department of Corrections' facility in Anamosa, Iowa. There Mr. Palmer was diagnosed schizophrenic, Judge Howes said in court, adding he got better with medication.

"I don't think you're an assaultive person," the judge told Mr. Palmer. "I think you're mentally ill and there's no shame in that."

This guy's mistake was hanging out at the bar at Cheddars. At the joints where I used to hang out, this sort of thing wouldn't have been all that remarkable.
It's worth noting though, the frequency with which schizophrenics suffer from religious delusions. There often appears to be a thin line between fervent religious beliefs and madness.

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Anti-smoking activists want to extend their reach in Illinois

Cities around the state soon may be able to snuff out smoking in restaurants and taverns if they wish.

Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D-Maywood, said state law should give local governments the power to ban smoking in restaurants and bars in their cities and towns. The state House approved the measure on Wednesday.

Opponents argue that the decision should be up to individual restaurant and bar owners rather than local government.

Rep. Mike Boland, D-East Moline, voted against the measure. Certain establishments, such as taverns and bars, should be exempt from the bill, he said.

But supporters of the bill said all workers, whether in restaurants or bars, should be assured of smoke-free air.

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Durbin bill rescues Arsenal funding... for now

A supplemental Iraq war spending bill, endorsed Wednesday by Senate appropriators, overrides Army plans to divert $4.6 million in support money from the Rock Island Arsenal.

The language was included in the $80.4 billion bill by Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It is scheduled for debate on the Senate floor next week.

Sen. Durbin inserted the language in response to a move by the Army to cut, by $4.6 million, a $12.5 million appropriation for the Arsenal that was included in the fiscal 2005 defense spending bill. The $12.5 million "shall be available only for industrial mobilization capacity at Rock Island Arsenal," according to legislative language provided by Sen. Durbin's staff.

The Industrial Mobilization Capacity account is meant to cover the costs of maintaining industrial equipment and workspace held in reserve for wartime emergencies. It helps lower work rates for Arsenal production and presumably helps it better compete for contracts with other government and private-sector military producers.

No similar language was included in the $81.4 billion House version of the supplemental. The differing versions will be reconciled by a House-Senate conference committee before final passage.

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April 13, 2005

Arlen Spector battling Hodgkin's disease

I happened to catch Sen. Arlen Specter on a committee not long ago and was shocked at his appearance. He's been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a form a cancer, and has been receiving radiation treatments which cause a loss of hair.

Specter has done some disagreeable things in the past, to be sure, but during his recent re-election campaign he was attacked brutally by fellow Republicans who wanted to oust him and replace him with a more malleable candidate who would jump to the White House's tune on the Judiciary Committee, which Specter now chairs.

Once elected, they continued to savagely bully and beat him up, eventually succeeding in making him promise that if they allowed him to be chair, he'd dance to their tune.

Say what you will, Specter is a man of his own mind, and by today's standard, where radical rightists are the norm, he seems positively moderate. Compared to today's fire-breathing ideologues on the right, Specter is a wise-man. He's one of the few Republicans who has a hard time going along with the more loony notions of the far right.

The Dope wishes Sen. Specter good health and a successful treatment of this serious disease.

Clinton on Finkelstein

Former President Bill Clinton says it's "sad" that a Republican political consultant who married his male partner is raising funds to defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Finkelstein told the New York Times last week that he had married his partner of 40 years in Massachusetts, saying he believes "visitation rights, health care benefits and other human relationship contracts that are taken for granted by all married people should be available to partners." The marriage took place in December.

Clinton said Monday there might be "some sort of self-loathing" for Arthur Finkelstein, the longtime GOP operative who helped Gov. George Pataki unseat Democrat Mario Cuomo in 1994.

Finkelstein is lining up donors to help raise $10 million for a "Stop Her Now" committee to defeat the senator's 2006 re-election effort.

"I thought, one of two things. Either this guy believes his party is not serious and is totally Machiavellian in its position, or you know, as David Brock said in his great book Blinded by the Right, there's some sort of self-loathing or something. I was more sad for him."

In the book Clinton was referring to, the formerly conservative Brock says that when he attacked the left he was expressing his own gay self-hatred.

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New Lincoln museum to be highlighted on C-Span

Springfield's long awaited grand opening of the new Lincoln Museum is generating a lot of buzz. The museum features many lively and non-traditional high-tech exhibits and displays.

On Monday morning from 6 to 9 a.m, C-Span's Washington Journal will broadcast live from the museum in Springfield and feature a tour with noted presidential historian Richard Norton Smith.

Smith was a former director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential museum in West Branch, Iowa, and has since been affiliated with many other presidential museums.

From his bio on the White House web site:
Between 1987 and 2001, Mr. Smith served as Director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas; the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Reagan Center for Public Affairs in Simi Valley, California; the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, Michigan respectively.

In December, 2001 Mr. Smith became director of the new Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. There he supervised construction of the Institute's $11.3 million permanent home and launched a Presidential Lecture Series and other high profile programs. In October, 2003 he was appointed the first Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a four building complex in Springfield, Illinois scheduled to open in 2004.

This will be an excellent chance to preview this museum and see what they've done with all the money raised for this project.