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May 28, 2005

Say what?

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas sure says a lot of stupid stuff.

He got all huffy after his name was mentioned unfavorably on the NBC cop show "Law & Order." He complained to the network, ranting that the mention trivialized "the sensitive issue of judicial security" and is a "great disservice to public discourse."

This is the same Tom Delay who, busily demagoging the Terri Schiavo tragedy, said of judges, "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." Talk about trivializing "the sensitive issue of judicial security."

In the face of withering criticism that he was inviting further violence against judges, he backed down, saying he had spoken "inartfully."

He hasn't lost his taste for the wide-ranging threat, though. In the Law & Order flap, he said, "The time will come for the TV producers responsible for this to answer for their behavior." That's pretty "inartful," too, I'd say.

Already rebuked by the House Ethics Committee and facing new hearings there, it's likely to be Delay who'll will soon find it time to "answer for his behavior."

Posted by jcb at 09:44 PM | Comments (1)

Insurance, ED and birth control

The news that tax money is going to sex offenders to pay for Viagra and other drugs aimed at correcting "erectile dysfunction" sure has created a stir.

A Kansas cop likened the practice to "giving clubs to wife-beaters" and drinks to DUI offenders.

Iowa and Illinois both rushed to say they haven't been using Medicaid money to buy sex pills for sex offenders and vowed to make sure it never happens. States that have been doing it are rushing to shut down the practice. All well and good.

Next question: Should Medicaid by paying for sex enhancers for anybody? How come there's no outcry about that from our ever so puritanical administration and its allies in Congress?

A good many people are honked off, too, that private insurance companies are a lot more likely to pay for erectile dysfunction drugs than they are contraceptives.

"So why are women still paying out of pocket for birth control, while drugs for men, such as Viagra, are covered by insurance?' is the question asked by petitioners asking Congress to extend insurance coverage to contraceptives.

Male though I be, got to admit that's a good question.

Posted by jcb at 09:03 PM | Comments (1)

But what will the feds say?

William D.Ashton, whose engineering firm has handled a lot of riverfront work for Davenport, says the Isle of Capri has nada chance of getting the federal permits needed to move upstream next to its proposed hotel.

Writing in the River Cities Reader, Mr. Ashton offers a serious alternative to the IOC's current proposal.

Given what he says, the alderpeople need get a lot better informed about the permit issues and the role to be played by the Corps of Engineers and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- one more reason not to rush the vote.

It does seems certain now that the vote won't happen June 1. The do-it-fast crowd, in the face of additional questions from the alderpeople, is now in minimize-the-delay mode. Alderperson McGivern, who's pushed hardest for an early vote, seemed to concede delay is inevitable when he said Thursday he'll ask that any postponement be for no longer than a week, to June 7.

The next big step comes Tuesday at 4:30 at city hall, when there'll be public hearings on various aspects of the proposed IOC-city deal.

Posted by jcb at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2005

Picking on the kids

When you need something to do, pick on the kids.

Illinois lawmakers took that path again this week when they passed a bill making it illegal for 16- and 17-year-olds to use a cell phone while driving, even if it's a no-hands device.

If cell-phone blabbing while driving is dangerous enough to outlaw, make it illegal for all drivers. Not just the kids.

Posted by jcb at 01:58 PM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2005

Fast shuffle, fast deal, equals plucked innocents

The Isle of Capri's ace in the hole, in its riverfront game with Davenport, is that it's ugly.

Yup, a lot of folks are willing to go along with moving the boat a block upstream and building a hotel-parking ramp next to it just so they don't have to look at the current mess any more. Understand, they don't like being told it's this or that, but given the choice...

Empathy for that viewpoint is easy. Rhythm City is a garish barge surrounded by parking lots, and the picture being painted is a hotel that architecturally reflects the Figge and the skywalk, all connected by green space. Pretty picture, actually, if you can get past the fact a hotel/parking ramp doesn't belong there.

Course, though, the hotel/parking ramp HAS to be there, 'cause gamblers are lazy. Walking a block is way too much work, and three blocks -- what? Are you crazy?

If gamblers weren't so danged lazy we could tear up the parking lots now, and the displaced cars could land in those fine new and empty-looking ramps we already have just a short block from the boat.

If gamblers weren't so danged lazy, the IOC could spend its $25 million fixing up the Black Hawk Hotel, which it already owns and which is barely three blocks from the boat.

Yup, if gamblers weren't so danged lazy, parkin' and sleepin' could easily be provided, no riverfront hotel needed. Slap a new coat of paint on the Rhythm City, maybe even move it a block, and, hey, life'd be good.

We could try marketing to the the un-lazy gamblers; must be at least some who don't mind walking a block. In a region increasingly full of the same old boat-and-a-hotel offerings, it could be a differentiation thing for the promotion department to work with.

IOC's convinced that wouldn't work, though. They know gamblers and gamblers don't want to walk.

So here we are, stuck with a proposal to give lazy gamblers a prettier casino, and our partner in the deal is busy creating competition elsewhere for our joint enterprise. Oh, and flashing that hole card, kinda yellin' at us to hurry up and say OK by next week, or face life with ugly on the riverfront for the next 90 years.

I'm smelling bluff, and I hope the city council does, too.The alderpeople asked a lot of good questions when they first saw that 111-page agreement a week ago, and a revision is to be presented to a council committee Thursday. Given all the convoluted twists and turns spotted in the first version, the new one needs to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb, too, and maybe further revised after a new round of question-and-answer.

There's city money involved, for all the protestions otherwise, and the alderpeople need to make sure they understand exactly what's in the pot before they throw in their hand. They've got a couple of aces in the hole as well, public ownership of the gambling license being one.

So far, we've seen a fast shuffle and a fast deal. In riverboat gambling, that's often a prelude to the pluckin' of the innocents.

John Beydler is news editor at Quad-Cities Online. Email johnbeyd@qconline.com.

Posted by jcb at 03:40 PM | Comments (4)

May 23, 2005

Save the filibuster

Ah, the filibuster. Can it be saved? Should it be saved?

Answer No. 1 is, of course, yes. All that is needed to save the windy weapon is 51 votes in favor of it. They may well be there, despite the 55-45 Republican majority and the apparent determinination by GOP leadership to get an up-down vote on 10 of the most radical of Mr. Bush's judicial appointees.

A sense of institutional responsibility may override partisan considerations for enough GOP senators to leave the filibuster intact.
Great political bodies generally do not surrender any power, even if the prospective recipient is a "friend."

Should it be saved?

The filibuster is simply a tool that enables a minority -- 41 of 100 senators to be precise -- to prevail over the majority by preventing a floor vote that would carry.

It has been with us since the beginning, and has been both good and evil. It's most notable and long-term use was to prevent significant civil rights legislation for nearly 100 years after the Civil War. (As good as education as you could want on that topic is to be found in Master of the Senate, volume three in Robert Caro's fascinating and still unfinished biography of Lyndon Johson.)

But ill use does not make it an ill weapon. Surrendering to a minority viewpoint is not always wrong, unless you're willing to argue that the majority is ALWAYS right. If do argue that, you're likely to be laughed at given the mountain of contrary evidence piled up by history.

Given the times, an empowered Senate minority seems a good thing to me. Leadership of the majority party is demanding everything it wants. It's not enough that all but 10 of the President's judicial appointees have been approved. The Senate is being told to take every last one, no matter how far out on the fringe they may be.

Protecting the rights of the minority generally falls to the courts. And they generally do a decent job, though judges often come under vicious attack for doing so.

The guys and gals in the robes will look even lonlier and more vulnerable, if the Senate surrenders its minority rights.

Posted by jcb at 07:33 PM | Comments (1)

May 21, 2005

So many questions, so little time...

Davenport alderpeople asked some good questions Thursday about the riverfront deal with Isle of Capri. Can they get them all answered by June 1, the date on which they're being pressured to vote?

Lots of questions concerned a $7 million slice of the $43 million deal. The IOC would lend the $7 mil to the city, which would would repay it by rebating $7 million in property taxes the new hotel would otherwise pay. Oh, yeah, the loan carries a 6.9 percent interest rate.

Use of the money? $3.1 million would pay to move the Rhythm City boat; $1.1 million would pay for rerouting utilities; $596,000 would go toward floodproofing the site, and so on.

Why doesn't the Isle just loan itself the $7 million and pay for moving the boat itself? That'd save the taxpayers the interest on the money.

Lots of questions, too, about the $32.8 million that's been negotiated as the property-tax assessment on the hotel. It was repeatedly described as a "minimum" assessment, which reflects wording in the agreement (Page 7). But the very next paragraph (a long one) describes $32.8 million as an assessment "ceiling" (Page 8) and says that if it goes up, the assessment on the boat will go down "dollar for dollar." What's up with that?

A couple of alderpeople said they'd like to see some data from some other towns that shows riverboat gambling operations really do mean money for shore-based merchants. I'm thinking hard data's going to be tough to come by.

Also coming in for quite a bit of criticism was the makeup of the "design review panel" that's supposed to insure a hotel, if one is built, isn't ugly. Four of the nine members would be IOC employees in one fashion or another. Of the remaining five members, two would be appointees of pro-deal mayor Charlie Brooke, one would be appointed by the downtown guys who favor the deal and one would be appointed by the Riverboat Development Authority, the director of which has been leading the charge for the hotel.

Speaking of the Riverboat Development Authority, its $5.1 million contribution to the $43 million total didn't come in for many questions, though it should.

The RDA, in case you don't know, is the entity that actually holds the gambling license used by the IOC in Davenport. The RDA gets a share of the gambling proceeds and awards grants intended to generally better the community. So far, some $35 million has been distributed to various good causes. List

Looks to me, though, like the $5.1 million will come out of future grants; that, is the RDA is going to have $5 million less for its assistance program.

Instead, the money will go for flood protection and other related work at the boat/hotel. Oh, yeah, and for interest, since the $5.1 million will be borrowed.

Given all the questions from the alderpeople, there's bound to be a third draft of the agreement. Assembling that and re-submitting it to the council, which may want to further dissect it, seems a lot to get done by June 1.

Especially when the stake is the riverfront for the next 100 years or more.

Posted by jcb at 10:23 PM | Comments (4)

May 20, 2005

Casino Rock Island on the move?

The bill clearing the way for the Casino Rock Island to move to a site near the I-280 bridge finally moved out of the Illinois House Thursday. On to the Senate now, where the son of the "father of riverboat gambling" will try to steer it to passage.
Sen. Mike Jacobs says it's not a sure thing. But the bill provides for no "expansion" of gambling -- just gives boats the possibility of moving within a city or to a site within five miles of the city, if both the city and the state gaming board say OK. That might keep it from getting caught up in no-more-gambling politics.
Here's the bill status report. Was referred to Senate Rules Committee Friday.
If this project happens, competition gets much sharper for IOC's Rhythm City casino in Davenport.

Posted by jcb at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

Sharing the nitty gritty

Give someone at city hall a star for getting a draft IOC-Davenport agreement and a revised version on the web. Big step into the open.
Nothing brings out local governments' tendency toward secrecy like a draft of legal papers relating to pending contracts, etc. Discussing them in secret is the historical preference in city halls all around the country, and loopholes in many sunshine laws provide cover.
It's nice city hall went the other way, and gave everybody with an interest and a keyboard access to the nitty-gritty of the deal. Helps inform the discussion, if nothing else. Hope it's start of a trend.

Posted by jcb at 12:06 PM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2005

Alderpeople email addresses

I now have a list of city council email addresses, delivered via fax. They follow, and should work if I didn't make a typing mistake inputing info from fax.

Mayor Charles Brooke
First Ward Ald. Roxanna Moritz
Second Ward Ald. Donna Bushek
Third Ward Ald. Keith Meyer
Forth Ward Ald. Ray Ambrose -- no email on record
Fifth Ward Ald. Bill Lynn
Sixth Ward Ald. Bob McGivern
Seventh Ward Ald. Barney Barnhill -- no email on record
Eighth Ward Ald. Tom Engelmann -- no email on record
Ald. at Large Steve Ahrens
Ald. at Large Jamie Howard

I'm sure they're all eager to hear what you think.

Posted by jcb at 12:46 PM | Comments (2)

May 18, 2005

Full speed ahead!

An update of the proposed Isle of Capri-Davenport agreement is up on the city's website: http://www.cityofdavenportiowa.com/images/latest/waterfront/DevAgmt.pdf

There's no slowing these guys down. The Davenport councilpeople decided, 7-3, Wednesday they don't need an extra two weeks to consider the complex paperwork in the Isle of Capri deal.
So it's on to decision day June 1, though alderperson Moritz did say she'll make a motion then to table the matter for two weeks.

Somewhat confusingly she wasn't among the three who voted Wednesday to table for two weeks.

Alderperson McGivern announced he's voting for the deal and asked the Isle's employees to please quit calling about it. None of the other alderpeople said right out which way they're going.
A lot of people spoke for the deal and against the deal, with most of the arguments being rehashes of what's been said a lot of times.

Next up is the Thursday night work session. It's at 6 p.m. at city hall, and a big crowd is expected. The point is to get down to the nitty-gritty of what all the legal jargon in the agreement means in dollars and cents to the city and its future. Big job.

Posted by jcb at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

Communicating in the new century

Want to communicate with your city government... right now?

No problem in East Moline where everybody from the mayor on down lists an email address. Telephone numbers, too.

Same's true in Moline for both the council and workers in all deparments. There's a "contact us" link on the home page.

Rock Island, yup. And all from one link: http://www.rigov.org/cityservices/contactus.html

Bettendorf has a good contact page, too.

Davenport? What? Communicate?

Here's the city council info page No email. No telephone numbers. Not even a group email. Good luck with city departments, too. There are telephone numbers but few names and only a few scattered email addresses. I asked PIO Jennifer Nahra if I was stupidly overlooking something, but she didn't mention anything when we talked.

Too bad there's nothing better, 'specially right now when so many people want to do a little communicatin'.

Posted by jcb at 12:17 PM | Comments (3)

May 17, 2005

Proposed Davenport-Isle deal a stinker

Regarding the proposed agreement between the Isle of Capri and the city of Davenport to re-arrange the downtown riverfront: I think it's a stinker.

The foundation of my doubts is the fact that the IOC is working hard and fast to create competition for its Davenport operation.

The Isle on May 10 was granted the right to build a hotel/casino complex in Waterloo. The Waterloo Courier, in reporting the IOC won the competition, said, "Promoters have said the proposed $98 million project would benefit from the IOC's deep pockets and ability to reinvest in the casino and 200-room hotel."

Waterloo is squarely within the area which IOC says will feed new customers into Davenport, if a hotel is built.

The Isle on April 26 signed a $65 million deal with Bettendorf. Features are a new convention center and a 250-room hotel to supplement the one already there.

Won't some of those prospective new customers the Isle promises Davenport decide to stop at the-just-off-the-interstate Bettendorf boat?

The Isle, at last word, is still contending for an unused license in Illinois, with a plan to build a gambling complex in Rosemont. The plan carries a half-billion dollar pricetag.

A new casino in northeast Illinois will hardly increase whatever little trickle of gamblers come from there to visit the Q-C.

Despite all this, and the springing-up of new casinos un-owned by the Isle, we are to believe that more gamblers will flock to Davenport -- 200,000 a year is the the number the Isle used in a recent mailer to the city's residents. Color me very, very skeptical.

The plan calls for a new hotel, to be connected to the boat, and a new parking ramp, to be connected to the hotel. There will be restaurants. There is talk of shops. It all will be neatly together, tucked away with a railroad track and a busy street between downtown and the people who are here ... to gamble. But we are to believe there will be more traffic, more economic benefit, to downtown than there is now. Color me very, very skeptical.

The plan calls for the city to issue $15 million in bonds, some of which would be used to pay for the parking ramp, which would be leased by the IOC. The city doesn't need another parking ramp. The city has two new and under-utilized parking ramps now.

The plan calls for the city to rebate to the Isle $7 million of whatever new real estate taxes are generated by the hotel. Such rebates are common to encourage investment in depressed urban areas. Calling downtown Davenport "depressed" in May of 2005 is a bit of stretch, though adding a new hotel to the mix won't help the ones already there. Color me very, very skeptical that this rebate is good policy.

What can be said of the plan for the city to buy the Black Hawk Hotel from IOC for $1? One councilperson asked at a Monday meeting that the development plan for the Black Hawk be included in the proposal. The suggestion was greeted with laughter by council members and the audience. What the city gets for its $1 is a pig-in-a-poke that will some day in some fashion cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

There are other financial provisions the impact of which on the city are from clear. They relate to the assessed value of the proposed hotel, the assessed value of the boat, the way in which hotel taxes can be assessed and in the substitution of new fees for old ones.

City council members begin their attempt to understand the implications at a work session at 6 p.m. Thursday at city hall. The meeting is part of a fast-track schedule that calls for a final council vote June 1, less than two weeks from now.

That's not much time to answer the question Ald. Bill Lynn, a professor of economics at St. Ambrose University, asked at a Monday meeting, "Is this economic development?"

He said he suspects a better use could be found for the proceeds of a $15 million bond issue.

Agreeing, no doubt, would be that substantial percentage of the city's population that does not want a hotel/parking ramp built on the downtown riverfront in any case.

Agreeing, no doubt, would be that substantial minority of residents who don't want gambling in town at all -- 30 percent of the citizenry voted against keeping the boats in a referendum two years ago. I'm skeptical this 30 percent wants to issue bonds on behalf of a gambling operation, or give it property tax breaks.

The proposed deal, with all its moral, aesthetic and financial implications, is critical to the city's future. And a test for the council's sense of smell.

John Beydler is news editor at Quad-Cities Online. email johnbeyd@qconline.com

Posted by jcb at 03:10 PM | Comments (10)

May 16, 2005

Rushing right along in Davenport

A move to postpone further hearings on the Isle of Capri's riverfront proposal until January 2006 died on a 7-3 vote in Davenport city council's committee of the whole Monday.

Alds. Ambrose, Meyer and Lynn supported the 6-month delay. Several of the seven councilpeople who think that's too slow also said they're pretty nervous about voting by June 1, as the city's plan calls for at the moment.

Nevertheless council-of-the-whole advanced to Wednesday's meeting proposals to hold public hearings May 31 on various aspects of the IOC proposal.
The council plans a work session on the agreements at 6 p.m. Thursday in council chambers. It's a time and place to ask questions and make comments.

Posted by jcb at 07:24 PM | Comments (0)

Bill Davis gets the "fair and balanced" treatment"

Surprise, surprise. "Fair and balanced" aren't the words Scott County Prosecutor Bill Davis is using to describe his encounter with Bill O'Reilly and Fox News. "Lied" and "lie" were his words of choice.

In reporting on the Davenport arrest of a drunken pregnant woman on Mother's Day and the fact Mr. Davis declined to file a child endangerment charge, O'Reilly said the woman wasn't charged with anything, and Lis Wiehl, a Fox News "legal analyst," said Davis could have found "some avenue" to file charges.

In fact, of course, charges -- public intoxication and prostitution -- were filed. The "child endangerment" count police suggested couldn't be filed because Iowa law provides no basis for it, Mr. Davis said.

The treatment Mr. Davis got from Fox is typical of that received by a lot of judges and prosecutors, most notably Judge George Greer in Florida during the Terri Schaivo drama.
Falsehoods are offered as facts, and the ever-shrill Fox crew attacks legal "activists" even as they demand that officers of the court find "some avenue" to ignore the law and take whatever action the Fox screamers would like to have taken.

Mr. Davis is now a member of the not-very-exclusive "slimed by Fox" club.

Posted by jcb at 09:03 AM | Comments (3)

May 15, 2005

Davenport taxpayers beware

Leaving aside for the moment the issue of riverfront aesthetics, the proposed agreement between Davenport and the Isle of Capri, if approved as is, would be a raw deal for the city's taxpayers.

The rawest elements:

-- The city would rebate 50 percent of property taxes on the new hotel, up to $7 million, to IOC. That is, half the benefit to the city's coffers disappears instantly.

-- When the new hotel is completed, the city would take the Black Hawk Hotel off IOC's hands for $1. That's no bargain. The Black Hawk needs "millions and millions" in renovation work before it could become a viable hotel again, the Isle's Nancy Donovan said back in December at a public presentation of the Isle's plans.

What's Davenport to do that white elephant? Finding someone to take it off the city's hands is going to be pretty much impossible. Whatever patronage is provided by gamblers will disappear when the new hotel is built, leaving the Black Hawk's prospects even more dim than they are now.

Count it as a sure thing that the city will be asked to sink millions into whatever plan finally surfaces to do something with the Black Hawk; this is one of the hidden costs in the IOC deal.

The notion that the city will eventually get back all its investment in the IOC deal and then some is based on the assumption that more and more people will come to downtown Davenport to gamble. Again, I'll say that's pie-in-the-sky stuff given developments in the big picture. Four new casinos are to open in Iowa; a new gambling complex is planned on the Illinois side of the river, at the Interstate 280 bridge; IOC is to build a big addition, including a convention center, at its Bettendorf site.

Given all that, a huge increase in traffic to a downtown Davenport casino, even one with an attached hotel, seems pretty unlikely to me.

Are Davenport council members really going to see this as a good deal for their constituents?

Posted by jcb at 04:05 PM | Comments (5)

May 12, 2005

Riverfront end game at hand

A draft of a new agreement between the city of Davenport and the Isle of Capri covering hotel/riverfront issues is now posted on the city's website.
There's also a schedule of related meetings, which lays out the possibility that a FINAL vote on the agreement could come by June 1.
Get to reading. Call an alderman. Tell him/her what you think, one way or the other.

Posted by jcb at 03:25 PM | Comments (4)

Isle's numbers get squishier

The approval of four new casino licenses in Iowa this week makes the Isle of Capri's already squishy projections about its Davenport operations even softer.

Here's a map showing Iowa's casinos. The blue dots mark where four new ones will be.

IOC representatives and their supporters have argued that the hotel they want to build on the Davenport riverfront will draw gamblers from a wider geographic area, thus driving big increases in revenue for both the casino and the city.

There's always been a pie-in-the-sky aspect to the IOC numbers, but its nearly impossible to accept them now, with four new casinos dotting the Iowa landscape. The number of people who travel to gamble is going to drop, not grow, when the new casinos open their doors.

Worth noting, of course, is that the new license in Waterloo goes to, tah dah, the Isle of Capri. With a new casino there and a big expansion of the hotel next to its Bettendorf boat, The IOC sure is making it a tough game for the Davenport operation.

Posted by jcb at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

A better way than a gun?

Had he lived in Oregon, the terminally ill man who shot himself in the head at Oak Glen Home in Coal Valley last month wouldn't have needed the gun.

There would have been no need for someone to put himself or herself at risk of criminal charges by slipping him the weapon.

There would have been no possibility that other residents would be harmed by the bullet after it exited his head.

There would have been no trauma for the nursing home staff.

Instead, he could simply have asked that he be prescribed a fatal dose of some medication -- pentobarbital and secobarbital are the drugs of choice in Oregon, the only state that permits physician-assisted suicide.

Had he lived in Oregon, he would have met the criteria set in the state's Death with Dignity Act: He was more than 18 years old, capable of making and communicating health-care decisions, and diagnosed with a terminal illness that would have led to death within six months.

He could have slipped away peacefully, loved ones at his side, rather than desperately, furtively and violently firing a bullet into his own head.

But society's refusal to recognize that dying is sometimes a rational decision robbed him of that option. It also robs a great many other people of a better choice than a gun. Of the 30,000-plus people who kill themselves each year in the United States, more than 6,000 are older than 65 and a good many of those suffer from a terminal illness.

Why not give a choice to those who prefer to save themselves and their families the pain and heartache of those last six months?

No good reason, Oregon voters have decided -- twice. The Death with Dignity Act was first passed in a referendum by a 51-49 percent vote. An effort to rescind the law was mounted and another referendum was held. The second time around, the percentage in favor of the act was 60-40. Between 1998, when the law went into effect, and the end of 2004, 208 people availed themselves of the assisted suicide option.

The law is of course deeply controversial. When it went into effect, John Ashcroft, than a United States senator from Missouri, urged Attorney General Janet Reno to intervene. She declined, saying there were no grounds for federal interference.

Mr. Ashcroft, named attorney general by newly elected President George Bush in 2001, reversed Ms. Reno, claiming that doctors who provide fatal doses of drugs are in violation of federal drug control laws.

Oregon went to court to defend its statute, and won at the federal appellate court level. The federal government appealed the decision and the Supreme Court has agreed to accept the case.

As too often happens in matters of great moral impact, the issue is being fought out on narrow technical grounds, in this case whether the attorney general has correctly interpreted the federal Controlled Substances Act..

Oral arguments are scheduled for this fall, with a ruling expected to come early next year.

Here's hoping that the Oregon law survives the challenge. Here's hoping, too, that other states visit, or re-visit, the question of assisted suicide. We should give terminally ill people who rationally decide there are worse things than dying some better option than a gun.

John Beydler is news editor at Quad-Cities Online. Email johnbeyd@qconline.com

Posted by jcb at 01:31 PM | Comments (3)

Problem solved

The problem of pharmacists who don't want to dispense various drugs because of ethical issues could be pretty much solved now.
"AutoScript III" and follow-on generations of pill-pushing machines probably won't care what they're handling. Unless, of course, the "Morally Superior Robotics Co." starts cranking out machines programmed to reject birth control scrips and whatever other meds the makers might not like.

Posted by jcb at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2005

Vinyl vanquished?

The notion that a 128-year-old house that is home of a historical society should be clad in vinyl apparently is dead. Here's the story.
There'll still be an opportunity to contribute to the paint fund. Stay tuned.

Posted by jcb at 09:40 AM | Comments (1)

May 09, 2005

Kicking FDR around

President Bush is right when he said in Europe over the weekend that the U. S. played a role in the continent's division into two opposing camps after World War II.
He's off base, though, with the implied criticism of President Franklin Roosevelt's conduct at the conference in Yalta in early 1945, when the U. S. and England more or less agreed to let Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union rule Eastern Europe.
Fact is, the Soviet armies were in place and nothing short of prolonging the war by years would have removed them. While some people -- Gen. George Patton among them -- were willing to turn on the Russians, most Americans, exhausted by four years of war and appreciative of the Russians' role in defeating Germany, wouldn't have stood for it.
If you do want to check out the "it-was-Roosevelt's-fault" viewpoint, read The New Dealers War: FDR and the War Within World War II.

Posted by jcb at 03:08 PM | Comments (2)

May 06, 2005

Meeting of the week

Lots of sounds-the-same names coming up...
The Moline Historic Preservation Commission will meet at 4 p.m. Monday.
Present will be reps from the Rock Island County Historical Society and the Moline Preservation Society.
Topping the agenda: A request by the historical society that it be permitted to avoid a big paint bill by placing vinyl siding on the huge old house that is home to the society's collections.
The preservation society argues there must be a better plan.

The historic preservation commission, an arm of the city, holds power to decide architectural changes because the house is an officially declared historical landmark.

Posted by jcb at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005

Let's not let this happen

Sure would be a shame if the 122-year-old Moline bluff home housing the Rock Island County Historical Society ends up with vinyl siding.
The always-cash strapped society, facing a $100,000 tab since the next paint jobs requires stripping layers of lead-based paint, sees vinyl as a way out of that cost and that of future paint jobs.
Let's not go to vinyl on this house, of all houses. Chip in for the paint work.
Contact the Rock Island County Historical Society and tell them you want to help. You'll feel good about it.
The Moline Preservation Society is taking an interest, too.

Posted by jcb at 12:57 PM | Comments (3)

May 04, 2005

Hi ho, off to the bridge we go?

Maybe the Isle of Capri people should steal a page from the Jumer's playbook and head their Davenport boat on down to the I-280 bridge.

That option's been mentioned only in dismissal. Just across the river, though, abandoning downtown for the wonders of the interstate is seen as the salvation of the Casino Rock Island. Everybody agrees it's the thing to do.

Illinois-side legislators are busily trying --again -- to amend the Illinois gaming act to permit the move. Rock Island's mayor is lobbying hard for the change. So are other civic leaders. No protest is heard from the merchants of The District, the complex of bars, nightclubs and restaurants just a half-block from the casino.

Rock Island clearly has abandoned the notion that there's any significant "synergy" between a casino on the river and shore merchants and attractions. If that snyergy exists in the world, it should have manifested itself in Rock Island, with its great array of entertainment venues within hand-holding distance of the boat. . But when CRI first started talking about moving, back in 2000, The District greeted the announcement with a yawn.

Typical was the response of Dave Smith, manager of the Blue Cat Brew Pub, the boat's closest neighbor. Whatever business he got from the boat, he said, was employees who stopped by going to or from work. He wasn't mourning. He was more interested in talking about to do with the space when the boat goes. Condos was his idea.

But the ever elusive synergy is offered as a principal justification for keeping the Isle of Capri's Rhythm City boat on Davenport's downtown riverfront. Apparently the fact that the synergy hasn't appeared in the 15 years a boat's been parked there doesn't disturb the true believers.

They were out in force at Davenport's waterfront workshops Monday and Tuesday, and apparently a lot of people bought the notion that somewhere downtown is the only choice for the locating the boat and its proposed hotel.

When options for locating the boat were discussed, the one about the I-280 bridge area was mentioned, declared unrealistic and abandoned even faster than the one about building a pond next to the Black Hawk Hotel, and building a boat in it.

Maybe, though, as several people suggested at the workshops, a deeper look would be a good idea. Can't hurt. At the moment IOC and Davenport are doing a Wild West thing, standing face to face with guns aimed.

If IOC's going to become the `first tier' casino it wants to be, the city's cooperation is required.

If the city's going to make the further downtown progress it wants, it needs the cooperation of IOC, and it's 90-year lease on 7 acres of riverfront. (Incidentally, let's make sure whoever negotiated THAT lease in 2000 IS NOT talking for the city in current discussions.)

Course the "city" doesn't quite know what it wants. A chunk of the ordinary folks segment of the "city" did make it clear this week they think the boat is a major eyesore and that something ought to be done. Lots of them didn't see a 10-story hotel as part of the solution.

They're no doubt keeping an eye on the city council part of the "city" and looking ahead to election day.

As the standoff continues, maybe the Jumer's strategy will get a deeper look ... new boat, nice new hotel, plenty of parking, just off an interstate exchange, no place to distract the gamblers from gambling. Hmmm.

Then there are Rock Island's city fathers happily planning the next evolution of their riverfront. Hmmmm.

John Beydler is news editor at Quad-Cities Online. email johnbeyd@qconline.com

Posted by jcb at 01:54 PM | Comments (2)

May 03, 2005

Davenporters, too

The presence of scores of Rhythm City workers at the 'waterfront workshops' in Davenport Monday/Tuesday stirred a little side controversy throughout the two days.
All ended well Tuesday when one such worker finally declared emphatically that some 500 of the casino's employees live in Davenport and should be applauded rather than condemned for taking a keen interest in the proceedings. He was awarded with a nice round of applause.
A good many people, especially on Monday, saw the Rhythm City presence as an underhanded attempt by the Isle of Capri to pack the proceedings, particularly since the casino workers were on the clock. There were suggestions Monday morning that the RC people be segregated. The idea didn't go anywhere.
Maybe paying for the time wasn't the best p.r. move IOC ever made, but the workers made no secret of who they were. Most wore clothing or buttons with "Rhythm City" in plain sight, and identified themselves in the breakout groups.
Their general views regarding more greenspace, access to the river, viewlines and a waterfront promenade didn't differ much from the consensus.
If they were somewhat more concerned with some of economic issues than non-casino workers, that's understandable. Proper even. Those issues count, too.

Posted by jcb at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2005

Tale of Two Cities

So the Isle of Capri wants to build a new hotel on the Davenport riverfront and the town is up in arms. IOC wants to do the same in Bettendorf and the town is cheering and throwing millions into the project.
The difference? Well, Davenport has a nice riverfront to protect, and maybe to improve on.
Bettendorf? Not much nice about the riverfront there, once you're upstream of the I-74 bridges. Just ugly and getting uglier.

Posted by jcb at 05:28 PM | Comments (4)

May 01, 2005

They call it 'progress'

Moline's 7th Street, April 2004

Moline's 7th Street, April 2005

Photos/Todd Mizener

Posted by jcb at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)