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November 30, 2005

The Berenstain Bears and Dealing With Death

Being readers, we were all in on the read-early, read-often theory. Leslie took care of the heavier stuff -- she'd read Ben the entire Lord of the Rings series three times by the time he turned 5. Same for Katherine.

I mostly did lighter things: Disney books, Dr. Seuss stuff, a National Geographic all-about-animals series, etc. All OK, though after reading them 50-100 times each, I was sometimes snoozing faster than the kids.

Except with the Bears. No matter how many times I got a request for a Bear book, whether the topic was going off to camp, visiting Grandma, dealing with the bully or having a bad hair day, some little magic kept the story fresh. Great illustrations, too. The cozy tree house deep in the heart of bear country is forever etched in my memory.

A thank you, here, to Stan Berenstain, who died this week at age 82. He and his wife, Jan, created the Berenstain Bears and in dozens of books endeared them to countless children -- and adults. (Wikipedia entry) (Official Bear Country site)

You did good, Stan.

View or sign Stan Berenstain Guest Book

Posted by jcb at 09:41 PM | Comments (5)

November 25, 2005

Time to speak up on Isle relocation

If you've got anything to say about Isle of Capri's prosposal to move its Davenport boat upstream, now's the time. The Corps of Engineers on Wednesday opened a 30-day comment period on the Isle's request for a permit to move.

The Corps says its preliminary finding is that the plan will have "no effect on federally-listed endangered or threatened species or critical habitat."

The notice says, though, that the Fish and Wildlife Service has not yet been heard from, and that the preliminary finding is subject to change. A number of people, during the Davenport hearings on the project, raised spawning-ground issues.

A public hearing will be held on the Isle request if comments received seem to justify it.

Here's the full text of the Corps notice.

Posted by jcb at 01:02 PM | Comments (2)

I'll bet the customers are lining up

Oh, my, this one's hard to believe. Michael Brown, who directed the federal government's incredibly inept response to Hurricane Katrina, says he's starting a consulting firm that will assist clients in disaster preparedness planning.

I'll bet prospective customers are just clamoring to sign up. Let's just hope the federal government isn't one of them.




Posted by jcb at 10:42 AM | Comments (4)

November 24, 2005

Judge O'Shea on the Kolb verdict...


In case you missed it, today's D/A editorial page had a column on the Kolb verdict by former judge John Donald O'Shea. It's a perspective piece. Hung jury salutary part of justice system

Posted by jcb at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2005

Whalen on ads...

Mike Whalen responds to opponents complaining that TV advertising for his restaurant company unfairly supports his campaign for Congress: Whalen statement

Related post from Nov. 16

Posted by jcb at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2005

An Obama office in Q-C?

Heard today that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama may be opening an office in the Q-C. Asked Tommy Vietor, in the senator's press office, about it and he said that there has been some discussion about the possibility, but that no decision has been made.

"Whoever mentioned it to you was a little ahead of themselves," he said.

Be nice if the decision is to put an office here. To the best of my memory, and its admittedly ever more imperfect, no U. S. senator has had a Q-C office in the 33 years I've been here. That's always been something of a mystery to me, since this is major population center on a border far from places where there are offices.

Sen. Obama has three homestate offices, in Chicago, Springfield and Marion, in far southern Illinois.




Posted by jcb at 03:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ever more imaginative

Those fine folks out there who want either 1) to harvest personal information from us or 2) screw up our computers just for the fun of it are finding ever more imaginative ways to do it -- we're way past the "your eBay account has been canceled" stuff.

Today's email includes one purporting to be from the CIA, and tells me that my IP number has been logged as visiting 30 illegal websites and demanding that I answer the attached list of questions.

The attachment is a .zip file, which I wouldn't open until two days after hell froze over, and maybe not even then unless it was from someone I knew sending me something I'd asked for.

Have gotten the same .zip file attached to a couple of other emails, both urging for different reasons that I open it. No, thanks, not even for the "CIA."


Posted by jcb at 03:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 18, 2005

On `reasonable' doubt and jurors...

I'll start this with a belated half-apology to Judge James Teros, who presided at the Sarah Kolb murder case that ended in a mistrial this week.

Back in the olden days, when he was state's attorney and I wrote editorials for The Dispatch, there was a murder case in which a man killed his ex-wife by firing a shotgun through her bedroom window, a shotgun he'd planted in the bushes outside the window the night before. Despite this overwhelming evidence of pre-meditation, Mr. Teros filed on both first-degree murder and some lesser count, manslaughter or whatever. The jurors chose the lesser count, and I roundly critized Mr. Teros for even giving them the option.

He defended the decision by saying you never know what a jury's going to do, and that he wanted to make sure he got something.

Sorry, judge, should have been a little less harsh in belittling your strategy.

As Mark Hurty just demonstrated in the Kolb case, there are people who apparently understand the phrase "reasonable doubt" to mean "beyond any doubt whatsoever anywhere anyhow" -- the stuff of prosecutors' nightmares.

In the Kolb case, it is undisputed that she wrote in her journal that she was going to kill Adrianne Reynolds; it is undisputed that she said within hours of the murder that she was going to put someone in an early grave; and it is undisputed that she told Adrianne herself that she was going to kill her hardly an hour before Adrianne was in fact killed.

By everyone's testimony, including Ms. Kolb's, it was she who initiated the violence that led directly to Adrianne's death.

Against all that is only Ms. Kolb's story that Cory Gregory, a second participant in the attack, actually killed Adrianne, and then had threatened her with death if she told what happened.

Balancing even that, however, is the fact she had ample opporunity to seek help from police or family in the five days before she was arrested, and didn't. Instead, she lied repeatedly to police about Adrianne's disappearance. Oh, yeah, Ms. Kolb's friends and family alike testified that she dominated the relationship with Cory Gregory, at whom she pointed the finger.

What "reasonable" doubt remains? Even after Mr. Hurty's several public explanations, that's still a bit of a puzzle, the answer to which may essentially be beyond all but him.

A second puzzle remains from the trial. Why wasn't Ms. Kolb convicted for concealing a homicide, a count on which all jurors, including Mr. Hurty, agreed?

The answer may be in flawed instructions to the jury, or in mis-communication between jury and judge as jurors asked for various clarifications during their deliberations.

If so, that's a systemic failure we can probably fix, even if there's no perfect defense against the person whose definition of "reasonable" is so at odds with the evidence.

Be aware there's a long string of comments on the Kolb mistrial in the post below.

Posted by jcb at 05:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 17, 2005

The Kolb mistrial...

OK, it's the universal topic of conservation in town today, so if you're got something to say about the Sarah Kolb mistrial ruling yesterday, chatter away.

My only observation at the moment is that jury foreman Mark Hurty deserves a little credit for explaining why he didn't believe the state made its case against Ms. Kolb. He didn't have to do interviews, but he apparently was quite willing to talk to all the reporters who called. Mr. Hurty, incidentally, has a website/blog. It's at www.hurty.com.

Be civil.

Posted by jcb at 10:29 AM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

November 16, 2005

Eat here, vote for Mike

This n' that ...

Iowa's lst Congressional District has its first big "issue" in the 2006 campaign and it is, tah dah, whether GOP hopeful Mike Whalen of Bettendorf is violating federal law by appearing in television commercials for restaurants he owns.

His opponents for the GOP nomination to replace incumbent Jim Nussle, who's stepping down to run for the party's gubernatorial nomination, say the ads are paid for by Mr. Whalen's Heart of America Restaurants and Inns, and therefore may amount to an illegal corporate donation to his campaign.

For his part, Mr. Whalen, who's fronted for company commericials for years, says the commercial was filmed in 2002, before he decided to run, and that the decision on when and whether to use it was made by HOA's marketing department, which he doesn't "micro-manage."

Haven't seen the ads myself. Reports are they feature Mr. Whalen sitting at a table in a restaurant talking about his business philosphy and how that relates to Iowa.

Oh, well. Back to sleep.

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Actually, if Mr. Whalen's opponents want to get some mileage out HOA-related matters, they could probably do better talking about how the "proud Iowa company" has its corporate headquarters in Illinois.

Mr. Whalen, a native Davenporter who launched HOA in Davenport with The Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant, got some hometown guff when he decamped in 1998 for Moline, where he put about $4 million into revamping a 100-year-old warehouse at 15th Street and River Drive for his corporate offices.

HOA's website (www.hoari.com) now blurs the headquarters location. A year ago, the website said simply that HOA was at 1501 River Drive in Moline, and included the 797 telephone number. Now, the site says HOA is "a proud Iowa company founded in 1978 by Mike Whalen. Administrative and Sales offices are located in: Iowa (800-395-7675), Illinois (866-799-9300), Kansas (800-965-0502), Minnesota (866-294-6250) & Wisconsin (262-506-6300)." (A tip of the hat here to the commenter who posts as "t" on local political blogs for ferreting out the switch with the aid of the Wayback Machine, a web site that stores old web pages.)

Given cross-river rivalries and jealousies, talking about the company's move to Moline is probably more politically useful than blather about whether a restaurant commerical is really a campaign ad.

----------------------------------

Up in Chicago, the never-ending trial of former Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges plods along. The week's developments included his lawyers urging the the judge to tell jurors that they're foregoing their usual $750-an-hour fee to defend Mr. Ryan. (Story)

The lawyers' point is that they don't want the jurors to assume he's rich, which they then might further assume is some degree of proof that he did take bribes and gifts in return for favors and state contracts. But the information might be double-edged -- jurors may reasonably wonder why high-priced lawyers are working for free. I would.

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Meanwhile, over on the other side of the world, in Iraq, 173 people were found in an Interior Ministry detention center, where they've been mal-nourished and likely tortured. Kind of like when Saddam was running the place. (Story)

Anyway, U.S. troops took over the detention center, the Iraqi prime minister was shocked, shocked to hear what was going on, the detainees were moved elsewhere and everyone's promising to get to the bottom of it.
Don't hold your breath.

Posted by jcb at 02:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 14, 2005

President Pinocchio...

President Bush beat up the Dems in his Veterans Day speech in Pennsylvania, quoting John Kerry's 2003 statement on the gross dangers posed by Iraq, and otherwise reminding us that that 100 or so Democrats voted for what was in effect a declaration of war. (Full text)

The Democrats, many of who are now questioning the rationale for the war, had "access to the same intelligence" as the administration, the President declared.

Oops -- the presidential nose just grew a bit.

Congress, D's and R's alike, didn't have the same access.
Here's Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia D who's vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, on Fox News Sunday: "Now, the intelligence that they had and the intelligence that we had were probably different. We didn't get the presidential daily briefs. We got only a finished product, a finished product, a consensual view of the intelligence community, which does not allow for agencies -- like in the case of the aluminum tubes, the Department of Energy said these aren't thick enough to handle nuclear power.

"They left that out and went ahead with, `They have aluminum tubes and they're going to develop nuclear power.'"

That's quite the little twist -- no wonder even war D's like Rockefeller are crying foul.

Sen. Pat Roberts, the select committee's Republican chairman, on the same program, didn't contradict Sen. Rockefeller on the lack of critical info on the aluminum tubes.

Sen. Roberts did say, "I think the good news is that the intelligence committee on the Senate side with Jay and myself -- we are united in purpose. We will finish the Phase II report." Back to Phase II in a moment, but first an aside: Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace hammered Sen. Rockefeller pretty hard on the differences between what he says now and what he said in 2003. (Transcript). Fun reading, if you're a Bush supporter.

Anyway ... the Phase II report. You're likely to be reading and hearing a lot about that in the next several months, so here's the background:

-- On June 20, 2003, the intelligence committee announced it would do a "thorough review" of U.S. intelligence reporting regarding Iraq. (Committee press release)

-- On Feb. 12, 2004, the Sens. Rockefeller and Roberts announced their review would include an assssment of the use policymakers made of the intelligence. (Committee press release)

-- On June 17, 2004, the committee unanimously approved what has come to be known as Phase I of the report. In essence it says that the evidence for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was "either overstated, or was not supported by, the underlying intelligence" but that there was no evidence that the intelligence community was pressured by make their reporting fit a pre-ordained policy. (Full report - 366 pages); (Excerpt of conclusions -Committee document).

Since then, Sen. Roberts has been dragging his feet as hard as he can about getting on with the Phase II work -- the use to which policymakers put the information and the roles played by the Pentagon and by the Iraqi National Congress in gathering and evaluating pre-war intelligence. His agreement last week to get on with it was spurred by an unusual secret session of the Senate, forced upon the GOP leadership when Dem. Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada employed an obscure rule.

Given Sen. Rockefeller's view of what Phase II should include, it's going to be unpleasant for an administration with one key official under indictment and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald still on the loose. Mr. Fitzgerald has retreated into the Sphinx-like silence from which he emerged only long enough to announce the indictment on top Dick Cheney aide Lewis Libby.

But he's still out there, a shadow hanging ominously. Now that Sen. Roberts is ready to proceed with Phase II, the intelligence committee becomes another shadow hanging omimously over the war party, where "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Text of the 'Downing Street Memo')

Slowly and surely the facts are emerging.

Posted by jcb at 09:18 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 12, 2005

Pat's God: All punishment, no rewards

The trouble with Pat Robertson's God is that he is so danged mean. One-sided, too.

The Rev. Pat this week informed the people of Dover, Pa., that they can't expect any help from God in future. "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God; you just rejected him from your city." (Philadelphia Inquirer story)

Dover's people have drawn the ire of Pat and his God because they voted out the school board that decided to add creationism (in it's "intelligent design" mutation) to the science curriculum in the schools. Some parents filed a lawsuit. Others took direct action -- they put up candidates against all eight board members who voted for creationism, and run them all out of office this week. Which is what set off Pat.

"You just voted God out of your city," Pat railed, apparently not noticing that the churches are all still standing and the preachers welcome.

He was so busy telling Dover that God would have nothing more to do with it that he didn't take time to promise a bountiful wheat crop in Kansas, which seems the least he could have done given that the state school board this week approved new science standards (state board document) that gives "intelligent design" a foot in the door.

All punishment, no reward. Geez, Pat, I don't know...

Posted by jcb at 09:54 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 09, 2005

Tough election for Davenport casino-hotel backers


Elections, near and far...

The many people who know more about the ins-and-outs of Davenport city politics than I do may see nothing more than coincidence in the following.

Nevertheless, it's interesting to note that the three alderpeople who opposed the casino hotel riverfront giveaway were returned to office in Tuesday's election. Those who supported the hotel are either gone or won by the skin of their teeth -- Charlie Brooke can hereafter be known as Landslide Charlie, in honor of his four-vote win over an unknown in the Sixth Ward.

Mr. Brooke, who's giving up the mayor's job for the ward seat, is joined in the barely-made-it club by Alderperson-at-large Jamie Howard, another backer of the hotel deal. She survived by 41 votes. Seventh Ward Alderperson Barney Barnhill did better, winning by a 55-45 margin.

Otherwise, it was a tough day for the pro-hotel alderpeople who stood for re-election (Roxanne Moritz and Bob McGivern didn't). Mayoral hopeful Steve Ahrens, who as an alderperson-at-large backed the deal, got clobbered in the mayor's race. The Second Ward's Donna Bushek lost by a 71-29 margin. That's the same margin the Sixth Ward's Tom Engelmann lost by.

Meanwhile, the three guys who stood up against the hastily pushed-through deal all came through.

Fifth Ward Alderperson Bill Lynn's margin was 66-34 and the Fourth's Ray Ambrose had a 59-41 edge. In the Third Ward, much-maligned Keith Meyer first got 32 percent of the vote to survive a 10-way primary and then won Tuesday by 9 votes.

There certainly were other factors in play. Personalities as much as issues have a part, too. But you gotta wonder -- the hotel deal and its impact on the riverfront drew thousands of people into a heated debate. I'm betting I'm not the only one who remembered it while standing in the voting booth Tuesday.

Speaking of Mr. Meyer, I'm glad he won. He got off on the wrong foot a couple of years ago, with some homemade Christmas cards for the other alderpeople that he thought were humorous. Some of his fellows chose not to see them that way and stirred up a brouhaha over racism. Between that and other controversial actions -- using his pickup to block a construction site, for example -- he was soon getting blasted by everybody, treated as a joke.

I decided he wasn't, while sitting through waaaaaay too many city council meetings earlier this year, while the casino hotel deal was on the table. On that issue, and others as well, he often asked good questions, even if not always framing them well. (He has both hearing and speech issues.)

I was surprised and disappointed at the way he was treated. The mayor, several of the alderpeople and some of the staff people often visibly displayed a disdain for him that the circumstances didn't justify. Maybe he'll find a bit more respect from the new council.

---------------------------------

Elsewhere around the nation, the Dems are happy. They kept the governor's offices in New Jersey and Virginia. They're particularly happy about Virginia, where a last-weekend appearance by President Bush failed to tip a close race into the GOP column.

Out California way, GOP Gov. Arndold Schwarzenegger is starting to look a bit like a girlie-man when it comes to real-world politics. He tried going over the head of the Legislature, appealing directly to the people to make changes he wants. He lost on all counts.

Couple of the changes he advocated -- taking redistricting power away from the Legislature and lengthening the time it takes for a teacher to get tenure -- are sound ideas. But a sound idea often isn't enough when big change is the game, even if a movie star is pushing it. If Gov. Arnie wants to play much longer, he'll have to get re-elected next year.

Bets, anyone?

Posted by jcb at 03:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 08, 2005

Campaigning on the public's dime

Give Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich points for nerve. With subpoenas from federal prosecutors investigating his personnel practices nearly as thick as autumn leaves in Springfield, the gov nevertheless is pushing employees of the Department of Corrections to hand out what amounts to campaign materials.

A Corrections spokesperson said the idea of having parole officers hand out a letter from the governor talking about his alleged accomplishments in crime-fighting was the department's, but that it was the result of a request from Blagojovich.

"We have worked hard to make neighborhoods safe and keep criminals off our streets," Blagojevich says in the letter. "This year, I am proud to say, we signed several important pieces of legislation to keep our communities even safer."

Right ... our communities are no doubt safer, with parole officers handing out campaign material rather than doing their job, checking up on people who may be a theat to our communities.

In the meantime, Judy Baar Topinka has finally gotten off the dime and said, yes, she's going for the Republican nomination for governor, to oppose Blagojevich next year. That should be good news for the GOP -- Ms. Topinka, the state treasurer, has won three state-wide elections and is easily the best known of the Republican candidates for governor.

But the primary, in which the other candidates are far more conservative than Ms. Topinka, may turn into a blood-letting that will leave the GOP too weakened to mount a serious challenge to Mr. Blagojevich. Unless, of course, the minions of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who have former Gov George Ryan on trial for corruption and who are sending all those subpoenas down Springfield way, decide to go for two govs in a row.

Posted by jcb at 12:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 07, 2005

On Rumler and residency...

Hmmm, let's see ... Paul Rumler is a fourth generation Moliner. Born here, grew up here, went to high school here, went to Black Hawk College (Lots of academic honors.)
Left to continue his education, at Boston University and then Georgia State University, from which he graduated with more academic honors. Worked with a state lawmaker in Massachusetts before moving back to Moline in September, 2003. Since then, he's spent much time in D.C., working on staffs of first Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn, then U.S. Rep. Steny Hower, D-Md.

Now, at age 26, better educated and more experienced, he's back home, getting involved. What more could a community ask of its bright kids?

Well, "Do you really live here?" became instantly popular. On the day the story of Rumler's candidacy appeared, "youngridemocrat", who posts on The Inside Dope, raised the issue -- which centers on a constitutional requirement that senate candidates move have lived in the district for two years preceding an election. The ensuing discussion (scrolldown to the "Meet Paul Rumler" headline) is legalistic and of uncertain authority and parentage. Still the question's likely to lurk about.

Be nice, incidentally, if "youngridemocrat" would come out of the closet and take credit for raising the issue.

Update -- Talked with Mr. Rumler this afternoon. He said that after he returned to the Q-C in '03, he re-registered to vote, and did indeed vote in the Democratic primary in '04 and in the general election that year. Should settle the question. On the real issues...




Posted by jcb at 01:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Rumler -- "I meet residency requirements"

Paul Rumler, who today formally announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination as state senator from the 36th District, said he meets residency requirements to run for the office.

Mr. Rumler, 26, a Moline native who lives in Rock Island, said he moved back to the Quad-Cities in September, 2003, long enough ago to meet the requirement that candidates be a resident of the district for two years. He said he's worked in Washington, D.C., since then but that he does meet the residency requirements.

During a brief press conference this morning along Ben Butterworth Parkway in Moline, Mr. Rumler said his family has been in the Quad-Cities for four generations. He graduated from Moline High School and from Black Hawk College before going to Georgia State University. After graduating there, he's done staff work for legislative and congressional offices.
His website is Paul Rumler for State Senate.

Mr. Rumler said this is his first attempt at winning an elective office. He didn't mention his opponent, incumbent Sen. Mike Jacobs, who was appointed to the office after his father, Denny Jacobs, resigned the senate seat last winter.


Posted by jcb at 11:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 05, 2005

A senatorial primary

So there will be a primary fight for the D nomination to the Q-C Senate seat Mike Jacobs now holds by appontment.

Paul Rumler announced Friday he's going for the seat.

Name's new to me. Story says he's a Moline native, graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University's Andrew Young School of Policy Studies with a bachelor's degree in economics and political science in 2001 and has done staff work in legislative and congressional offices.

Mr. Rumler filed his organizational paperwork with the State Board of Elections on Thursday. No financial info yet.

He's planning a press conference Monday. Stay tuned.

Posted by jcb at 04:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 04, 2005

Senator needs a sense of propriety and proportion

If Mike Jacobs' goal is to prove he's a lightweight, the appointed Illinois state senator from the Quad-Cities is doing a great job.

His suggestion this week that his fevered support of riverboat gambling makes him comparable to civil rights heroine Rosa Parks is, to put it kindly, farcical.

In the senator's view, calling press conferences to oppose Illinois House Leader Mike Madigan's drive to redo gambling laws is the same as Ms. Parks' subjecting herself to arrest by refusing to obey racist laws that deprived millions of Americans of basic rights.

Ms. Parks, who died Oct. 24, very quietly made a very positive difference in uncounted lives. Her body lay in honor in the Rotounda of the U.S. Capitol, making her just the 30th person, and the first woman, in the nation's long history to receive such recognition.

Sen. Jacobs, appointed by a handful of politicians earlier this year to fill out the remainder of his father's term, has very noisily made very little difference. Perhaps when he dies, he'll lie in honor in the entrance to a riverboat casino.

In the meantime, he could use a sense of propriety and proportion.

Posted by jcb at 09:30 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

November 02, 2005

City council common sense -- who woulda thunk it?


Who woulda thunk it? Common sense overcoming a city council? And just days before an election, to boot?

Well, it's happened in Davenport.

The alderpeople decided Monday to postpone for at least a month a vote on an ordinance that would further restrict housing available to people convicted of sex offenses against someone under the age of consent.

That'll provide time for mature consideration of an idea rooted in the hack politics that inflame public fears and then back "solutions" that offer no safety. Ald. Ray Ambrose, who's busy getting his name in the papers by pushing the new restrictions, must be disappointed he failed to get a posse rounded up.

Meanwhile, over at the Scott County Courthouse, the Board of Supervisors also is putting the brakes on a similar proposal that would cover the entire county. Supervisor Greg Adamson, a Bettendorf policeman for 31 years before going into politics, said the proposal, and the state law it builds on, are counterproductive. ``It is a terrible state law,;'' he said. (The state restriction, newly in affect after a court decison, forbids offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare center. The city/county proposals would add parks, bus stops and playgrounds to the list of places from which the 2,000 feet is measured.)

County Attorney William Davis also questioned the effectiveness of the law, and warned the further restrictions would be costly to enforce.

Diana Danielson, a state probation and parole officer who works in Scott County, said the state law "is not going to protect children."

Sheriff's Sgt. Bryce Schmidt, who's in charge of monitoring offenders in Scott County, told the Quad-City Times that if the 2,000-foot law had been in effect 10 years ago, "I can't think of a single case from our files that would have been any different." None of the people he monitors were involved in "stranger danger" or abduction cases, he said.

Sheriff Dennis Conard reminded supervisors that violent predators end up going to a mental institution after their prison terms expire, and stay there unless they can convince a jury they're no longer "sexually dangerous." Other offenders considered to be higher-than-usual risks are electronically monitored, he said.

In short, what the voices from the trenches are saying is that most of the offenders the law would apply to committed in-family crimes or were involved in consensual relations in which one person wasn't legally able to "consent."

In neither instance will the residency restriction offer any protection to those of us with children to worry about. It may delude a few people into thinking their kids are safer, but it mostly will create pointless expense for police agencies with better ways to use their manpower, and pointless trouble for people who, in the main, did their time and are trying to rebuild lives within the law.

In making his play, Ald. Ambrose was following the lead of the Iowa Legislature, which has been busy demagoguing this issue for years. In addition to the pointless residency restrictions, lawmakers have gone so far as to make criminals out of people who live with offenders.

Police in Cedar Rapids this week arrested and charged a woman with child endangerment because she let a man, convicted nine years ago at age 22 of third-degree abuse of a teenage girl, live with her and her six-year-old son. She faces two years in prison if convicted.

Other couples finding themselves facing similar circumstances have simply gotten married since the law doesn't apply to married couples. Some lawmakers are talking about closing this "loophole" with some even more draconian measure.

We can hope the common sense on display in Davenport and Scott County radiates all the way to Des Moines, and touches the lawmakers who are playing cheap politics at the expense of sound policy.

Posted by jcb at 03:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack