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February 27, 2006

The sheriff's primary

It's not been a very high-profile contest so far, but the race for the Democratic nomination as Rock Island County sheriff is worth keeping an eye on.

Incumbent Mike Grchan, going for a fifth term, faces one of his deputies, Sgt. Mike Huff, in a head-to-head contest this year. You'll recall that in the 2002 primary, Grchan won with just 38.7 percent of the vote in a five-way race in which Huff finished third with 23.9 percent, just behind retired sheriff's captain Gene Jungwirth's 24.2 percent.

Huff trails big-time in the money department; he had just $32.52 on hand as of Jan. 1, compared to Grchan's $9,957.94. Huff also was carrying $16,000 in debt, all owed to himself. though his money situation may have improved after last weekend's fund-raiser in Moline, which was sponsored by AFSCME Council 31, according to Huff's website.

Huff, the long-time union rep for the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 61, and Grchan have clashed repeatedly over the years over disciplinary issues, with Huff and the union generally coming out on top. (See the union news page on Huff's website.)

Posted by jcb at 02:53 PM | Comments (5)

An endorsement for Mowen

The Chicago Tribune did its endorsement in the 17th District Congressional District primary today. It backs Jim Mowen in the three-way race for the GOP nomination:

"17th District: The choice in the Republican primary is Jim Mowen, a commercial real estate developer from Rock Island whose first priority is bringing jobs to the district. Also running are Republican Andrea Zinga, a former Quad Cities television anchor from Coal Valley, and Aledo businessman Brian Gilliland."

Posted by jcb at 02:46 PM | Comments (12)

February 24, 2006

Tribune recommends Jacobs

The Chicago Tribune published its endorsements in contested state senate primaries this week. It went with Mike Jacobs:

"36th District (northwest Illinois): Incumbent Democrat Mike Jacobs of East Moline took over daddy Denny Jacobs' seat and has performed ably, even with occasional flashes of independence. Where he runs into trouble is when he opens his mouth--last year he likened his efforts on behalf of the gaming industry to Rosa Parks' contributions to the civil rights movement. Paul Rumler, of Rock Island, is bright and conscientious and, like Jacobs, reliably prolabor, but he is short on experience and specific ideas. Jacobs is endorsed."

Posted by jcb at 11:01 PM | Comments (48)

RICO clerk gets new site

Was getting ready to chide RICO county clerk Dick Leibovitz for not updating his website's elections page, but just discovered that he's put up a whole new site this week. The elections page now has current information and lots of helpful information for voters.

The "locate your polling place page is a little hinky; partial addresses seem to work better than full addresses. But once you get past that part, there are links that include a photo of the polling place, which is helpful, as well as a link to Mapquest so that you can get directions from your address to the polling place.


That's progress, though the Election Central page for Scott County is still a more user-friendly place.

Posted by jcb at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2006

Splashy plans for a bridge celebration

Stopped by the third annual Henry Farnam Dinner at the River Center, organized by the folks who're busy planning for this year's 150th anniversary of the completion of the Rock Island-Davenport railroad bridge, the first to span the river.

Mark Schweibert and Ed Winborn were there, symbolizing the ancient R.I.-Davenport cooperation that brought first a railroad and then the bridge to the Quad-Cities. Main speaker was Dennis Suttles, from the new Lincoln library in Springield. Gave a brief and interesting overview of the lawsuits that arose after the Effie Afton crashed into the newly opened bridge and burned part of it.

Most interesting thing was the announcement there's hope of building a 1,400-foot wide wall of water on the river to be used as a video screen during the big bridge celebrations being planned for next fall. Wall would be just downstream from the dam, and run from Davenport to the lock chambers. Giant pumps would maintain the wall, and back-projectors mounted on the dam would turn the water into a movie screen for anyone looking from downstream.

Lots of work already done; lots more to do, and the expense may shrink the wall to half the hoped-for width or whatever. But it sounds like they're serious about getting it done.

Here's an oddity: One of the door prizes was a copy of Climbing the Mississippi Bridge by Bridge, by Mary Costello. Three hundred or more people present. The holder of the winning ticket: Mary Costello. She graciously declined, and a new winner was drawn.

Posted by jcb at 10:33 PM | Comments (2)

Isabel Bloom reconsiders

I'm in Dixon at the Kolb trial or I'd be talking about this story.

Is this enough to mollify the community?

Posted by jcb at 09:30 AM | Comments (11)

February 20, 2006

Call them optimists

The subject line on the email from Jim Mowen was "This is insane!" I assume Mowen, who's in a three-way race for the Republican congressional nomination, was talking about his campaign schedule for the next couple of weeks, which was included in the email. Among other things, he'll be doing six Lincoln Day dinners in six different counties between now and March 5.

Andrea Zinga's schedule shows she's about as booked up as Mowen. Brian Gilliland has a calendar on his website, but there are no events listed in it. May just be slow updating -- Gilliland has been making appearances with the two others at various places, including the Sangamon County Lincoln Day dinner a few days back.

Incidentally, Bernie Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register says the Sangamon County Central Commitee endorsed Mowen. First county committee to take sides in the race as far as I know.

While the campaign schedules may be crazy, the truly insane thing here may be going through all that for a chance to take on a popular incumbent in a district that's grossly and obviously gerrymandered to fit ... the incumbent. Give all three of the GOPers credit for optimism.

Posted by jcb at 01:30 PM | Comments (11)

February 16, 2006

Concerts on parade

Got back from Dixon in time to rush over to River Music Experience for the grand opening of "Out Loud and In Print," a new exhibit of concert photography By John Greenwood of the D/A and John Schultz of the QCT.

I've worked with John G. for 20 years, and have know John S. for about as long. They're both great guys, both love music and both have shot countless concerts the last 25-30 years. The 40 or so shots in the exhibit are a best of the best collection.

Worth seeing, so stop by if you get a chance; exhibit's in the lobby. If you do go, let me know which photo you like best.

I walked the wall several times, and finally decided my favorite is John G.'s shot of Stevie Ray Vaughn at the Col Oct. 4, 1985. During the ceremonies, he said that was his favorite, too. John S. hesitated and hemmed and hawed a bit before saying the one of his he likes best is BB King at the Adler Nov. 28, 2000.

The exhibit's a nice addition to RME, strongly local, high-quality; kind of stuff that will strengthen the place.

Posted by jcb at 05:49 PM | Comments (1)

February 15, 2006

Out of touch

Trial is consuming my time. Have no clue what's going on in the world outside the courtroom and the motel. Haven't even clicked on Google news one time to see what's in the headlines.

If there's anything y'all want to talk about, feel free. I'm managing to check comments only occasionally so be patient.

Posted by jcb at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)

February 13, 2006

Back in Dixon

Am back in Dixon, getting ready for week 2 of Kolb II. I'm gonna skip putting any of the trial stuff here -- it's all at Beyond Print, if you're following the trial. D/A reporter Brian Krans is doing entries there, too. Nice.

Will keep up here as time permits, which means mostly in the evening.

Posted by jcb at 07:03 PM | Comments (0)

Two Endorsements for Rumler

Just found the following, from the Rumler campaign, in my email.

An addendum: the link I found googling "Illinois Committee for Honest Government" is returning a 404 at the moment, but it's a sub-page on the Illinois Green Party site.

Rumler Endorsed by Teamsters and Illinois Committee for Honest Government

ROCK ISLAND - Paul Rumler (D-Rock Island) announces the following two endorsements that he received for the March 21, 2006 Primary Election.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 371 has given their full endorsement to Paul Rumler's candidacy for State Senate in the 2006 Democratic Primary Election. "I am honored to receive the Teamsters' endorsement. I look forward to working together with the hard working families in Illinois' 36th Legislative District to help revitalize our communities," said Paul Rumler.

The Illinois Committee for Honest Government has endorsed Paul Rumler's candidacy for State Senate in the 2006 Democratic Primary Election. The Illinois Committee for Honest Government was formed in 1986 to promote responsiveness in all levels and branches of the government. "Our evaluation of Paul Rumler's credentials and background shows that he is clearly worthy of our support," said Randall Sherman, Secretary/Treasurer for the Illinois Committee for Honest Government. "We believe that Paul Rumler has the potential to become an outstanding member of the Illinois General Assembly."

Paul Rumler is a Democratic Candidate for State Senate in Illinois' 36th Legislative District, which includes all of Rock Island County and parts of Carroll, Henry, Mercer and Whiteside counties. The 36th Legislative District was formerly represented by Senator Denny Jacobs until he retired midterm in January 2005. Senator Jacobs' son, Mike Jacobs, was appointed to complete the remainder of his father's term.

Paul Rumler was born and raised in Moline. After graduating from Moline High School, Paul attended Black Hawk College where he earned his Associates Degree and received Distinguished Academic All-American honors. Paul also graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelors Degree in Economics and Political Science from Georgia State University's Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. After graduating from college in 2001, he worked for Massachusetts State Senator Dianne Wilkerson as her Legislative Aide and then Legislative Director. In 2004, Paul relocated to Washington, DC where he worked for Congressman Bart Gordon, of Tennessee, and most recently for Congressman Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, who serves as the House Democratic Whip.

More information, including a full biography and photo, can be found at www.PaulRumler.com

Posted by jcb at 01:52 PM | Comments (17)

Cheney and his shotgun


Finding shots to take after "The Cheney wings fellow-hunter" story should be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. But I guess I'm brain-dead. All I've managed so far is:

-- Good thing he got all those deferments during Vietnam or the "friendly fire" casualty total would have been a lot higher.

-- I'll bet Scooter Libby will never go hunting with him.

-- It's kind of like his Iraq policy -- shoot first and worry about the consequences later.

Yeah, yeah ... all kind of lame. So what do you have?

No fair waiting til the late night comics chime in before contributing.

Posted by jcb at 12:06 PM | Comments (4)

February 11, 2006

Baby blogs growing up

A year ago, on Feb. 9, Davenport Daily Politics led the behind-the-curve Q-C into political blogging. Five days later, The Inside Dope jumped in. Not sure about the dates on most of the others; The PP launched April 21.

There are least 11 now, though two, Moline Illinois Democratic Maverick and The Lone Patriot, seldom touch on Q-C-specific topics.

First question: Is anybody reading? Yes. How many? Tough to tell. Number growing? Definitely.

Visits and page views are common stats reported by most all blogging software.

At the PP, the average number of daily visits for its lifespan is 76. In January, it was 140, so far this month it's 210.

The numbers at The Dope's place (thanks for sharing:) Average daily visits since Day 1: 158, but again the newest numbers are the biggest. January was 234 per day, and the Dope says the most visits in a day ever, 744, was earlier this week.

DPP had hit 188 visits per day by November, when The Fly shut down for nearly three months before climbing back on the wall a couple of weeks ago.

Here's an estimate, based on the hard numbers I have and the altogether unscientific assumption that the seven other blogs combined get a merely equal number: The blogs are getting at least 1,000 visits a day today and the number is going up 40-60% a month.

The number of actual people making those visits is even tougher to pin down. The stats program I use reports "unique" visitors, based on IP numbers (if I understand the docs correctly).

In January, the PP had 1,398 unique visitors, so far this month, 948. The number is soft; since it's based on IP numbers, it overcounts people who visit from both home and work computers; it undercounts people who visit from behind the same firewall. No matter how many people in any workplace visit, they count as a single unique visitor.

Don't have hard "unique" numbers from anyone else, but The Dope's is bound to be at least as large as mine, or a total of 2,800 people in January. Reduce the number generously because lots of people hit both. Adjust it upward to account for the nine other blogs.

I gotta think the "universe" of people who at least occasionally visit the Q-C blogs amounts to somewhere between 3,000-4,000 individuals, mimimum. That number, and the fact it's soaring, has lots of implications, especially in politics and the media.

Second question, then: Does the blog audience matter?

DPP, in it's first incarnation, had lots going for it. One critical plus was the willingness of "official" Davenport to participate. City administrator Craig Malin, then Mayor Charlie Brooke, along with various aldermen and state reps, contributed to the discussions, using their real names. The impact on civic discourse was positive, though there was of course the usual dross found on blogs. (Illinois-side politicians, incidentally, have yet to grasp the advantages of openly-by-name joining discussions.)

DPP, too, was the "media" that rescued me when I belatedly realized a D'port school election was on top of me. TV and QCT no help at all. But DPP had a list of candidates and some info on all. (I'm sad that the Fly dropped the blog and then, when he picked it back up, shifted focus.)

Anyway, here's an anniversary observation from Fly: "I also think that there's an awareness among elected officials of the blogs and that while blog readers may be few in number they are among the most politically active which means they're centers of influence for far greater numbers of voters."

Couple of other aspects to blogs and their impact I'll get around to discussing, but in the meantime, please get in your two cents worth.

You can now find latest entries from Q-C bloggers at qconline.com/qcbloggers.

Posted by jcb at 10:58 PM | Comments (3)

A gathering of Q-C bloggers

Quad-Cities Online has a new aggregation page for local blogs: http://qconline.com/qcbloggers/.

Idea is to give Q-C blog audience a one-stop place to see what's new. Page is updated periodically (every hour I think) so that newest entries are at the top of the list. There's also a "featured blog" at the top of the page. That'll be the new D/A staff blog, Beyond Print, for the duration of the Kolb trial. After that, it'll rotate.

Page is a work in progress. Right now, it covers the blogs that are devoted in whole or in part to politics. Q-C blogs devoted to other topics will be added as time goes by.

Posted by jcb at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006

Isabel Bloom moving production overseas

The Isabel Bloom story seems a shocker.

Posted by jcb at 12:26 PM | Comments (41)

February 08, 2006

Happy Birthday DPP, et.al

A year ago, on Feb. 9, 2005, Davenport Daily Politics became the first (so far as I know) Q-C political blog. Less than a week later, The Inside Dope launched. There's 10 or so around town now on which politics is a primary subject.

Intended to write a "happy birthday" post on What It All Means. Won't get that done by tomorrow, but may get back to it later.

A couple of the local bloggers have shared stats with me, and I have my own. Been trying to piece together some reasonably accurate guess as to how big the audience is.

I see two for-sures:

1. Blog audience is miniscule compared to print & TV.
2. Blog audience is growing rapidly.

I still intend to try to hang a number on it, but it'll be a while, maybe along about the time the Kolb trial is over.

In the meantime, Happy birthday, Fly. You, too, Dope


Posted by jcb at 11:38 PM | Comments (5)

Rumler on WIU

I'm up to my ears in trial stuff. Here's what's up on the WIU front.

Ready for the riverfront, from the D/A

Paul Rumler statement on the WIU move

Discussion on The Inside Dope

Posted by jcb at 09:24 PM | Comments (3)

The Dope on the closing of the Blue Ribbon

The Inside Dope assesses the closing of the Blue Ribbon restaurantin downtown Moline.


Posted by jcb at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

Skipping the gore -- classmates testify

It's 2 p.m. and Jeff Terronez says the next witness, state police crime scene tech Tom Merchie, will be the last the day. I decide to bag it -- I've already heard all the talk I want about burned bodies, body parts and protruding bones.

It's 2 p.m. and Jeff Terronez says the next witness, state police crime scene tech Tom Merchie, will be the last the day. I decide to bag it -- I've already head all the talk I want about burned bodies, body parts and protruding bones.

R.I. police Lt. Tim Steines testified this morning. He's the guy who was physically lowered into the manhole at Black Hawk State Park, tied a canine's leash around a black garbage bag containing portions of Adrianne Reynolds. He's also the guy who went to the Mercer County farm belonging to Sarah Kolb's grandparents and, held by other officers, reached under the limbs of an uprooted tree into a muddy hole and pulled out other portions of Adrianne.

I glanced at the jurors from time to time as he talked graphically about what he did and found. Could discern no particular emotion in any of them, though one stared for a long while at Kolb as he listened. So far as I could tell she didn't notice. Her back is to the gallery, and it's rare to see even the side of her face. Dressed in a blue sweater and blue jeans, she's seemingly paying close attention to the proceedings, frequently making notes on the legal pad in front of her. She had several hushed convesations with Dave Hoffman, who's sitting next to her at the table, between her and Baron Heintz, Hoffman's second-chair guy.

Couple of the jurors had said during pre-selection questioning that they could listen to graphic testimony but would be uneasy about looking at pictures.
Terronez assured them they wouldn't have to. He didn't enter crime scene photos at the first Kolb trial and won't this time. Right call, I think. The cold, hard words are enough.

More in 30 minutes or so...

-----------

The first three Terronez called -- Stephen Fonesca, Kassi Van Vooren and Sara Harlow -- all attended school with Adrianne and Sarah at the Black Hawk Outreach Center in East Moline.

Foneseca said he met Adrianne around Christmas time in 2004, and worked with her at the Checkers in E.M. She was "really friendly" and you "could definitely tell that she was trying to make friends." He said he saw Sarah around school but didn't know her -- she was in the Outreach School's high school completion program while he and Adrianne were in the GED program, which meets in separate classrooms. Hoffman in particular questioned each of three about which program they were in.

Kassi said she quickly became friends with Adrianne after the latter enrolled in the school in fall, 2004. She also knew Sarah, and when Sarah and Adrianne each expressed an interest in the other, she introduced them. The two had a "good" relationship for a time, passing letters to each other and talking in the hallway at school.

She said the friendship deteriorated after a New Year's party in Rock Island, to which Sara had taken Adrienne. Adrianne disappeared for a time, and when she returned answered Sarah's question about where she'd been by saying, "I met two of your friends and f---ked them." (no dashes in the courtroom. The words are used,.)

Kassi said she later heard Sarah call Adrianne a "whore." Sarah said she was "disappointed" with Adrianne and wanted her to "back off." But, Kassi said, Adrianne did not back off, but continued writing letters to Sarah and calling her. She said she saw the letters, but did not know Sarah's reaction to them.

Sarah did say once that she "would like to kill" Adrianne, Kassi said.

At the tale end of direct questioning, Terronez asked if Kassi knew Cory Gregory (who's also charged in the murder and will be tried later). She said she did know him, and that "almost every time I saw them (Cory and Sarah), they were together."

Hoffman used cross-examination to establish that some of what Kassi said happened in early January, 2005, had happened in December 2004, according to her testimony in the first trial. Kassi also said that Cory and Sean McKittrick, another schoolmate, were present when Sarah said she wished she could kill Adrianne.

On re-cross, Terronez established that Kassi had first talked with police in April, 2005, rather than October, 2005, as she had said while Hoffman was questioning her. "You obviously have a problem remembering dates," he said.

The third schoolmate to testify, Sara Harlow, said she knew Sarah, Cory and Sean, as well as Nate Gaudet, who pleaded guilty to juvenile charges of concealing a homicide for his part in the case. He will tesify later. Harlow said she didn't know Adrianne, but had "heard of her." She said she was present when someone passed Sarah a note from Adrianne. Sarah said that Adrianne was continuing to write letters and that it "bothered her."

Harlow said Sarah referred to Adrianne as a "whore" and a "slut" and said the didn't want to be around here anymore. Sarah said Adrianne was upset, and said in the letters she realized she must change her ways. But Sarah wanted nothing to do with Adrianne and wouldn't answer her calls or letters, Harlow said.

Harlow also said that she would have "annoyed" if subjected to similar unwanted attention.

----more to come ---

Posted by jcb at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2006

The jury's picked -- time to tell is here


Tell them what you're going to tell them.

Tell them.

Then tell them what you've told them.

That ancient advice to speech-makers also describes the task facing lawyers after the jury is seated and the trial begins. Jeff Terronez and David Hoffman will do the first of the three "tell-thems" at 9 a.m. Wednesday when they make their opening statements in the Sarah Kolb murder trial in the Lee County Courthouse in Dixon.

I've never heard Terronez, RICO's state's attorney, or assistant public defender Hoffman do opening arguments. The many I have heard range from dry recitations of the evidence to be presented, to stump-style stemwinders, though the latter tend to be more common in closing arguments. Dry or eloquent, long or short, the opening statement's purpose is to acquaint the jurors with the side of the story each lawyer wants them to accept. Prosecutor Terronez goes first; Hoffman goes second.

Then comes the second of the three "tell-thems" -- the evidence. After that, some two weeks hence, the third "tell-them", final arguments will be made.

The "audience" for the lawyers was rounded out this morning, with the selection of two jurors and four alternates -- a total of 16 people to sit in the jury box. Forty-six prospects were questioned Monday and this morning before the contingent was completed.

The 12 jurors who'll decide Ms. Kolb's fate (assuming illness or whatever doesn't require an alternate to take over) comprise seven men and five women. There are four teachers, one of whom is retired. There is a truck driver, a registered nurse, a civil engineer, a machine operator, a mental health technician, a retired bank cashier, a farmer and an insurance broker. The alternates, all men, include a correctional officer, a carpenter's union business rep, an accountant and the owner of a landscaping service.

Age wasn't much discussed during selection, but I'd guess, based on appearance, that they're all more than 30 and that several are 60 and up. Four or so have been on juries before. They've all promised that, for the duration, they won't talk to anyone about the case, won't read newspaper stories about it, watch TV reports of it or be ot on the internet googling for information about it. Their decision, they've promised, will be made based only on what they hear from the witness stand and on the exhibits entered into evidence.

They've also promised to "use their good common sense and human experience" to assess the truthfulness of witnesses, and to consider all testimony in light of other testimony and the exhibits.

Twelve pretty ordinary people to decide an extraordinary case.

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

Two of this morning's selections created a buzz among the eight or so reporters covering the trial. The final regular juror, a grandmother, said an ex-husband is doing life in prison for a 1970s child molestation conviction. She passed on the chance to be questioned in private about how that experience might affect her ability to judge fairly in this case. She said the ex is "where he needs to be" and that she has no animosity toward the criminal justice system, which worked.

The big surprise was the selection of an alternate who's a lieutenant on the guard force at the Dixon prison. He knows lots of police officers, said his favorite TV show is "Cops." Seemed a bit like an automatic "thank you and good bye" but after a brief conference at the defense table among Hoffman, Heintz and Kolb, Hoffman said the prospect was accepted.

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

Jury selection was completed just before noon. The reporters dashed from the courtroom to the parking, to get their cell phones (can't take them in the courthouse) and phone in updates for websites and noon newscast. The news crowd includes Brian Krans from the D/A, Chris Minor from Channel 8 in Moline, complete with a gigantic live-broadcast truck; Barb Ickes who's covering for both the QCT and Channel 6 in Davenport; and Patrick Salem of the local paper, the Telegraph. Channel 4 from Rock Island is here, too, though the exact reporter seems to change a couple of times a day.

Everyone grabbed a quick lunch and retreated to trial headquarters, the Reagan Hotel, to get full stories filed and then enjoy a few free hours.

Terronez and Hoffman, along with most other members of the prosecution and defense teams, are at the Reagan, too. Suspect they'll be holed up with last minute preparation work. Me, I'm thinking a nap might be just the ticket.

Posted by jcb at 04:49 PM | Comments (1)

February 06, 2006

Working on the jury

Jury selection Monday was 32 one-act plays. Same three characters with the same lines in all 32.

Only change was the fourth player, the prospective juror in the Sarah Kolb murder trial. He or she made an entrance from a side room, past the lawyers' tables, turned right by the elevated bench of the judge and was ushered into the jury box, first row, third seat over. Most glanced discreetly about as they made their way through the room, and took the seat nervously. They spoke softly, often pausing before they did.

Eleven of the plays were very brief. Like all the others, they began with Judge James Teros asking if they knew anyone on the list of witnesses read to them earlier. Everybody said no. Next question: Have you read or heard about the case? If yes, then: How much? Where? Has that led you to form an opinion as to Ms. Kolb's guilt or innocence?

Seven of them said yes, they'd read and seen things and yes, they had an opinion. The judge politely excused them.

Health issues removed four, the older woman with her arm in a sling, the man who'd recently undergone surgery, the older gentleman who said he was deaf in his left ear and a woman who was, well, really, really old. Couldn't have been an easy thing for her to answer the summons to duty, but she did. People nodded respectfully to her as she made her way through the gallery and out of the courtroom.

Those who made the the first cut got a series of questions and explanations from the judge, all designed to make sure they understood the situation and their part in it. The charge is not proof of guilt, Ms. Kolb is presumed to be innocent. The juror's role is to be a finder of fact. The facts to be considered are those delivered in testimony from the witness stand -- Judge Teros' arm always swung to the witness chair as he delivered the line-- and through exhibits that would be entered into evidence. The judge's role, he said. is to tell them what the law is. The juror, though, he told each, is "the king of facts."

He told him it was their role, too, to decide whether witnesses were credible, using their common sense and experience as a guide.

RICO state's attorney Jeff Terronez came next. He asked whether graphic testimony would affect their ability to be fair, whether they agreed that two people could observe the same event and have two differing opinions about what happened, whether they could treat fairly the testimony of people "who have a different lifestyle than you," and whether they watched law-related shows and if they understood that was made-up stuff that bore no relation to what was before them. "Law and Order", incidentally, must have great ratings in Lee County.

Terronez also asked them all if they could take testimony and "piece it together" with other evidence.

Defense lawyer David Hoffman"s list included, as you sit there now, can you assume my client is not guilty? Will you judge my witnesses, if I choose to put any on, by the same standards you apply to prosecution witnesses? If I don't call any witnesses, will you find my client not guilty, if you have a reasonable at the end of the prosecution's case? He also asked most all of them what he admitted to one was a little bit of a trick question. If you had to vote right now, how would you rule? Answer of course, is not guilty, if the prospect was being honest in saying they assumed Ms. Kolb is innocent. Some answered quicker than others. Hoffman used one of his peremptory challenges to excuse one guy who took quite a little time to respond.

Eight prospects were cut at some point or another by peremptory challenges. Hoffman used up five of the seven each side is allotted. Terronez used three of his.

Judge Teros excused an additional three because of responses to the lawyers' questions. One was a guy who said in his experience cops are "out and out liars", one who said he had a lot of respect for police officers and prosecutors, and who said his son is Lee County state's attorney and one who said a Kolb cousin was a regular customer at her place of employment.

By the time Judge Teros called it off for the day shortly after 5 p.m., 10 people made it all the way through the questioning, to be sworn as jurors. First guy was a truck driver who said all he'd heard about the case was chatter on the CB radio while driving through the Q-C. Said he hadn't formed any opinions based on that, since "truck drivers are known for being full of it."

There's a retired school teacher, who said she spent nine months in Ohio, with her new grand-twins, and doesn't know anything about the case.

There's a special ed teacher who doesn't have time for the news, a registered nurse, and yet another teacher, this one in computer science, who doesn't pay any attention to the news. This one was a bit shy about saying the paid no attention to the news. "The press is over there," she said.

"Oh," Hoffman said, "Don't worry about hurting their feelings." As the laughter swelled, the judge added, "That's impossible." Media guy can't go anywhere these days without getting kicked around a little.

There's also a grade school math teacher, a civil engineer who works for the state, a machine tool operator, a mental health technician who works with severely handicapped adults, and a retired bank cashier.

Getting 10 jurors picked today is a bit better than most of the trial crowd expected. Two thirds of the way there, two jurors and three alternates remaining. The one-act plays resume at 9 tomorrow morning.

Time to go see if the sports bar down the hall has any food out tonight.

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

February 05, 2006

D primary voters aren't sheep

In several of the Jacobs-Rumler strings below, several people fall for the line that support of RICO's top dog Democrats is all that's needed to win an election. Far from true, especially in a primary.

The most dramatic proof of the point is a late '80s county clerk primary. Dick Leibovitz got the Demo nomination by beating John Gianulis, who in addition to being county chairman was the incumbent county clerk. Yes, in a primary election, RICO D's turned their party chairman out of public office.

If I was to go digging through old election records I could other instances, big offices and little offices alike, where the primary didn't come out the way Gianulis et.al had in mind. One that got lots of attention was the Craig-Hardin recorder's primary in '76 or there abouts.

It's true enough that a lot of would-be candidates let the party leaders talk them out of running against incumbents. But those who do stand up have as often as not topped the machine guy.

Assuming D primary voters are sheep has always been a mistake. May be even more so these days.



Posted by jcb at 10:33 PM | Comments (19)

To the Kolb trial...

Be in Dixon for the next two weeks or so. Am contributing to a new D/A staff blog, Beyond Print. I'll post trial stuff here, too. Planning to have time to do some non-trial stuff as well.

Here's today's trial stuff. I'm also adding comments on a couple of strings below.


February 5th, 2006
Sunday night in Dixon

So I'm at the Reagan Hotel and Suites, near Dixon.

Home sweet home for the next couple of weeks, for me and several others of the gaggle of Quad-Citians here for the Sarah Kolb murder trial, version two.

Drove in this afternoon on The Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway. I think the Gipper'd feel even more honored if the state would privatize it. I'm sure he'd be confident his home town can provide a fair jury to a person in need of one.

I think so, in the Kolb case. Lee County's 35.000 residents, the jury pool, are pretty much beyond the reach of the Q-C media. Copies of the QCT and the D/A are pretty rare. It's fringe-y even for the TV people. The local paper, the Telegraph, hasn't made a big deal of the trial coming here. Chances are most people can say real honestly they haven't much more than heard of the case, and could take an open mind to the jury box.

That's what Judge James Teros was hoping for, when he OK'd defense attorney Dave Hoffman's request for a change of venue, out of Rock Island County, where the first trial last November ended in a hung jury. Forty-three people were interviewed before that jury was filled out. Ten of the 43 were sent home after they said they'd already decided Kolb was guilty, and that was before all that lurid testimony spilled into the Q-C media. Picking a jury in RICO would have taken a loooong time, the second time around.

Will find out, starting at 9 a.m. tomorrow, in the Lee County Courthouse, if we're far enough way from home to get done what needs done.

----

The cast is putting in its appearance. Saw RICO state's attorney Jeff Terronez checking in a couple of hours ago, along with some of his staff people. Brian Krans, the D/A's hotshot young cops `n courts reporter is here. So's Barb Ickes of the QCT. Saw Hoffman, dining on the chili and hotdogs they put out at the house sports bar.

The Reagan doesn't have a restaurant, and it's a couple of miles out west of Dixon, not all that convenient. But it's only $49.95 a night, an attractive number to the bean-counters at the RICO courthouse and the Q-C media places. Those guys would be glad if we all hit the sports bar handout every night, and wrapped a little up for lunch the next day.

Reagan's a nice enough place. Rooms and furnishing are decent; million or so channels on the TV, if anyone's watching. Biggest deal is a wireless internet connection that works just fine. Beyond that, not sure just when and how often I'll be able to post.

Time to go try the chili and hotdogs.



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

February 03, 2006

Boehner -- next chapter in same old book?

So the R's went with John Boehner as their new majority leader in the House of Representatives. I'll skip pontificating about What It All Means in favor of pointing to some pertinent facts.

Start with his official biography, from his congressional website. It is, well, an official biography. He's a saint.

Next, stop by Open Secrets.org for that money-watching outfit's Boehner info section. Besides his campaign fund, there's data from The Freedom Project, the "leadership pac" he uses to help GOP house candidates.

Vote Smart.Org has more money info, plus details on his positions and which sectors support/oppose him.

Here's a couple of major media stories, from
The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

Don't know that his elevation means the GOP will take effective action to clean up the influence-peddling mess made by former majority leader Tom DeLay and friends. Maybe yes, maybe no.

It's particularly important in this case to follow the adage to "watch what he does, not what he says." Do that, and you'll know soon enough if he's the guy that's needed, or just the next chapter in same old book.

Posted by jcb at 09:39 PM | Comments (2)

February 02, 2006

How about names and email addresses...

Take this survey. It's a city of Davenport thing, wanting to know what you think of its website.

Good things and bad things about it. But I'm first gonna rant about the absolute failure to communicate the info you'd need to communicate efficiently and effectively in 2006.

Changed my mind, won't rant. Already ranted, back in May .
I'll settle for an example: On Moline's website, you can instantly find the name, direct number and email address of everyone down to the assistants and their assistants. On Davenport's site, you can can't find the names even the head guys. Economic Development director Clayton Lloyd is the sole department head with an email address on the site.

There's good features, too. Lots of routine city council stuff, agendas, minutes and what not are on the site in timely fashion. Lots of other inclusive stuff in the latest news section

Anyway, explore the site a little, compare it those maintained by the
other Quads, and do the survey.

There's also a public meeting to discuss the site at 8 a.m. Feb. 8, at the the downtown library.

You can find links to all Q-C city websites here.

Posted by jcb at 11:25 PM | Comments (8)

Is a deep pocket the only way?

The Inside Dope calls the Mike Jacobs-Paul Rumler state senate primary "Dave vs. Goliath."

Same could be said of any the Q-C election year match-ups, primary or general, in which there's an incumbent -- and it's always the incumbent in the Goliath role.

The Jacobs-Rumler contest is particularly one-sided. Sen. Jacobs entered 2006 with $179,187.99 on hand. Rumler had $1,960, approximately a 90-1 advantage. Throw in the Jacobs name, and what's a new guy to do?

The answer, in Rumler's case so far, is to run a very low-profile campaign -- very, very low profile. He's called one press conference, on Nov. 7 to announce his candidacy. He's issued one statement, on Dec. 15 to call for the East Moline city council to consider the regional impact of a proposed pork processing plant.

He's had one fund-raiser -- a $5 per person pancake thing.

He does have a list of "proposals for progress" on his website, but they're pretty generic. Everybody in town, including Sen. Jacobs I'm sure, is in favor of all those things.

If you had to deduce a Rumler strategy from all this, it would to be that his plan is: "Let Jacobs do the Talking." Not a terrible plan, either, given the controversies the senator his stirred up since he was appointed last year to fill out his father's unexpired term in the Senate.

There is a built-in anti-Mike Jacobs vote, of indeterminate size, created by the way the Senate job was treated as a Jacobs family hand-me-down, and the fact that Sen. Jacobs Senior passed along $100,000 in campaign money to Sen. Jacobs Junior, along with the job.

The new Sen. Jacobs, too, has lots of people wincing about his approach, even when they argree with his goals. He's called his fellow legislators a "bunch of sheep," invoked the name of civil rights icon Rosa Parks on behalf of the state's gambling industry, threated to stick "his size-12" up the rear of someone in Springfield if the new Thomson prison doesn't get opened, and declared there's money in the budget, that no one else can find, to advance high-speed rail service in the state by opening a line from the Q-C to Geneseo.

Still, with the primary election just six weeks away, it's be nice if voters had some greater knowledge of the plans and ideas of both guys. If paid media is the only way for each to spread those plans and ideas, then Goliath wins hands down.
An alternative way to spread the word, of course, would be debates between the two. But why would Goliath agree?

In the other legislative primary -- that for the Republican nomination to Congress in the 17th District -- the money is a lot smaller and a lot more even. The contest is in effect an audition for the David role against incumbent Lane Evans's Goliath in the general election. Wonder if there'll be debates in that race, once the GOP chooses?

Or will it, too, be only about deep pockets?

Posted by jcb at 04:36 PM | Comments (34)

February 01, 2006

Boland and Haring money -- more lop-sidedness

The money's just as unbalanced in the Mike Boland-Steve Haring race (72nd Ill. Rep. district) as it is in other Q-C matchups.

Incumbent D Boland had $148,043.96 on hand as of Jan. 1. (Year-end report)

R challenger Haring had $2,498.10. He also lists debts totaling $20,500, all owed to John McConnel, of Mount Carroll. (Year-end report)

Major sources for Boland are unions and financial sector interests, with a dollop of corprate money here and there.

Boland also maintains The Fight Back Fund which has about $1,700 on hand after a half-year on inactivity.

Posted by jcb at 09:10 PM | Comments (4)

Evans warchest grows

U. S. Rep. Lane Evans' year-end report is now on file with the Federal Election Commission.

He moves into the election year with $224,000 on hand, up $46,000 from the end of the third quarter. He took in $130,000 in the quarter and spent $84,800, including $45,000 paid the election commission in settlement of a civil suit over campaign contributions.

The congressman has about 10 times as much on hand as the three Republican candidates combined. He'll be able to sit on it through the primary season while the GOPers slug it out.

Posted by jcb at 07:25 AM | Comments (5)