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March 30, 2006

On replacing Evans...

The fact that Lane Evans' replacement on the ballot will be chosen by up to 721 Democratic functionaries, each with a differing number of votes, provides an opportunity for at least a mini-campaign for the congressional nomination.

The guidelines provided Democratics by law are broad and somewhat vague. Apparently, 17th District committeeman Don Johnston and committeewoman Mary Boland will have considerable discretion in deciding details of the process.

I hope they use it to give Democrats at least a glimpse of the campaign Rep. Evans deprived them of with his timing.

The 17th is a large and diverse district, taking in all or parts of 23 counties, extending from the Quad-Cities on the west to Decatur on the east, and from the Quad-Cities south into a corner of Madison County, just upriver from St. Louis.

A series of organized candidate forums at selected spots would be a service. So would a round of speeches from the candidates at the nominating convention, whenever it is held.

These and other campaign elements would give those 721 committeepeople -- and the friends and neighbors they talk with -- some greater knowledge of the people who want their support.

That can only be a good thing.

In the end, of course, the party heavyweights, the county chairmen, will greatly influence the results. The fact that Rock Island County chairman John Gianulis will have only a handful of votes from his home precinct, rather than the 16,000 he wielded in the Mike Jacobs selection, does not make him any less the 1,000-pound gorilla in the room.

He's also president of the Illinois Democratic County Chair Association, a mark of the respect in which he's held all around the state. In his 30-plus year tenure as chairman, his home county has delivered consistent and substantial Democratic majorities on general election day. His advice and opinions will be taken seriously.

Rep. Evans also looms large. His endorsement of long-time aide Phil Hare as his successor carries weight, though Evans won't have an actual vote when the nominee is chosen.

Incidentally, I'm not among those who see some conspiracy among party leaders in the fact that Evans announced his retirement less than a week after he was nominated in the primary.

I saw no deception in the pictures of Phil Hare crying as he talked about how he flew to Washingon on Monday expecting to participate in a campaign conference, only to discover his boss was stepping down. Neither did I detect any falsity in the statements of surprise from other staffers and party people.

Mr. Evans has fought Parkinson's tooth and nail, and I believe he thought he was still on top when he filed for re-election. I think he believed that he would recover from the bout that confined him to home in the run-up to the primary. I think that it was only as the confinement lingered that he finally accepted that it was time.

Whatever the case, the timing destroyed the opportunity for all Democrats to have a hand in replacing him. The widest possible look at the large field of prospective replacements will undo at least some of the damage.

Posted by jcb at 03:35 PM | Comments (50)

Firefighters and rental inspections

I wasn't able to make it to Tuesday's "listening session" at which people got to tell Davenport city staffers what they think of the idea of using firefighters to inspect the city's rental properties. The reports in the newspapers (D/A) (QCT) and on the blogs (Quad City Images) (Just Cruisin) indicate there's quite a bit of skepticism that the city's on the right track.

The notion that firefighters' considerable downtime could be used for some good civic purpose is intriguing, but the management challenges to administrator Craig Malin and other staffers are daunting enough to make me skeptical, too. Throw in a tight time-frame -- Malin wants to give the city council a draft plan by April 17 or thereabouts -- and I'm doubly skeptical.

Malin said in his March 26 update to the council that the staff "does not have a plan (not even a preliminary plan) for how these services will be delivered by the Fire Department." The question that seems foremost in a lot of minds is how the inspection services will be delivered without hurting the core services delivered by the fire department. Yes, firefighters have generous dollops of downtime, but when we need them, the need is often urgent -- minutes, even seconds at times, count.

First challenge -- making sure response times to fire and ambulance calls aren't increased. How do you get the firefighter who's poking around a rental home somewhere to the scene of the fire? As quick as he would have arrived had be been at the station ready to leap in the truck?

Second challenge -- to make sure the good work done by the Neighborhood Enhancement Office, which currently does the rental inspections, continues. The NEO is controversial, but inspectors always are. There are people out there who credit the NEO with the kind of incremental improvements in neighborhoods that count in big ways over time.

Third challenge -- to train the firefighters for the new task. They're familiar with inspection work -- they look at about 4,000 commercial properties each year, concentrating on fire code issues. The NEO does about 15,000 inspections a year, enforcing a variety of codes.

Fourth challenge -- to meet the first three without driving up costs to the point that disbanding the NEO crew makes little economic sense.
It will be interesting to see what Malin et.al. come up with.


Don't forget to take Davenport's survey on access to local government information on the web.

The city website has some strong points, but it's also antiquated in various ways. The contact information on it mostly doesn't exist. When I did the survey I used the "other" box on one question to say I want names, job titles, telephone numbers and email addresses for everyone on staff. Every other one of the Q-Cs offer that extremely helpful info, and Davenport should as well.

There are a lot of other routine services, from paying bills to applying for permits, that could be made smoother for all involved through the city website. So take the survey and encourage all the interactivity possible.

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

March 28, 2006

Evans won't be running

Quad-Cities Online is reporting Lane Evans will announce at noon that he won't seek re-election this fall.

The announcement comes less than 10 days after Evans won nomination to a 13th term.

Posted by jcb at 11:06 AM | Comments (20)

March 27, 2006

Terri's gone, but the drama continues

The Terri Schiavo drama lives on, 21st Century style, a year after the removal of her feeding tube and death.

Ironically, Terri's warring family has found at least some common ground. Their respective websites, www.terrisfight.org and www.terripac.com, contain links to information on the end-of-life issues that split them so badly. Both also are soliciting funds.

Husband Michael Schaivo's site (terripac) is, as the name implies, raising campaign money to be used against those "politicians in Washington, D.C., and Florida (who) abused their public trust by forcing the government in the middle of my family tragedy."
Terri Pac has taken in $2,200 so far, according to it's Federal Election Commission filing

The parents' site (terrisfight) says it is to benefit the work of The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, Inc., described as a
"a non-profit group dedicated to ensuring the rights of disabled, elderly and vulnerable citizens against care rationing, euthanasia and medical killing." It's bringing in a lot more money. The latest report to the Florida consumer services agency says it's taken in More than $380,000 as of the end of 2005, $43,377 of which went for administrative costs. (There are issues about the foundations charitable status, according to Charity Governance a website tracking charity solitications.)

The foundation reports zero fund-raising costs, which is testimony to the power of the web to bring in money.

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

March 23, 2006

On to November

After a 20-hour Election Day that ended at 3 a.m. Wednesday, I slept in, then played catch-up with routine work and home things, including dealing with a sick kid.

Anyway ... the only election surprise for me was the outcome of the GOP's 17th Congressional District contest. Brian Gilliland was clearly odd-man out, and I figured that since Andrea Zinga had gotten a shot at incumbent D Lane Evans in 2004 and fell far short, the R's would give Jim Mowen a shot.

But Zinga pulled it out by less than 300 votes and gets a second
chance to unseat Evans. I'd rate her chances at zero if it weren't for Evans health problems, which are now out in the open. Even with that, she's an underdog against a popular incumbent in a district that's D-friendly.

All the news reports called Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Huff's win over incumbent Rock Island County Sheriff Mike Grchan an upset, and maybe it was. But Grchan ran very weakly in a five-man primary in 2002, so it wasn't that surprising that he lost in a straight-up contest with only one opponent.

The R's didn't have a candidate in the primary, but Sheriff's Lt. Kraig Schwigen may be slotted when the central committee meets in April, thus setting up a fall contest.

Sen. Mike Jacobs should have clearer sailing in the general election, now that he's survived the intra-party battle with Paul Rumler. The D's generally close ranks after their primary fights, and James Beals, the GOP nominee, isn't very well known.

The splashiest fireworks as we move toward November are likely to be in the gubernatorial race between incumbent Rod Blagojevich and GOP challenger Judy Topinka, the current state treasurer.

Speaking of November -- it's eight months away, and a good many people are going to totally tune out between now and then. Wonder if there's any chance of reviving efforts to push the primary elections into August or September? Would be a favor to voters and candidates alike.

Posted by jcb at 10:55 AM | Comments (11)

March 20, 2006

Last minute money

In the run-up to election day, candidates are required to report contributions of greater than $500 within 48 hours of receipt. Here's the latest reports, as of this morning.

-- Jim Mowen, one of the three candidates for the 17th District Republican nomination, reported a $5,000 contribution to his own campaign.

-- Mike Jacobs, one of two candidates seeking the nomination as state senator in the 36th district, reported receiving $804.40 from Personal Pac and $1,000 from the Wine and Spirit distributers of Ill. PAC.

Personal Pac is the Chicago-based group running the telephone bank that's making calls distorting Paul Rumler's position on choice -- the calls say Jacobs is the only pro-choice candidate in the race though Rumler has made it clear he's pro-choice, too.

The calls are apparently continuing even though the Personal Pac people know perfectly well at this point that their message is inaccurate. Personal Pac earlier reported an in-kind contribution of $27,000 to Jacobs, related to the phone bank work.

Posted by jcb at 09:06 AM | Comments (62)

March 19, 2006

Kewanee and a GOP dinner....

I wandered out to Kewanee Friday night for the Henry County GOP's Lincoln Day Dinner, and another look at the GOP congressional candidates. About 175 people. Corned beef and cabbage among the menu items. Most of the state-wide candidates sent reps, though a couple of the lt. gov. hopefuls -- Lawrence Bruckner and Joe Birkett - made it in person.

Bruckner, who's from Thomson, seems pretty skeptical about the state's promise to open the new, unused prison there.

Among the questions chairman Jan Weber tossed at Brian Gilliland, Jim Mowen, and Andrea Zinga during the Q&A for congressional candidates was one about withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Mowen sounded quite a bit like President Bush. Said the war on Iraq was over after three weeks, and that we've been fighting a war on terror since. He said it's "dangerous to second-guess military leaders."

Gilliland said we have to be prepared to stay in Iraq for a long time, and that a time-table for withdrawal would be dangerous.

Zinga disagreed. She said its not time to bring troops home, but that
there needs to be a time-table for withdrawal.

All three are for better tranport systems, on water and land; for more emphasis on renewable energy, especially bio-fuels; all are for tightening up the borders; and are more interested in fair trade than free trade.

They're all for being cooperative across party lines and being positive and -- Mowen went so far as to say that, if's nominated, he won't mention incumbent Lane Evans by name for six months. When chairman Weber asked them to stand up and declare they'd support whoever won, they did so, with varing degrees of alacrity.

I don't recall that Evans was otherwise mentioned from the podium. Couple of the couples at the table where I landed chatted briefly about the news stories about his health. Human rather than political talk; "that's too bad" kind of stuff.

I developed an instant fondness for State Sen. Dale Risinger, who I've never met. He was at the next table over. When he outbid one of my table-mates for the carrot cake during the dessert auction, he shared with our table as well as his. Best piece of $80 carrot cake I've ever had.

There was a silent auction, too, with $10 minimums on stuff. Zinga donated a basket of goods made in the 17th District -- wine, pasta sauce and so on. Last time I looked, it was up to $50.

Gilliland tossed in a nice portrait of President Reagan, as well as a "tailgating party kit." The picture was at $50, and the tailgating kit was up to $60.

Mowen donated a book, "Under God: Stories of America's Spiritual Battles." It was stuck at $20.

Had a nice time. Talked with some people I haven't seen for a good many years, including Sheriff Gib Cady. He was the most popular politician present, to judge by the volume and duration of the applause during introductions.

Posted by jcb at 12:12 AM | Comments (1)

March 18, 2006

Dirty, as usual

Commenter 2:44 p.m. on The Jacobs-Rumler post below reports getting an automated call today from PersonalPac, the group running the Swiftboat-syle anti-Rumler campaign.

The Dope has the text of the call.

PersonalPac people, which reported the $27,000 cost of the calls as a contribution to the Mike Jacobs campaign, have known well more than a week that they're misreprsenting Paul Rumler's position on choice. (Pro-choice Personal PAC takes responsibility for Rumler rumors)

But they keep right on a lyin'...

Politics as usual.

Posted by jcb at 09:10 PM | Comments (3)

March 17, 2006

Jacobs-Rumler: Politics as usual, or not?

Those many among us who complain regularly about our political system will never get a better chance than Tuesday to vote against "politics as usual."

In the Democrats' 36th District state senate primary, Mike Jacobs is the politics as usual guy. Paul Rumler is un-politics as usual.

Politics as usual granted Jacobs the incumbency. The sitting senator resigned; thus empowering the district's Democratic Party chairmen to appoint a replacement; they appointed the sitting senator's son. Politics as usual.

In order to accept the senate seat, Jacobs gave up his work-from-home job as a 'downstate liaison' for Secretary of State Jesse White. How he got that job was described by the then-sitting senator to the Associated Press in 2000: "I put in a word for him to get the job," Denny Jacobs said. `"Jesse said, 'If I can do something for him, I'll do it.' " Politics as usual.

The then-sitting senator, who is now a lobbyist for clients including Arlington Park Race course and AT&T Illinois, turned over $100,000 from his campaign fund to that of the new senator. Politics as usual.

Jacobs has since added at least $195,000 to the fund, from every corner of the map. The unions put in a lot of money.The Manufacturers PAC just gave him $4,000. Local heavyweights like Deere, Riverstone and Mid-American Energy are donors. The casinos are generous, too. The docs, the pharmacists and the insurance people all have put money in the pot. Even the local chamber of commerce tossed in $500. Politics as usual.

Some outside group with no "official" connection to his campaign spent $27,000 making phone calls in which the caller wrongly said Jacobs is the only pro-choice candidate in the race. Politics as usual.

Rumler has none of the politics-as-usual going for him. He's young, 26, grew up in Moline, went to Black Hawk College (Distinguished Academic All-American), then on to Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies(Summa Cum Laude), then a series of high-value internships with various legislators, including U. S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.

In short, he's one of those smart kids we're always saying we want to come home and get involved, when they finish their education.

He's raised about $5,000 so far. He's done none of the media-chasing most candidates do. Hasn't called a press conference since the one in which he announced his candidacy. Tracked downed a couple of times by reporters seeking comment on some Jacobs gaffe, he's passed on the chance to be critical.. Very un-politics as usual.

He's impressed most everyone who've talked with him much.The Dispatch/Argus, in endorsing Jacobs because of his experience said of Rumler, "We were impressed with (his) commitment, as well as his thoughtfulness and grasp of the challenges facing the district."

Jacobs, if he's elected, may well turn out to be a good legislator, if he's a learner.

Rumler, for all his potential, might not.

So comes Tuesday and choices...

A commenter here recently disparaged Rumler's chances with a question: "Has the Rock Island County Democratic machine changed?"

The answer then, and now, is no, the Rock Island County Democratic machine hasn't changed. The real question is: Has Rock Island County changed?

We'll know the answer come Wednesday morning, when the counting's done.

Posted by jcb at 10:01 AM | Comments (26)

March 16, 2006

On gambling and respecting our fellows...

The Iowa Legislature, in banning the TouchPlay machines, did the right thing -- the respectful thing.

Respectful, that is, of the views of the substantial minority of Iowans who don't want gambling at all. Putting slots in grocery stores, gas stations and such is pretty much rubbing their nose in it. Not good for the body politic.

I happen to think the strict no-gambling people are wrong. None of anybody's business if I want to gamble now and then. Should be able to so without worrying about getting arrested for something that's nobody's business except mine. That's the way it is -- there're three casinos within 15 minutes of my house; nobody in the state is more than 90 minutes or so from one. (Fill up with gas before you go in.)

Can go when I want. You don't want to, don't. Live and let live.

The "let live" part is not turning ordinary businesses into mini-casinos. Don't tell me I can't go to the casino and I won't make you go to one to buy a loaf a bread. Fair? Fair.

See how easy it is? A little respect for our fellows with differing views makes for a more civil society.

I can't work up much sympathy for the businesses that'll have to give up new-found gains. I'm pretty sure the local Kum 'n Go, or whatever, wasn't built on a business plan that counted on slot-machine profits. Nice while it lasted, but it's back to Plan A, guys. Couple of pennies on a pack of cigarettes, nickel on the hotdog, whatever the guy across the street lets you get away with.

Not in much of a mood, either, to heap praise on lawmakers for doing the right thing. They created the problem to start with, by doing the wrong thing when they authorized the TouchPlay machines. A good many of them claimed they didn't know what they were doing, and maybe they didn't -- they authorized "pull-tab vending machines with video monitors."

The phrase doesn't exactly scream "slot machine" but feel welcome to think your legislator should have been smart enough to get it.

Speaking, as I did several paragraphs back, of being respectful to the people who don't want gambling ... the Isle of Capri's big plan to add a hotel to its gambling complex on the Davenport riverfront is still on hold, still awaiting approvals from the Corps of Engineers and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. William Ashton, an engineer with a long background in the pertinent disciplines, particularly as applied to the Davenport riverfront, is among those arguing the permits should not be issued.

Smart Riverfront is doggedly keeping track of what's going on. One to stay tuned on.

Posted by jcb at 02:04 PM | Comments (3)

And the winner will be ...

The Dope is soliciting predictions on the outcome of Tuesday's primary elections. A bit nonsensical, but fun.

Given the spread of the predictions, some or another "anonymous" will be entitled to bragging rights on Wednesday.

Posted by jcb at 01:49 PM | Comments (4)

March 15, 2006

Evans on break

The D/A has story going tomorrow about Lane Evans' absence from work, at the suggestion of his doctor that he take a break.

Unknown how long the break will last, but Evans' staffers say he intends to continue his campaign for a 13th term.

Beyond Print has info, too.

Posted by jcb at 07:15 PM | Comments (8)

March 12, 2006

D/A goes with Jacobs

The D/A did it's endorsement in the 36th District senatorial primary today. It's for Mike Jacobs.

Edit says lots of nice things about Paul Rumler, but concludes Jacobs' "experience and connections" are needed.

Posted by jcb at 01:37 PM | Comments (19)

March 11, 2006

Three more Q-C bloggers ...

Iowa's First, is all over the lst district congressional races. (District map) Blogger is "Scoop Iowa." Doesn't seem to be a Mike Whalen fan. Has links to other blogs of interest in the lst.

Messy Cucina, purports to be about food, and is. Large dollops of life being served, too.

Taking a crack at it, with posts by anonymous, doesn't have lots on it yet, but what's there is interesting.

Latest posts from the whole crowd are listed at http://qconline.com/qcbloggers. (Updates hourly)

Posted by jcb at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2006

Is Evans anti-defense?

The D/A has a story today in which GOP congressional hopeful Andrea Zinga is quoted as saying, "The first and foremost thing we can do is get a congressman who is not considered so anti-defense."

The suggestion that Lane Evans is somehow anti-defense has come up repeatedly over the years. I personally think it's off toward the bs end of the meter, but let's assume for the sake of discussion that it's an open question. In which case, what specifically has Evans done and what specific votes has he cast that would support the notion that he's "anti-defense?"

It's an open book test. The legislative page on Evans Congressional website has issues information and links to official House voting records and bill texts. The Evans page on Project Vote Smart has tons of voting/financial/special interest information.

So, where is the justification for the charge?

Posted by jcb at 05:14 PM | Comments (13)

D/A endorses Mowen

The D/A did its endorsement in the Republican congressional primary today. Jim Mowen gets the nod. Jobs, economy the issues

Posted by jcb at 01:39 PM | Comments (6)

Who's to replace Getz?

So the word is that RICO Republican chairman Tom Getz won't be seeking another term. Understandable. It's a pretty thankless job, and he's been plugging away for eight or so years now.

So who's to replace him, when the county conventions are held early next month. One name floating around is Susan Carpentier. There are likely others. Any ideas?

On the Demo side, haven't heard anything indicating John Gianulis won't be seeking his 1,572,645th term as county chairman.

Precinct committeemen being elected March 21 will huddle April 19 to pick party leaders.

Posted by jcb at 01:15 PM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2006

The Augie forum

I took in the candidates' forum over at Augie Wednesday night. (D/A story)

It was an inclusive affair. Young Professionals Network, a chamber group, sponsored it. Kids from Augie's political science department did much of the nitty-gritty, picking up a little real-world experience. David Dehnel, a department prof, moderated.

First disappointment was the turnout. About 50 people, including candidates. Fifteen-20 students, judging by appearances. Andrea Zinga wasn't surprised. She said people have been pretty sparse at the string of forums and dinners she, Jim Mowen and Brian Gilliland have attended in their quest for the Republican congressional nomination. Lots of apathy.

Second disappointment was that Mike Jacobs couldn't make it. His absence was neither mentioned nor explained from the podium, but the Senate was in session Wednesday and Thursday.

In his introductory remarks, Prof. Dehnel said the Senate race puts RICO Democrats at a crossroads between continuity and change. He said continuity's been an important element in Demo successes, but with "the son appointed for the father" the Democrats have to decide "whether that continuity should continue."

He said he "appreciates Paul Rumler's candidacy for proposing that question."

First time I'd seen Rumler in front of an audience. Handles himself well. Articulate and positive. Never mentioned Jacobs.

On the "top issue" question, he, like the congressional candidates, said economic development, and within that, the completion of a new Western Illinois campus in the Q-C. The $2.4 million in planning funds is a good start but the $60 million price means a concerted long term effort is needed. No doubt right, given that WIU's top capital spending priority, is, as it has been for several years, a new performing arts center at the McComb campus.

The congressional candidates have seen a lot of each other recently, and are pretty civil, politely applauding each other's remarks and such. Mowen is most emphatic in saying that a positive, issues oriented campaign is the GOP's best hope of successfully challenging long-term incumbent Lane Evans. Zinga was the only one of mention Evans, when she talked about the big fine he's paying to the Federal Elections Commission for the way the money got handled in his 19989 and 2000 campaigns.

Mowen and Hilliland both put lots of emphasis on their business experience. Zinga countered with the breadth of experience gained in a long journalism career, along with involvement in family businesses.

Mowen said he'd have a full-time economic development person on his staff. Zinga said she'd depend on the many economic development staffers already employed by cities and counties to guide her.

Gilliland, whose business efforts include negotiating contracts for National Football League players, said he's given up his agent's license in anticipation of being the agent for 17th District residents
On the question about how faith would affect their actions in Congress, Mowen was most outspoken. He said his "faith forms who I am" and talked about his work for his church, including a string of two-week missions in Africa and Europe. The faith would affect his votes, "but not in a right-wing radical way, but in a Midwest common-sense way."

On energy issues, everybody's for more wind farms and ethanol use and stiffer mileage requirements. Gilliland said we need to build more nuke plants. He and Mowen think it's OK to drill in Alaska's wildlife refuges, though Zinga said she'd need to see a really detailed study before she'd do that.

It was a pleasant enough evening. Sorry more of you didn't share it.

Posted by jcb at 02:42 PM | Comments (4)

March 08, 2006

Will outrage trump addiction?

We're 'bout to find out whether Iowa's lawmakers are more outraged than addicted.

The cynic in me says they'll go with "addicted," since the drug is money and lord knows lawmakers like money, which is pouring in from those slot machines flooding the state these days. There's 6,018 of them, with more on the way. They're in 2,832 convenience and grocery stores, bars and restaurants. People put $212 million into them in the last eight months. The state's share was $19 million, and all the projections are really rosy. Hmmmmmm....money

But I'm still hoping for "outraged." Anytime a bunch of legislators are yelling that they didn't know what they were doing, you know they done something stupid and are catching heat about it. They are catching heat, big-time heat, about the TouchPlay machines they authorized back in 2002. Turns out, though, that lots of Iowans aren't ready for a slot machine on every corner.

"I have never seen more e-mails and more contacts than I have on this bill," said Sen. Larry McKibbon of Marshalltown, who's far from alone in the dash away from the machines. House and Senate committees alike have OK'd bills to get rid of the machines, despite warnings that a quagmire of contract issues will result.

Gov. Tom Vilsack's even asked a task force to take a look at the issue, and it offered a bunch namby-pamby recommendations about not putting the slots right next to the ATMs, and making sure the wall around them is three-feet high, or whatever.

"My constituents have overwhelming said 'get these things out of here,"' said Rep. Sandy Greiner, R-Keota. "They really resent taking their children into a grocery store or convenience store and having these machines all over."

It does seem kind of un-Iowan to scatter slot machines all over. Even Illinois, with it's thirst for gambling bucks, has backed off several proposals to put gambling machines in every bar and restaurant.

It also seems kind of un-Iowan to take such advantage of the naive and the stupid. The suckers who put the $212 million in the machines, got back $133 million in winnings -- about 63 cents for every dollar they put in. Even the casinos only keep 3 or 4 pennies on the dollar.

I'm also irritated that the Iowa Lottery folks refused to give up the numbers on TouchPlay until forced to by a Freedom of Information lawsuit. It's bothersome, too, that there's no standard contract between the state and people owning the machines and the places they're in. Different stores, different contracts, apparently.

All pretty un-Iowan. So I'll accept the lawmakers' claim that they were just ignorant in 2002, so long as they act un-ignorantly in 2006. Their chance comes next week.

Posted by jcb at 05:16 PM | Comments (1)

On the politics scene...

The D/A had a couple of 36th District Senate primary stories today.

One is based on Mike Jacobs' appearance before the editorial board.

The other is about the anonymous push poll mis-stating Paul Rumler's position on abortion.

Also on the political front: The Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce and the Young Professionals Network of the Quad Cities is sponsoring a candidates' forum at 6 p.m. in the Denkmann Building at Augustana College. All three GOP congressional hopefuls and Rumler are among the candidates committed to attend.

The Moline Democratic Maverick posted on the phone-bank controversy. There's also a lively discussion at the Dope's place.

Posted by jcb at 10:05 AM | Comments (47)

March 06, 2006

Jo Anne Lambrecht Peck, R.I.P.

The D/A has a nice edit on Jo Anne Lambrecht Peck, who'd been involved in RICO politics forever and who died last week.

She was a nice lady, and always helpful when a reporter called.

Posted by jcb at 07:51 PM | Comments (2)

Hardball and gutterball

You could call it campaign hardball, and be right. But gutterball is even more right.

Illustration the first would be the Rumler yard sign flap, over whether they bear the "bug" signifying they were made in a union shop.

Both here and at The Inside Dope, commenters have been busily claiming the bug is missing and that Paul Rumler used a non-union printer, which of course would be a sin in a Democrat primary. Others were quick to say that was a lie, that the bug is there; when I went and look, the half-dozen I inspected all had it.

The Dope ferreted out the facts, which were confirmed by Jeff Hartman, CEO of Precision Signz, the printing outfit. He said he's not only a union shop, but is the only one in town, and that he printed all of Rumler's signs. He said the bug was inadvertantly left off the first run, but tape-on bugs were sent out to be put on them.

So it's possible there are some signs out there without the bug -- but bug or not, Mr. Hartman says he printed them, at a union shop.

Illustration the second would be the phone calls mis-stating Rumler's position on abortion, saying that he's anti-choice. Not so, says Rumler in this statement posted on his website.

Among other things, the statement says that "Over the past week, residents have been contacted by callers spreading false information about Paul Rumler and his stance on abortion. Some of the phone calls indicated that Mike Jacobs was the only pro-choice candidate for State Senate. ...

"Paul Rumler supports reproductive choice and has not made statements to the contrary. I fully respect a woman's and a family's ability to make their own reproductive health decisions, including whether to have an abortion. These calls are completely baseless. I will not be intimidated by attempts to defame my character and slander my candidacy for State Senate. More importantly, I will not allow voters to be misled by people who are purposefully spreading false information and blatantly lying about the issues."

Wonder what comes next?

In the meantime, the latest round of campaign funding reports are showing up. Sen. Jacobs report reports shows he took in $50,925 from Jan. 1-Feb. 19, the period covered in the pre-election report. That's added to the $179,187.99 he had on hand Jan. 1. He's also taken in $5,750 in contributions of more than $500 each since Feb. 19. (Expenditures aren't reported on the pre-election forms.)

Rumler's pre-election report wasn't on the state board site when I last looked a couple of minutes ago. He had $1,960 on hand when the year started.

Update: The Rumler pre-election report is now on file with the state board of elections. Shows he took in $4,433 from Jan. 1-Feb. 19, to add to that $1,960 he had on hand Jan. 1.

Posted by jcb at 02:26 PM | Comments (34)

March 01, 2006

Back in town, catching up

I've been out of town a good part of the last month, sitting in on the Sarah Kolb re-trial in Dixon, so I'm now playing catch-up on what's been going on around the Quad-Cities. Some quick observations on various things:

-- Three cheers for the Davenport city council for ignoring administrator Craig Malin's recommendation and approving a settlement of the lawsuit filed by former mayor/police lieutenant Phil Yerington, who'll be getting $130,000 from the city.

Yerington, you'll recall, was fired from the police department late in 2004 after the infamous "faxgate" incident in which a police department fax machine was used to send a false report to the news media that the police union had filed a complaint against him. Yerington, who was running for Scott County sheriff at the time, criticized the department's failure to discover who'd sent the fax, and named one of his fellow officers as the prime suspect.

The city, with barely a nod toward due process and no nod at all toward Yerington's first amendment rights, fired him. He filed suit and the matter's been hanging fire since. It's over now, with the city having done the right thing by a man who was treated shabbily after some 32 years of solid service.


The council gets three cheers, too, for approving "rules of conduct" for itself and the staff. The rules are common-sense things: Avoid personal attacks, treat each other civilly, tell the truth, act professionally.

It's true that the new rules can be ignored with considerable impunity by alderpeople, who draw their power from the voters who elected them and who ultimately are answerable to the voters rather than their fellows on the council. But adoption of the rules indicates a willingness to try to improve the tone and tenor of council meetings, which all too have been marked by incivility, unprofessionalism and personal attacks.


The council gets no cheers for its decision to go straight for the public safety agencies when the need for some budgetary belt-tightening became apparent. Why look first to the departments that provide critical services?

I'd like to see some more definitive analysis than has been produced so far as to why the fire and police departments should bear the brunt of the cuts.

I confess that I'm not familiar enough with staffing levels at the city to say with certainty that cuts could be more readily made elsewhere, but long experience with local governments in general would lead me to say that there likely are administrative positions that could be sliced without doing much harm to public safety or other important city goals.

Posted by jcb at 03:04 PM | Comments (4)